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The Virtual World's
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  Status
 

Status with the latest week at the top - will detail tools used (promote that shareware!), struggles, accomplishments, inside stories, names of team members attached to their updates

 

 

  Status Report
  January 27th '01         
 

Well it has been a while, but appropriate for the stage of development.  I have 5 binders of graphical references, drawings of the "3 level" details, and documentation.  starting to scan in the references for textures.  As a very interested observer of the industry it is exciting to see many programs popping up to make 3D engines available to the little guy.  Unreal is implementing their terrain engine and the ability to add up to 120 times the detail of Unreal Tournament.  This is exactly what Nemo's Mind needs.  The Microsoft X- Box console promises to bring us to a new level and of course the reality is that the PC is never more than a few months behind any development in consoles.  Though it is hard to see the difference between the X-Box and my PC as far as the internal structures - "Is it a console or a computer?" is already an old argument.   All these developments mean true art is right around the corner.  i love this industry because money isn't the only driving factor.  Many times it is obvious that the love of the art is the only thing keeping many projects and hardware moving forward!   To the future!!

 

  August  1st '00            
 

The latest big development in the maturing of the Net and 3D.  Real Networks of streaming audio and video have partnered with the Lithtec engine to provide developers and small "garage" projects an avenue of tools, 3D engine, game code, showcase and sales.  They hope to have a rack of episodic games updated continually by us wannabe creators for the downloading public.  Not quite the same thing as the aim of Wild Tangent to support streaming 3D but we can assume that what market one creates the other will follow.  So we celebrate the validation of the new market and another step closer to having some great tools to make our virtual worlds by using the game industries tools

c ya     Kevin

 

  June  4th '00            
 

The Tools of the future!!  Here are some examples on the evolution of 3d world editing tools (fluid dynamics is always a good litmus test).  It is exciting one year to see plug-ins into the tools to simulate waves.  And a plug-in to simulate fire.  Most of these at this time are slow and it can take a lot of time to get several frames of animation or even to make a still shot.  But the competition keeps stepping up and the evolving of the tools is evident.  Some great physics engines are already in use that can put all these aspects of the world into one package.  Add that to the advent of real time tools, meaning the ability to move a light within the world you are creating, and immediately see the results, and the reflections off of the surfaces.  So to extrapolate this:  In 5 years you will be adding details to a ready made world with a sun and moon moving across the sky, with clouds.  Want more wave action coming into your beach and make those clouds move faster, and deform faster?  Simply talk to your work station, "Change the wind direction to come from the north-east and make it a speed of 20 on the surface and speed 100 at cloud altitude.  The physics simulation will be impressive but still leaving you the ability to do creative details versus sticking to straight realism.   And the other half of that tool revolution to come after the voice recognition is the dance of the hands.  With voice I tell the view to rotate and back up.  Then I say that I am going to add beach.  I reach forward with my right hand and a digital version copies the exact same movements.  Like throwing down clay.  Too much?  Scoop it away.  Want more boulders on the transition from sand to forest? "Give me boulders".  And sprinkle them onto the landscape.   The popularity of world building tools could be a popular as any God game.

While waiting on Wild Tangent I am using a basic strategy for making textures.  Save several stages for the future!!  Save one image with just solid colors with out detail textures.  This may be useful later on for making a bump map or even to use as the primary texture and do all the detailing later on with either multiple polygons or very detailed bump mapping.  A bump map is a gray/black and white image to match up with your color textures.  The 3d engine uses it to fake the height of different parts of the texture casting shadows on where your gray scale image says your lows and highs are.  Another big save will be the image with the details.  It is important to make sure that your work is not saved with just fake shadowing painted in.  Later on you are stuck with all that work and using a better engine that can make those shadows dynamic and you are stuck with fake ones painted into your past work.

c ya     Kevin

 

  May 11th '00            
 

Since January we have seen the Alpha and Beta of the Wild Tangent Game Driver (world editor).  It now includes a terrain maker that looks very promising.  They added and now have 4 tutorials included and their web angle is growing.  At the Wild Tangent web site they have shown their technologies ability to make audio  3D interpreters and even games playing within a web browser.  They have some financial backing and will probably go public next year.

About tools.  Terragen was great for making terrain to import into the Wild Tangent editor and also good for scenery for sky boxes.  Perhaps their color map tools can also be used in the WT editor to put a texture on your terrain.  But an easier tool for either making bump mapping or terrain shapes is LevellerTo get to know a tool, use the undo button a lot.  This is probably the single most creative tool in any artistic program.  Knowing you can experiment and just backup is a great habit to get into.   Creativity will be yours.  One habit I have that really helps to get into the tools of the industry is to bounce as much as possible from one program to another.  You will learn something from every program that can be applied to all others:  photo editors/graphic programs, modelers, world editors, terrain makers, or even web page authoring tools.  Learning powerful programs can be frustrating so you must find a way to make it fun for you.  for you it might mean buying 5 books on just one of those programs and learning it inside out and making your career on that one specialty.

