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  Advanced   FX

3D engine developers and Coders!
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  Advanced Environmental Effects
  • this is the stuff! real effects will fascinate participants like nothing else - except interactive art
  • this section is only useful at this time to show the direction and ability that the 3D engines will take us in 2 to 3 years - purely motivational for the non programmer/casual reader
  • this section is a brainstorm of ideas to generate effects as cheaply as possible (less computation) and is only useful until physics engines take on all these duties along with the graphic hardware of 7 years off
  • since some of these areas are not yet fully technology developed - a lot of the following info is just a repository for brainstorming and seeks input for more ideas from the world so others may use them in their development of the program design for the future - good to anticipate and have all the programming tricks and ideas on how to simulate environment like sun shadowing and lunar movement long before the ability
  • the term "advanced" is only used as a term meaning beyond this programs ability - although 3D programmers can probably do each of these items on a one by one basis now in place of the CPU hogging artificial intelligence routines the modern game requires
  • this is a wish list for the future of all virtual world terrains - it is possible if virtual worlds outside of the game realm become popular that these would be features developed just for the virtual worlds before they would become details the game industry would standardize due to the millions of other details the game player needs
  Advanced Stellar Effects
  • one of the greatest weaknesses of programs today is the lack of true clouds, sun, shadow, moon, stars, and their movements that can add true beauty and of course atmosphere
  • mountain and land features and clouds cast moving shadow
  • when you see your shadow moving in front of you - you just have to turn around and look back at moon or other source
  • sun stays in same position relative to player (so far away) and all shadows parallel but not emanating from the fake sun
  • a distance fogging type technique - translucent multiple atmosphere shells/domes - a cheap way to use coloring - can be intensified according to distance from player etc. - another way of saying distance fogging - except the translucent color of a shell may be different on opposite sides in relation to user and the sun (think sun set) - a physics engine will handle the difference in lighting from one side of the horizon to the other
  • inner sky dome would tint everything darker on the sunset side to make silhouettes at a certain distance and everything on the other side of participant would catch the evening yellow glow - but what happens to the clouds on the sunset horizon? Will sun shining through be beefed up?
  • sky dome coloring should be used to filter color onto clouds and land by the distance from sky dome and the player - time of day/weather/clouds/position of sun all should be factors set first and then used to color the clouds
  • 2 or 3 layer sky - outer layer is either blue day or star black (rotating around the Polaris/southern cross axis - and northern southern lights) night and the next inner layer is used to fade one in and out and effect the blueness of sky and coloring onto clouds - for instance dryer air on top of a cold mountain means brighter stars so less filter on the inner dome - so less haze put on the clouds and the stars - the inner dome could be all of a 20 foot diameter fixed dome that follows the player (commonly called sky boxes) coloring the sky and clouds but not the nearest ground objects unless it is dusk dawn lighting? - the alternate style sky box is a translucent filter onto the surrounding landscape as a cheaper way to color and dynamically alter the landscape through the changes of day and night (Basic change of day and night is not done by this miethod
  • the 2 to 3 layer sphere is same as sky dome keeping the explorer at its center so the visual movement is not influenced by the explorer's - could be smaller than island if it follows the participant as its center whether participant is flying in sky or not - great for when participant flies beyond the island etc. - higher you get then the more transparent the inner sphere and less sparkling of atmosphere on the stars - inner sphere measures a clouds or trees distance from the participant and adds the depth of shading necessary - more atmosphere hazing on the lower horizon - doesn’t matter if clouds are outside of the spheres or not - they show through the outer sphere and are filtered by the inner for coloring due to time of day or distance hazing or relationship from sun and participant relationship - this is easier and cheaper then an all inclusive dome for whole island and beyond - sunset colors and coloring on moon and sun is from the inner sphere
  • notes on the inner dome color filtering - the lower horizon in daytime isn’t as blue as the rest of sky - more pale but distant clouds darker - intensity of filtering on the clouds and objects on horizon is heavier the further from observer until furthest clouds fogged out by darker and darker horizon unless on sunset side
  • so the value of color intensity/darkness is derived by the distance from viewer and the sun or moon or even stars as dictated by cloud cover - these are all details that are crucial to the sense of reality and most of all beauty - that can be achieved cheaper than we should assume - cheaper programming can be reached by knowing the behaviors desired before hand instead of having many different models independently operating and affecting each other
  • will need something more than the standard sky dome for the dirigibles to fly around in
  • fogging to show off halo of sun or moon
  • celestial bodies move/shadows shifting day and night
  • solar and lunar eclipses - shooting stars - once we have ability to change day to night
  • if explorer tracks movement of a fixed object’s shadow (by sun or moon light) reveals relative compass directions (stick and shadow concept) - mark the shadow over a ten minute period (especially with a shorter day/faster rotating planet) - you have made an east/west line - shadow can also be used as a somewhat fixed reference for finding direction between fixed terrain points - ex. sighting on a peak across valley - look at angle of direction compared to shadows - keep this relationship to get close enough to peak to see it from within the valley flora
