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Now available: In-game 2D Voxel Planner/Builder


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About a year ago, I wrote the 2D Voxel Planner now found on "dual.sh". I'm
now introducing a fully in-game construct that combines an enhanced 2D voxel
planner with an integrated voxel board.

Free blueprints for the planner/builder can be obtained at the Objective
Driveyards shipyards. The entrance is at ::pos{0,2,23.4393,73.7082,3.5773}
The blueprint is labled "2Dplus Voxel Planner Builder"

The "plus" refers to the support for multiple (12) "layers" of 2 dimensional
voxel plans. These layers can be stacked together to produce 3 dimensional
objects. In the picture, on the right, is a voxel board that is the source
of voxels placed on the assembly board on the left. In the center is the
planning terminal with a "scratch" voxel board behind it.
To illustrate how things work, I will walk through the creation of a truncated
cone. The process begins by sitting in the provided chair and activating the
program board. Note that your plan is saved in a databank on program board
deactivation, change of layer, or change of page. The plans for up to 3
different avatars are seperately tracked (the number can be increased by adding
additional databanks).


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The terminal screen used in designing the layout of a layer
consists of the left panel with a series of color buttons that can correspond
to the materials in the Quick Access menu, or (as here) to distinguish between
different voxels in the design. The "Build" button is used to create the voxel
layer on the assembly board. The "Reset" button clears all layers permanently.

The right panel has at the top the index of the current layer; 2 in this case.
Below it are buttons for the 4 "pages" that provide access to the current layer.
A layer consists of 15 rows by 15 columns of visible voxels. Shown here is
the portion of the plan found on page 1 and has 8 rows of 8 voxels.
The right most column on page 1 will appear on the left most column of page 2.
The last row on page 1 will also appear on the first row on page 3.
Next is the "Undo" button which undoes the last action, the "Redo" button which
re-applies the action just undone, and the "Clear" button which clears the
current layer (and unlike "Reset", it can be undone). Note that there is no
hard limit on the number of actions that can be undone - it is limited by the
amount of free memory in the client. Also, the undo "stack" is cleared when
the board is deactived.
Finally, the "Help" button shows screens that give brief instructions on the
use of the planner, and "Logout" deactivates the program board.

The center panel shows the starting point for the layer 2 plan for
the truncated "cap" of the cone.
A left click on a voxel assigns it the "material" currently selected in
the left panel. Note that clicking the middle mouse button is a short-cut
for performing the "Undo" operation. The next step alters the voxels
to form a quarter circle.


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Moving the mouse pointer near the lower right corner of the red voxel, holding
the left-shift key down and left clicking allows you to "drag" the nearest
vertex to a new position. The numbers displayed are changes to the X position
(increasing X to the right), and Y position (increasing Y goes down) of the
vertex. These values range from -12 to 12 and result in the possible positions
being restricted to the transparent white square overlayed on the screen.
Releasing the left mouse button will fix the new position of the vertex.
Note that holding the left shift key down without a mouse click will result in
the current mouse position relative to the upper right vertex of the voxel it
is in being displayed as you move it around.


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Using vertex-drag, the original layout of voxels can be changed to a quarter
circle of radius 1.5x1.414 or 2.121 voxels. Note that each "tick" in the
vertex position is 1/8th (.125) of a voxel. So the lowest left most vertex
in the quarter circle was moved to (0,-7) and the top right most vertex was
moved to (-7,0). The blue voxel's upper left and lower right vertices were
moved by (-12,-12) - to the extreme upper left position. This limit
is what determines the steepest possible "slope" that the cone can have using
2D voxels.
The remaining vertices were adjusted "by eye" to make the "best" curve.
Note that the plan being created here is going to result in a truncated
quarter cone which will be used to make the full cone by using
copy-rotate-paste operations.


