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-   -   Extending MA3's capabilities? (https://www.feldoncentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=15276)

flipper 07-15-2012 01:20 PM

Extending MA3's capabilities?
 
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Seeing as this forum has been pretty quiet for a while now, I thought I'd post about something I've been working on over the years that involves Mr. Sachs' MA3 screen saver.

What I've been doing is extending it a bit to add some more realism to the overall scene. And to make it a bit more user friendly as an app. IMHO of course.

Here's a screenshot showing some of the additional realism options enabled.

Would this be something Mr. Sachs might be interested in giving his stamp of approval to, so it could eventually be released as a free add-on? It makes no changes to MA3 except in memory while running, and I could make it work only for owners, or put whatever other restrictions on it as required, etc.

I hope this is appropriate to post about this here. If not, please delete. And my apologies to anyone who finds this post offensive. I know there are some purists around who view MA3 as a work of art which should not be touched except by the artist.

Jim Sachs 07-15-2012 02:06 PM

Could you describe what you're doing in a little more detail? If you're replacing the background with a real-time scene, then that might have possibilities. If you're changing the camera angle, then holes in the geometry will show up rather quickly.

patscarr 07-15-2012 02:16 PM

That looks pretty cool. I'd love to try it out on my machine.

flipper 07-15-2012 04:03 PM

Hello Mr. Sachs and Patrick.

Mr. Sachs, yes it replaces the drawing of the background with a 3D model or a skybox or a skydome. This particular model came from Google's 3D Warehouse. It's of a doctor's waiting room, which I thought would make for an appropriate setting. And the model was high quality enough so I thought it fit well with your models. Although unfortunately it had no lights placed within the model, so that's one area I need to work on.

The app also has an option to free up the camera a bit. To compensate, it rotates the coral slightly as well. But that is one area I'm still working on - to make sure nothing looks amiss. The main thing I'm trying to do is get the camera to the point where you can see the side glass reflections of the fish, plus whatever is behind the tank.

Patrick, I'm afraid the app's not going anywhere soon. First, I need to get Mr. Sachs' okay to distribute it. Second, it does its work through some technical mumbo jumbo that's not quite working on enough different machines yet to my liking. Third, it needs a lot of user friendliness added to it to make it usable by non-techies.

Thank you both for your interest. I was afraid I'd be "booed off the stage" with this.

Time Crystal Pilot 07-15-2012 06:13 PM

Whether it will ultimately work or not, there sure is a wow effect to this.
The aquarium's cool colours contrast nicely with the background's warmer tones.

Jim Sachs 07-15-2012 06:27 PM

I'd have to see it in operation to determine if it's viable. The still image is quite striking, but it's almost impossible for me to believe that holes won't show up when the camera is moving. It took literally thousands of hours of experimentaion to get just the right camera angle, viewing frustrum, scene depth, etc. to convince people that they are seeing a little 3D world, and not what it really is (a Hollywood set).

jleslie 07-16-2012 02:09 AM

It's a good effort though, so I'm certainly happy to see you post here.

phil 07-16-2012 10:53 AM

it looks realy good, it brings the fish tank alive, realy good work :) :snorkel:
Dear Jim Sachs, i would love it, if you could, bring another, of your living Corals to life.
i live in hope, everything works out for you one of your many fans.
regards

Jim Sachs 07-16-2012 11:02 AM

phil - There's a possibility, as sales have improved slightly this month. Summer is usually our slow season (people are outdoors instead of on their computers), but the Mindspark advertising seems to be helping.

I may take Cliff's suggestion, and add a couple more Featherdusters.

phil 07-16-2012 11:09 AM

Dear Jim,
So Good to hear, that things are picking up for you, hope all is well, i look forward to some good news, that things will get better.
regards phil :cheers:

cjmaddy 07-16-2012 04:22 PM

Excellent!

