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PostPosted: Sun Sep 05, 2010 4:29 pm 
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johnsojc wrote:
As usual, Tai, you missed the point.

Oh, well, in that case... thanks for confirming my belief that I don't belong here. Shorah!

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 05, 2010 5:02 pm 
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OK Children...leave it be. Let's resume normal thread behavior...

That is all.

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 05, 2010 5:03 pm 
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Tai'lahr wrote:
johnsojc wrote:
As usual, Tai, you missed the point.

Oh, well, in that case... thanks for confirming my belief that I don't belong here. Shorah!


Tai'lahr, he was using sarcasm. As generally a project like this would have those opposed to open-source flocking to deride those who develop tools to further Uru's development.

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 05, 2010 5:04 pm 
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Thanks OHB. Yeah, everyone please try to be civil. That goes for the writers, the anti-writers, and everyone in between. And especially you Whilyam.

Everyone else: I'm a very technical person, and I know the website sucks. I'm working with OHB to get it re-written at a more "normal-person" level. This is the first major project I've announced publicly, and I have a lot of learning to do. Please be patient with me :shock:

EDIT: Specifically, I got a lot of very good questions at the Guild Meeting yesterday, some of which I'm starting to see crop up here as well. I'll do my best to get good answers to those on the page. For now it is, unfortunately, still very oriented towards the technical-minded folks in the community.

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 05, 2010 6:03 pm 
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I'll extract the portion of the chat log regarding this project and post it here, if that's OK?

In the meantime - here are some thoughts for people. This project could produce a better client than the official one. Some points on why:

* PlasmaClient is starting from the ground up with portability in mind. It runs on Linux, Mac, and Windows; conceivably, it could be ported to other platforms as well. MOUL is difficult to set up and runs somewhat brokenly on Linux (using WINE), and it runs with reduced performance on Macs (using Cider). WINE and Cider will always introduce performance degradation, and may introduce incompatibilities when not all of the necessary Windows functions are implemented.

* PlasmaClient uses a new, modern physics engine called Bullet Physics. MOUL's physics engine, PhysX, is very poor. PhysX doesn't make efficient use of today's modern computers. It doesn't really support multi-core processors, and worse yet, it performs all of its floating point calculations using Intel's instruction set for the x87 coprocessor. Anything written since 1999 should be using a newer, faster, more efficient instruction set called SSE. Improve the physics engine, and you can do things like let more people into the city at one time, or maybe turn back on the cones.

* PlasmaClient could correct basic frame-of-view problems that have been present in Uru for a long, long time. There is a slight fisheye effect in everything you look at in MOUL, which is more obvious in widescreen mode, distorting everything. The best example I know to demonstrate this problem is to roll the beachball in the Bevin in front of the bulletin board imager (the one closer to the auditorium) then aim your camera directly at the imager with it centered on your screen. Now... does the ball look round to you?

* PlasmaClient can be designed with native internationalization support, using an international standard for defining character sets called Unicode. If I understand correctly, the current MOUL client cannot handle languages that need characters outside of the Latin character set. OHB has been trying to work around that with part of his localization project efforts, but not having the source code to the MOUL client is a serious constraint.

* Finally, and perhaps the biggest point of all - it is source code that is available today. We don't know when Cyan's MOUL client will be available. Cyan is busy with other projects and has a tiny staff these days. Once Python support is working with PlasmaClient, people will be able to begin testing improvements to the KI. Even if later, people want to transfer that work back to Cyan's MOUL client, it is an opportunity now, rather than waiting until later, to begin working on Uru's future.

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 05, 2010 6:31 pm 
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Tai’lahr, please ignore the unfriendly guys. I’d hate to see you scared away. :(

Here’s my attempt at a non-technical explanation – I now see that Marten has beaten me to it, but I’ll submit it anyway:

Having the source code to any Plasma client, be it Cyan’s original one that we’re using in MOULa right now (whose source code we’ve been told we would get, although Cyan’s progress in delivering on that announcement is slow), be it a reimplemented one like Branan’s PlasmaClient, allows us to fix tons of bugs in Uru. Some that come to my mind right now are
  • the distorted aspect ratio and lack of support for many screen resolutions
  • white text and cursor being invisible on light backgrounds
  • the inability to type anything but English letters (and in some cases not even these – I can’t type an exclamation point, for instance – that’s why you never see me shout in the cavern ;))
  • bad physics engine behavior – cones tumbling instead of sliding, Teledahn cave stones not budging at all

It also allows us to make enhancements like more realistic lighting, shadows, or reflections. Some of these may only be made use of in new ages, some may also improve the existing ages. And as already mentioned, it will also allow us to have Uru run well on Mac OS and Linux, as opposed to the current solutions that can be hard to use and have subpar performance.

