Building with voxels is all the rage in Landmark. Voxels are great for building rectangular structures but anything other than a box is more tricksy. People (innovative, curious, experimenting people) find a way to do extraordinary things with voxels and the rest of us learn from them.
When I look at some of the tricks voxel builders are pulling off, I suspect a degree in advanced geometry is required to fully master voxels. For those not wanting to invest in advanced geometry, props will add the decorative complexity we need to create our dreams. As their numbers increase, props will become the other half of the building game in Landmark.
Landmark’s prop management system is a bit on the woeful side. It’s all mouse driven thus clumsy and slow. The yellow border that pops up is bright and obscures the edges of props, making fine adjustments a matter of guesswork. The voxel manipulation tools are advanced and sophisticated, prop manipulation needs a serious upgrade to match. To guide the dev’s on their way to a great prop manipulation system, I’ve written my own blueprint of what prop management tools would benefit the game.
Tools that would benefit Landmark
The tools in Landmark now are: movement arrows on the XYZ axis, rotate around the XYZ axis, resize and duplicate. Great tools, couldn’t manipulate props without them but there are so many more manipulations that could benefit the game.
Group select: the ability to select multiple props and move, rotate or size them as a unit.
Group sticky: the ability to fuse multiple props into a unit so they couldn’t accidentally be moved or altered.
Group unsticky: reverse of group sticky for undoing the above fusion.
Duplicate: places a copy of a prop in game.
Copy and paste prop charateristics: a copy funtion that captures size, orientation and location of a prop and a paste function that duplicates this information faithfully for another prop. The prop being pasted does not need to be the same type as the prop copied.
Group duplicate, copy and paste: same as above but for groups of props.
Move, rotate and scale by numbers: allows props to be moved by number values rather than arrows. Really useful for moving props a set distance or getting accurate angles like 90, 45 or 30 degrees.
Incremental move, incremental rotate, incremental resize: the ability to paste multiple props but each prop is incrementally moved a set distance, angle or size from the last prop placed. In the incremental move this would result in a chain of evenly spaced props along the chosen axis. In the incremental rotate, the props would twirl around an axis in a set number of degrees while the incremental resize would make each succeeding prop larger by a set percentage than the last.
Interface changes that will benefit Landmark
A couple of interface changes would make manipulating props easier. The current mouse controlled box that pops up when adjust is chosen from the prop menu is clumsy and slow. Could we have a separate toolbar for prop manipulation that pops into existence as soon as a prop is clicked on. Can we please assign the commands to numbers so we can switch from resize to move to rotate quickly and easily. This would make working with props much easier and quicker.
The other interface change I’d like to see is the removal of the yellow outline. It may tell us which prop we’ve selected but makes it very hard to tell exactly where we’ve placed the prop. I’d hate to try doing delicate prop manipulations with the yellow outline hiding the field of view.
Landmark’s prop manipulation system was lifted from straight from Everquest II. It’s old, worn out and downright ugly. Rift’s prop system, expanded on EQII’s and, with the help of add-ons, made a robust and easy to use system. Those who play Rift will recognise many of the tools I’ve outlined here, we use them every day. Still, Rift lacks the ability to manipulate props as a group and the group sticky feature is much requested in Rift.
These are the tools I think would benefit Landmark and make a modern, prop manipulation system. Have I missed any prop features that you’d like to see in Landmark (or Rift for that matter)? If you approve these additions to Landmark’s prop management system, I’ve made a forum post requesting SOE add them to the game. Leave the Devs a comment to encourage them in making Landmark a better game.