Ever since seeing the grouping of Christmas Tree tubeworms, in the Coral Seas episode of The Blue Planet, I've been hoping that we could perhaps have a small grouping of Featherdusters.... :TU:

Jav400 07-16-2012 04:43 PM

Sounds like a winner to me as well. :TU:

flipper 07-16-2012 05:11 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jim Sachs (Post 141953)
I'd have to see it in operation to determine if it's viable. The still image is quite striking, but it's almost impossible for me to believe that holes won't show up when the camera is moving. It took literally thousands of hours of experimentaion to get just the right camera angle, viewing frustrum, scene depth, etc. to convince people that they are seeing a little 3D world, and not what it really is (a Hollywood set).

Yes, I completely understand, having spent quite a few hours myself trying to make sure that the tracking the app controlled camera does won't break the illusion. I even went so far as to pre-fill the background with magenta to see if any pixels bled through from the coral, and then wrote a shader to count them for each frame, until I didn't have any. But that was only with a standard 4:3 display and I never reran the test on 16:9 or any other format.

Since you haven't given me a definitive no yet, it looks like I need to get busy and come up with a version for you to try out yourself. Please feel free to shoot me down at anytime between now and then. I came here with low expectations so being turned away won't be too much of a disappointment.

And thank you to those with words of encouragement.

Jav400 07-16-2012 05:18 PM

All of us beta testers went though all the formats we had available for several weeks. You won't be able to count on 4:3 taking care of the problem, it has to be addressed with everyone, which is why it is such a pain to get it done correctly.

patscarr 07-16-2012 06:04 PM

Looking at that pic, it's hard to believe that it is a moving app and not a photo shopped static image.

Jim Sachs 07-16-2012 06:53 PM

flipper - It sounds like you have such a high level of skills that you should be writing and marketing your own programs instead of piggybacking onto an existing app.

feldon34 07-16-2012 08:11 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jim Sachs (Post 141970)
flipper - It sounds like you have such a high level of skills that you should be writing and marketing your own programs instead of piggybacking onto an existing app.

Or helping you with the nitty-gritty of the Aquarium while you get to do the art and animation. ;)

Nicki 07-16-2012 09:11 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jim Sachs (Post 141957)
phil - There's a possibility, as sales have improved slightly this month. Summer is usually our slow season (people are outdoors instead of on their computers), but the Mindspark advertising seems to be helping.

Maybe it's so gosh darned hot this summer everyone's hiding indoors and dreaming of swimming in temperate waters. Whatever the reason I'm glad sales are up :).

cjmaddy 07-17-2012 02:29 AM

What is "Summer" ? ..... Is it what we used to have once-upon-a-time, in July ? :|

feldon34 07-17-2012 07:44 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by cjmaddy (Post 141980)
What is "Summer" ? ..... Is it what we used to have once-upon-a-time, in July ? :|

Summer in Denmark was nice this year. It came on a Tuesday.

Wizwad 07-18-2012 05:32 AM

Summer in the UK is where all the people who normally say "It's too cold, and too wet!" suddenly say "It's too hot and too bright!" until it goes away, and then they finish by saying "We never had a summer this year, what's the world coming to!"

Down South summer happened this year in May. There were two weeks of lovely sun and warmth. I expect the rest of it to arrive in September, but we'll see. :)

Oh, and Flipper - good work! I could tell that the background set was a model, but it really adds a wonderful felling of depth to MA as we know it. I'll look forward to seeing the top surface reflections should it reach a releasable level.

flipper 07-19-2012 12:25 PM

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Summers here are long and hot by rule, although we've yet to hit 100+ for weeks in a row like last year.

Back to the thread's topic, here's a little proof-of-concept that replaces the MA3 background with a skydome and nothing more. You can check that the skydome is indeed a model by using MA3's wireframe mode (the w key.) Just unzip to the directory of your choice and run MA3Ex. You might want to put MA3 in windowed mode beforehand, just in case something goes wrong.

