Status and Features
From Blue Mars Developer Guidebook
This page is intended to collect in one place current development status and future plans in one place, since that info is scattered in a number of locations (FAQ pages, blog posts, developer forum comments, etc). Missing features are noted in red
Client Version: - 0.82.12189 released 27 Dec 2010
Developer Versions: - 0.80.12078 released 17 Dec 2010
Release Notes: - Release Notes
System Requirements: - Recommended System Specifications indicate Nvidia 8400/ATi 3000 series graphics card, and dual core processor with 2GB memory. OTOY/AMD Fusion Cloud Server has been demonstrated to offload graphics generation to server side and allow wider range of systems to access Blue Mars. Config files can be edited manually for custom settings either for lower end systems, or for high quality rendering.
Client Download: - about 354 MB Auto-updater added Nov 2010 when client is launched.
City Data: - 5.44 GB for 36 cities as of 01 Jan 2011, in Blue Mars\Game\Levels directory. This could be reduced somewhat by deleting accumulated city updates and loading the latest versions fresh, but it represents the actual accumulated data as a normal player.
Asset Data: - 833 MB for 1951 files as of 01 Jan 2011, in Blue Mars\Game\Objects directory
Client Total Disk Required: - 6.92 GB as of 01 Jan 2011 for Program Files\Blue Mars directory
File Management: - Available cities and updates are shown in the Client "Places Browser" and added via a download manager. Removing cities is currently manual and not well defined.
Developer SDK Download: - 535 MB This contains the 9 Blue Mars editors, a developer copy of the game executable, and tamplate files for avatars, clothing, and furniture.
Sample Data Download: - 648 MB This contains editable versions of 6 Blue Mars-developed cities plus 4 others, along with 317MB of common asset data.
Developer Disk Required: - Approx 2.5 GB for full SDK install with Sample Data, plus any developer content files.
Website and Accounts
Account Types: - Player and Developer, which has subtypes of Item Creator and City Developer. Player can be upgraded to Developer. One account per email address.
- - Free to register and download software for all account types.
- -Hosting Service Packages for cities have fees starting at $275 a month for a Village package. Smaller areas within a city (Blocks and Shops) are available for lease from city owners for less.
- - Game currency (blu$) can be purchased via Player account page & client toolbar (for item shopping use), and Developer account page (for property lease use).
Account Profiles: - Available by right click of avatar in-world. Not currently functional.
Friends List: - Available since Oct 2009. In May 2010 updated to scalable floating window. Window shows online status and enables private chat. Friends can be added online or via account MyPage, but only removed via MyPage. Groups can be created within friends list. Conference chat added Aug 2010. Not currently functional.
Inventory: - Added to MyPage Dec 2009. Available in-world via toolbar. No way to sort or delete items at present. New layout Aug 2010 with 10 clothing slots with varying "depth bias" to adjust clothing layers. Multiple items of same type can be worn.
Access: - No account verification (age check) , City or block access controls, eject, or ban at present. Residences are intended for tenant plus guest access only.
- - Abuse reporting added 2Q 2010 via Help Desk ticket
Avatar Customization - Default Male and Female avatars available since Oct 2009. Custom clothing, hair, shapes, and skins are available as of May 2010 to upload for personal use or sell. Custom makeups via toolbar button. Makeups can be saved to a file. Limb lengths not variable at this time as that would break animation cages. Default animation set with some options is standard, custom animations added Oct 2010. More clothing options, and attachments are planned features.
Avatar Identification - Players can set a "display name" via account MyPage which shows above avatar head and in chat history. Account Name is permanent, and can always be seen by right-clicking the avatar, or in chat history. Login uses email address + password, and is not shown to other players.
Camera - New Camera controls added Oct 2010. Default camera is avatar-centered with zoom range via mouse wheel, including first person view and overhead map view. Alt + various mouse keys allows offset camera orbit, pan, zoom, and elevate. Custom camera modes are settable by city developers.
- - Adobe Flash display available in main 3D view.
- - Copy/paste text, active URL links in both chat and private messages since Aug 2010.
- - Web to city inbound "blink" URLs added Oct 2010
Groups - User defined groups within friends list added Jul 2010.
Keyboard Shortcuts - A number are available, a list is to be supplied by Blue Mars staff.
Location Search: - Not currently available aside from choosing a city from the Places Browser.
Local Chat: - Uses Adobe Flash based text entry and display window, with ability to scroll back. Optional scalable chat bubbles per avatar also display text for about 1 minute before fading. Is not logged. Chat range is set by city and can be at least from 50m up to entire city range. No ability adjust chat range by Players, or control chat bubble fade time.
- - Mute function added Jul 2010, which stops text and voice from a local player.
Maps: - Overhead "skycam" view added Jul 2010 via scroll wheel zoom out. This is not a map, but a live perspective view from far overhead looking straight down.
Money: - Game currency (Blue Mars Dollar or blu$) added Dec 2009. In world display in user's own profile. Purchase via various methods, cash out is for developers only, with 30 day hold on new income, via PayPal. Two balances, user and developer. Transfer from developer to other developer or user accounts possible with small fee. User balance can be used for item purchase, and developer balance for shop/block rental at present.
Movement: - Updated Oct 2010. Uses mouse steering, WASD, arrow keys, or left click ground to target. Jog is by clicking a far target, or R key. No run fast, jump, crouch, strafe, fly, or point-to-point teleport so far.
