Another new high for my modest developer blog, with over 1,188 views yesterday, which is always a nice statistic to start off my blog writing each evening. It means I know there are a few humans out there reading it, unless it's 1000 web spiders!
Progress With A Picture
Spent more than half the day with some very boring Visual Studio 2012 project cleaning work to get all binaries using the same VC redistributables. The hope was to achieve Win8 native compatibility. After over half a day work, absolutely no joy. The executable refused to run as though I did nothing. Ah well. At least my projects are consistent and all share a common dev setup moving forward. The less half provided some amusement and a new picture for you all:
What you are looking at is a new 'spray entity' feature of the editor which slightly modulates the scale and tilt of the entity you have selected and randomly sprinkles them into the map around the cursor. The upshot is that with three or four tree types, you can create a very dense and convincing forest in less than 20 seconds. Position, rotation and scale are sufficiently different enough to fool the brain into thinking lots of different trees are surrounding you, when in fact there are only six in the scene above. It took me longer to find a place to start for a decent shot than it did to create the scene in the first place.
The downside is that all these trees are clone objects, which means they are all gobbling memory, performance and draw calls. I have an idea how I can group common mesh texture batches and vastly increase performance, whilst reducing overall memory usage. I have decided to postpone this optimization in favor of more needed features of the engine for the beta. When you get your hands on this feature, go easy with it or you will find your terrain populated to such an extent it will turn your game play performance into something resembling a sequence of screen shots!!
Of course this is without self shadowing. When I add S.S, each pixel of the forest scene will be more expensive and more performance hungry. Another issue is that trees and veg are very hard to occlude so a certain amount of overdraw may prevail where semi-transparency is used. Fear not, it is all part of the development of a monster games engine :)
Windows 8 Work
As excited I am about adding physics, characters, AI, e.t.c I really want to get this basic software running on all the Windows devices around me, and it's nagging me that it does not run on a fresh Windows 8 machine. I am going to dedicate another half day to debugging exactly why the software just stalls on this OS, and get it dealt with once and for all. It's probably the one item on the list leading up to the BETA everyone will agree on. Compatibility with the minimum spec cannot be considered a B priority for a commercial product, even at beta.
The good news is that I have eliminated VC distributables as the cause of the software inconsistency on other systems, which leaves more likely reasons such as file write access, permission protocols or strange manifest related nonsense. I will be very happy when I finally corner THIS bug!