Monday, 10 February 2014

Back From Vacation


Just got back into the 'hot' seat and going through my emails and post histories, and I am in full agreement with the posts in the forum that the next few releases should be heavy on core stuff. Personally, I would like to focus entirely on core to the exclusion of all else, but development life is rarely that pure 

I'm downloading the HOOD demo now, posted on the Reloaded forum, to get a feel for the feedback first hand, and reading the thread you will get no argument from me on the items mentioned. More performance and proper AI seem to be high on your list, and mine too, so I'll be looking to push these as the highest priorities in the development weeks to come. I have also extended the testing period for the next update, so you only get it once a few more eyeballs and a few more days have tested the release. I have a development meeting Wednesday to discuss the exact order of importance on which core issues will be addressed for the next release, and in the meantime I will be knocking on the head the 'easy to fix silly ones' that crept into the beta since the last version.

I would like to post on the forum more, and I do jump in once a week to reply to every post on the first page (when I am not skiing), but I feel going to the forum every day might detract from actual coding and I usually end up repeating myself after a while.

Hopefully this blog provides enough information on the daily stuff and a 'once a week' appearance in the forum will fill in any gaps from me. If you have any recommendations how I could further reduce the apparent communication gap without adversely affecting my coding hours, please get in touch!

I came back from my vacation with a few more ideas how I could get more speed from the engine, so unless I am molested by higher priority items, I will be spending today and Tuesday trying those out (along with fixing those silly items I mentioned).

We also had the foresight to get some parallel developments coded in my absence, so I have returned to a new installer revision which will cleanly uninstall all your installed files from the next version onwards, but leave your user content and levels in tact. 

We've also rewritten the LUA scripting engine module, which now gives us full control of the underlying source code, not to mention adding some nifty extras like multi-scope LUA scripting which will eventually allow you to create scripts for HUD and interface displays, plus other independent logic within the game (more on that in the future). Other work has been done for the Construction Kit and Object Importer, but I am strongly inclined to defer these releases as there is an integration cost that would distract me from the singular pursuit of core work.

Time for me to open up the engine now and start working on performance and the sillier core issues in there. If you feel I should be working on something else until Wednesday (as it's very likely I have forgotten stuff since the start of this post), please let me know by posting here so we can get a general overview of how you would prioritize my next two days  I will post again after the Wednesday meeting to let you know what priorities were decided (or you can read the blog post on that day as it will be repeated there as well).

For those with some patience left, thanks for sticking with us. For those who just ran out of it, welcome to the world of game engine development and I'll see what I can do to restore your faith. To take the guesswork out of it, please post here by Tuesday PM, one item that you would like to see in the next update and I'll add it to the meeting on Wednesday.


  1. Welcome back Lee. I hope you relaxed before returning to the fray :).

    I'd just like to mention the current memory cap issues which I feel a lot of users consider as much of a priority as the performance, if not more. You can of course buy a new card to improve performance, but there's not a lot that can be done currently by the end user to combat the amount of memory consumed by the engine.

  2. Hi Lee and welcome back to the war.
    I'm one of them who has lost faith. The singular thing that would return it would be a MAJOR boost in performance. I have a feeling that your bag of tricks is empty. Please prove me wrong. If the next beta has more features and no performance gain, I'll know for sure it's over.

  3. Welcome back Lee,
    we strongly need a way to use skinfiles on models, or to rephrase that
    a way to define in the fpe file what Normal/ Spec Map to use and not just the Diffuse. (so yeah actual a way to define all map textures).
    Imagine vehicles or building propr or well props in general that share the same diffuse but use a different normal map/ spec map.
    I feel this is a must do thing as we are currently really limited when it comes to defining material files in the fpe and have to waste resources and space, so i hope we can get this feature. thanks

    Now a Suggestion
    add to the WaterShader/ a underwater vegetation model.
    This would enable users to create more realistic underwater scenes.
    Of course this is only usable if we get a underwater postfx.
    So maybe the underwater vegetation can be hooked into the underwater_fx shader?

    1. This sounds like an interesting idea in the sense of making some under-water plant models. I wouldn't mind helping out there.

  4. Here's a simple one for you. How about creating a way for us NOT to have to dig through our old bin files and remove them, so that we can actually run a test game without a crash every time? I don't really care if it starts me over from scratch, personally. This is an Alpha version of this software (I don't know why people keep calling it a Beta, as it has no where near the total of the items going in, let alone stable enough for any kind of work to be done in it), anyone trying to actually build anything other than test levels is in for quite the headache.

