Black Dragon is MY Viewer, i decide which feature i want to add and which to remove, i share this Viewer to show the world that user base size is not important, i do rate quality by effort, thought and love put into the project, not some rough estimated numbers. I consider feature requests only if i you can name proper valid reasons i can agree on. It is my (unpaid) time i'm putting into this project, i'm not here to cater to every Joe's desires.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Black Dragon 64x - Update 3.4.8 "Playing Dragon"

It's too-late-for-update time.

I wanted to have it released last weekend already but you know how it goes, you finish up something small and notice something interesting, then you follow that and BOOM you are in the middle of some huge changes taking much longer than you wanted.

Anyway, this update got some interesting things for you!

Starting with the first thing you'll notice, the loading screen, i've improved its loading process drastically, it will now update the progress a lot more in-between big steps and will also inform you on what it is doing. Rather than starting at 30% and jumping massive 5-15% at a time, it will now start at 5% for the login and add 1% for every small step it has done, you will obviously still see it jump a lot depending on your loading speed but you'll notice that it looks a lot more like it is actually doing something now, you can also see what its doing and where in the loading process it currently is, this not only gives you an idea what might be taking so long but also gives me better insight at which part of the loading process the Viewer crashes (if it does), which makes it extremely easy to find out what code caused the crash in the first place. Here's an example of how it looks now, note that the final version looks a bit different, the text is right next to the loading bar on the right side now and the colors have changed but it's essentially the same otherwise. Note that this was logging in with my alt account, hence why it was so fast, older accounts with more items will obviously take a bit longer and get more time reading the loading info.

Next up, as promised last update the rest of the changes to the about land floater. A few examples:

You might notice that the Audio tab is gone, it is now in the Media tab, this was done to use the tab's space properly, otherwise half the tab would have been empty on both tabs, what a waste of space if you ask me, they should work just as usual, if not report it to me and i'll look into it. Have a look:

Then there's preferences and its million settings, i went through the entire display tab and tried making sure that all settings are enabled and disabled when appropriate, hopefully reducing the confusion a bit when you tick an option and it doesn't do anything because it requires a different option to be ticked first. This means that from now on you'll see a lot of greyed options in display if you keep lot's of things off and because i'm not stupid you can still use the [default] buttons in that very edgy case you've set an option so high that it crashed the viewer and now you can't set it back down because you need to have the option enabled to use the sliders which would immediately crash you again. (you would still be able to do it on login without issues but that's a different thing...). Future plans include actually telling you why said options are disabled, i'm thinking of an overlay that simply tells you "Needs X enabled" in red probably, we'll see.

This update also brings a new handy feature for machinima and photographers like myself. I present you: Raise Water Level. Yes! You heard that right, from now on anyone can change the water level on any region locally (and revert it back to region default if they need to) at any time. Why? Story time: I went through my pictures and noticed a distinct lack of nice pictures so i set out to make a new one and visited Maddy's EchtVirtuell blog to find some SIM tips, didn't take long to find a nice one, Elvenshire. I went there and tried making a picture but was dissatisfied with it and gave up and went to do some other more important things at the time. Some time later Ella posted this impressive picture into my Discord channel of the same place i went to...

When i saw it i wanted to head back and fix all the things that annoy me in this picture, the seemingly distinct lack of SSAO usage, the missing water and reflections, the pixelated shadows in the front (on the alpha surfaces) and the seemingly missing or inappropiate shadows in the background on the second wreckage and beyond. Said and done, i went there and...

i just couldn't finish this picture... the pixelated shadows on the alpha "water" was absolutely killing me (and the picture) so i said "fuck this, i'm doing it now" and added a feature to change the water height so i could raise the water level and derender all the fake water. All said and done and the outcome after some additional playing with sliders was this:

This is definitely a massive improvement over the above image but i still wasn't happy, i wanted it to be closer to Ella's original shot, so i made some drastic color correction and tone mapping changes to get to this:

Color wise its closer to Ella's shot but obviously i didn't want to just copy her (which is also almost impossible, each shot is highly unique and with so many options it would take many hours to get even remotely where you want it to be) but instead improve on the original image and its problems with shadows and SSAO. I'm quite happy with the outcome, it looks really good and makes use of the region water in a decent way... and that's how the Raise Water Level feature came to be. You can find it in the windlight water editor here:

Last major noteworthy change is the improvement of the bone camera i introduced a while ago, it will now rotate with your avatar instead of staying fixed in place, this allowed me to make another little funny thing i wanted to do and was basically another one of those features i made just for something i wanted to show. Tick HD and sound and enjoy.

The rest of the changes are just tiny fixes for reported issues, small QoL changes and cleanup in the Viewer, changes that should hopefully improve the overall quality and feel of the UI and change the Viewer for the best it can be.

By Ella

By Ella