Sunday, February 26, 2012

JII Version 5.3: Science and Music

Version 5.3 of the simulation is up and running!  Here's what is new:

- The Science scene in the ride is fleshed out a bit.  This includes the set, some lighting, and special effects.
- There is some early work on sets and props for the Brand New Show scene.
- I've changed the walking mode so you are not always trapped down in the track pit.  The POV is still lower than the ride vehicle but it is a little easier to move around now.

- The Electronic Philharmonic is more detailed in the Image Works now.  This includes its music (thanks to E82)!
- The 3 entrances and exits from this scene to the upper lobby are a little clearer now.  There are still shots of where you are going in the doorways to make this easier.

- There is now pavilion atmosphere music outside and some MJ goodness in the Captain EO entrance lobby (thanks again, E82).
- I fixed some weird geometry that was causing long dark lines on the sidewalks.  I also fixed the invisible dirt in the potted plants and texture issues with the Follow Figment sign upstairs.

- Those stupid exit signs are working now.  You'd be amazed what a pain those managed to be (for reasons I don't entirely understand).

- The music gets very out of sync if you use the "skip turntable" function in the ride.
- If you want to see a mildly amusing goof.  Check out the EO exit doors from the outside.  They're not supposed to be transparent for obvious reasons.  Oops.
- There are a few missing and transparent walls in the ride.

- Brand New Show scene (and some major technical upgrades) in the Ride 
- Bubble Music and Magic Palette (and general architectural additions) in the Image Works
- Proper lobby murals and elevator shaft in the "outside scene"
- In the theater, mostly quality and efficiency upgrades


Friday, February 24, 2012

Previews and Plans

I think I have a plan now.  We'll see how long it lasts...

Up until recently, I've been mostly working on getting every part of the building built (Image Works was the last hold out) and getting all of the programming working right (mostly with the ride system).  Though there is still tweaking to do, those major milestones have been met.  From now on, it's just a matter of layering in various levels of details throughout the entire attraction.

And there is a lot to do.

I think I want to try to flesh out one piece of the 4 scenes (outside, ride, theater, image works) on each update now.  And I think I'll try to name what the next pieces will be each time I do an update.  I work really well with stated goals so this will help me stay focused.  So here goes...

The next update (which I'm working on right now) will include major work on the following pieces:

- Electronic Philharmonic in the Image Works.  As you can see from the sneak peek above, I'm getting there.  And I am pleased to announce, that thanks to E82's JII Music Compilation, this exhibit will include its proper music!

- The rest of the Science scene in the ride is next as well.  I will try to put some lights and FX in there, but functioning video is not possible yet, mostly because I don't have copies of it.  I'm also sticking with the placeholder Dreamfinder figure for now.  Animated characters is going to be a new effort all on its own.

- I'm going to try to add the remaining area music for the outside scene.

- The theater is pretty complete already.  I'm still looking for better reference material to make it look like it did when EO originally ran.  In the mean time, I'm going to fix the stupid exit signs.  It's not much but it drives me bonkers.

There will be little bits of other things in there as well and that will probably influence the next round.  For example, I've done a tiny bit of work in the Brand New Show ride scene.  And I'm still slowly crunching through various optimizations that should improve overall quality over time.

Anyway, that is the plan.  We'll see what happens with it.  And now, I'm getting back to work.


Sunday, February 12, 2012

JII Version 5.2: New Ride Track

Version 5.2 is up and running (again).  This is not a huge update but it has some important new elements to it.  Because I'm feeling lazy, please enjoy the updates in bullet point list form:

- Upgrade to Unity 3.5.  Because this version is new, you may need to update your WebPlayer.  It's quick and easy.  Get it here.

- Using the recently acquired JIYI blueprints, the track path has been completely replaced.  There is now an architecturally accurate track (with rails), track pit, emergency egress path, and multiple show platforms.  This update required me to move a whole lot of walls.  What you'll see inside does not really indicate the amount of work that went into it.

- There are now properly scaled (though not always properly placed) placeholder characters throughout the ride.

- The Flight of the Imagination scene is a little more interesting to look at.  The Dreamport and Science scenes have a little bit of progress too.  Remember, you can hit "W" and walk around if you don't want to wait for the ride.

- (Simple) special FX in the ride!!!

- Tons of optimization of the models thanks to some pretty cool Sketchup plug-ins.  I've also started the long process of breaking down the model into smaller parts for better culling in Unity.  This will be an ongoing thing that should continue to improve quality over time.  I'll introduce this in parts as I keep adding to the model.  If I try to do it all at once, I'll lose my mind.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Ride Blueprints!

I recently got access to the blueprints for the 2nd incarnation of JII, Journey Into Your Imagination (JIYI).  I was both excited and hesitant about this because I wasn't sure how much information would be helpful in recreating what was there before.  When I first looked at them, I knew immediately that they would help me in getting the track path and many of the major walls arranged correctly.  No matter what, this would a good step in the right direction.

And then on closer inspection, I discovered this little gem...

Facility egress path.  Doesn't sound like much but this information is a HUGE find for me.  The egress path is an evacuation walkway that follows the entire ride track.  In JII, it is always located on the right side of the vehicle (where the doors are).  This is a big deal because the egress path is pretty much always at the same elevation as the base of the vehicle.  Since JIYI did not alter any of the track that it uses, this gives me accurate track elevations for almost the entire ride.  And I believe that the deleted sections of track were all level with load and unload (the magic scene being a possible exception TBD).

Some other helpful bits of info in these prints include the vehicle dimensions and track width.  In a few cases, the prints also tell me the height of some of the set platforms from the original ride that were reused.  The rest of these can be figured out from the egress path as well.

As you can see in the screenshot at the top of this post, I have already recreated the track and egress path with the new dimensions.  I am integrating this into the ride model now.  I am going to have to move around several walls and fix the placement and dimensions of some of the sets I've already started building.  So I am taking a few steps back to make this right, but I think it will be worth it in the long run.

This next update may take a bit of time since I am doing this, upgrading to Unity 3.5, and trying to slowly introduce some helpful Unity tips and techniques I recently received from Chris Wallace over at Horizons Resurrected (thank you!).  Should be a nice update when it's done though.