Friday, 28 February 2014

Back From MWC 2014 - Phew!


As the trip was not strictly Reloaded work, I had to book this one as a holiday so I am listing it as a 'Play' report :)  Did some networking and showing AGK to all and sundry, plus met a lot of very cool dudes and dudettes.  Saw some great tech and had some very techie conversations. Also managed to get up on stage a few times and talk my spiel.  My warmest thanks to Intel for inviting me there and making me feel at home, and it was great to meet my friends from across the waters again, both old and new.

Also visited my countryman at the Wales stand at MWC too, which was great to see!  Got a free glass of wine for my trouble ;)  I also really enjoyed the hotel, despite it's distance from Barcelona. If you want a place that gives you REALLY big measures, this is the place!

In those quiet moments on the plane, or in the airport, or in the 40 minute taxi ride to the MWC event every day, I had time to reflect on WHY OH WHY do I only get a handful of content in the level before it bombs. It did not take long to realize a 5000 polygon building with three LOD levels should not cost 15MB of system memory.  The most the vertices should cost is 800K and the textures 'should' be in video memory, so what on earth could eat SO MUCH system memory when it is clearly not required? This was the burning question I came back with, and I will be writing a very mean prototype this weekend to trace a series of LOAD OBJECT processes with some of the offenders from the FPSC Reloaded Asset Library such as the character and the large buildings.

I now have two solid weeks of Reloaded coding ahead of me, and my mission to reduce memory and increase performance is approaching make or break time. After that, I am off to GDC for a few days to present it to 'die hard FPS players and top game developers' and I am presenting on an Ultrabook (mobile PC) so the challenge is definitely on. To that end, I have given my mid-range graphics card to Simon so he can work on higher quality visuals in the Construction Kit and I have installed a GeForce 9600 GT:

Essentially the card is 5 times slower than the one I have been using, which will give me some first-hand experience of the problem. It also simulates the speed of a mobile PC too so I can craft the best GDC demo in the time available. I plan to put out a few versions to our internal testers during this process and if the results are good, we will look to release something to the Alpha cadence guys to get a taste of the improvements.  If the version is bad, our internal testers will protect you from it :)

Anyway, a LONG day almost done. Now my emails and blogging duties are complete, I think I will sneak off to bed and get a head start on the weekend. I am pleased to see the roof still on, so hopefully we've seen the last of the UK storms for the time being. 

Friday, 21 February 2014

Internal Tweaks Day


I have spent most of Friday running around finding little jobs to make my mental desk a little cleaner before the weekend. I found time to add some nice things to Reloaded such as character fading when they die, switching them to instance objects when they are far away to save performance, fixing reflections which disappeared when the new occlusion system went in, adjusted the metrics readout so that polygon and draw calls don't instantly fill up the bar to appear more representative of a 'maximum' state, tweaked collision properties for some trees and generally bashed the engine with a variety of performance tests to locate the worst offenders.

I have isolated two performance jobs which move to the top of my plate, and both of them hooks into the new occlusion system very nicely.

The first is to replace distant objects with quads. I did this before for the instance stamp system but it proved to be a huge memory hog and hurt performance when a large group of high polygon objects entered the rendering zone.  The great news is that I can re-use the quad system I created from the instance stamp mechanism but drop the 'dynamic VB filler part' which was the troublesome bit.  I will be using the feedback from the occlusion system to work out whether quads should be rendered (as they are in a single draw call so need vertex shader magic to hide/show them individually). By passing in a quad distance value to the bound sphere submissions of the occluder I can control quad visibility entirely on the GPU :)  Naturally, I can get the CPU to skip draw calls on the higher polygon objects by simply hiding them when they enter the assigned quad range (which will be a value in the FPE so you can change it per entity).

The second boost work will be to move the vegetation generator which currently kicks in hard when you run really fast through lots of grass (and can take good 60 fps levels down to 42 fps). I will move it from the DBP code which creates and destroys meshes on mass into a space between the start and end of the HZB query calls (that's right, exactly where the stall is located). My hope is that the vegetation generation becomes completely free as the CPU would be sitting around waiting for the GPU to come back with my juicy visibility values for the occlusion.

