Our First Update
I can announce we've just released our first update to the BETA, which goes out to all pledgers. You can find it in your My Products section alongside the main BETA download dated the 8th. The software will show you all the changes that have been made via a prompt at the start, and you will find a summary on the main website.
A lot of the changes are mainly tweaks, and additional sliders to help with performance. I have also added a LOW FPS detector, which will allow you to instantly select better settings for lower end graphics cards. I also recommend you check out the new drop down items in the World Settings, which is still my favorite feature of this update.
We have also updated the DarkSHADER product for those users who own it, which will now allow you to take the terrain shader from Reloaded and tweak it from within the tool. I suggest that you are comfortable with shaders before embarking on checking this one out though, as it can get pretty technical.
I had half-planned to do more character AI work for this update so the enemies where a little less silly but I just about ran out of time. The new update improves characters marginally, and they can no longer shoot at you from an insane distance. The next update will contain more fixes in this regard so that characters can be shot every time and that they are aware of where they are and you are during combat.
After some basic AI fixes, I plan to look closer at my shaders and see if I can create some low-end shaders that can be switched too from the graphics panels. When I saw one report from a user running only 33K polygons at 10fps, I began to realize that a few systems out there will really struggle with the pixel shader 3.0 files I am using. Stepping them back down to PS2.0 level might provide a huge speed boost with only a marginal loss in visual fidelity.
Another fix was to restore the desert textures, which we had overlooked with all the fun of our new lush terrain.
One option was to pursue entity and shadow batching to reduce draw calls, but on reflection I decided reducing the shader size was going to yield more performance so batching can wait a few days. I am rather pleased with how the LOW FPS warning worked out, as even on my PC I can create some levels which are pretty hungry and a single click will bring it back up to playable speeds.
With more of the essential tweaks complete, I have bought myself a little performance tuning time for next week. I would be tempted to use the weekend for such a pursuit, but it's been a crazy few days and a day off might be in order. Pity the weather does not agree with me at the moment!