My shadows disappeared!
I had all these beautiful real-time shadows playing across all of the panels, and they went bye-bye. Not sure what happened, although I did update Unity (the platform I use for development) and that’s the only thing I can think of that changed. I’m going to get another, more experienced pair of eyes on it to figure it out, but that was disappointing.
However, the sideways step is when I put the shadows aside for the time being. No sense banging your head on the wall when nothing’s happening. So I switched to playing with lighting, fog, and greater depth. In VR, you want to really maximize the sense of scale and depth, and I felt like it was getting too crowded in there. So I increased the distance between the two panels that spawn and destroy the panels to spread things out a bit, and increased the radius of each panel’s distance from the other. Added some fog to fade things in and out, and got this:
Much more interesting. I switch to a global view in the second half so you can see what’s going on from outside. It’s kind of pretty on its own. I’m going to see if I can do something with that – maybe you can teleport outside for a look? So even without the shadows, this looks pretty compelling. One of the nice pluses of the fog is that, originally I had the issue of materials that can change opacity (fading them into view as detailed in the last blog post) being unable to cast shadows, so I had worked out a way of switching materials once a fade had completed to one that cast shadows. It worked fine in this prototype test I made:
Hell, even the shadow was still there, if faint. That was pretty cool. But when I applied the same code to the actual scene, bupkis. So I could have a debug that confirmed the materials had changed, but since there weren’t no shadows no more, it didn’t look any different. But when the panels appear and disappear in and out of the fog, there’s no need to fade them. So I can stick with one material – the original one. It looks fine, but if I can get the shadows back, that would be gravy. That’s my new word for “cool.” Kind of like how Guy Fieri tried to use “money” in the same way.
The other thing that’s both nice and creepy at the same time is how the day quickly goes by when I’m in the thick of it. It’s nice because it means I’m lost in it and making things happen – however slowly and incrementally – but I’m thoroughly engaged. It’s hard for me to get to that point, so I’m glad it’s happening more and more. But when I start at 10am and next time I look up it’s 4:30, it’s kind of scary. It’s like, the day disappeared so quickly and yes I got stuff done, but not as much as I thought and now it’s late and what the fuck??
There are some camera effects I want to play with and then I’m going to explore other aspects of this scene now that the core functionality is in place. It’s fun to be able to focus on aesthetics for a change. Here we go…
Also, exactly one week until the family arrives. Can’t wait!! Spending three days in London, then Europe for another three (Hamburg, maybe, since Rey wants to go to Germany), then Tatsfield, then taking Jacob to Worcester. I’m so excited!
As an aside, I listen to a lot of music while working, so I thought I’d add what I listened to while working on the above and while composing this blog post. I’ll do this now and going forward. For the above, I listened to:
- “Klezmer: A Marriage of Heaven and Earth” – Various artists (the Wedding Suite was on repeat for a while – what a lyrical piece of music!)
- “The Klez Messengers” – Michael Winograd, Aaron Alexander, Patrick Farrell
- “Trans Canada Highway” – Boards of Canada
- “Music has the Right to Children” – Boards of Canada
- “Music for 18 Musicians” – Steve Reich + Ensemble
- “Violin Phase” – Steve Reich + Ensemble
- “English Electric” – OMD
- “The Punishment of Luxury” – OMD
- “Dazzle Ships” – OMD
- “Or Zimrah” – Or Zimrah (modern takes on Jewish liturgical music – I was really craving “Ein Keloheinu,” one of my favorite songs usually played at the end of Shabbat services)
- “Shaarei Shabbat” – Various artists (this is coming off of Yom Kippur)
- “Fred Katz – Essential Masters” – Fred Katz Group (what I’m listening to while composing this – Katz was a bassist/cellist whose group provided the music for the first two “Word Jazz” albums by Ken Nordine – this album is especially light and thoughtful, with lots of flute, which you don’t get in jazz very often)
(Note – even though it doesn’t look like it, each of the above titles is a link that will take you to a website or iTunes if you want to check out the music for yourself)