Thursday, 30 September 2010

ReTowned ReWorked Redux Redone ReSomething ... ReAgain

ReTowned ... ReWhat ??? Urban ... town ... level ... thing ... originally done wayback when, get's new life as rejigged, rethingymabobed ... er ... something ...

September not the most productive of months as the stars gave forth a terrible alignment of feeling rundown, still suffering a neck problem since July (I blame society! Or maybe bad posture ... or something) and ... er ... I don't know stuff ... but anyway it got so bad I've been as sober as a judge - and considering how many news articles feature judges being arrested for driving whilst inebriated, that should probably read as more sober than a judge.

Anyhoo, whilst not feeling terribly enthusiastic with anything or everything, I did work out the logistical concepts of creating an urban roadnetwork. After more umming and ahhing than you can wave the first five minutes of a TorqueTalk podcast at ... I decided mesh sections were the way forwards ... something I kinda experimented with way back when and here in ye olde bsp.

I eventually decided on large sections that could be bolted together in-editor via junctions at set mathematical divisions, and with a couple of multipurpose shorter pieces for matching up areas that I didn't want a whole new system of roadnetwork atttaching too. So everything is perfectly reuseable in more than one level, and gets used multiple times throughout that level. Thus ... hopefully ... less work in the future ... allegedly ...

One of my earlier issues was how to match the whole thing up to the terrain without a mamouth amount of tweaking of heightmaps to get it level, and thus decided on surrounding all roads with a low wall which drops down further on the otherside, with steps/ramps giving access to the terrain ... and the terrain can happily ride up the ramps without overflowing on to the roads and sidewalks.

Clearly it's not finished, only the outlying terrain is "done", the inner terrain needs sorting out, it needs painting up with some more textures, needs more trees lining some of the avenues, some urban props, a few rocks for rocky outcrops, a shrubbery!, a couple of additional building types (grand public building for use as a multipurpose railway station, town hall, etc - a grand church - gotta chapel) ... you get the picture - but the roads and houses and the dividing walls are all done and in-place. The overall vibe is for a large, spread out, rural village in a leafy, green and pleasant land with rolling hills and a crag in the middle.

... metrics ...

I've always liked big spaces ... and stuff in big spaces ... and been annoyed at the incredibly short ranges general FPSes, where sniper rifles go out to a poxy 100 metres. I can throw a rifle further than that ... with a catapult. This is because it's kinda difficult to populate a large area with lots of shiny 3A hi-res stuff and still get a playable framerate ... also console controllers are hideously inaccurate. I stopped using gamepads in Xwing ... and apparently they still aren't as pixel perfect as a mouse. Of course I'm not concerned with shiny hi-res stuff or the graphics opinions of twelve year olds who mistake me for a black homosexual in online play at the latest 3A shooter ...

Which kinda brings us on to Beta 3 ... and then back to Beta 2 because Beta 3's scripted LOD stuff got defixed between versions. And seeing that that's how I've been putting my mulitple meshed and lightmapped buildings->interiors->furniture, I've been doing dual testing in beta2 and beta3 for performance comparision. Not comparing beta2 and beta3 ... but comparing facade buildings with fully enterable ones (which are said multimeshes dropped in as prefabs).

So here's the upshot (level not finished remember). The only difference between the versions is that one uses facades (cos scripted LOD is bust) and the other has fully enterable LODed intertiors with furnishings and collisions etc.

2.4 dual core
GTS250 512mb
2gig ram
1080p (40 inch HD TVs are the way to indy dev and play games! I was gonna get a 50inch ... but it wouldn't have fit on my table)
FPS is minimum not max ... standing in an area with many shadowcasting objects.
Viewdistance is 2km

Beta 3 - 80 facade buildings
All Quality Normal: 70+ FPS
All Quality MaxedOut: 40+ FPS

Huzzar for Facades!

Beta 2 - 80 enterable, furnished buildings
All Quality Normal: 60+ FPS
All Quality MaxedOut: 25+ FPS

Huzzar all round!

And your looking at 90-120 FPS if you switch to basic lighting.

Now, I don't need 80 fully furnished, fully enterable buildings for a level ... it's nice but rather overkill.

I've also come up with a (theoretical working) concept as how to make a gametype that has randomized enemy positions, strengths and aggressiveness for replayability, with a team of say 6 allies (possibly co-op ... but that's for the far future, singleplayer for now ... one thing at a time ...) clearing area by area of map (throw in a hold area from counterattack gametype) which would cause any single game to vary between a bughunt to a huge firefight. This idea of reusing the levels with standalone gametypes on top of my main idea of a scripted story/campaign mode.

Anyhoo, one man dev machine back to the grind ... and eventually ... I might actually get some gameplay done ... y'know ... that thing I first tested 2 years six months ago ...

... never did ask my folks how Jefferson Starship was ...