The first non-beta version of Wild Tangent will be out soon.  It is already powerful in its  ability to key frame animate any of its  details.  Once you learn the key framing you can make lights pulsate.  Structures rise up out of the ground.  Fly a camera along a path before inserting your player control.  And as in their tutorial make a pond lily move as if slowly moving with a current of water.

If you want to know how to make a sky box (the far off background in those 3D environments) then do the tutorial that comes with the WT editor at WildTangent.com.   If you want to open your eyes then do these tutorials.

c ya     Kevin

 

  January  7th '00            
 

What a break!!  Refreshed after the holidays.  Been doing research on the tools which I will spell out here when they are actually used.  I feel that next editor release coming out soon!  As each month goes by this industry and its tools become easier, cheaper, and more creative.  This project just might become a one person project for the first few years.  But the promise is the same to bring all the ins and outs of the experience to this update.  Someone will come along someday and be the first to follow all this information to make their own virtual world and with tomorrows tools - even easier.  To the future!  Feeling like 2000

c ya     Kevin

 

  December 11th '99             
 

Well here is the scoop - Wild Tangent and the Genesis3D engine appear to be worth waiting on.  In a few weeks the next version of genedit will be out.  The plan at this time is to start making the height maps for the terrain.  So when that tool arrives I will have a process to tell you about.  For the moment I am taking advantage of a rare opportunity to chill out.  I personally view that as not an easy task for any body who fancies themselves as developers.  So I am polishing that skill at this very moment.  But I am still trudging along on the outlay of the whole virtualworldnews.com site.

c ya     Kevin

 

  November 27th '99             
 

Improvements and activities:

  • Virtual World News is functional - both sides of this web site lean on and legitimize each other
  • exciting development for the cultural and themes side of the design document - Have made contact (Jules Verne!) with a mail list for a Jules Verne society.  It contains a lot of good documentation and hopefully some of these members can give some input on the themes and even the design of Nemo's Mind.  Even if only one or 2 members show interest it will be great input!
  • still improving on the web site presentation design of the design doc
  • inches from registering this puppy to the directories and search engines!
  • What do you make of this little surprise?  What is this?
  • one of the new web pages is "Leagues" a collection of Jules Verne and 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea" stuff from around the web

c ya     Kevin

 

  November 13th '99             
 

Improvements and activities:

  • Been busy this week - changed the front door to show the integration of Virtual World News and Nemo's Mind as having the same goal to bring on the 2nd generation virtual worlds
  • Also added an agenda to spell it all out for the 2 parts of the site - this will be useful as the vision for myself as I continue to improve the communication of the design document and for the future team that will use the document
  • On the Design document I added 10 illustrations from the original Jules Verne novel
  • Added an index of indexes so the reader can explore the design document in various paths that fit their interest and personality
  • Hooked up the Forum (link goes to the Nemo's Mind section) so readers can comment on the design document and the contents of the news area as an alternate form of feedback
  • Added an index of illustrations

c ya    Kevin

 

  November 6th '99             
 

Genesis3D version 2 developments:

  • Wild Tangent has announced they will further develop the free Genesis3D version 1 and Genesis3D version 2 will be available for free use by small time developers - David Stafford just posted his new site Jet3D.com and his version of version 2 will remain free with out any restrictions - Jet3D will become even more community based open development than previous kind of like the development of the CrystalSpace engine (another open development 3D engine) - things are looking good on those fronts - even more choices for the engine Nemo's Mind will use

Improvements and activities:

  • found a beautiful digital model of the Nautilus submarine at 3DCafe.com - trying to track down the original author, Syd - here is the first glimpse - need to research the use of a model using the Disney version - it may be hard to create a submarine that will have the features of the nautilus/cuttlefish creature without looking like the Disney version - they went off the novels approach that the submarine looks like a sea monster and then by going off the name Nautilus you end up with the giant eyes (the giant round parlor windows on each side of the submarine - and the fins along the top and bottom - one possible improvement on the Disney design would be to get rid of the tentacle styled point on the front end since the front end of the cuttlefish is sharp anyway - also the combine the steering compartments 2 windows into one by moving the fin and cockpit apart (in the Disney design the fin and cockpit are attached and forces to separate windows, looks cool but not the best for the actual explorer in our program to use if they wish to pilot the Nautilus
  • in the process of changing the front door to the site - so going to virtualworldnews.com brings you to a bigger screen with the philosophies behind the Nemo's Mind and Virtual World News meshing - I will also loosen up the initial presentation of Nemo's Mind to give different avenues for readers to explore the site and move away from the initial screens being just design document centered concept/treatment pages - the project presentation needs to adjust to the fact that it will become a web site exposing the program and not just the design document for it - I think this will make the web site a better template for those who wish to borrow the set up to hype future virtual world projects

c ya next week    Kevin

 

