Saturday, 1 June 2013

Saturday Secret Report

Rendezvous in Chinatown

As promised, what follows is a secret report marked highly classified, and for Reloaded community eyes only.  What you see and hear from this point is given in strictest confidence and if this blog could self destruct in five seconds, it would!

The Secret Investor

A special ops team managed to sneak out a single photo from the clandestine meeting, which took place in Chinatown, London, England.

Pictured are the two men suspected of masterminding and funding the whole operation, and top priority must be given to these targets.


Although we could not get surveillance equipment into the restaurant, we did get fragments of transcript which seemed to hint at possible futures for the Reloaded product and brand.

It appears that the project is indeed split into several key objectives, with the first and highest amongst them the total completion of the first release this side of Christmas. A second pillar to the plan is the steady release of updates and features on a very aggressive cadence which include a deliberate effort to publish high quality model packs that tap into the enhanced capabilities of the Reloaded technology.

A third pillar, which our sources suggest are highly suspect, is the possible deployment to other platforms, specifically mobile and tablet formats. Information is sketchy at this point and more investigation has been authorised into the possibility of this new threat.

Official spokesmen for TGC stress that this mysterious third pillar is complete conjecture and totally unsubstantiated. It was rumoured that a napkin, containing top secret sketches might have been left at the scene, but as yet the napkin has not been confirmed, and might in fact contain nothing more sinister than sweet and sour sauce.

Signing Off

Four hours from my office chair to London Euston, not too bad!  I could probably do the whole thing in a day if I made it a very long day, but it's good to know I have solid transportation links to the capital. The meeting with my investor friend went very well, and we had a great meal and chat. I could not ask for a more enthusiastic backer, and I am looking forward to delivering an awesome product this Christmas. Like an good superhero, we have agreed to keep his identity a secret, and to keep you guessing I'm wearing a question mark box in the photo too. I was on a secret mission after all!

Corporate spy thrillers aside, normal coding activity will resume Monday with the completion of the 'delete object from instance stamp' code and the start of the deferred prototype when we find out once and for all what the speed cost of the technique is on a standard Ultrabook form factor (i.e.. no dedicated GPU). From the comments made so far, it does seem like the vote is Heavily in favour of deferred rendering, which suggests most users are happy to break out their graphics cards for the task of running Reloaded.  I am curious how many of those voting for deferred are using laptops to edit and play their FPSC games. For Reloaded to really hit the high end of deferred rendering and dynamic shadow techniques, you'll probably need a dedicated desktop GPU!  Performance statistics and reality check to follow.

Once again, thanks for the meal, the company and the chance to talk endlessly about my favourite subjects!


  1. Sounds like a great meeting. Chinatown is a great place! Did you do any other sightseeing?

    Just for info I run FPSC on my laptop while I commute to work and back, but this has 1GB dedicated graphics. It kills the battery, but is worth it for the performance benefit.

  2. I also run FPSC on a laptop (and always had), but like Ched mine has a dedicated GF GT-630M with 2GB ram.

  3. I ALSO run FPSC on a laptop (though not by choice - if I had any money I'd running a decent PC) and it has a dedicated (if a little underpowered) AMD Radeon HD 6400M 1GB.

    As far as I know Alan Wake uses deferred rendering (but don't quote me on this) and it runs well-ish (I just bought it on Steam for $4....brilliant game so far). I have it on lowest graphics but the areas that it slows down the most are where there are lots of shadows (indoors with the torch on) and where there a huge clouds of particles (but this happens in every game).

    1. I just remembered that I actually have 1.5GB of vram because I have an AMD Radeon HD 6200G as part of my CPU (which is an APU).

  4. I can't stress enough how important it is we do not start limiting FPSCR because of minimum hardware specifications.

    Nobody should expect a next gen FPS game engine to run on a single core PC or laptop with no dedicated GPU. If people want to stay with those specs then carry on using FPSC but please don't make the mistake of limiting FPSCR because of that.

    We must have things like deferred rendering and dynamic shadows in FPSCR if its going to take the huge leaps forward that is needed.

    Don't be afraid of bumping up the minimum specification for FPSCR if that is the right thing to do for making it a great product. We probably won't ever get this opportunity to make FPSC again.

  5. Yeah, but we should also remember the FPSC-X10 fiasco. One of the reasons why it didn't take on was poor performance even on decent spec'd computers. We need a balance, and I stress again, please, implement proper settings screen were users can adjust gfx params for performance tweaks. It's not a game console so there's no excuse to leave it out.

  6. @Nomad Soul:

    I agree with you. However, what Lee is trying to do is achieve excellent graphical fidelity AND good speed. It's possible (it's been done before again and again), but it requires a fair bit of work.


    I totally agree with you on the options screen. Lee, EVERY PC game has an options screen. EVERY SINGLE ONE! Well, almost every single one. There's probably a few that don't. But the _good_ ones do. And it's there for a reason. Some people have better PCs than others, and those people want the best graphics possible (i.e., 16x anti-aliasing, full res textures, shadows as far as the eye can see, lights on everything, etc.) whilst people with slower computers want to still be able to play the game, even at a lower graphical fidelity (i.e., no anti-aliasing, quarter- or half-res textures, shadows for a few metres in front of them (or not at all), only displaying 8 or even 4 lights at a time, etc.). Don't hard-code anything. Don't even make us hard-code stuff into our games by letting only the developers change graphics options.

