Map mode, graphic fixes, etc.

So I’ve been doing a fair bit of work on MMORPG Tycoon 2 over the past few days.  As I mentioned before, I’ve been prototyping up a “map mode”, which has been making promising progress.  I imagine that people will usually want to be modifying terrain from the map mode, since it gives a much more stable interface.  (That is, mountains rising don’t interfere with the positioning of the cursor, the way that they did in the MS1 build).  I haven’t yet decided on the interface to enter map mode, whether it should be an “anytime, anywhere” feature, or whether it should only work when one is on the graveship, or what.

I’ve also spent a little time improving the general heightmap smoothness.  I’ve fixed the annoying “crinkly edges” problem which would occur on the sides of some mountain ranges, for example (visible in the screenshot here).

I’ve been spending a lot of time on the terrain painting interface, trying to work out how to make it easier to get good results.  The big problem with the current implementation is that it’s based on applying an effect over time.  That is, brushes apply their effects repeatedly, until the user decides that they’ve got enough of the particular effect.  For example, when you click and hold using the “Mountain” tool, whatever’s under the brush slowly fades from whatever it currently is into mountains.  Which sounds okay, except that “whatever it currently is” is updated continuously.  So if you just click and hold on one spot, even though I’m doing a very slow blend at the edge of the brush, the edges will eventually become mountains as well, forming an extremely sharp cliff instead of a nice slope.  I’ve got a couple of ideas about how to fix this, but they all require using more memory, for remembering what the terrain was like before you started to draw on it.

Still plenty of stuff to do on this.  And then I’ll get to think about implementing the new combat system, which should be good fun.  :)