Other bugs, like the bad usability of the KI or the missing sparkly in Minkata are unaffected by this, because they lie in the content, and the content is controlled by the server. Fixing these requires control over the server side. The same goes for user-created content – PlasmaClient is completely unrelated to the question of getting user-created content into Uru.

The main reason why we are so excited about PlasmaClient is simply that it’s a new toy for us to tinker with right now. I would love to fix the bugs mentioned above sooner rather than later (though judging from my experience others will likely fix them before I get around to it :)). Beside that, it also provides us a fallback option for the case that Cyan’s client code release is delayed further and further and it gets harder and harder to breathe new life into Uru – however, I think towards that goal user-created content and thus the server side is more important than the client side.

For the ordinary player, there is no advantage to be gained from the existence of PlasmaClient right now. Before the mentioned advancements are possible, it will first have to reach the functionality of Cyan’s client, and as far as I can tell (without having used it myself so far) that still requires a lot of work from the developer types. I also don’t think there is a lot that non-technical users can do to help at this time – that’s why the PlasmaClient web site is so technically oriented.


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 05, 2010 6:45 pm 
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Marten wrote:
MOUL's physics engine, PhysX, is very poor. PhysX doesn't make efficient use of today's modern computers. It doesn't really support multi-core processors, and worse yet, it performs all of its floating point calculations using Intel's instruction set for the x87 coprocessor.

PhysX is written by nvidia, and can use an nvidia GPU instead of the x87 instructions The non-GPU version is deliberately crippled (no SSE or multi-core) in order to encourage sales of nvidia GPUs. Also, PhysX has some licensing constraints which are problematic for Free/Open-Source Software.


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 05, 2010 6:55 pm 
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johnsojc wrote:
For those that even care, if this program was 100% functional and compatible, you would see absolutely NO DIFFERENCE in MOULa. It is the game engine and only controls what you see happen on the screen. It has nothing to do with Age Writing. Think of it as using Firefox instead Internet Explorer to surf the internet. A web browser does not have content, it only renders a website's content for you to see it.

I disagree with the ‘you would see absolutely no difference’. I think if it has all the features of Cyan’s Plasma (100% functional) and does everything the same way (compatible) and the one building it (compiling it) makes no changes then the resulting game will be the same MOULa we have on our computers now.

There is nothing to keep new features out. It will be possible to remain compatible with (talk to) the MOULa server even with new features.

One could build entirely new games. Cyan is using Plasma to build MagiQuest. We have posted a load of threads about what ‘Plasma’ is. I suspect the non-techies that have followed the conversations remain confused. Even techies disagree on what to call it because it can be accurately consider several things. In a broad sense it is a tool that allows one to build and run a computer game.

Those of us playing in SL see a similar ‘Plasma/game engine/computer code’ spinoffs every day in the viewer wars and grid competition. The owner/creator of SL ,Linden Lab, made some of the server side code and most of the client side code open source. Not all of it but enough that people can create new client and server side implementations of SL like worlds. It would be great if Cyan would do that now. Even with huge holes in the code such a release would be a big help to those working on building server and client side implementations of MOUL.

The result in SL is people build new viewers (client side) with loads of new features. All the content of SL can still be accessed with these new feature rich viewers. Someone using an old viewer can communicate and interact with someone using a new feature rich viewer. Both work in the same world on the same server.

Others decided to build new server sides with new features. They have created the virtual worlds we know as OpenSim type worlds. With the same client side program one can visit and play in SL and the OpenSim worlds. As I’ve said before, I expect we’ll see a similar array of client side ‘viewers’, ‘browsers’, or uruexplorer.exe versions.

Whatever one thinks of an open source Plasma, it is an awesome piece of work and props are due.

When Regnad Kcin01 asks how it will change things… I think as soon as we started down the open source path things changed. All these possibilities came into existence then. I don’t see this Plasma as changing things. I think it is another step down the open source path. It is not a directional or environmental change. It enables new possibilities and implementations but none of those are things uncommon to open source or off the path. I do think it will raise awareness of what open source means to those not familiar with open source and that is likely a big perceived change.