Mr. Sachs, I'm not quite sure what to make of your "piggybacking" comment. It reads as a backhanded insult. So for now I'm stopping work on this until I read otherwise. All I wish to do is to freely - with no strings attached - share some of the fun I've been having modding MA3, with other fans of the app.

And patscarr, you as well, owe me an apology. Whether you believed me or not, that opinion is not something you voice to another without at least the slightest bit of proof. I've been on and off these forums for over a decade now, and I've never been anything but kind and willing to help out. So please at least show me some respect for that.

And, as always, thanks to those posting words of encouragement. I hope I'll be allowed to continue work on this.

feldon34 07-19-2012 01:14 PM

flipper,

Sorry to say but Jim is always going to react that way to anything that builds on the Aquarium. Even though the Aquarium will probably never reach the heights dreamed of 12 years ago when we started this journey. Jim doesn't want people adding to it (or advice or help).

To create anything that has anything to do with Jim's Aquarium requires a thick skin and the acceptance that the community may turn against you.

Seven years ago I created a pretty cool add-on for the Aquarium, but to date have never released it. It just didn't seem to be worth the grief and anguish.

Ralph 07-19-2012 01:56 PM

Thanks flipper.. tried your program :TU: and for what it is worth.. my system / video card does not have the muscle to run it. All movement in front of the background smears leaving the trails of any fish or movement of the corral. Fish swimming in front show / swim normal.

My video card ATI All-in-Wonder 9600

jleslie 07-19-2012 02:26 PM

Runs okay for me, but my new system is quite chunky (i3770K+o/c'd670). Don't get any angled view or the water surface visible, just sky in the background.
Any chance of seeing the angled one?
Cheers
John

Nicki 07-19-2012 07:33 PM

I couldn't possibly resist checking this out. I really do think adding a background like this is a great idea. It runs fine on my laptop (Phenom II triple core N850 with 4250HD graphics). I'll check it out on my more modest roaming laptop later. Using a file format that the average person can't make for themselves allows for creative control of what can be used (i.e. a selection that fit Jim's artistic vision could be included with the program. I'd be willing to pay for a feature like this).

patscarr 07-19-2012 09:46 PM

Sorry Flipper, I didn't mean to offend, I was just stating my opinion. I don't have facts to back it up, but I too have over 10 years experience on this forum, reading and learning about Jim's Marine Aquarium. If Jim says, at that angle, "it's almost impossible ... that holes won't show up when the camera is moving," then I tend to believe him. But if you're saying you've spent the time and effort fixing that in your "angled" app, then I'm sure we'd all love to see it. You're "skydome" version runs well on my machine (Acer Aspire 7551 Laptop, Windows 7 Home Premium Service Pack 1 64-bit, AMD Phenom II N970 Quad-Core Processor 2.2 GHz, 4 GB RAM, ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4200 Series 252 MB, DirectX 11) and looks great. It's just that, that picture you posted is just so cool looking and crystal clear and angled! We've been hearing for years how even the slightest angle is impossible. If you've really accomplished it, then my hats off to you.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jim Sachs (Post 141970)
you have such a high level of skills that you should be writing and marketing your own programs

That sounds like a compliment to me.

Nicki 07-19-2012 10:33 PM

Oh Pat you bugger, you would just have to out cool me on the Phenom II processor, lol.

My laptop is super fast. Yours must be almost telepathic.

patscarr 07-19-2012 10:59 PM

:lol:

Jim Sachs 07-20-2012 12:47 AM

Sure sounds like a compliment to me, too. I can't even imagine what it would take to make major modifications to someone else's program without access to the source code.
Though I'm curious to see your test program run, it may be some time before I have access to a computer (I'm typing this with one finger on my iPhone). My stepdad has died, so I had to rush down here to Los Angeles to make funeral arrangements and a thousand other things.

cjmaddy 07-20-2012 02:37 AM

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Sorry, but on my dual-screen set-up the results are something of a disaster, - similar to those described by Ralph on one screen, - and on the second screen there is a sunset background.
(AMD Athlon II X4 630 / 4096MB / nVidia GTX460 (Driver 8.17.13.142 ) / Dx 11 / Win7pro64 / Dual VP920 ViewSonic Monitors)

I'm very sorry to hear about your loss, Jim.... I think this background topic might be best left for some other time.

