Thursday, September 5, 2013

What's taking so damn long?

For those of you still patiently waiting on me, thank you.  I thought I'd give you a quick run-down of what is happening that is making the next release take so long.  Firstly...

- Work.
- Personal life (for good reasons).

But here are the technical reasons:

- The upgrade from 3.5 to version 4.0 and now 4.2 as well as the switch from Free to Pro has introduced roughly a million new options and changed the way a lot of stuff works.  I'm sifting through these options and fixing things that got weird in the transitions as quick as I can.  I literally did everything as tricks and work-arounds for the Free version that work against me in Pro.  It is a lot of mess to clean up spread across 4 very complicated "scenes".  Work is really happening though.

- Lighting, shadows, lighting, and lighting.  The advent of Pro shadows has dramatically altered the way everything looks and that requires a bit of tweaking.  In the outdoor scene, the sunlight no longer floods the interior spaces, so I am having to add all that missing lighting in the lobby now.

- I've been changing the way the water effects work in the outside scene.  That is mostly done now.  And it looks pretty cool.

- Glass, transparency, and reflections.  Kill me.

- I attempted to switch from the modeled terrain to Unity's internal terrain builder.  That was disastrous so I am back where I started for now.  Will try again in a later version.  Part of that effort was to get access to trees that will respond to wind.

Terrain disaster in progress...
- An aborted attempt to animate the escalators turned into a big mess in the lobby during the conversion.  Cleaning that up is not going smoothly.

- The upgrade of textures and bump maps in conjunction with the new lighting is easy but very time-consuming.  I am literally retexturing entire sections of the model just to make it look like it did before or better.

- Pro has real occlusion culling and some tools designed to help reduce the load on the processor and graphics card.  Now that I can see what I was doing wrong before, I'm trying to fix it, but 2 years of blind work has made this a big mountain to climb.  I have also removed the fake occlusion system that was in there, which is good because it was frustrating to make work right.

- 2 things that I have been experimenting with (eating up time as well) are better scripting methods that I've recently learned and a new engine for the ride system that will hopefully be less buggy.  These will probably not be in the next release.

And that is this week's list of excuses.  Hopefully, that gives you an idea of just how much this upgrade has kind of blown up in my face.  I'll get it straightened out and released as soon as possible.  I just want it to be pretty again (prettier even) before I release it again.

Thanks everyone,