Wednesday, 15 October 2008

There's a lady who's sure all that glitters is gold

Here at Moviestorm Towers, we get requests every day from users who desperately want a particular bit of functionality that we haven't yet implemented. We don't rest on our collective laurels when these requests arrive. There's a big database full of feature requests, to which each and every user request is diligently added. We're only a small team, so we can't do them all at once, however much we might want to.

There's always a list of Secret Things We're Working On And Are Not Allowed To Talk About. Sometimes, the upcoming secret stuff is just too cool, and one of us will drop a teasingly ambiguous hint or two in the forums. We love torturing you.

A lot of the things that are on your collective "I want this NOW" list are also on mine. One of the things that's been in the top three on my personal wishlist for several months is the ability for characters to walk up and down stairs.

I'm sure you've guessed what this blog post is about now. Take a look at this:

Those are stairs all right, and that's world-famous Moviestorm stock character Stu walking up them with the casual grace of a born catwalk superstar.

It's better than that, though. Mark's ├╝ber coding skills mean that Stu's movement up the stairs is just a standard Moviestorm walk command. That means you can change the speed and watch Stu adapt his footfalls automatically:

You can even change the gait to make him limp up the stairs, or tip-toe, or any of the other standard walk gaits. He can even walk up the stairs backwards:

It's not limited to that one set of stairs, either. It works equally well if the stairs are curved. What's that you say? Spiral stairs? Sure.

Backwards? Erm, okay.

Whilst playing a guitar? If you absolutely insist:

All together now: "And she's buying a stairway to heaven ...[1]"

Now, before you all starting sending me private messages, the answer is "when it's good and ready and not before", and that won't be for a wee while yet. You'll just have to wait patiently like all the other boys and girls.

[1] For legal reasons, I'll have to ask you to hum along yourself. I'd hate to be accused of infringing copyright by reproducing the mighty Stairway, in any of its 100+ forms.


Hugh said...

Looks good. I've been impressed with Mark's work for years.

How hard is it to get the multiple surfaces working, though? I mean, do you have to define connections, set up walk paths, transitions, all that sort of thing?

johnnie said...

@hugh - No, no need for any of that. Just place your character at the bottom of the stairs, click the top of the stairs and choose "Move here". It's just like a standard walk command - Moviestorm will take care of the complicated stuff.

There's still some little irritations to work out (you'll notice that the footsteps go a bit too close to the edge on curved stairs for instance) but it's basically all there and working.

Overman said...

Fantastic stuff! Can we assume that means 2+ story sets are in the foreseeable future?

Your headline cracked me up, btw. Nice.

johnnie said...

@overman - You may very well assume that. I couldn't possibly comment.

Tackling that question in a slightly more serious manner for a second, potentially there's no reason why not. Practically, however, it's going to take us quite some time before we start implementing multi-level sets of any real significance. On the "we want to do this" list, though, definitely.

johnnie said...

At the moment, the only stairs we have are simple models that the art team assembled in order to let Mark test his code. Because of the way they're designed, they actually become invisible when viewed from underneath. Being the hardcore machinima hacker that I am, I couldn't resist making use of this new feature in a way I'm sure Mark didn't intend. Here's a bit of test footage from a scifi/fantasy thing I'm working on which will probably never actually see the light of day. If you haven't already figured it out, she's sitting at the top of a set of stairs.

Cool, huh?