This entire post is pretty much just going to be a copy-paste of the Steam announcement I made a few days ago.
As promised, I have been working on Project Explore during my free-time. I have made a lot of progress in a very short amount of time and I would like to share what I've been working on with all of you!
Chunks, player movement, and smooth camera movement
The new chunk system is faster than ever and allows for a much smoother experience. I also fixed numerous issues that plagued the experimental build. Player movement has been rewritten from the ground up. The camera now is smoother as well.
Brand new menus
The new menus allow you to view each mod that you are running, change tons of settings, and feel spiffy while doing it. This new menu system has been designed to be as simple to use as possible.
Now let's talk about the engine
One of the most exciting changes I've made that I just couldn't wait to annouce is a limitless world! I mean size-wise of course. Pull up a chair because we are going into this head first!
Pretend this grid (below) represents a normal world, each square is a chunk. This is a 9x9 grid so we have 81 chunks.
Now instead of using a pre-defined size and pre-generated chunks, the engine generates chunks as you walk around (this is a feature carried over from the experimental build). The big change this iteration brings is the ability for chunks to be generated at negative coordinates and outside of the room (rooms are essentially levels in Game Maker). The engine works outside of any sort of level-based constraints which means the only limitations the world has are numbers greater than 32-bit. Since the system can use negative values, we have to use a signed 32-bit value to get an estimated limit.
You can travel anywhere in the world, all the way from -2,147,483,647 to 2,147,483,647 (chunks). Since the game only loads the area around you, memory (RAM) will never be an issue either!
Another awesome change can be found in how terrain is rendered. The most optimal rendering I ever wrote involved caching the terrain of each chunk in a 3x3 around the player and draw each cached chunk (9 total texture swaps for you geeks out there).
The new system caches a 3x3 of chunks around you in a single image and draws it all at once in a single call. This means your framerate will be WAY higher than usual.
Thanks to everyone who has made themselves heard and has shown me support throughout this game's development.