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Clicking on the "Build" button begins the process of creating the voxel
design. Next, exit the chair, enter build mode for the construct,
activate the "Select" tool, and face the voxel board. You should see a
pointer indicating a voxel which you should select and copy. Turning to the
assembly board you will see a pointer and a number over it. The number "0"
indicates you are pasting a "scaffolding" voxel while a number between 1
and 7 indicates a voxel that is part of the build. For these voxels, scroll
on the "Quick Access" menu to the material indicated. Then paste the voxel
at the position indicated by the tip of the pointer. Finally, activating
('F' key) the button on the pedestal below the assembly board will advance
both pointers to the next voxel. With practice you will be able to place
voxels quite quickly. When all the voxels are placed the pointers will





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To clear the assembly board for use with the next layer, the non-scaffolding
voxels need to be copied to the scratch area. This can be tricky,
but recalling the original position of the voxels in the plan before the
vertices were moved will guide the copy process. Using "handles" 
may be needed as it is here. The picture shows the row of lower 3 voxels
has been copied to the side, and the selection of the 3
side voxels using the handle provided by the red voxel. The
upper left voxel (red in the plan - hidden in the picture) will be copied by
itself at the end.
Once copied and saved to the scratch area, the assembly area can be cleared
using the handles at the extreme ends of the board.


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The layer just completed is a quarter circle one voxel thick. To create a cone,
its neccessary to force its bottom face to conform to a circle
of a larger radius. The picture shows the initial voxel layout for layer 3 of
the plan, Layer 2 is also visible as translucent voxels. The layer 3
voxels (green and blue) border the original positions of the yellow and blue
voxels in layer 2. Since they share edges, the outer edges of layer 2
will conform to the inner edges of the neigboring voxels in layer 3 when
layer 2 is pasted on top of it.


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The vertices in layer 3 are adjusted to form a quarter arc. The outer
edges are pushed to occupy the same positions as the inner edges since
otherwise we would introduce a flat step in the cone (same as the truncation
of layer 2). The radius of the circle is 2.5x1.414 or 3.535 (or as near as
can be made). Additional layers can be defined in the same fashion as this
layer but with larger radii (3.5x1.414, 4.5x...). However, there is a point
when the offset required by the greater radii cannot satisfied by moving the
bottom left or top right vertices.


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As there is nothing new to be covered in the plan, I've skipped ahead to show
the scratch board's content after building layer 3 and layer 4 (a second
arc formed by voxel "plates"). The green quarter circle is layer
2 (plus handles). The red arc is of radius 3.5, and the yellow
arc is of radius 5. The quarter cone is seen in blue, and was
formed by first copy pasting layer 4, then layer 3, and then layer 2.
Finally, in red is the full cone formed by rotating the quarter cone 90
degrees and pasting 3 times.


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Some final thoughts. This tool does not do "voxelmancy" for you - even in the
limited domain of 2D voxels. In my view, Voxelmancy is much like solving
Sudoku puzzles: making the right choices early on in the plan is important.
Unlike Sudoku however, not all voxel "problems" (designs) have solutions.

To gain "voxelmancy" expertise start out small. Perhaps the most frequent use
I make of this tool is to fashion single 2D voxels that previously required
use of an extensive "shape" voxel library or a 3D voxel wedge (which I
find to be somewhat more time consuming and error prone).

Also, I want to explain why I started the plan at layer 2. For those
interested enough to reproduce the truncated cone as I described, test your
understanding by replacing layer 2 and adding a layer 1 design so that pasting
the layers together produces a traditional cone ending in a point.

Finally, I want to acknowledge the encouragement from members of Objective
Driveyards (ODY - where you can find free blueprints for the planner),
the tutorials of Tordan, the free voxel wedge blueprint from
Infinity Corp (also ODY), and Stan of NSD for zero point voxels.

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The core is not in the location it is supposed to be in - compare your picture with the first one in this post (the core is embeded in the "floor" next to the seat - not behind it). I suggest you  delete this construct and reinstantiate your blueprint. There is no problem with the Program Board so the JSON file wouldn't help anyway.

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