Jim Sachs 07-20-2012 10:44 AM

Thanks for the kind thoughts, Cliff.

Regarding all the screen glitches in Flipper's program, these are to be expected in early stages of testing. The 'trails' are simply the result of not refreshing the background on that screen. He says he had not trsted it on anything except a single 4:3 monitor, so it's a pretty sure bet that it won't work on any other configuration until he addresses each one.

Nicki 07-20-2012 09:58 PM

Report on my modest XP laptop. I got 20 fps, 30 if I turned off the bubble stream. I'd say this is acceptable performance for a 6 year old computer. Nothing odd in the background.

flipper 07-24-2012 10:56 AM

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feldon34, sorry to hear things didn't work out for you. I know that others have tried in the past as well and have run into the same sorts of problems. I do have a thick skin when being flamed for app related issues, just not when things get personal.

Ralph, sorry to hear it didn't work for you. I'm 99% sure it's not your setup but instead, how the new background drawing occurs. I had to move the drawing from where it should occur because that didn't work for me. So it's quite possible that where I moved it to doesn't work for you.

jleslie, all you were supposed to get with that version is the sky, so it sounds like it worked okay for you.

Nicki, I agree with all you posted. I know it would be some work for others, possibly trusted members of this forum, but I think this could definitely generate some new interest in MA3 if done right. And thanks for testing on the "old" pc. I test on a 10 year old XP desktop here, but it unfortunately has a fairly new graphics card.

patscarr, thanks for explaining your "photoshoping" post. I guess I won't get to the point of showing you that limited panning of the camera is definitely possible and doesn't break the illusion of the "hollywood set", as I've decided to leave the camera alone and just concentrate on enhancing the background.

Mr. Sachs, I'm sorry for your loss. But thank you for taking the time to explain things further anyway. And for noting my limited testing. I hope you don't consider it in bad taste if I continue posting new versions here, however. I'm afraid my free time for this project is limited, and I'd like to get as much done as possible before I have to take a break from it.

cjmaddy, thanks for the ss. The problems you had are definitely my fault. I wrote the test version from scratch and didn't consider multi-monitor setups. I made attempts to correct this with the new version but I still wasn't able to test it before-hand, so hold your nose before you start it up.

Now to the new version. I've added in the fish tank cover, side and back framing and glass, animated the sky background a bit, made a start at fixing a "splash isn't displaying" bug, and attempted to correct for multi-monitor use, but nothing else. If all goes well, it should look similar to the screenshot attached. The translucent glass will probably kill old/slow displays.

dxfish 07-24-2012 01:08 PM

go for it , I'd be happy to see some progress in a great program

drfish 07-24-2012 01:33 PM

I haven't tested it but the screenshot is strangely appealing despite not being incredibly realistic. I'm impressed, keep up the good work. :TU:

patscarr 07-24-2012 07:25 PM

Works good here. So, you're just changing the background? Can we have the doctor's office with the water surface top?

jleslie 07-25-2012 02:14 AM

Can't download it, the gateway says "The item you have requested is infected by a virus. It will not be downloaded - TR/Hijacker.Gen".
:-(
I suspect a false positive.
John

cjmaddy 07-25-2012 02:23 AM

This version doesn't work at all for me. It just reverts back to the desktop.

phil 07-25-2012 05:53 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by patscarr (Post 142214)
Works good here. So, you're just changing the background? Can we have the doctor's office with the water surface top?

i agree with patcarr, i would like to have the doctors office as well ;)


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