Hi there :)
Some may know me, but I think the majority doesnt, so let me introduce in a few sentences:
Im w0dk4 and I have played and developed Freelancer at the Hamburg City Server for over 5 years.
After all the time, I thought it was time for a change to get new motivation and yeah, it worked (at least for the few weeks since I have joined) ;)
While I hope to bring as many useful features from my past experience to this mod, Im also looking for new challenges, such as adding more clientside features to Freelancer. So yeah, what am I doing? I am basically hacking and hooking the FLServer and the Freelancer client, so Im definately in the feature and gameplay development rather than in the art creation process. Therefore you may not see that much eyecandy in my development blog, but since the exception proves the rule, I can already give you eye-candy with my first-ever blog post - yay ;)
So, while I have been working on a lot of stuff lately, the last few days I have been looking deep into the asteroid field code.
The Freelancer engine always has a lot of problems when things get massive (i.e. 2x or 10x the scale of vanilla Freelancer). In particular, asteroid fields just vanish when they are placed too far from the center of any system. That was a big issue for us, since our systems are massive, they easily scale 5x bigger than any vanilla Freelancer system. Thats why we werent able to place massive large asteroid fields, and we were also limited in the actual positioning, meaning we couldnt even create small asteroid fields around objects, that are placed far from the center of the system.
I was able to find the responsible code and make some adjustments. I was also able to place multiple asteroid fields on top of each other, so that we can have very diversive asteroid fields, with planet-sized asteroids and very small asteroids and anything in between.
One remaining issue is the performance though, since asteroid fields can easily take down your high-end computer if we dont watch out.
Anyways, here is the promised eye-candy, a video featuring the (I think already outdated) Coruscant system with a massive asteroid field. Notice the scale and notice the (supposedly) little asteroids that you see when the Tie Fighter approaches the planet, they are not little, they are just being rendered from a very large distance.
Oh, and please watch in HD ;)
The transition between the few big and the many small asteroids obviously wasnt so nice to watch. While that was intentional due to performance reasons, I just optimized another version of the asteroid field that no longer has rough transitions, but also does not feature as many asteroids in close proximity. The following scene renders at a minimum of ~40 fps on a C2D E6750 and Geforce 8800GT (the former one rendered at ~80 fps):