Put these two optimizations together and you should get a reduction of draw calls amounting to half the scene, and a substantial drop in polygons too. I've run measurements with other speed-up ideas, and these two will help increase frame rates significantly AND ensure the rate does not drop when you run quickly through dense foliage.


If you've been wandering why I've been pulling 12-14 hour days for the last five days it's because I am off on a short busmans holiday from Sunday. I will be changing my overworked programmer hat for my CEO and Marketing hat as I represent TGC at this years MWC.  Specifically I will be presiding over the huge hackathon there and helping fellow developers as they attempt to code a game in just three days.  It's a chance to chill, unwind a little and talk shop with 3000 developers, and trade horror stories to find out if there are any crazy cool optimization tricks that I have missed.  If you're heading there yourself, I will be tweeting my location throughout the event in case you want to say hello and swap travelling tales.

Alas I have left myself just one day to prepare all my demos and test my equipment, but I have one more day of Reloaded performance work during Saturday, and hopefully the internal build I am preparing will be received well by our internal team testers.  I made a video showing the new occlusion in action, but I have been warned repeatedly about showing 'not great' videos so you will have imagine what it looked like;

"Picture it....I start far from a set of 15 buildings standing on a super flat terrain, each building has 3 barrels placed outside, the draw call count is 62. I run into the nearest building and make sure I can see through no open windows, and the draw call drops to just 12. Apart from the floor, sky and a few other quads the only thing being rendered is the building I am in. Frame rate on my machine stayed well above 60 fps, the target I aim for during my tests. Once I add in quads for singular objects, I expect the initial draw call of 62 to drop to more like 32. All to play for in Reloaded land!"

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Brain Approaching Burn Out


Another crammed day, ending past 4AM.  I had planned some other small tasks around the office, emails and tasks, but I spent pretty much the whole time continuing the saga of performance improvements.  I seem to be addicted to saving frames!

I'll give you the highlights (as I am wiped out). I've replaced the terrain physics system from a height map to a trimesh, extracted from the actual visual terrain geometry at LOD1. What this means is that your dynamic objects will not sink into the floor or float above it in strange ways.  My initial code was to use LOD0, but that dragged me from 170 fps to 110 fps, so by using LOD1 there was no speed loss and I could continue.  No extra speed but much more accurate floor collisions, and the back-end meshes I needed for the next achievement.

Terrain occlusion for objects was possible thanks to the LOD1 meshes I generated as part of the physics creation. Converting them down to just flat vertices and passing them to the occlusion system means that hills and high ridges now occlude any objects that sit behind them.  A BIG occlusion win. I have not run extensive tests on the performance gain (too busy on related wins) but it did not cause any slow down which we can thank to the GPU stall which extolls a single one-off cost for the occlusion so extra submissions to the system was free.

I also improved the occlusion system to use a dynamic vertex buffer instead of a fixed static one. This means I can calculate and render the best 60K polygons worth of occluders instead of rendering over 2 million vertices (the entire scene) through a static draw call. It is still one draw call, but it only renders the polygons immediately surrounding the player. There is also room for further optimizations here which is a boon as this one DID show a performance boost from 101 fps to 166 fps :)

The final task which I did not quite finish due to running out of brain juice was to work out which terrain sectors (small patchwork blobs of terrain) are hidden by the occluder depth render.  I hacked into the BlitzTerrain module and had it skip the sector render if the associated object had been hidden by the occlusion system (if you recall, the object I used to make the new terrain physics floor is the one I left to pick-up the occlusion info for this technique). The problem is that there are many LOD levels, and a relational scatter of sectors per LOD level, and I am only associating DBP objects with LOD Level One.  My early tests show it working, but it needs to work A LOT BETTER before it's ready for the public (as only a small part of the hidden terrain is actually skipping a render).  Alas when I did an aggressive test and did some hack guesswork on neighboring sectors, wiping out most of the distant terrain, the frame rate did not get much past 180 fps.  I have left in a conservative implementation which just acts on LOD1 which will ensure you don't get 'missing terrain squares' when playing your levels.

