January 22, 2013
It’s been exactly one month since the release of version 2.1, and we have been busy. Yesterday we posted the install package for DAM 2.2 build 7441.13021 on the website download page.
This is a minor upgrade with one really cool major feature. It includes the following changes:
The terrain generator now allows you to use any picture as a height map. The principle is simple. You can choose a bitmap (jpg or bmp picture file) and tell the terrain generator to base the height of the terrain on the picture. The terrain will be high where the picture is white and low where the picture is black. The height multiplier, center flat, and mid-ridge all work in conjunction with the height map. While we were working on the terrain generator, we added a smooth and sharp option to the mid-ridge functions. Here are a few examples of what can be done.
This example shows what can be done with a combination of math and image. The “hills” are rich with detail to fly over, into and through.
Here we used the simple blue lines shown in the requester. The same image was used as a blend at 25% to color the valleys! This is easy, since the mapping type “Z Projection” duplicates the position of the height map exactly with the position of the texture map.
Here a noise texture (generated in the free and powerful paint program Gimp 2) is combined with a Mid-Ridge math function set to “Smooth”. Note that the noise is set to 0.0. This makes the relationship between the height map and the terrain easier to see. If you add noise, it adds additional detail to the terrain that is not present in the height map.
This final sample shows how simply you can position your mountains and valleys using the height map. Note that the image used is not shown in the requester in this picture, but you can see the one used in the center panel of the requester in the previous picture.
Note that you may be tempted to use very high resolutions on the ground grid. This is fine, as long as you have a graphics card that can handle it. But be aware that if you are going to share your fields, some users do not have the latest and greatest cards.
New Sketch Helper Tool
If you have created a fuselage using the “D” method that we showed in the tutorial video on the website, you may have noticed how hard it was to make sure the two points on the flat edge of the “D” were exactly on the 0 vertical. We noticed too. So we created a new tool that makes it easier. You simply select the “D” polygon, then right click anywhere in the sketch window. You’ll see a new context menu item, “Correct Flat Edge of “D” Former Poly”. If you hover over it you’ll see you can choose to “Snap closest 2 points to vertical” or “Snap closest 2 points to horizontal”. As you can infer, the vertical option finds the 2 points that are already closest to the sketch vertical center line, and makes sure they are exactly on the center line. This is the one you’ll use most often if you draw your fuselages like we show in the tutorial video. By the way, someone out there made a similar video for another 3D product that is exactly like ours. Compliments are always welcome, even if they are in the form of imitation. It’s a great way to insure perfect symmetry.
This picture shows a simple former polygon. The two points on the right of the shape should be located exactly on the vertical center line of the sketch. The image shows the context menu open with the tool item visible.
Here you can see the change in the position of the two rightmost points after the tool has been used. They are now exactly where they needed to be.
You may have noticed that applying Shading to an object with a lot of polys can take a long time. DAM uses a polygon structure in the editor that is very friendly to editing, but not to speed. (A different structure is used in the flying routines.) The time is needed for a long sort and comparison OF every point in the object that happens FOR every point in the object. Worse, a similar procedure is needed for shaded objects anytime you do an operation that needs an undo buffer, like change the object’s color or point location. And worse still, a similar procedure is needed when loading drawings that have large shaded objects in them. We made a 240×240 terrain to use as a test. This is a far higher resolution than should ever be needed. “Normal” terrains are about 36×36, with 72×72 being very detailed. The 240×240 terrain has 115200 triangles in it, requiring a whopping 13271040000 floating point comparisons for its point coordinates! On my 64 bit Alienware, a 240×240 terrain took 5 minutes and 30 seconds to load. We worked on the routines nonstop until we were satisfied with the results. The same terrain now loads in just under 7 seconds! You’ll see similar speed up in shading routines and in the undo buffer preparation.
Here is an image of the requester showing progress of the shading requester. You’ll see a dramatic speed up in this operation, as well as undo buffer preparation and file loads.
New Autonomous Feature
In version 2.1, when your flying saucer runs into a mountain it simply runs up the side until it goes over the top. In version 2.2, we have added two options for this scenario. You can now choose for the saucer to “Turn” or “Bounce”. The options are pretty self explanatory. If they are both off, the saucer will behave as it did in version 2.1.
The two new gadgets are available in the Autonomous Air panel of the Control Object editing window.
Version 2.2 is ready for download on the website download page now.
That’s all for now.
Good Digital Flying – and Fighting!
Sunday Flyer Software