Friday, 13 December 2013

Friday Fun

The Storm After The Calm

A good rest does one a world of good, and I started at noon today and just finishing off now at 45 minutes past midnight, so a good long stint. Made a huge boo-boo half way through when I realized I was operating from two different source code bases and in danger of loosing some work from some unspecified number of days. Fortunately WinDiff came to my rescue and I once again had the best of both worlds compiling as normal.

As you can see, a new Shader Panel has emerged which can set the terrain to MEDIUM, which retains the texturing and fog effects, but removes normals and shadows from the mix. I plan to continue working on this shader level, plus add a few more so that you have a good selection of visual options that represent the best compromise between visuals and performance.

So What's Been Done

The shader panel, which has been my sole goal today, is now refined and working well. It can step right down to the most basic of Pixel Shader 2.0 shaders, allowing us to get a real feel for the performance 'starting point' for low-end devices.  High end effects are unaffected for those with meaty systems, but I am hopeful that my shader work at the lower end will start to show some real gains.  From these benchmarks, I can decide which visual effects to promote into the shader until we basically run out of GPU cycles.

Too Ultra

I am already getting super frame rates on my Ultrabook now, so I decided to dig out a Windows Surface Tablet (Intel ATOM processor using a GMA chip). As a point of comparison, running the 1.003 software fully loaded AND at low settings I got 1-2fps, and was essentially un-usable.  I am not sure yet whether this should be a platform to target, but I do know there will be a lot of devices out there at this processor level and you can imagine some users will want to play their FPS games on the Windows Tablet.  I am not going to obsess over this far end of the spectrum, but I will be very interested to see what basic shaders and a massive reduction in polygons would yield here. If the engine was able to create and play games at this level, it would effectively span any type of system you might have and create a very accessible solution.  We will see...

Signing Off

My last task for the week will be to build an installer from this version which has the shader panel and then try on a few systems I have here.  It will also be a stand-by version should the QUAD work which is next week turn out to be a nightmare (again).  I also plan to do a little over the weekend to make up for my transient life earlier this week.

I must also thank Rodrigo for his suggestions for shader improvements, who went to the trouble of going through all the shaders and documenting small savings which no doubt will add up to a few extra FPS units for some of you guys out there.  I am sure the community will want to thank you as well!

We Want Your Vote

One last thing before I go. I noticed in our new Voting System that Performance is scoring less than the Character Creator feature :)

Fortunately I started Performance work so that box is being actively developed now, but it was interesting to note that you are using your votes to push a new feature into the engine ahead of more performance. It will be interesting to see how the chart moves after BETA 1.004 :)

We Want Your GREEN Vote Too

Today we also launched our bid to get a Green Light on Steam, which would open the doors to a lot more eyeballs and interest in what we are building. I encourage you to check it out, sign in and click YES to Reloaded's invasion of Steam :)

I am not sure how many YES votes we need, but once I get some statistics from somewhere, I will keep you updated on how we are fairing there!!


  1. I didn't vote performance because you stated a goal as further work on supporting lower spec graphic cards. If performance is not really acceptable on mid-high range then I certainly don't think you should be spending time on the lower cards right now. At the very least get those "turn off features" improvements done as they tick that box, but performance needs to be aimed across the board. We need to save lots of FPS for everyone.

    I actually voted LUA scripting with two points (We need to be able to program things or the software is next to useless!) and three points on advanced terrain. Because we desperately need multi-texture support. It's a very, very core feature and it should be as early as possible so you can improve performance around it and if you have to, shift other systems around to compensate so it isn't too late.

  2. Performance is the #1 Focus for any beginning stages of an engine. Incredibly important. Its also marketability a good idea. The turn off features can only be worked in with the considering of lower-vid-cards. So Lee's working in the correct stages as far I see it. I mean... its still only December.

    Changing the scripting language isn't going assure multi-texturing. That's internal.

    1. I never said that was. That point was based on the "advanced terrain features." vote.

  3. I wanted to vote for everything,i also voted on greenlight.The more people that buy the more features we get,thanks for the hard work again Lee.Also thanks got to Rodrigo for putting the time,It would be nice to here what the other team members are working on to.

  4. Huknar, performance will be across the board. If you have a mid range system then these features will allow it to run way faster, just not as pretty. Still from my tests of late I think the next update will please most people, and is certainly a lot faster already and I haven't seen the difference the shader panel makes yet!