Notice the empty terrain sector?  I set terrain to wire frame and put a hill between me and the distant plane. I am not saving huge amounts here, but the theory is sound and with more work we should be able to throw out a LOT of polygons when such occluded sectors are well hidden. I have emailed the author of BlitzTerrain in the hopes of gaining more insight and inspiration into the relationship between LOD levels and Sector Objects.

The fact I don't get much higher than 180 fps even when I obliterate the terrain rendering suggests that the bottleneck I must chase next is the GPU stall, and as described in a previous blog post I have a fiendish plan to solve it.  Alas I probably will not get to that until the pile of little issues that my plate is starting to collect have been vanquished.  All in all though, some nice progress and the occlusion system continues to pay dividends!

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Putting The Wires Away


Today was about cleaning up my workbench and putting the wires back into the box, making sure that the Reloaded engine is no worse for all the little changes I have inflicted on it this past five days.  In order to create a sense of urgency I also produced an installer for internal testing:

The good news is that most of it went back without a fuss, but there was enough to keep me going as I tested the version back and forth. I also found time to add a few more core tweaks in there too such as the ability to save which terrain, sky and vegetation your level used when you save the level file. I also aligned the sky scrolling system to match that of the legacy classic system, removing the cloud portal idea for the moment.

There is a chance my Internet will be down Thursday, so I have uploaded my emergency internal test installer and will be starting the Memory Management part of my week which will attempt to analyse where all my system memory is going, and why the engine suddenly decides not to create relatively small contiguous chunks of memory when I need it.  Dave Ravey has done a grand job creating the memory manager subsystem reporting tool, now I need to integrate it and see what comes out the other side.

So far it looks like I won't be restoring my sleeping pattern this week, so hopefully the lack of Internet bringing new emails on Thursday will allow me to finish my regular coding quota early so I can reign in these 4AM finishes!

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Winning On Tuesday


Having discovered Microsoft PIX (six years too late) I found it would crash out when I gave it my full engine. Turns out PIX is not the most stable creature at the best of times, but it took me seven hours of coding to find that out. In the process of 'making my code work with PIX' I cleaned up a huge amount of small DirectX errors which where there since October 2013 but silently failed in the driver. Having debugging modes set to MAX I could see all the dirty laundry of the app. It's now much cleaner.

I still cannot use PIX for the engine, but I can use it for all my smaller prototypes so it will still be a valuable tool when writing new techniques. I am also holding out for a version of NSIGHT that actually works too, but that will probably be down the road (or never) as I am not sure they care much for DX9 support these days.

On realizing I was not going to see my scene through PIX, I created my own depth scene debug view so I could see the hidden depth information from my occluders, and would you believe, I discovered the 'why'..

Those cyan colored shapes in the top right are 'supposed' to be my building occluders. Yes that's right, the ones that are rotated all over the place with scaling gone screwy.  Seems I have found the reason why some of my levels work and some show no occlusion activity.  You cannot hide behind a building that just rotated underground ;)

It's 3AM again so no time to go in and fix it, but the great news is that the fix should be very trivial and then I will have objects that don't suddenly disappear, a constant occlusion rate no matter how many objects in the scene and an excuse to move onto adding terrain to the depth map and solving the polygons for the physics terrain floor (related work).

Between compiles, I also managed to integrate a new installer script for the beta which means your BIN and DBO files will be removed when you uninstall, temp files removed and your precious levels and contain retained.  Just as the installer should be.

I also fixed a bug which caused levels with more than 100 unique entities to crash out, and added physics code to prevent objects from penetrating any surface which should please the placer of small keys :)

A special thanks goes out to DVADER (and R4D5) for helping fix the Reloaded scaling issue!  R4D5 ran off into the scene before I could thank him, he's hiding somewhere...

Also received my new UPS today which should provide 10 minutes of back-up power in case of total power failure (allowing me to save my work). Turns out it needs C14 cables to connect my devices, so not quite ready to set that up. With the new one in place, I can move the smaller UPS to the main router at the other end of the house which should provide power and surge protection for my telephone and broadband too, even when grid power goes. Neat!