  • shorten the days to 10 hours and the year/season cycle to 2 months? Or should it copy the actual players seasons and time of day
  • wind means sand/dust blinding in the desert
  • wind reverses AM to PM so you could tell what direction and predominant winds give effects on the terrain or flora (only reason for cyclic winds)
  Advanced Cloud Ideas
  • clouds are nicely implemented now in the major 3D engines - but at this time they don’t dynamically animate (for instance blowing over the top of a peak or interacting by voice recognition " that one looks like a rabbit" (computer takes the cloud in explorer view center screen and shapes it more into a rabbit - that's a very far-fetched example for the far far future with voice recognition and intelligent agent computers) cast shadows, etc. - clouds will really enhance the virtual experience when they are dynamic and match up with weather - eventually Nemo’s Mind clouds will move and transform at a slightly faster pace than reality to lend to the surreal, keep attention, and add life to landscape
  • a cloud program would be based on or faked on hours of video speeded up to get the behavior down but also speeded up within the program - the player would see the cloud shadow and then would look for the cloud that caused it and same if looking at terrain from above, would try to match up clouds with the shadows - could see own shadow of dirigibles from above and from the ground
  • to fake with pre-rendered clouds and their behavior overlap them and adjust higher and lower to - random mixer of scale changes and relation to sun makes them all look completely different
  • complex shifting nature of clouds could be simulated by fractal geometry - would be a classic use of patterns
  • as one cloud moves at a different speed it would separate or penetrate through another - making it look like the actions of one complex cloud - so pre-rendered clouds can be combined with variations in speed size and length, width, color -  perhaps the higher and smallest clouds are the fastest moving clouds - that would make great realistic transformations
  • cloud program cheating - pre-rendered shapes stretched twisted with random size and orientation - could have the shadow/darker part of clouds pre-rendered and always properly oriented to the sun (darkest part away from sun) - this way don’t have to do real time lighting - what about when the sun is low to horizon and sky dark or full cloud filled sky - then lighting may or may not work - or do you just use filtering of inner sphere layer - cheats are valid when they look better than real physics as emulated by heavy programming and end up with dorky looking dinosaurs in "Trespasser" (computer game that pushed the limits of terrain and physics simulating) versus the great animations they could have spent their time on
  • clouds are flattest on the bottom
  • in a cloud field if all the lowest points are the darkest then you will get the dappled effect of real clouds
  • darkest parts of clouds is underneath and opposite side from the sun - the thickest part in relation to the sun ray direction dictates darkest part - including any other clouds between that one and the sun
  • clouds are transparent so volume dictates everything about its look in relation to color of sky and relationship to sun and the viewer - unless the density is real high then you may have hard thick edges - why are edges difficult to color
  • clouds - lack definition yet often terminate crisply against the blue sky - other times fuzzy wisps
  • add coloring to the edges of clouds like the effect of photo filters
  • should see thunder clouds forming
  • visitors could play the cloud shape game - and in the 6th stage of this program their chat should influence the cloud shapes and mood/weather, "hey that one looks like a rabbit" specially if they point hopefully it will turn into a rabbit shape - very interactive/Nemo Mind/environment/natural objects for interacting with
  • could alter clouds to make them more fantastical at some times and more rounded and sedate at others
  • some nights the whips of clouds are so thin and light that not noticeable unless racing past moon
  • use same program to walk in fog and fly in clouds?
  • clouds several visual centimeters to either side of sun or moon must pick up lighting of that object
  • cloud cover could be so thick the only way to see sun/moon/stars would be by flying above them by carousel or dirigible
  • how to handle blinding effect of un-filtered sun? - maybe always hazy in that part of sky
  • if can only approach a cloud slowly then all at a distance could be rendered as 2-D off of 3-d calculations or even cheaper and then turned into volumetric for penetration or flying around
  • the top of clouds are the fastest moving? - higher in wind? More swirling - so more density variation? Useful when penetrating in air vehicles or carousel
  • combine with surreal elements - by using suggestive forms?
  • to have a cloud program that suddenly darkens the land with cloud shadow - and to see shadows over the land from good viewpoints - this will be very noticeable with our faster moving surreal acting clouds
  • can see storm clouds on horizon with sunset behind and to the side , occasional lightning with it, can visually track the storms movement toward away or at right angles to viewer
  • snow and fogging effects must be real for example looking across wide opening where creek is to nearest trees through snow is cool - the trees behind going up the slope get more fogging effect from the snow - can do incredible views with real fogging that covers variable instances - so a  light snow or drizzle will look like it can be seen out out a ways by fogging effects
  • past a certain distance the rain and snow effects would just be fogging versus real 3D drops - so all Z buffer would be in reference to the player as far as weather - fogging would flux with intensity of precipitation and the wind and sun location or moon - so a certain tree could disappear and reappear according to these rules
  • need a wind program for precipitation and leaves on trees to do swirling with a breeze influenced by nearby structures etc.
