MaidMarian.com News from 2002-2004
October 24, 2004
Moon Base get it's one millionth visitor!
Launched in March of 2004, Moon Base has been up for eight months and today it received visitor number 1,000,000! MaidMarian.com is currently averaging about 25,000 visitors/plays per day and we're expecting that to double over the next few months. The Sherwood Game Play Video was launched on this site October 19 and a press release officially launching the Sherwood was sent out via wire service on October 23.
February 19, 2004
MaidMarian.com named as CFOX Geek of the Week site.
Here's what they had to say... "You MUST check this site out. A while ago we had a link to Colin's Crazy Carrara which was a really nice looking shockwave driving game put together by local game developer Gene Endrody. Well now see what it's evolved into: immersive 3D worlds where you can drive around, chat, play smash up derby and explore with your friends. Marian's World is set on a wooded island and Moon Base is on the surface of the moon." .
Ratinator makes The Adrenaline Vault's list of Top Shareware Games of 2003.
(AVAULT) "Looking for a fun and whimsical shooter? Then you can’t do better than Ratinator. Around every corner of a 3D maze within an infested house lies unexpected perils and opportunities. What with customizable mouse and keyboard controls, first- or third-person perspectives, portals, spawn points and destructible walls, this offering has it all. You’ll face some pretty imposing bosses, too, and you’d better be quick on your feet. You can also create new levels using the powerful editor. The graphics are crisp, colorful and cute, and the audio is enjoyable, with the title tune being mesmerizing. Ratinator includes 40 levels, over 20 different enemy types exhibiting unique behaviors, joystick and gamepad support, the ability to save your progress and an online high score list." Bob Mandel
Ratinator is officially launched on Shockwave.com and GameBlast.com!
Ratinator has made it to the #3 spot in the Top Action Games and averages 4 out of 5 stars in user reviews.
Colin's Crazy Carrara linked from FHM.COM's Big Eye On the Web.
New Version 2.0 of Maid Marian, The Secret of Sherwood
January 1, 2002
So if you've been wondering if I've abandoned this project in the last six months, the new version is finally up. This version includes a major redesign of the interface. I felt it was important to design an interface that looked less like a multi-media application and more like a computer game. The chat console is integrated into the 3d environment. Maid Marian has been remodeled and textured. She has a lower poly-count than the old version (faster frame rate) and the texture mapping has improved the overall visual quality. Terrain following has been fully implemented and multi-layered texturing was used to ensure that the mountain textures don't look pixelated when viewed close up. The entire interface can be rescaled to any screen resolutions by just resizing the browser interface. Sorry the rewrite took so long. I hope you like it.
Generating Traffic for the Web Site
June 5, 2001
Since the site was opened in April, there's been very little done to generate traffic. MaidMarian.com currently gets about 125 visits a day, primarily because Macromedia is using the Maid Marian Tech Demo as one of the Shockwave 3D samples on their website and links to us. My goal is 1500 visits a day. With this level of traffic, there should always be about five to ten people in the 3D Chatroom. I'm optimizing the site to generate more traffic through search engines. I'm participating in a banner exchange program with RPGDot.com. RPGDot and RPGsites are a network of role playing and gaming sites. So far I've had a banner click-through rate of 2.5%. Considering an industry average of less than 1%, this is encouraging.These steps should boost the site traffic to 350 or 400 visits a day in about four weeks. The rest will hopefully come from participating in networks of similar websites, the quality of the 3D experience and word of mouth.
Collision Detection and Terrain Following System
June 6, 2001
Major breakthrough. I found a creative way of approaching the collision detection issue without using the Havok Xtra. This involves a major change in the way the 3D environment is designed but I have the benefit of being able to follow uneven terrain. There also seems to be no loss in frame rate with a virtually unlimited number of collision objects. The Terrain Following Example uses a similar approach. The current version of the Maid Marian chatroom has these changes implemented, but I still need to redesign the 3D environment to take full advantage of these changes. (Hopefully soon.)
Havok Physics Xtra Experimentation.
June 3, 2001
The next major challenge in the development of Maid Marian's virtual environment is cleaning up the collision detection and handling. I thought I had this sorted out earlier, but when I ran a test using Director's collision modifier on 100 test objects (cubes), the frame rate dropped from 77 frames per seconds down to 45 fps. As you can imagine, this really limits the size and complexity of the world.