Monday, 17 February 2014

This Is Not A PR Blog Jim, It's a Dev Blog - Look Away


If you want good news, best not to read any more of this blog and wait for later in the week :) If you are brave and want to learn about the real world of software development, read on..

I integrated my new occluder into the Reloaded engine (you remember, the one that did amazingly well in my simple one occluder prototype). Only took a few minutes really, and the results where rather poor. My un-occluded scene I created from 50 buildings rendered flat out at 194 fps. This was my benchmark. I then added the code to submit all buildings as both occluders and ocludees and run the occlusion system on the exact same scene view. My frame rate dropped to 101 fps and my polygon count jumped by 90,000 polygons. Oh woot!

I did some investigative tests and it seems when I removed the 'GetRenderTargetData and System Surface Lock' commands, it jumped back up to 186 fps. My conclusion was that the 'slight' GPU stall I was anticipating is in fact a huge stall when you are running at frame rates in the hundreds.  

When I put it back in and reduced the depth buffer rendering to one draw call, it was slightly better than the worst score at 129 fps. This means the GPU lock is the biggest spender and the fifty depth scene render calls is the next cost to bear.  As I could not avoid the big stall, I worked to combine all the 50 building geometries into one large vertex buffer to do a single draw call but this only yielded a marginally better frame rate of 105 fps.

The good news is that this overhead will not get any bigger as the scene grows in size (with a few optimizations I have in mind). The cost is in the depth scene render and the GPU stall, and those won't get any bigger which means I can throw thousands of objects at it and the cost will be the same (or near as dammit) as ten objects.  I cannot rely on that assumption until I have field tested this new occlusion system with some other machines (and other users).

I then created a second level which had 25 barrels hiding behind a tent, and the system correctly occluded all the barrels when I stood behind it, and the draw call count dropped respectively.

The good news ended pretty soon though as the barrels exhibited visual popping because they where trying to occlude themselves (not a good idea to have an object that is both occluder and ocludee), and the last thing I wanted to see what popping (the whole reason this new occlusion system was created).

More Work To Come

If you read this far, I will now treat you to the very good news.  I half anticipated all the issues above, and despite the laundry list of woes I am quite pleased with how the HZB is able to work out occlusion and distribute that through the engine.  My next plan is to create a 'preferred occluder' system which only selects near 'large' objects for the occluders which will stop that annoying popping and speed up the depth render stage.  I can speed up the management of the return results by allocating some fixed memory instead of creating and deleting the memory allocation every cycle and perhaps my MOST AMBITIOUS plan of all, to eliminate the GPU stall.

I've hunted around I could not find any clever white paper which solves this issue, and prefers to put you onto DX10 and DX11 to solve it with the much friendlier stream-out operation.  It seems DX9 coders are left to fend for themselves with this problem, and my idea is utterly radical and perhaps just as slow as the current GPU lock.  You are welcome to stop me if you think the idea is mad..

Instead of doing a 'GetRenderTargetData' command to get the visibility results back into CPU memory so I can switch objects on and off, I instead redirect the occlusion visibility texture (which contains little 1's and 0's for each object being represented in the scene) and pass it to my entity shader as a new texture. I then use what is called a vertex texture fetch to grab the visibility state from the texture produced by the occlusion system. If the value is 'not visible', I simply adjust the vertex position to 'behind the camera' which will force whole object to skip sending the polygons to the fragment shader. The draw call for the object would still be made, but the shader would quickly reject all its polygons and move on.  Not sure if a draw call that renders no polygons is a freebie, or still a performance drain, but that plus the vertex texture fetch are the two problem areas I anticipate.  If my fears are unjustified and the performance hit is negligible, I will have created an entirely GPU-only occlusion method in DX9.  The reason I am confident is that the current method produces a GPU stall that effectively halves my frame rate, and the benefit of a non-stalling occlusion pipeline will be apparent the moment I finish coding it and run a test (fingers crossed).

It's another 3:30AM in the morning, and no sight of my normal 9-5 day so far, but if we can crack this occlusion question and have it perform splendidly in the main Reloaded engine, I can draw a clean line under it and move on with confidence.  No sense moving on until then (unless it starts to gobble up weeks!).  As a fallback plan, I emailed a middle-ware company that provides one of the advanced occlusion methods used by Unity (apparently) to ask them for the price for including their tech. No reply yet, but from experience the answer is usually (you cannot use it in a game maker) or a number with many zeros on the end.

