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Monday, January 5, 2015

Selection Twist

If you played SOE's Landmark during alpha you will remember the first iteration of the Line tool. It had some serious issues as soon as you started shifting the start and end position. We realized then that we needed a more organic approach to the line volumes. We were using flat planes to define the line volume and they were not able to transition smoothly enough from one end to the next.

In order to fix that, we chose to tackle on a bigger feature that had the line tool as a special case. This is usually a bad engineering practice, you just don't make a problem bigger to take care of a smaller one, but it turned out right. The line tool with disjoint ends was a special case of a mesh under a free-form deformation volume (FFD), so we did just that.

As you can see in the previous image, the sides of the line volume gradually curve from the start position to the end.

This has been in use for a while now in the line tool, but we just got time to add control points for the new selection tool. This allows many new cool shapes that were not possible before, like a simple bar that has been twisted:

In general the free-form deformation can produce pretty much anything you want. You can see other applications in this video:

The same operations can be performed over copy/pasted content and even the output of procedural grammars. This is already my favorite tool, if you are into twisting and bending I'm sure you will love it too.


  1. Looks like a fantastic way to create different shapes and i really like the three dimensional "laser" mouse.

    but i am asking myself for a while, why in landmark it is not possible to create round or diagonal cutet shapes (or is very tricky)? for instance if you cut a sphere you will geht alot of awry polygons.

    in some of your older videos you got a better cutting/copy&paste tool, then i ever saw in landmark.

    i had to think about it, because you wrote about SOE Landmark and i asked myself: "will it be in Landmark soon????"


    1. There are no core differences between this and Landmark. Actually what you see here is exactly the same line tool in the game. Any shortcomings you may have found in Landmark's line tool are also present in this FFD tool you see here.

      In part it is because of the order in which operations are applied. Some tools in Landmark, like delete, will take the latest voxel operation to be dominant. When that happens you may get divots because the new shape (even if it is air) changes the existing surface. I see this as a minor issue, it could be addressed any time. Some builders are able to produce very clean and complex shapes in Landmark as well. So it is not that it cannot represent them, it is more about how tools modify the 3D data.

      And it is also because when we get divots at Voxel Farm, they don't make it into the video.

    2. Hello, Mr. Cepero!

      I always wondered why in Landmark there was so little to be seen of your brilliant technologies. The events of the last weeks (SOE sold, massive lay-offs) answered this question somewhat.

      How do you feel about this development?
      Have they been honest to you about their grim financial situation?

      At SOE Live 2013 they presented Everquest Next within your voxel engine and claimed that it was the result of their own research, without mentioning your "contribution". It misled me to believe that it was all their own work. In hindsight I get the impression that they adorned themselves with borrowed plumes, maybe to raise the perceived value of their company which seems was already looking for a buyer back then.
      I wonder how you feel about it, taking into consideration how you reacted to a Kickstarter attempt you percieved as a scam...


    3. It was very sad to see these people go. I try not to read much into it, my feeling is this is macro-economics at play. Many industries are and will continue to be disrupted.

      I do feel frustrated about them not getting enough recognition for their technical achievements. What SOE has achieved with Landmark is unprecedented, but too quickly we took it for granted.

      Your comment is a good example of that. Most of Voxel Farm is in Landmark and EQN, however you perceive there is so little to the point it may have a role in people getting pink slips.

      I loved the SOE Live 2013 reveal. I think they were very transparent and thanks to that our engine got a lot of new mind-share. By the time they had already contributed a lot to the engine. All their claims are fair and to the day they are the best partner you could wish for yourself.

      When you do a middleware product like Voxel Farm, you do not seek public recognition. You want people to license your tech and put themselves in the spotlight. You want to help them shine. They do need to license, that's where the Kickstarter guys screwed up.

      You have to have a thick skin to be a developer in this industry. These people are very passionate, have worked very long hours, and still get little love. If you feel negative because something happened to a PC game, imagine how they feel when it is their baby and their lunch is also at stake.

  2. Very cool tool, I love how we'll be able to build relatively organic shapes within VF, tools that allow people to build great things, coupled with way to share great things will cinch Vf as a game changing tool.

    Also, though I've followed tour blog forever I still find myself marveling at curved surfaces in an engine that stores the data in voxels.

    Bending things like this, make the voxl underpinnings very user friendly and not intimidating at all!

    Great work, I love to twist and bend :)

  3. As an artist/programmer I'm super excited by the possibilities afforded by the twisting and bending tools. The shapes you can create are complex and beautiful. Wow.

    I look forward to when this will be available to indies using Unity. I would love to have VoxelFarm for my current project. Is Q1 still looking like a possibility? Any idea now of price range?