    I've given up on doing any more testing, or importing of custom media because of this. It should run on a basic level without having to jump through hoops. Previous Alphas didn't have this error for me (from the start); so I don't know what changed. My system is only a few months old, and nothing's been changed since the start.

    So again; firing up a test level gives me a black screen and follow-on crash. That is unacceptable. Anything else that is fixed, or being worked on, is irrelevant if I cannot get into a level I build. I'm not even using anything custom; I just tried to play the "get to the river" demo that came with it....just like I've play tested many times before.

    Unless this is fixed; all I can say, is that I'll see you when this thing goes gold.

    1. I've been very lucky to not have to experience any issues with the bin and dbo files or crashes or freezes.

  5. Welcome back, hope you had a great vacation! :) I haven't lost faith, but since you are requesting suggestions I do have one. Others can speak to core development and performance, etc. but I can offer an inexperienced noob's perspective. FPS updates have basically been coming out for about three months now. From a noob's point of view it seems to be the same thing each time, though. Again, I know there's all kinds of stuff going on under the hood but from an outsider's perspective not much has changed in the past three months. There's nothing "new" to play around with and to create. I can only create so many rivers and mountains with the same bad guy and same weapons over and over and over again until I loose interest. It's gotten to the point that I only play around with FPS for a couple hours after an update and then not touch it again until the next one.

    I'm definitely not saying don't work on the core stuff. Even I know that's important. You don't want to compromise FPS now and regret it later just to move things along. Instead, my recommendation is to release something new with each major update. Nothing big, but maybe a new character, a new building (as opposed to variations on existing ones), or a new weapon (even a melee one perhaps)? And something that's not from modern times. You want to showcase what all FPS is/will be capable of. It could be a an ancient Roman soldier, a futuristic alien baddie, an elf, a sword, etc. Right now it's feeling like I'm just making a bunch of Call of Duty games.

    Again, this is just from a noob's perspective. I'm still very excited about FPS and read the blog everyday. Keep up the great work!

    1. FPSC! FPSC! It stand for First Person Shooter CREATOR. Can't forget the C there :O ;)

  6. "which now gives us full control of the underlying source code, not to mention adding some nifty extras like multi-scope LUA scripting which will eventually allow you to create scripts for HUD and interface displays"

    I sincerely hope that is exactly what it sounds. Creation of custom interfaces and other GUIs.

    You add that functionality (as freely as possible. No strings attached.) and I will kiss you Lee.

  7. Welcome back Lee, hope you enjoyed your hols. The new beta seems to have gone down badly, which is a shame. It perhaps needed a few more days testing.
    Issues I have found so far in this and indeed other releases.
    1. The editor can get sort of stuck in a loop on loading occasionally when it has an issue loading the prior level. Even when you get it out of the welcome screen, the terrain flickers and is generally unresponsive. I have worked round it, a couple of times, but it can be a little troublesome.
    2. Shooting is still as accurate as ever. As in, it isn't at all. I'm not quite sure why this is, but it needs to be fixed. Enemies stand like dummies when shot at and worse, do not get hit. It feels as if I am playing an Elder Scrolls game and I have to level up my shooting skills as I go.
    3. When inside buildings, especially tight fits, FPS drops badly. I tried jumping into the back of a wagon from the western media pack, and found it slow down tremendously when crawling through.

    Obviously performance is needed, and it would be nice if you could mention exactly what you can do to improve it. I'm a little tired of seeing posts that are saying it's out of steam and obviously is almost as fast as it can be. People seem to think as it is DB Pro being used in the main it will not get any faster and is already as fast as it can go. I've tried to argue that you made DB and can effectively speed parts of it up at a more low level, but all I seem to get is arguments saying I am guessing, and have no clue, and why hasn't it been done already? So it would be nice if you could mention exactly what you can do to speed things up in future, and perhaps where the limit might be. Because at the moment a lot of people are making bold assumptions imo, and would probably be happier if you went into a little detail as to how much you use DB, C++, or even Assembly in the quest for speed.
    Shader effects are a bit of a killer, and could do with improving. Shadows need more oomph. Polys make a difference, but mainly only when you have shaders at any sort of decent level. Although the performance bar seems a little ropey and tends to stay up at 100% or close, even when viewing a low poly part of the scene, say the sky or just a flat terrain. Not that that is a major issue, just less useful than if it worked :)
    I think most peoples gripes is that to get more speed, it seems as if things are being taken out, rather than improved. I personally have seen improvements with each release, but on full everything it is still not as fast as it could be, even on quite fast video cards.
    Anyway good luck with the next update!