Still, the occlusion system seems to be holding up very well, and if the frame rate never drops below 80fps, even with the current stalling system, it is still a benefit over an engine that would otherwise slow down as you start hiding objects around your scene.  Plenty more occlusion news to come, watch this space!

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Occlusion Prototype Done


Wanted to go to bed three hours ago, but could not let go of this damnable algorithm. It's now 3:15AM, my eyes and head are throbbing, but I finally bashed the HZB occlusion system into a working state and my little box prototype runs with full 'super fast' occlusion.

I created a world with 400 boxes on the floor, and one large central box which I set as an occluder. Without occlusion my frame rate was 160 fps, due to the full textured shader I applied to all of them.  When I switched on automatic occlusion, it jumped up to 350 fps with no change in visuals.  Of course when I ran up to the wall to force full occlusion, it jumped to 1000 fps. Thanks muchly Mr HZB!

I have yet to see how the system handles more objects and more occluders, but as the system is predominantly a GPU operation scaling up should be almost free on higher end graphics cards. Time will tell if this approach to occlusion works on the lower end cards.

I've probably binned half of Monday with my 'burnout' weekend but I think it was worth it, and now I have the theory running well in a prototype, the next step will be to transfer the few occlusion commands to the main engine and see what kind of 'before' and 'after' frame rates I get.  Fingers crossed.

NOTE: I also dealt with a few emails over the weekend too, including one that helped me fix the scaling issue bug causing SCALE entities to lose their scaling when you load them in or save an executable.  A five minute fix, but testing with the R4D5 model was lots of fun!!

Saturday, 15 February 2014

HOQ say hello to HZB


For my leisurely weekend, I decided to tackle the problem of Occlusion once and for all, and to that end spent the first six hours reading every technique every used in computer games from CPU software rendering through to insanely ambitious prediction systems for reducing hardware query checks. The reason I am not satisfied with the current hardware query system in Reloaded is that the object 'popping' you see when you run around corners is not just 'occasional' but pretty much in your face!  No-one has come up with a decent solution to solve the occlusion query popping as it is an inevitable result of having the data for the occlusion cull one frame behind the rest of the visual rendering. Only coherence systems attempt to solve this, but it only amounts to guesswork. I even pioneered some non-white-paper thoughts about creating multiple queries as a product of the player running in several dead-reckoning vectors, but I quickly realized the cost of those queries would be insane, and there are a lot of articles out there which feverishly attempt to reduce query count so why would I deliberate make multiples of them!  Here are my brain storming notes from the day:

During my researches, I stumbled onto a technique called Hierarchical Z Buffers (used in several top end games you know) which basically renders a smaller version of the scene into a depth buffer and squashes it down into a real-time mipmap. It is then used in concert with any object you wish to test the occlusion state of using some pretty wicked GPU based test. The wicked part is how they get the DX9 test data back into system memory ;)

I did not wish to go this route originally as adding another pre-render to the scene seemed like spending more GPU time than saving it.  It's now nearly 3AM and I want to eat and watch a movie before I sleep, and I am currently at the point where most of the C++ code is in a new set of DBP commands and I just need to establish some occluder candidates, create an object bounds database and then set the object visibility flags.  These last three steps should allow me to choose key occluders from any Reloaded scene, then sit back and watch as the GPU performs full occlusion testing with a single draw call and instantly rejects thousands of arbitrary objects from the scene :)  I will know more come Monday afternoon, but the early results are exciting!

I have recently discovered how to use Microsoft PIX properly (now replaced with the VS graphical debugger) and have been having a whale of a time watching the scene built up one draw call at a time. I plan to use this tool A LOT now I know where all the buttons are. For those who just fell over in shock, I do admit that I was one of those coders who mostly 'guessed' where the rendering problems where in my engine. The upshot of course is that these days my guesses are pretty accurate!