  5. Yes, the voting really scares me actually. If the voting shows wich way FPSCR will be going.. I´m off pretty fast.
    I mean.. asset editor and character editor the most important? Really?
    That would be a good way to scare off the Pro.

  6. (That would be a good way to scare off the Pro)
    I understand what your saying here,but its not only for the pro.The idea is that everyone can make a game without being to experienced,and relying on other people for assets.

    1. I think he was talking about the priority. Not the change itself and I agree with him. Right now, we do not need easier asset creation when we don't even have scripting implemented. However, later into the product I very much agree with both the asset and character creator. They would help immensely.

    2. Agreed completely, Huknar.

    3. (I think he was talking about the priority. Not the change itself and I agree with him. Right now, we do not need easier asset creation when we don't even have scripting implemented. However, later into the product I very much agree with both the asset and character creator. They would help immensely.)
      I see your point.

  7. We all have different points of view and opinions of whats important and in what order as far as the importance and order of general development and features are concerned.

    My own different from many others surely.

    There is no point in having a voting system (which no one wants unless it meets with what "they" want) at all if it is going to be ignored. Might as well remove it.

    If you put one in place so all users have a choice and a say - which is what TGC have done, then individuals and their preferences don't take specific preference but the majority of opinions of pledger purchasers/users do as a group.

    Its a democratic thing and TGC are following their commitment to ask users what they want from the product.

    Whatever we think then as individuals we have to accept the vote of the majority, like it or not.

    Personally I think no new features until what is started is completed in its - so as far as Terrains go then theirs two items in the voting list yet to complete but they may not get put in placer at least at this stage. Thats just one example.

    Point being what I think is part of the community vote and so I and we all have to accept that now despite what we think as individuals. If that's bad or good for the product well we will just have to wait and see but if you throw the development direction out of TGC hands to the general users without concern for valued judgement on the part of someone other than as determined by popular vote then that's an end to it.

    No doubt some will be happy and some not but that's always the case. Unfortunately TGC cant put in place everything all at once one and the same time so everybody can have features they want now, but that's the way it is.

    The way it is now if TGC follow the voting system then that has to be fair - though not necessarily whats best for the product never mind any particular individual.

    Its a tough old world is it not.


  8. I had always intended to create a functional core with the product before looking to the voting board for inspiration. I think we all agree performance is pretty boring and not very sexy, but absolutely vital. So too is basic character behavior and core gaming elements and rules. I hope you give me enough credit in the field of games creation to get these in before launching off into a completely separate module ;)

    It's also worth pointing out that we've structured many of the features in such as a way as to be relatively standalone to the main engine coding, which means we can hire extra coders to work on them in parallel to the main development. Thanks to your pledging and continued support, we are almost at a position were we can undertake this acceleration.

    It might seem we've been on performance forever, and to some degree we will always be working on performance, and it may be comforting to know that my recent shader work should improve matters for those who don't have mid-range graphics hardware. For those of you running on super-high-end cards, I've also made some general improvements for 1.004 including weapon and health HUDs and a batch of high priority issues we've been collecting over the last two months. Hopefully something for everyone in this Christmas release.

  9. Nothing wrong with improving performance. I was not referring to that particularly.

    I was referring to not completing existing features - all the base ones we have now and moving on by popular vote so they are bypassed before fully developing them to their full potential and not putting off completing any feature before moving on to add more.

    That has a habit of providing a lot of half finished features which will not give the product, the users nor the games made the standard that Reloaded could potentially achieve.

    It will give users the choice to have a product which they can make games with sooner rather than later but with a set of tools and features which potentially could be improved upon lowering the bar for the product.

    I can understand the pressure to do this from many angles.

    I also agree perhaps it is the only way to go at the risk of the product never reaching its full potential which many users may well find acceptable to them as they cant wait and just want to get a game made ASAP and for that they need more features even in a basic form.

    If developing existing features now to their full potential is to be bypassed at this stage then can we presume that all of the features currently on the list will be at some stage fully implemented so that Reloaded does not end up with a sub standard set of features for both developers and game players when it has the potential to include them. i.e. quality rather than quantity.

    Whatever I am sure you have it all well thought out and as always know whats what whereas we only see our own personal perspective.

    Looking forward to Beta 1.004 and more.