  October 30th '99             
 

Genesis3D version 2 developments:

  • hmm - well things have changed on the Genesis3D ver 2 front - Eclipse has split - Wild Tangent (see the VWN news post here) bought the Genesis engine for use on the web side but David Stafford still has the rights to the engine as a game engine - need to see how this pans out
  • good time to take a break from the project for a week - the bleakest future is still very bright - the design document will still press on until version 2 of the engine is ready - still in no hurry to start gathering a team together until that shakes out - over the next month will still work on the tutorial :)
  • this is a good time to devote my self to the other half of this web site and start getting the VWN going daily - need to get the forum linked up!

c ya next week    Kevin

 

  October 23rd '99             
 

Genesis3D version 2 developments:

  • first glimpse of the terrain possibilities at the Genesis forum

Improvements and Activities:

  • the whole Nemo's Mind project so far is an attempt to excite the imaginations of future developers while waiting for the Genesis engine - so this design document must have various ways to attract the attention of the possible reader - with this thought I have launched a more formal approach to showing the ins and outs of this creature the interactive industry calls the design document - I have added the tutorial to better explain the many subtle and important goals of a design document - I have also added some of the terminology to the oval headers of the intro of this design document which has been renamed the Concept/Treatment
  • so far have only broadcasted the design document to the Genesis forum and a few news groups - still catching up with inputs and shaping for more exposure

c ya next week    Kevin

 

  October 16th '99             
 

(editor note:  these weekly updates are an example of how often the updates will come when the technical aspects are explored in the development of Nemo's Mind)

Improvements and Activities:

  • received outstanding input from Daniel007 of the Genesis Forum - his input to give more "air" was just the concept this design.doc needed for better visual presentation - for air: added space between all oval/half oval headers and the text , added visuals to the intro page, added air to the sides of the text and all graphics in maps and pictures - before this I was looking at the graphics as just side shows and I know subconsciously I knew the lay out of the 3 level plan map pages and graphics were ugly - with very little effort the text and pictures are no longer jammed against the edge of the screen and look much better - thanks Daniel
  • also from Daniel's critique I may separate all text in the "Terrain" areas of the document into short and long term notes - could even do this with special bullets to add visual and indication of what details we are shooting for in the early releases compared to several years down the line
  • the next step for critiquing will be the newsgroups/user groups - will post the design doc to virtual threads and game design - after that dries up then go to the next levels - hopefully as it goes more and more public, it looks better and better, more imagination inspiring and therefore more input!

Short term goals:

  • playing with that beautiful  tool - Terragen to make the 3 skyboxes for the observatory level of the 3 level plan - there are so many variables to this powerful tool that you can change the color of the clouds by changing the color of the sun, atmosphere, and the clouds themselves along with atmospheric haze etc.  - will post those as they go  

c ya next week    Kevin

 

  October 8th '99             
 

Goals until Genedit2:

  • just put up the design document - will gather input while waiting for Genedit2 (possibly the end of October) - if you are unfamiliar with the Genesis3D then you have to check it out - please see the G3D Resource page
  • development of the first 3 levels will begin after collecting input from the Genesis community, the industry, and Genedit2 is ready
  • contributors: if any artists have textures that would look good in the first 3 levels please steer me to them or e-mail them.  Full credits on this page and on the shareware.  Avatar makers: since the models can now get very fancy and participants in near future will be buying custom models directly from you - this is your chance to do the advertising as you will get full credit
  • refer to the 3 level plan

Short term goals:

  • add more graphics to the 3 level pages
  • flesh out the 3 level plan
  • finish up the G3D resources page
  • set polygon limit on avatars
  • set scale of levels
  • set limits on texture sizes
  • set responsibilities within team on the initial 3 levels
  • set up communication and data sharing procedures and archiving
  • start soliciting team members through out the internet - this will probably have lots of attention on this weekly update page
  • looking forward to sharpening the design document through the input of the Genesis community and then the industry - first publicizing stop is the Genesis Forum - will put their input on next weeks update

c ya next week    Kevin

 

 
 

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