void

The better of yesterday’s and today’s time I spent in the third space, in the unfathomable black void of MaxEd2’s viewport, representing the 3Dspace wherein maps are created. More precisely, I spent the time in front of the space, staring into it via the screen, and waited. If in gamemodding I am good for something at all then it’s mapping. There is quite a number of mappers in the community who are way better than me, but from the start on I developed a special knack with complex geometry. My signature skill, if you like. And my only modding-ability which deserves to be called a skill. Thankfully StratonAce assigned me a a level for Rogue-Ops which demands exactly that: a cathedral—as Strat has made it public, I can repeat it here.

Now, a cathedral—mind that we are not dealing with some rotten church—per definition is a huge structure. In consequence, to guarantee fluent gameplay later on, optimizing the whole map is crucial. The polycount has to be watched closely, and every opportunity to spare polys has to be taken. “Less is more.” (Mies van der Rohe 1959)

Then, the cathedral as Strat had envisioned it, should consist of a plethora of gothic arches and windows. Arches ought to be curvy. ‘Small number of polygons’ plus ’rounded appearance demanded’ cries for Gouraud shading. The latter in turn requires the to-be-smoothed polygons to belong to one mesh, so a polygroup can be attached to them.

Joonas had indirectly challenged me by commenting in our team-only forum on a screenshot of an earlier build of my map: “Just mentioning that you asolutely should not union all that stuff together.” Back then I replied: “No, no, I won’t; I never intended to. I will only union or join those pieces which should be one piece to get optimal polygroup lightmap smoothing.” Then [HP] jumped in: ” I dont agree with you Joonas, if he boolean all that stuff, renders will take much longer, but GIS system will be more acurate! Because the system will treat that as one piece!”

Just recently Strat has bugged me to show off screenies of my map’s progress. When I had done so in the internal forum he interspersed some encouragement: “Now, get it lighted properly. ;-) he he” So I immediately flew through the whole structure and did a quick revision of it. Trying to determine what could be unioned without creating more and/or more complex polygons. The conclusion was astounding and it came back to my mind: “As one piece!” It definitely is in the nature of my cathedral’s geometry, that for getting “optimal polygroup lightmap smoothing” almost the whole thing should be one piece. More than one time I’ve tried similar operations in MaxEd1 and it crashed on me so fast and often I hardly could follow. But this is MaxEd2, far more stable they say … the hell—no risk, no fun.

So I humbled myself and again practiced the Zen of MaxEd … calm-mindedly staring onto the screen, not moving anything, be it a toe, or be it thoughts, patiently waiting for the computer to finish calculating the new volume’n’vertices. With the whole structure growing, the booleans got more and more complex. The last one took roughly 1h 30min. Infinite patience required. As a Zen-archer doesn’t look away from the bull’s eye until the arrow has hit it (although he knew two years before that the arrow will hit it right in the middle), the master-booleanist doesn’t look away from the screen until the new mesh is created. No occasional blinking allowed. Finally the last operation was finished succesfully. Ctrl+S.

The machine’s main cooler fan suddenly sprang up to one zillion rounds per minute, emitting a sound I never before heard coming out of a computer. By bad chance at this very moment a tiny fly hovered right above the main air-induct. She immediately was sucked in. Inside she for sure instantaneously became deep-fried. A millisecond later the system shutted down. Deepest black void possible on a screen. Satori. I fried two eggs in the touchpad’s recess, then packed the machine into my rucksack, went home, and to bed. Till sleep’s black void came mercifully I wondered where that tiny fly now was, and if retracing the threedimensional path she took at break-neck speed through the laptop’s inner architecture would be a case of reverse engineering and thereby breach of copyright law. Apart from that: Although my laptop is a high-end machine, I now definitely need a godbox. Endo, please could you e-mail me the specs of that mean machine right outta hell, your employer furnished you with? In order that I can have a similar one built for me.

Today morning the laptop was cool and crisp again. I fired it up, everything worked perfectly, and the final result of the previous day’s boolean orgy safely resided on the HDD. Meanwhile I made several backups and deposited them on servers scattered all over the globe. Redundancy is your friend. Now let’s see if the dramatic lighting will work out better. Just a second … it just struck me that with one more boolean … if you are looking for me, I am back at staring into the black void, a kind of exploded cathedral beautifully floating in its midst.

EDIT: It’s one piece now! All vertices perfectly welded. At a conference I once attended, Open-Source evangelist Bruce Perens preached: “The computer gives you absolute justice. Either it compiles, or not.” Now I wonder if my piece will export.

Share