So, back to the drawing board. I decided to try the Havok Physics Xtra. Havok
produces a great physics plug-in for Director that implements collisions, forces
and rigid bodies. I ran the same test with the Havok collision modifier on 100
test objects with a loss in frame rate of only three frames per second. I had to
rewrite the entire character navigation system to use Havok's impulse forces to
move Marian around and collisions are more difficult to control because Marian
tends to "bounce" off of obstacles in the environment, but the approach has
World Creation and Optimization
May 30th, 2001
Most of May was focused on the process of creating the 3D virtual world and
streaming it in once your online. I teach Alias/Wavefront Maya 3.0 in the
Digital Animation Program at the British Columbia Institute of Technology in
Vancouver, Canada (my day job) so the initial environment was created using
Maya. No final decision has been made on which 3D package is going to be used
for building Sherwood Forest. The final test environment ended up less than
350k. Camera clipping and fog is used in the world to keep the polygon count
down and still allows for a large environment. A lower polygon version of Maid
Marian was created for better performance on systems without advanced 3D
graphics cards. This optimized version runs at over 100fps on my PC. (850mhz,
GeForce II GTS)
Maid Marian.com seen on CBS Market Watch
April 15, 2001
Screen grabs from the Maid Marian Tech Demo were used in an article covering Intel's quarterly results on Sunday morning's CBS Market Watch. The article talked about Intel® leveraging it's Internet 3D Graphics technology to find new markets for it's chips.
UCON2001 at the New York Hilton
April 22, 2001
Macromedia nominated the Maid Marian Technology Demonstration for a People's Choice Award at UCON2001. This is Macromedia's yearly User's Conference at the New York Hilton. I used the opportunity to take my wife and kids to New York for a week. I was up against two very large competitors, Sapient and Intel. Just like David and Goliath, except I lost. Oh well, it was an honor just to be nominated.
"We are proud to announce that Maid Marian.com was
nominated March 26, 2001 by Macromedia, Inc. for a People's Choice Award at
their User's Conference (UCON 2001) at the New York Hilton on April 22 along
with two other finalists. The People's Choice Awards are presented yearly at
Macromedia's User's Conference in eleven different categories. The Maid Marian
Tech Demo was nominated in a new category for Shockwave 3D content. During the
awards ceremony, once a short demonstration is complete, the audience votes
immediately using electronic recording devices. The winner is announced within
seconds of the vote. The other two finalists were Lode Runner by Sapient and
Intel Architecture Labs's Glass World. Sapient, a leading business and
technology consultancy, has 2600 employees with offices throughout the world.
Intel, the world's largest chip maker, is also a leading manufacturer of
computer, networking and communications products. Intel employs 85,000 employees
in 45 countries. Intel's Architecture Labs provided much of the technology
present in the new Shockwave 3D Player and is a development partner with
Macromedia. Considering the size and influence of the other two finalists, we
consider the nomination of Maid Marian an honor and hope it's a sign of good
things to come. "
Shockwave 3D Beta (Tron)
November 2000 to April 2001
I was fortunate to participate in the beta program for Macromedia Director 8.I was fortunate to participate in the beta program for Macromedia Director 8.5 with it's new 3D capabilities. The support and encouragement from the employees at Macromedia and other developers in the beta program was amazing. Macromedia and Intel used the Maid Marian Technology Demonstration to help promote Shockwave 3D to the press. Many of the beta testers participated in server tests to help troubleshoot early versions of the 3D avatar chat. As the beta came to a close I finally had permission from Macromedia to open up the web site in late April. Macromedia continues to use the Maid Marian Tech Demo to promote Shockwave 3D on their site.
"We are proud to announce that the Maid Marian Demonstration movie is being included, along with seven other examples with the Public Beta of Macromedia's new Shockwave Player. Macromedia and Intel previously announced that they had formed a technology relationship to bring pervasive 3D to the Web via Shockwave Player. Macromedia Shockwave Player 3D Public Beta is the first available test version of the resulting Shockwave 3D technology. Because this is the first opportunity for most users to have a look at the 3D capablities of the new Shockwave Players, we are very happy to have our Maid Marian movie included with the release."
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