PaladinOfKaos wrote:
EDIT: Specifically, I got a lot of very good questions at the Guild Meeting yesterday, some of which I'm starting to see crop up here as well. I'll do my best to get good answers to those on the page. For now it is, unfortunately, still very oriented towards the technical-minded folks in the community.

I suspect most of the information will remain technical. Getting answers phrased in non-tech jargon is helpful but far less precise and people misunderstand, get odd ideas based on their knowledge and expectations. So, it helps and hurts. Most techies tend to fall in the not so much a ‘people person’ category and won’t bother to finesse an answer. Anyone that has watched the Emeraldgate scandal on SL has seen this in action as techies failed to communicate well and failed to handle the resulting confusion as various factions spun the issues and non-techies misunderstood and chose sides. However, I wish you the best luck and I appreciate your work and effort.

Marten wrote:
* PlasmaClient uses a new, modern physics engine called Bullet Physics. MOUL's physics engine, PhysX, is very poor. PhysX doesn't make efficient use of today's modern computers. It doesn't really support multi-core processors, and worse yet, it performs all of its floating point calculations using Intel's instruction set for the x87 coprocessor.

I think your description of PhysX is out of date.

See: Mafia 2 PhysX Performance – PhysX and CUDA are nVidia’s latest and greatest physics for games. It has been updated to take advantage of new Core5 CPU’s and 400 series GPU’s. I see its biggest disadvantage as the second class support for ATI, a competitors video cards. How to enable

Bullet may be better for use in MOUL. It is open source with all the advantages and disadvantages that offers. It is becoming more popular and may actually be ahead in softbody physics. Game Dev Forum

Keikoku’s point on licensing is a consideration.

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 05, 2010 7:19 pm 
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Thank you all. I'm beginning to understand it a little better now. I'm not technical at all, and until today had no idea what this program was. Now I do have some inkling, and it sounds great, and I'm one of those who dislike change. :wink:

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 05, 2010 7:26 pm 
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This sounds really interesting. Well done Paladin.

Thanks to the last few posters who've made it less technical. Can anyone tell us (in relatively non-technical terms) how well it works at the moment, and how much work it needs (ie how long it might take) before it becomes a viable client for non-techies like me? Presumably at some stage, we'll be able to download versions pre-compiled for OSX, Linux etc.

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 05, 2010 7:36 pm 
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dnidaz wrote:
This sounds really interesting. Well done Paladin.

Thanks to the last few posters who've made it less technical. Can anyone tell us (in relatively non-technical terms) how well it works at the moment, and how much work it needs (ie how long it might take) before it becomes a viable client for non-techies like me? Presumably at some stage, we'll be able to download versions pre-compiled for OSX, Linux etc.


You can go to Relto and run around. The end. :)

But don't let that get you down. Sure it's not much yet...but the nature of programming is that everything kinda works off the same basis. The same set of functions with different parameters. If I make a program that adds two numbers...and I get it working GREAT for adding 2+2, the chances that it works correctly when I ask it to add 2+3 is pretty good. And if I make sure that's working right, then 2+4 is a sure thing...and before you know it, it's adding any two numbers correctly.

So, once Relto works...and works excellently, we're sure to see other areas magically just "work". (with maybe a few tweaks here and there).

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 05, 2010 7:38 pm 
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Thanks for all the explanations, both technical and more end user friendly.

This is spectacular, what a wonderful, amazing, huge start to player contributions to Uru. I'm in awe.

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 05, 2010 7:47 pm 
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@OHB

Thanks! That's about the level of technical detail I can easily digest :D

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 05, 2010 8:05 pm 
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OHB wrote:
So, once Relto works...and works excellently, we're sure to see other areas magically just "work". (with maybe a few tweaks here and there).


Just wondering, can the Plasma client add new features like Parallax mapping and HDR? Or is that beyond it?


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 05, 2010 8:16 pm 
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(Not involved in any way shape or form, but...)

Theoretically, yes. But that's probably far off in the future. If you want an example of what you can do once you get the source code to a game, check out the Freespace 2 Source Code Project. It has all kinds of funky maps. :D

What I'm after is a test client that will allow me to view my exported plasma files quickly and accurately. Other people want different things, of course. :p

This client could very well be the future of Uru, and I'm excited. :)

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Last edited by Nye_Sigismund on Sun Sep 05, 2010 8:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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