Looking at back-end stuff…

Currently just finished getting up to speed on powershell, now looking at PHP/MySQL back end coding. I want to become more familiar with React for SPA/front end work (particularly here for management of persistent storage of web service content) and need PHP/MySQL to create the back-ends for both VR code and other front end stuff.

I’m also looking at bit at WebGL and supporting libraries as being able to build out really interactive and graphical front ends for things. Lots to do and lots to learn 🙂 Been buried in work stuff for several years and now that is wrapped up and I’m just helping out with small stuff on other products I may have time to chase some of these home projects.

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Continuing to read and watch Blender training information.


Getting a bit distracted by pulling in blender 2.8 build source code. I’m now a bit curious about the internals and may let myself be distracted by that now and again. Certainly planning to see if I can run a local build on JabberwockChaos upstairs has path issues that I’ll need to resolve before I can do much on that front. One of the nicer things about having more than one build-capable machines around.


Looking at a few things in the immediate future

  • Get text working. Hover text labels over stars that always face the viewer with at a minimum the name of the star.
  • Build star gate model(s) in blender and import them into unity and then place gates in the view.
  • Build a simple information viewing panel in game and support star selection where the information for the selected star shows on the panel.
  • Build a simple mechanism for saving game and loading games. Need a persistence format for game data.
  • Look into adding simple feedback sounds to the game. At least a noise when a selection is changed in the star display.

More VR Ideas – Simulation

Game of life

Thinking that a VR game of life implementation might be fun and relatively straightforward. Perhaps on a sphere would be even more interesting…closed universe.

Also wondering whether a three dimensional version could be jugged together.

More of a fun toy than a real game, but perhaps fun to play with.

Need to think about how to map the quantized grid from a flat version into spherical layouts. Might make sense to do something with continuous placement with volumetric cells that bump aside any too close and attract cells that are near enough to aggregate. Would be similar but a bit different.

Orbital Simulation

Playing with a setup where masses could be placed in three dimensional space and then items released and run the simulation forward.

Could be fun to play with looking at the orbital mechanics issues .

Could move forward to a game where orbital combat is run through. Place vessels with real-ish engines and weapons. Implement UI and interaction to manage motion and allow planning and execution of maneuvers .

Missile Command Inspired VR

Interesting way to play with VR UI approaches if taken moderately seriously

The player is standing on the ground with a dark sky overhead. Controllers are used to cue weapons fire.

Inbounds are shown with location, trails showing previous track and various information attached as they move…possibly current velocity and acceleration vectors attached.

Player points at desired target and cues in a weapons system on that target (or targets sensors perhaps to gain more information)

Could be a fun thing to play with.

Cluster – RESTful APIs

As part of building the front-end to the shared web side aspect of the cluster game, I’m starting to lay out the RESTful interface to the database at the back-end of the server side.

I’m looking at several main categories using query parameters to filter results on aggregate areas.

  • players
    Returns a list of player names and ids. Details of a specific player can be retrieved (and changed) by accessing the player by player id as a sub-resource. Permissions do apply here…a normal player can only view or edit the details for their own information. An administrator can view and change information for any player.
    • id (immutable after creation)
    • name – Unique, human readable user name
    • email
    • is email public
    • password (settable only)
    • active
    • date joined
    • date last activity
  • games
    Returns a list of games in the database. With query parameters this can return games containing only a selected player or players, games that are in progress and perhaps other subsets of all stored games. Details of a specific game may be retrieved by game id. For normal players, only the details that their player identity has access to may be retrieved. For developers all details are visible and subject to modification.
    • id
    • player ids
    • turns
      One entry for each turn in the game so far. All open if the game is completed otherwise only information visible to this user is present.
      • turn number
      • units list
        • unit id
        • unit type
          ship type, planetary resource type, population
        • location type
          space or system or planet
        • location
        • player id
      • technology list
        • players
          • player id
          • technology id
          • level
          • investment
      • moves list
        • players
    • current turn
    • moves submitted
      (may be part of the turns container)
    • active
    • created
    • completed
    • final scores if completed
    • stars
  • options
    Options that relate to new games being started. Global lists (start information, admiral information and such). Generally these will only impact newly created games. Selected items may affect all games.
  • audit
    Audit log recording changes made using administrative privileges.

Cluster Game Moves


  • Turn based multi-player
  • Internet based shared state
  • Once all player moves for a turn are complete, the turn is executed
  • Strategic level
  • Non-interactive combat resolution a the end of the turn


  • Scout ships
    Small, unarmed vessels with unlimited range used to gather information.
  • Colony transports
    Large vessels that only exist to transport a group of colonists to a new star. Once the colonists debark, the transport ceases to exist as its parts are used to support the new colony.
  • Escort
    Small interstellar armed vessel
  • Assault ship
    Medium sized interstellar armed vessel
  • Capital ship
    Largest interstellar armed vessel
  • Defense platform
    Small defense system dedicated to the defense of a single planet. Combat equivalent to an escort.
  • System defense boat
    Medium sized system defense vessel. Equivalent to an assault ship in combat. May be used in defense of any planet in a single system.
  • Factory
    Production facility on a given planet. Increases output of one unit of population based on the level of factory technology that has been developed.
  • Robotic Industry
    Production facility that operates without an accompanying population unit.

