Tuesday, May 25, 1999

We just had a very productive weekend! Many enhancements are being made to the simulator project as well as this web site. Please be patient as the last of the construction zones are brought to life. Most notable of our recent accomplishments have to do with the view system where we actually get to see the simulated universe from our location and orientation. Although that has always been the case, here are the improvements to that system that were recently made (and partially tested):

1) The moon map was updated with a 6 frequency class II geodesic sphere. Mr. Lambert has already begun to make new texture maps for the continents, islands, polar caps, and cloud maps that will be affected by this. Even though our current sphere construction program is obsolete, we had to make a new program to dissect the information provided by the third party geodesic generator software. You can view a picture of the newest continent at the bottom of The Universe section.

2) We have a working theory for improving the cloud cover so that we can see the weather systems from orbit as two dimensional texture maps that are represented above the ground so the proper depth perception and relative motion exists. The theory involves allowing us to then view the clouds as three dimensional structures so that we may aim and penetrate them. Currently the penetration is simulated by obscuring the view, but it is not synchronized with the actual cloud locations. The summary of the theory is to find the surface normal of a two dimensional cloud map and orient a extended three dimensional polygon map in its place keeping the base of the cloud perpendicular to the surface normal. As we start testing different calculations we will keep the public advised on our progress.

3) In addition to the dynamic lighting already existing, we are now allowed to take our simulator up to objects such as ships and docks and shed some light of our own with headlights (more formally “navigation lights”). This should add some drama to our exploration of derelict spacecraft to say the least.

4) For an additional dramatic effect, orbital debris (less formally “space dust”) can now be seen. This helps in a way so that we may judge our speed and inertial trajectory when making complicated manuevers. A side effect of this will allow us to add precipitation when on the moon, and the frequency of dust will decrease depending on the height of our orbit.

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