Saturday, October 03, 2009

Easier authoring

The latest addition to Ember is a new authoring mode in which all entities in the world are easily selectable through graphical representation. While most entities in the world normally are represented by a graphical mesh, not all are, and not all meshes are easily selectable. This is most obvious when trying to alter terrain areas and mods, since these in most cases don't have any graphical representation at all. Previously one then had to either know the id of the entity and access the editor for it through the console, or use the entity browser to find it.
With the new visualizations this becomes much more natural, since it's now only a matter of selecting the entity in the game.

Another new addition is a feature for easier selecting entities obscured by other entities. The need for this arose from changes on the server for how the ocean is handled. Previously it were solely a client effect, putting a transparent plane in the world to represent the ocean. Now it's however a entity just like any other. This however presents a problem when picking things that are in the ocean, since the normal operation then would be for Ember to always report that the ocean was picked. The solution for this is a new feature in Ember which allows multiple "mouse pick results" to be presented. If any of the entities picked is transparent (such as the water) Ember will also look for any entity beyond the transparent entity. Through a simple paging mechanism in the mouse picker widget the user can then flip through the picked entities and select the one she wants to interact with.
I think it works pretty well, but I'm a bit biased so I would love to get some feedback from other users about this feature.
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