Basic Turn Mechanics

  • Spend on building ships
  • Spend on building facilities
  • Transfer population to colony transports
  • Form ships into fleets and break ships out of fleets (if at a star)
  • Spend on technology buys

Movement Mechanics

  • Scout ships can move independently and over unlimited distance
  • Unarmed ships that are not escorted may be destroyed on entry into a new system
  • Without hyperwave technology, fleets always continue to their destination system
  • Fleets never encounter each other in open space
  • Fleets move at the current guidance velocity for their side
  • Fleets are destroyed if they move beyond guidance range of all of their side’s beacons
  • Ships that aren’t scouts can only move as part of a fleet
  • Every fleet must have an admiral assigned to it
  • One ship with an admiral can be a fleet
  • When a fleet enters its destination system it ceases movement

Combat Mechanics

  • If fleets from different players are at the same star then combat will occur
  • Combat ends when a system contains only ships from one side in a system
  • Planets with defense platforms may be reduced by attacking and destroying those platforms or interned.
  • Production on planets that aren’t interned becomes available to the controlling player after some delay
  • The owning player may perform planetary bombardment to reduce planetary population. This eliminates one unit of population capacity for every unit of population removed. Likely only relevant if you expect the enemy to reclaim the system soon.

Looking at database structure for Cluster

We’ve framed out the ‘Cluster’ game graphically (at least to a first approximation). Currently the cluster generation is handled in Unity and there are no game rules and no save games.

I’m in the process of roughing out the MySQL database structure that will hold persistent game data and convey it between players and looking at coding up the php code needed to manage this data and implement game turn logic and playing field generation.

Once the basics are sketched out, I expect to remove the generation logic from the Unity code-base and switch things over to use the layouts and turn management provided by the site based php code.

I’m expecting to see the database side layout break out into:

  • System Data. Things that control game operation but do not change game to game or player to player.
  • Player Data. Information about the players that is not related to a particular game. Name, picture or icon, other particulars.
  • Game Data. Information that is a base part of a particular game run but does not change turn by turn.
  • Turn Data. Turn and move data for the game.

System Data

  • Star name list
  • Planet types list
  • Configuration such as number of stars per game and other similar items.

Player Data

  • Player ID
  • Player Name
  • Player picture or icon
  • Games played
  • Wins/Losses

Game Data

  • Stars Information
    Table with color, location
  • Planets Information
    Table with type, properties, max pop, orbit

Turn Data

  • User Move
    Fleets from -> to. Scouts from -> to.
  • Resource Production
    Build Ship here, Build planetary resource here, Spend on research. Form and break fleets.
  • Combat Resolution
    Combat results. Remove destroyed ships. Resolve ownership changes.

3D Asset Export and Sharing

There have been concerns expressed about getting from a point cloud to imported animation data tied to a skeletal model.

I accept that this may not be trivial…particularly tying a set of points in a moving cloud to control points for bones in a skeletal animation.


It does appear that there are defined interchange formats (I’ll have to look and see if these are supported bu Unity and Blender) that may make this more straightforward. Being able to export the skeleton for an animation and then inhale it into a processing application seems helpful. Being able to tag points in a cloud for consumption by Unity seems even more helpful.

I looked here and got a pointer to collada which appears to be getting developed by Khronos at this point. This appears to be a general purpose, open, XML based standard for interchange of 3D information. There is also an OpenCollada code archive out there…that link appears to be dead…but it is on GitHub and a project home page.

Wikipedia article here.


Filmbox is a more proprietary option with information at Wikipedia, Blender, More Blender, and AutoDesk (who created it and still owns the format). The AutoDesk link connects to SDK downloads that support C++ and Python manipulation of these files.

Unity Stars and Textures

This weekend, Malcolm and Sam came over for a day to move our various Unity investigations forward.

Malcolm made some very nice pieces of furniture and architectural bits. I think the end result has much more feeling of place and I’m moving forward from there.

The Cluster Control Room

Sam was working on his own project and looking at getting his motion working properly on Daydream with the Daydream controller.

I added some interactivity to my prototype. Attaching a ‘stick’ to the controller and hanging a small sphere with a collider attached makes it straightforward to select objects by touching them with the stick. It took a surprisingly long time to find the appropriate code to implement haptic feedback when a star is touched. I’m still looking at adding a short positional sound queue on touch as well.

The code lives on my github account here. This supports Vive only (I think) at the moment. It certainly supports Vive best. At some point I’ll likely look at making this work with DayDream and flat screens.

Some Sample Textured Spheres…

I grabbed some textures from around the house and yard and slapped them on some random spheres and capsules. Those are here and there are separate branches for DayDream, Vive and flat screen (master). The Vive version looks much better than the DayDream version and I expect that is to be expected.

I spent some more time chopping up texture tiles. Not a lot of time to clean them up though. I really need to better understand the impacts of the various extra texture functions that are available. I think there are some options missing from the default material such as displacement maps that can genuinely move vertices. Lots to learn along the way and getting there with the Vive is pretty cool.