Friday, 14 February 2014

Power Comes On - Power Goes Off


Sorry for the intermittent and less than relevant blogging, it's pretty disconcerting to know your workplace can disappear at any moment :)  Made some progress speeding up the AI system, fixed some erroneous crashing on larger character levels and managed to track a memory leak directly connected to the DarkAI module.  The Memory Management Module (MMM) is currently underway thanks to Dave Ravey which means the smart money is for me to switch to QUAD rendering of distant instance objects to get some serious performance back. I can then return to memory issues on Monday with my new 'rough and ready' memory reporting tool and see where the leak is, plug it, and more importantly find out where 700MB is going for a blank level :)  Also progress being made with the 400 Reloaded ready models as part of your Gold Pledge so watch this space for news on that, and some nice progress in Construction Kit country (thanks to Simon), so despite the lack of electrons, we move ever forward. As a final note, I have also made contact with a few users who have been experiencing extreme problems with their larger levels, in an attempt to identify, isolate and correct the root cause of their pain. The next update WILL be good, watch this space!

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Storms = Power Cuts = No Coding


Wednesday afternoon saw fallen trees and powercuts. Thursday looked like we had full recovery, but come 7PM another powercut. It's back up now so I thought I would post a quick blog before it went again.  Got some good work done on speeding up the AI part of the engine and firmly focused on making sure some of the more aggressive FPM levels run at a cool 60fps on my machine. This should produce some nice performance improvements for everyone else and ensure we hit the mark when it comes to making user levels playable and fun.  I will report more when I can be sure my blog post does not get wiped out mid-type ;)

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

What Lee's List Looks Like


Here is a snapshot of some of the items on my list that I am working through for you. If you feel I have missed anything critical out, please let me know!


Frame rate. Better frame rates if possible.
DAVE to write MEMORY MANAGER and integrate into DBP/Compiler source
Physics. Player physics seem to be all over the place of different PCs.
Shooting. Enemy shooting has to be sorted once and for all.
Full compliance with Win 7 and 8 (UAC)
Item limit when you place a item it increases the memory bar when you delete it its still using the memory
Map blink/screen blink I had this a few time I found what fixes it is when you load the editor wait till you see the blue screen
Jumping/flying the jumping and gravity is spot on the only issue is when the game lags it makes the player seem as if he is flying
Lag/low fps when going into buildings
Enemies Walk Into Water still the seem to fall between the land and water the shoot from under the water
Ai wont die I believe this is down to fps also as when I take out a few AI they are ok
Fps I believe it shouldn't be limited to screen refresh rate it seems to cause more problems
Selecting entities on top of other entities not working (cannot select key sitting on table)
Ability to range select within the editor to move/delete many entities at once
Ability to turn off skyboxes in SETUP.INI
Ability to specify terrain size in SETUP.INI and have terrain created to suit that size
dynamic entities fall through the terrain
In most cases the AI has no idea I am there (see HOOD1 FPM demo)
you can not place a character on top of a building
Introduce new QUAD Reducer (load time only - no modifications afterwards)
Script commands for (only if time moving, visibility, sound loop), animate, spawn
Reduce the amount of memory used in core engine and as levels are added to
Raycast terrain for enemies
Shoot raycast use geometry, not bullet polys
Shoot through transparent objects
Stop enemies from going NEAR water boundary (can be a sharp fall off and enemy drops)
Stop enemies from climbing steep hills
Blood splats on enemies some times show as dust
Stop enemies from running on spot / straf too much
Enemies to partrol if they hear a sound from distance
In combat, remove slow inertia
Collect dropped weapons from dead enemies
Enemies to look around when hearing a shot from distance or close friend killed
Enemy to react a little when shot but not dead
Player water splashes
Big entity splashes
Slider for sky scrolling speed
Reset objects in test mode
Cloud overlap issue raised by Rolfy (email send to Lee)
Old levels did not run due to old.dbo and .bin files
DVADER Issues - placing items on table / in buildings
Shooting enemies does not always hurt/kill them
Play loop sound for atmospheric start - and add script to player start to trigger it
Switch which activates(opens) a door
Stand on pad which activates a stone block to slide to one side (move entity command)

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.