  • after rain on a dark surface such as lava fields or rocks specially in high desert the ground should steam wispy
  • rain shows the influence and swirling of wind - same with snow - specially in and around structures, eddies
  • rain drops and snow should pick up and reflect light - show up rain more when back lit - rain fall sound dictated by rain intensity and surface
  • raindrops are 2D until they hit something
  • hail and rain on banana leaves and or glass roofs - the rain drops fade in and out with the intensity of the squall - the detail of the weather can take the place of the graphic detail that can’t be seen because of it - like the old fogging effect
  • rainbows
  Advanced Physics
  • a geographically and celestial living environment - tides, currents, precipitation etc. - a truly virtual world of stellar physics (day, night, weather, moon cycles) - the more dynamic the more enticed the participant - in real life there is nothing worse than a day in the woods that is hot and no wind - meaning not a creature or plant is stirring or making noise - it is a big psychological downer
  • when the ability for real physics simulation comes along then there will be unlimited avenues for interaction - for example: You see a huge rock with a flat face and darker surface on the flat side - the darkness seems to be a gradient from the bottom center to less dark spreading outward and upward - what would the participant do? - hopefully would look for other evidence from whoever left the markings of a much used fire reflecting boulder - start digging for long buried artifacts - the digging is the sophisticated part
  • throwing stones into lake, sliding down ice-fields, floating in dirigibles/’buffeting in wind gently, boats and surface subs rocking in waves, waves different in different tides and weather
  • interactant can be swept down-stream or in strong ocean current or stream
  • can slide down mountain gravel/pumice/snow or roll down sand dunes
  • real physics simulators have great wow factor - just kicking in the pine duff (this would become the same way to design the terrain by pouring different ground debris in appropriate areas of terrain as determined by the foliage - so the future of a chat centered virtual world will have growing appeal - would have huge interactive appeal - eventually the participants could leave their own marks that would be placed in the island whenever they are on an on-line version
  • throw a rock through leaves and they should tear and physically react
  • volcanic activity like Mysterious Island and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea - earthquakes and bodies of land sliding into the water - destruction and chaos and the control of all by mother nature is Nemo and Jules Verne's theme - so a terrain that is also dynamic and could make permanent changes by volcanic action - new islands could grow by being volcanic in the first year and then put tourist attractions on it in future versions of Nemo' Mind - or just the beauty of flowing lava and sputtering molten pits steaming into the ocean
  Advanced Dynamic Distance Fogging
  • not the type of fogging we will use initially to hide polygons in open terrain
  • games will still use some form of fogging if they really want to maximize the detail in something like dense tree and foliage
  • Nemo’s Mind will sacrifice a lot to get some detailed flora and one form of fog Nemo’s Mind will need is a ring (versus sphere for dynamic fogging) of volumetric fog - example: as you approach the jungle from a beach - a volumetric fog wall will sit just inside the jungle (no fogging  above) - as you penetrate - the wall moves away at a fixed distance - but within the fog static "non-forms" suggesting the shape of the leaves in that area or the trunks of that type of tree lower down (lower on the fog ring) and the lower vegetation - these are mixed in with the "real" flora - the effect will be shapes that could be shadows or real flora and the fog will seem more like normal vision distance and darkness and natural shadowing versus just cheap fogging - so the fog shapes stay in place and are only rendered as they intersect with the ring of volumetric fog - most importantly for Nemo’s Mind this shifting in the shadows effect will be mysterious, eerie, surreal
  • what this really attempts - is to make the foliage so thick that you can’t see past a certain distance anyway - and with this closed in view - the rendering speed picks back up - if you stood in place and rotated your view 180 degrees you would only see into the fog ring in 3 or 4 spots - so good variety in view - if the jungle or coniferous canopy gets really high in an area or it is darker than usual for terrain reasons or weather/night falling then it would adjust
  • this will be very crucial when flying around above this high detail foliage - definitely need a fog bank almost at the very top of trees - will look realistic since the ground is the backdrop lighting wise anyway - so a second way to use the fog is to have it as a permanent terrain feature in certain spots and then it disappears at a certain radius from the explorer as they approach
  • the data for the fixed shadow shapes could be the exact same grove of trees off set from the real trees, gray scaled and sliced up - in some ways you have more to render all together - but it is worth playing with the volumetric ring distance/furthest Z rendering to save some frames and get that effect - it may be something to keep even when the hardware acceleration no longer requires it
  • later the fog shapes could even pan around the viewer as they move if the effect is worth it - a split panning to both sides of the direction taken
  • cheaper to have tiled fog shaping? better effect to have animated wavy movement to the shapes? that would give even more dynamic environment - and speed it up with camera movement

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1999-2001 by H. Kevin Long - Nemo's Mind TM   all rights reserved
Welcome to the Nemo's Mind Design Document!