Places Browser: - Appears at login or when you want to change location. Sorts by All, My Places (ones you have downloaded), or New (most recent updates). Allows download/update of city files, and teleport to spawn point of a chosen city.
Private / Instant Messaging: - Opened from friends list or avatar profile. Is logged to My Documents\My Games\BlueMars\ChatLogs and now is sorted by your account login. Scaling and undocking PM windows added Jul 2010. Open windows are lost when changing city.
Snapshots - Not a game feature at present. Turn off UI feature added Aug 2010 for making screenshots, broken in Oct 2010 release.
Teleport - Inter-city teleport via devices available since Oct 2009. Via "Places Browser" added Dec 2009. Intra-city teleport is availabe via devices. Global point-to-point teleport is a planned feature.
Voice Chat: - Added May 2010. Uses Vivox technology. Spatial range about 12 meters, with volume controls for listen and talk. Push To Talk in chat window.
Categories: - Clothing, hair, shapes, skins, animations, furniture, shops, blocks, and cities can be uploaded by Developers. Scripts are possible at the city level currently. For individual items that is a planned feature.
Creation: - Models are made in any 3D program that can export to the correct .dae file format. Texture maps are made in any imaging program that can save to native .dds or to .tif format (which is converted to .dds). Item type editors are used to convert to native format and set up shaders and materials.
Fees: - Registering as a developer, developer toolkit (editor suite and sample data), and uploads of items for personal use are free. Blu$ purchase and rental transactions have a 25% fee deducted. City hosting and in turn block, shop, and residence rental have fees on a 30 day cycle. Currency transfer from Developer account to another account have a 10 blu$ fee.
Editors: - Currently nine editors are included in the editor suite for specific purposes: City, Block, Shop, Interior, Animation, Body, Cloth, Item, and Furniture. Vehicle Editor is planned. All allow for adjusting graphics settings via the "Material Editor" window, and use the CryEngine 2 graphics to display content correctly. Preparation of content is done offline via the Editors, and then uploaded for sale or use.
File Format: - Native object formats include .cgf for models, .mtl for graphics settings, and specific sub-formats of the DirectX .dds for texture maps. Collada .dae and .tif images are converted by the editor suite to the native format. Other data is stored as XML. Uploads are .zip archive for items, and .pak (7zip archive) for city data.
Ratings: - Since there is no age check or access controls yet, all content currently has to be approximately MPAA-PG rated. Prohibited are games of chance, skill, sports or betting services that offer payouts in Blue Mars Dollars or anything of value, securities markets, banking of investment services, sexually explicit content, and content that depicts bestiality.
Sales: - Currently only from developers to players within game. Developer to developer sales of content items need to be done outside the shopping system. Gifting is under development. Selling services via currency transfer is possible. No method to do resale.
Scripting: - Scripts use LUA language with an extensive range of Blue Mars specific functions. Scripts can currently only be added in City Editor. Flowgraphs, which are a diagrammed way to program multiple item interactions can be used in City, Item and Interior editors.
Permissions: - Currently all sold items are no copy, no modify, no transfer, single items only (ie no outfit sets of clothing or furniture sets). Downloaded city and inventory data are encrypted to reduce content theft. Any items used in the editors are currently full permission as you are using the original data files locally on your PC.
Software Features and Limits
City Data: - Cities have a maximum of 1 GB of downloaded compressed unique data files. Objects are instanced, so a 3D model or texture only counts once towards the limit. Items in Blue Mars-provided common data (such as default trees) do not count towards the limit, nor do displayed store items, residence contents, or visiting avatars and their wearables.
City Dimensions: - Terrain dimensions are from 128x128 m to 8192x8192m, with a max height of 8192m. Terrain dimensions are the product of grid size in points times grid spacing in meters, both user-selectable within limits. At least 16x16x8 km of playable volume can be used per city. Any part not occupied by terrain is open water, but objects and avatars can use the full area. A maximum of 15 terrain layer IDs are assignable, with the 16th reserved for "holes". One layer ID and color tint is assigned per grid point, and additional terrain detail can be added via "Road" and "decal" objects.
Concurrent Users: - Will be limited by hosting price plan, but is not currently turned on. Outpost (beta plan no longer sold), Village, and City plans have limits of 5, 50, and 250 users per city respectively. Number of avatars in view affects scene triangle count and therefore frames per second.
Draw Distance: - Is set globally per city, up to 8000m, and per item from 0-180 times object size or global.
Models and Textures: - Individual models are limited to less than 5000 triangles if uploaded as items, or 64K triangles or vertexes if imported into a land-based editor. The CryEngine can handle a maximum of 31 UV mapped sub-materials per model, and textures can be a maximum of 2048x2048 pixels. Item uploads are currently limited to 512KB zip files each. Shop interior is limited to 2 MB zip file size and 30 submaterial slots.
Rendering: - Scene triangle counts of over 30 million have worked with low frames per second, but it is recommended to stay below 3-4 million for player graphics card performance reasons. There are limits of 64K placed objects, 16K rendered objects per frame, and 4000 active scripted items per city. Vegetation does not count towards placed object limit. A maximum of 16 entity lights and 14 fill lights can be used at the highest graphics setting.
Shaders: - One of about 17 shaders can be applied per submaterial slot. There are about 200 total settings available among the various shaders, and about 9 texture map types (diffuse color, opacity, glow, specular color, normal, environment, detail, bump, and displacement), not all of which can be used in all shaders or at the same time. Shadows are selectable per submaterial slot ie on for window frame, but off for window glass in same object. Two sided rendering is also selectable per submaterial slot.