    The best settings menus are the ones that don't require a restart for every setting changed, but I'm sure if you can't manage that for some or all settings we'll still be happy with having any menu at all.

    And remember, Lee, if you're starting to have trouble working out what to add and what not to add to menus and how to make them work, just play one of your many FPS games and look at how they did it.

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  8. steady there boys,

    lets see what the guy will and can do, its ok demanding and laying down the law, but let him finish the basics like getting the engine running without glitches ( a word used a lot in my day reading zapp64 ) and with shaders and physics, then ask or lay the law down, i am always about to hand my cash over but being an x10 learner am seeing if the minimal computer people get their way and we get a reloaded nearly same as fpsc 1. due to they want it minimal so they can play on the go. fpscr should be way out of version 1's league this may mean a solid pc to run them. a menu would or will be great but i still think a basic fpscr will need a lot of power to run it. so the menu may not even be an issue if your pc cant run it at a basic point. in the end, its good to suggest and input, but it should be like uman, who saved fpscr in my eyes with the size problem. and them issues are the main ones at the moment, as to low spec pc laptops, every 2 years they blow up or fall apart just buy a decent one, then all be great. happy days, lets get excited to what will be, not, i cant run on my phone or tablet.

    olby i believe the reason x10 failed was more to do with vista being a failure and that x10 would not work on xp. performance was great on x10, even with a gts 8800 512 mb. so much so it blew x9 performance wise, seriously did, people did not like vista ( end of ) and it limited itself by x10 not being compatible with xp. and also 50 pound and needing a good card. in them days that was a lot of cash and people just loving xp. these days a mediocre gpu would run x10 easy peasy lemon squeezy and that is approx 80 pound now. and laptops will run it easy too. so i do not think unless low speccers get thier way that reloaded will go the same way as x10.

  9. Don't worry science man, I got my laptop last year and it's an i7-8 core system with a dedicated GPU and can run latest games at decent rates so FPSCR would not be a problem ;)

    What I meant was the appalling X10 optimisation. I don't think it had any tweaks to make it work on mediocre spec'd system. I used to own a shining new Vista DX10 computer and FPSCX was still really sluggish. And since there were no user tweak-able settings it made it whole lot useless.

    500x500 levels are cool and all that but what's the point of it at all if average users would not be able to run the game. What we want here is a decently optimised engine something FPSC and FPSCX lacked in the first place. There's really high competition these days (unlike 2006) and business wise TGC would put themselves against a wall.

  10. The thing is, science man, we don't want FPSCR to be compromised in any way just to make it run on tablets. In fact I personally think this "mobile revolution" is awful. Everyone says there's no market for traditional PC games any more, which is crap. Anyway that's beside the point.

    What I mean is, I want FPSCR to take leaps and bounds forwards, not only in terms of graphical fidelity and gameplay quality, but also in SPEED. FPSCx9 runs pretty poorly, even on a decent system, and there's no way whatsoever for the end user to adjust graphics settings.

    What we need is the option to have amazing shiny new graphics that require a fairly hefty PC to use but also the ability for the user to tone down the settings a bit so their average PC will still be able to play the game.

    We're asking for both things (high-quality graphics AND low-quality graphics); it's NOT impossible and isn't a ridiculous request. It's what almost every single other FPS game offers and it's what FPSCR should offer too.

  11. Fair comments from both. Olby im jealous of your laptop :) and clonkex I have no idea how easy or hard the menu would be. But I agree but let's see first. Glad we agree on phone and tablets. :)

  12. Thanks for the comments. A HIGH and LOW settings accessible through the game menu is a decent request, an might allow me to cater for lower end systems (and start thinking about this lower end as I write the shader and infrastructure to support it). As mentioned above, I don't want to compromise with Reloaded and opt for the lowest common denominator. You must also bear in mind this is a 'one man band' engine, so I don't have optimization experts on hand to spend six months tweaking every last polygon out of every card and system out there, so it's not going to break any speed records. That said, we're building the engine up from almost start with the Instance Stamp technique and with a new occlusion system and variable speed shader ideas, we have a good chance of hitting 60fps on a typical modern day rig.

  13. I don't expect you to optimise everything as such, I just want to be able to adjust quality settings. Surely it's easy enough to have settings to adjust the distance at which lights fade and the distance that shadows are visible (the shadow distance and lights fade will be almost certainly the most performance-affecting things to change so they would be appreciated)? Also, surely it would be easy enough to use DBPro's built-in Divide Texture Size parameter when loading images to lower texture memory usage? And to lower the model quality you should have three levels, at the highest, the highest LOD is displayed up close, at medium, the mid-way LOD is displayed up close, and at lowest, the low LOD is displayed all the time (including up close).

    Either way a HIGH and LOW setting will be better than nothing.