New website content, rebuilt habs, better code
We're hard at work to make Moon Town a place you want to be. Let me tell you our progress:
Website taking shape
The website content forms the guide for later interactive displays in the town itself, so many pages need building to make it complete. The framework for that is taking shape. A labelled map of the structures is now on the Moon Town page – every number on it will get a page of its own. So will each section listed in Moon Town and Moon Life. So though brief, each item in these places has a lot of thought behind it. I’ve been busy taking pictures all around the town in Blender, the 3d program we use, trying to convey the already vast scope of what we have. It’s a little hard, so I look forward to making new videos of it. Images have been added to the website at a steady clip that should increase in coming weeks.
Habitats and installations revised
The entire model of Lalande crater was recently upgraded. This led to the need to revise some structures to set them properly in the landscape again – rebuilding roads and foundations especially. When I opened up the Spaceport and Long Dome Park files to do this, I realized it was best to overhaul them in general while I was at it. Let me show you the before and after of each. First, Long Dome Park:
The interior of the revised hab hasn’t been done at all. The parkland stretching its length, the apartment towers at either end, the ponds, and the market area built in the extensive space created by early mining activity that the dome was built over – that all has to be remade, and also upgraded. The rest is a cleaner, more efficient design that maximizes the usefulness and aesthetics of the radiation shielding provided by the giant stone arches. The glass between the arches is hard to see – getting that to display well in the 3d program is quite difficult. But it is two complete layers of laminated quartz glass reinforced with a webbing, separated by 10 m. That way the outer layer acts as a Whipple shield – any meteoroid that hits it disintegrates, and if it manages to penetrate that layer its force is dispersed over an area large enough it does little damage to the inner layer. Now, the Spaceport:
The old spaceport had runways as well as pads for vertical launch and landing, but while the low entry speeds that come with release from an orbiting skyhook could allow runways, the added complexity doesn’t seem worth it. The new spaceport has a number of better developed launch and landing pads with slits down their lengths opening onto flame trenches. The terminal building no longer has a Whipple shield, instead the entire building has walls of gravel and packed regolith between inner and outer shells of fused basalt and fiber glass composite, 3 meters thick. Pretty good radiation shielding and thick enough meteoroids aren’t much concern. There are full hangars where all rockets get services between runs, and where the huge strongback trucks will be that lower them on arrival, cart them around, and hoist them up before launch. The hangars now dwarf the terminal building, though it is quite large. The container-pod-based nuclear rockets remain simple sketches, but as with other elements, dressing them up with better looking materials makes the whole thing more convincing. The terminal building has new internal details, but we’ll leave that for now. It still needs a ton of work.
Finessing has happened on a lot of other models as well. Too much to get into.
The Coding Adventure Continues
This good news is the Downloads page of the website now has buttons for downloading a launcher for the game that will automatically check for updates every time the game is opened, ensuring you always have our most recent and best version. The bad news is that the one for Windows has a bug and currently doesn’t work, and the one for Mac has not gone through their verification process, and so in order to open it you have to set it up to bypass the security in OSX that prevents you from opening such things. Those instructions are here. (Just so you know, getting verified by Apple is not very easy. It takes small companies time before they are ready and to make it through the system.) The Linux launcher works great. Yay Linux!
Making a launch and update service like that is sophisticated code and it makes me very happy that we have staff capable of pulling it off. We also have staff capable of setting up a live game server allowing many people to be in the virtual town together, and this is also not a simple feat. When we say ‘many’, we currently mean ‘maybe five’. Let me tell you, it has taken many months of work to get to that point without constant crashes. I mean, it still doesn’t actually work. But it’s close! Really close, we can taste it!
There it is in testing. Pretty exciting when you know how hard it was. I realize lots of games and virtual worlds do this and it doesn’t feel special to a user. What makes this different is we are a very small independent group that has done this on a shoestring budget, in the only fully open source, free game engine capable of a world of such complexity. Very few have done this before, or made the full code available. There is good reason to feel it could lead to big things.
So there you have it. We’re on the go. It’s a bit of a roller coaster right now. We thank you for sharing the ride.