Feb 4, 2017

Development Snapshot 17

Once again, most of the work was graphics related. It's refreshing to be making forward progress on tangible things, rather than back-end stuff nobody sees but me.

The animation system was the first thing I tackled. I was looking forward to making great strides on this item. It took more time than I expected so I had to put off the final parts (eg: BVH importer) until the next snapshot. In theory, the player character is animating properly, I just don't have any way of loading animation files yet.

Debugging Frame Timings

After that I spent a bit of time upgrading some of the debugging information the game spits out about frame timings etc. I was expecting to make a few small changes and call it day, but I went a bit crazy and replaced my old profiler with a much more flexible system that does most of the setup automatically. I celebrated this success by upgrading the frame time visualisation to add some colours to represent different parts of the frame. This should aid in optimisation down the track.

Top secret performance benchmark

The first thing I noticed with the improved frame timing information was that my text renderer is slow, taking up almost 30% of the entire General render pass when there is very little text on the screen. Fortunately, the text renderer is due for an overhaul a few snapshots from now to add support for scrollable content windows. The side effect should be improved performance, which is great.

Waypoint Tweaks

I also improved on the look of the waypoint path from last snapshot, adding a dark border. This doesn't sound like a big deal, but the way I originally wrote the waypoint path creation, this was pretty tricky.

Not too bad. But we can do better...

The border helps the waypoint stand out a bit better from the terrain, and tidies it up a bit in my opinion. I also did away with the triangular shaped notch at the start of each run, and I've had a few ideas for improving it further, but they will have to wait until next snapshot.

The most fun part was writing some geometry code to ensure the width of the border is constant even when approaching the sharp point of the arrow tip. The problem looked like it didn't have an easy solution until I hit upon the idea of using similar triangles, and had great fun optimising the equation until I ended up with something downright elegant (in my opinion):

v = normal1 + normal2
l = (2 * distance) / v.LengthSquared()
result = v * l

There wasn't much on the survival side this time around, but I did alter the poisoning debuff to lower maximum health instead of just eating away at your current health for a period of time.

I also fixed a handful of miscellaneous bugs, most of which have crept in during the last few months.

Next Snapshot

For the next snapshot I have a few fun things planned. First of all, the BVH importer, which should allow me to finally put the animation to bed. Also on the agenda is starting to work on the first biome that the game will support.

My original plan for the start of the game involved the player washing up on a beach after the cruise ship they were on was destroyed. With this in mind I created assets such as Palm Trees, Wooden Barrels, Life preservers etc and set up my test level as a literal sand box.

Now that I've developed the story more, the initial setup has changed drastically.  At the start of the game the player will  be dropped in a Temperate Forest, which couldn't be more different than the acres of sand and a few scattered palm trees I have now. So, in snapshot 18 I'm going to start the ball rolling on the biome generator. It will be somewhat of an experimental feature, but hopefully there will be something interesting to show.

I've also decided on the visual style of the game, which is quite exciting. I'll pretty much have to throw away most of my game assets and start again, but I have so few I'm not that worried.

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