It has been long in the works, but now it is finally here. We’ve had amazing help in testing the release candidates and nightly builds, thanks for everyone for participating.
You can find the full changelog here http://download.meshmoon.com/clients/changelog.html. I will write a highlight summary on what is new as the full list is quite extensive. I hope that artists find this blog post as this is a major release for content authoring in Meshmoon and again contains some big visual upgrades.
New shadows and lighting
We have had quite bad looking, to put it mildly, shadows for a long time. These shadow shaders were written >5 years ago in the realXtend open source project that is our foundation at Meshmoon. We finally got to a point where we can spend some time on upgrading the shadow system. The shadow tech in our shaders is accompanied with a new SceneShadowSetup component that gives us the possibility to configure shadow far distances, biases etc. for each Meshmoon world. Earlier the shadow quality was poor partly due to hard coded near/far distances. These simply did not work well when there are hundreds of different scenes and shadow setup needs in Meshmoon. The shadow setup has good defaults for small to mid size scenes and to tweak them you should head over to build modes “Environment” tab.
Lights were already improved a lot in the last few releases. This time we decided to change the lighting model a bit. The earlier model required the artist to tweak three different attenuation attributes to get “nice lights” and even with these it was a crap shoot. From now on our shaders will only take light range and brightness into account and there is a standard attenuation curve that works well enough for everything. This is widely used (eg. Unity) and is a lot easier to create nice lighting for you scene without being an math wiz to calculate correct attenuations for different ranges. We also implemented spot lights to render correctly, unfortunately they are not yet working on Mac OS X but we will fix them there for the next release.
This new lighting model change might make your scenes lighting look wonky if you have “abused” the old attenuations (used them badly, which is understandable This is simple to adjust, open up Build Mode (Ctrl+B), go to the lights tab and start tweaking. In most scenes you wont notice any difference from this change.
Asset Editors and Storage
Asset editors usability has been enhanced: other OS windows can go on top of open editors if Rocket is not focused, size/pos memory, option to save and then auto close when closing the window, numerous other bug fixes and style updates to script editing. The Rocket Material Editor now supports all our new shaders including enabling shadows and a nifty autoupgrade feature from old rex/Meshmoon shaders to the new ones. If you are an artist I recommend double clicking your materials open with the editor and poking around what you can do with it.
Meshmoon Storage usability and style has been improved and updated quite a lot. There is a new “Download as zip…” feature that lets you multi-select files and folder and download them to your hard drive as a zip archive. You can now drag and drop scripts from storage into Entities and there is a nice auto hide feature that will hide the big Storage interface out of the way when you are not interacting with it, same actually applies to Build Mode as well.
Towards a new avatar system…
This release also includes the new Assimp 3.1.1 release. We have been waiting for the 3.1 release for over two years This is a library helps us import various mesh asset formats into the our rendering. Most notably now obj, dae and fbx. FBX support was just added and we are still exploring it with one of our active users “miser” who has helped us a great deal. I hope the result will be in the near future a new FBX based avatar system that would be more compatible with other engines and platforms. I’ve also optimized the obj/dae import path heavily and made it auto upgrade all encountered compatible Assimp materials into the new Meshmoon Shaders. So its faster to import non Meshmoon native formats and they look nicer too.