  8. Hi Lee, hope you had a great time! I think most members seem to be united in the fact they want to see more performance and as Dave mentioned in the first post the memory cap issue is also causing much frustration at the moment.

    Keep the faith !

  9. Entity memory issues not enough objects are allowed. And it seems to be a problem if using different entities

  10. Hi Lee

    Welcome back. Its been a storm on the Reloaded forums lately but now the dust is settling and you are back, we are all hoping things are going to be placed firmly back on track.

    I just posted this on the forums but incase you miss it these are my thoughts:

    Short term goals (core) should be given the most focus even if that means farming the AI, physics, performance, memory out to trusted developers. Thinking about adding building and character creators in at the moment is just adding to concerns things will get even worse as the core issues are not fixed.

    All we should be looking at for the next BETA is take a terrain, a small play area with the player, a gun, some static / dynamic entities, a couple of enemies and see if we can create a stable and fun experience with that. Then we can start to call it progress.

    It appears we are going to get a proper bug reporting tool for Reloaded now which is probably the best news I've heard since the 1st BETA got released so we can start building confidence in the product and feel more engaged in what is being done behind the scenes. This cannot be conveyed in your blog alone.

    Its about getting back to basics now and making something solid rather than getting excited about features which are early in development before the core of Reloaded can deliver.

  11. Hi Lee,

    I have many projects on my plate and so I haven't really even installed FPSC:R yet, but I do follow the blog and look at the shiny stuff and whatnot.

    Just from what I am reading, it sounds like performance is one of the big hurdles. I am not sure if you have seen this yet. I found this thread earlier that showed the inefficiency of the DBP Compiler. Look at the second post of this thread:

    Following the link in that post shows even more areas where the DBP compiler seems a bit bloated, especially when dealing with floats. If FPSC:R is coded in DBP, and the DBP compiler is not efficient, it stands to reason that FPSC:R will not be efficient either.

    Perhaps spending a half-day looking over the DBP compiler could help here.

    1. Indeed! Sounds like an excellent suggestion!

  12. Welcome back Lee! I don't wish to add more for you to read, so just a simple welcome back and hope your brain doesn't explode when reading over the forums. >_<

  13. Lee, don't listen to people saying we need features, and other stuff alike. We need core, memory and speed improvement. We need power in the engine, not decorations on it. Things are advancing fast as never in the engine of games, and as you can see, power, stablity and quality are making the difference, not pretty stuff. That's the last thing to worry about.

  14. Forgot to mention, do check out the BUG section of the forums as a lot of people have gone unanswered to regarding major issues with the engine. if there is any way to flag which of those bug posts are fixed, confirmed or closed that would be very good because people are going nuts in that area of the forums.

  15. Sorry to post twice, but I just re-encountered an issue so thought I'd pop it up as it seems an easy one to fix.

    I've just finished a basic desk object in Blender, which I left at the default scale Blender starts with. To get it to show correctly in Reloaded, I always have to scale the object up a LOT. So, as scale in FPE files was fixed, I tried that instead. It worked great. However, on reloading Reloaded and the level, the scale seems to reset, until you click the tiny object and it suddenly scales up again. This also happened when I was trying to get some old Dark Matter objects to import. Hopefully an easy one to fix!

  16. Welcome back!Focus on performance. For now i can't add more than 20 characters...after i add about 15 my fps drops to 15 on quad core with 8 gb ram and gtx 650 2 gb. For example Udk runs smooth even if I add more than 40-50 charcters to scene with enviroment.also collision on terain is bad. When i crouch near hill i can see under textures and also sometimes i fall down there. As someone wrote here...fps largely drop when in building. I created my own with low poly and movement inside is so laggy because of huge fps drop. Also in next update i want to see those bugs repaired and new things like more lua commands,so people can make something new to fpsc r. I think we all want to move forward as fast as it is possible, because of concurency. If fpsc r want to survive and beat all available game development software it must evolve faster. Best will be updates every week on sunday. Focus on 1 or 2 things and repair or add them into fpsc...thats my advice:)

  17. I have an idea that I believe will help now, tomorrow, and for every day in the future...
    Why can't we have a single level that showcases ALL FPSCR features and then add the LUA bits and pieces to script every ability and function. With the right logging in place you can then 'execute' the level against multiple hardware types and after code changes to objectively determine results that can be published by all and sundry.

  18. I am Thinking a Nice and Simple undo Button :)

    Or anything the looks small and easy from the < Feature Creep > section

  19. another awesome ability that I have been reading on the forums would be the ability to
    rescale entity's.. if that's not a big one