Virtual Trading Floor – (Cont.)

More pictures and design elements that went into this project:

An electronic flipdot display shows current prices for Cattle Futures at the CME on November 18, 2004. (Photo by Frank J Polich/Bloomberg via Getty Images) – Note it is only five columns wide, which means the leading numbers for some prices – the “handle” – get dropped.
Each display unit is 7 pixels high by 5 wide, which is easier to see in this cropped photo.

One thing they don’t tell you about older displays like flipdots is the sound they make. When a whole series of them are moving, its like something between the murmur of a crowd and the shuffling of cards. A bit “zen”, I think. Sitting on the trading floor after close with nothing but the large clock whuff-whooshing each digit into place, it was a peaceful contrast to the usual activity on the floor.

First attempt at animating the flipdots virtually using my model. Needs finesse, especially some variation when the dots start and a bit of “shimmer” when they settle against their range of motion.

Some views of the trading floor and its displays were difficult to find. Most pictures focus on the open outcry pits, where all the action is, but not many are taken of the quoteboards which were my primary focus. I was beyond happy to find this one, I couldn’t recall the exact wording of some of the legend that was displayed at the edges of the boards, so this photo helped immensely.

The Open, Range, High, Low bit at the right of the quoteboard is what I needed.

To get data into the game, I decided to make a physical model that resembled a server cabinet, with ventilation slots and a mounting rail for the memory modules (vox models) that I would be spawning and reading from. This version doesn’t have any indicator lights — which I plan to add to show new modules updating and being read. Everyone loves blinkenlights, right? I do.

In game data server cabinet, with a few modules spawned to see how it all fit. Glass door, which is breakable in the game, but the modules and cabinet aren’t so easy to destroy.

One of the hard parts was figuring out the X, Y, Z coordinate offsets so I could spawn those properly in the cabinet. I solved this by making a system based on static location markers. I ended up using the same system to draw sprites on the quoteboards themselves, although not everything would go to plan — some early shots/debug:

Too far back, and squished together.
Aww look, the numbers are hiding! No no no…
Better, right? Nope – the numbers are in reverse order vertically.
First test to get rotations right, that nearly melted my brain. Especially when you consider I’m making a grid of sprites offset horizontally/vertically for the whole board. If you wonder about the rainy environment, I just like the sound when I’m working.
Quoteboards working in all four cardinal directions, which was no small feat. Remember, there’s a whole grid of coordinates being calculated for each slot on the board, including the offsets which change if the board itself is oriented differently. Don’t you dare ask about doing 45-degree angles, lol.

Its a learning process. Working through this got me deep into Three-Dimensional arrays, which honestly aren’t tough to visualize, but a bit harder to debug since you’re dealing with three indexes at the same time.

More to come, documenting continues…