subota, 15. listopada 2016.

Preview release v0.5.1

A new preview release is ready! Ship upgrading and refitting is the main news but there were a number of changes and improvements under the hood.

Download Stareater v0.5.1

Refitting and upgrading ships was explained in previous post and stayed pretty much the same but the game loop was reworked again. Last implementation caused weird performance issues, whenever regular Windows GUI should pop up over OpenGL area there would be a noticeable delay before a window started appearing and it would be appearing piece by piece. The delay and the time needed for a window to get full drawn was not proportional to the complexity of OpenGL scene but oddly by the number of components (buttons, labels, check boxes, ...) on the window. It looks like as if something in Windows is synchronizing main and background thread for each window component. For that reason I've moved OpenGL logic back to the main thread and used background thread loop for sending events when to redraw the scene. So VSync, framerate limiting, power hungry and power conservative frame timing methods are still available.

There was also general graphics performance improvement for non-animated objects. Previous method worked sort of like asking OpenGL to perform A+B and new method works like asking it to perform A and then perform B separately. For some reason former method is slow and I've observed double the framerate with latter method. There is more room for improvement since drawing stars takes 30 - 40 ms (~30 FPS) but only sometimes and the scene is simple enough to be drawn close to 1000 FPS. As I was writing this post I looked again at the issues to confirm the numbers and accidentally found a few bugs including one that caused slowdown. Stuff likes happens that way, there is a problem, you try to pin it down without success, you go to explain to someone what is bothering you and in the process get both correct diagnose and solution without other person ever saying a word :). In any case fixes to those bugs will be temporary band aids until I rework graphics engine to OpenGL 3.x compatible functions.

And there has been some code maintenance changes. Data loading logic was among the first things laid down in the last rewrite and it had some presumptions about future code which are not valid any more. One such thing was progress reporting about "how many percents was loaded" but that information was not used anywhere and implementation cluttered the code needlessly. If the need arises, I'll make cleaner solution. There was also unresolved issue of loading localization data. Previously it was done when settings data was requested for the first time which is not the most reliable approach and there was no good way to add error handling to it. Now the languages and other localization stuff are loaded in controlled manner like all other game assets (technologies, ship equipment, AI modules, map generators). Whole asset loading has been improved too so GUI has more freedom for choosing when to start it and receive notification when certain parts or all assets are ready. There has been a change about how loading logic finds it's data and that is an area which can be improved more. Responsibility for managing files has been moved from core to view so on one hand it would be easier to replace WinForms view with Unity3D but on the other hand view has to know too much about internal working for the core.

There is a lot of work left to do but feel free to try latest build and leave a comment!

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