Editor Development Continues
I wanted to take some time to investigate geospatial features and see if it was possible to use GIS systems with Ultra Engine. My investigations were a success and resulted in some beautiful lunar landscapes in a relatively short period of time in the new game engine.
I have plans for this, but nothing I can say anything specific about right now, so now I am working on the editor again.
Leadwerks had a very well-defined workflow, which made it simple to use but also somewhat limited. Ultra goes in the opposite direction, with extremely flexible support for plugins and extensions. It's a challenge to keep things together because if you make things to flexible it just turns into indecisiveness, and nothing will ever get finished that way. I think I am finding a good balance or things that should be hard-coded and things that should be configurable.
Instead of separate windows for viewing models, textures, and materials, we just have one asset editor window, with tabs for separate items. The texture interface is the simplest and just shows some information about the asset on the left-side panel.
When you select the Save as menu item, the save file dialog is automatically populated with information loaded from all the plugins the engine has loaded. You can add support for new image formats at any time just by dropping a plugin in the right folder. In fact, the only hard-coded format in the list is DDS.
You can save to an image format, or to the more advanced DDS and KTX2 formats, which include mipmaps and other features. Even more impressive is the ability to load Leadwerks texture files (TEX) and save them directly into DDS format in their original pixel format, with no loss of image quality. Here we have a Leadwerks texture that uses DXT1 compression, converted to DDS without recompressing the pixels:
There are several tricks to make the new editor start up as fast as possible. One of these is that the various windows the editor uses don't actually get created until the first time they are used. This saves a little bit of time to give the application a snappier feel at startup.
I hope the end result will provide a very intuitive workflow like the Leadwerks editor has, with enough power and flexibility to make the editor into a living growing platform with many people adding new capabilities for you to use. I think this is actually my favorite stuff to work on because this is where all the technology is exposed to you, the end user, and I get to carefully hand-craft an interface that makes you feel happy when you use it.