Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Hardware Failure

I am experiencing some nasty hardware failures on my computer. The worst part of it is that after a few blue screens of death where Windows was complaining about hardware failures my hard disk died. Don't worry, I did not loose the sources to the game. I do regular backups. But I did loose something extremely important: my 40+ hours save game from Skyrim! And my Witcher 2 saves, but I don't care about them too much. C'mon, Skyrim is tied to Steam! Why does it not support Steam cloud? I'll try and pay for costly data recuperation services to get back my Skyrim saves. Or I'll have to restart with a new character. That is going to be the same character reincarnated. My PC is in service now and they said they'll call me in a few days.

Anyway, I bought a new laptop in December. I'll show it you one day. Probably not an optimal tool for development, but it'll do until I have a desktop again. The laptop has a slower hard disk, so it is going to be interesting to see if I can still use FRAPS to capture videos.

Today I'll try and create a video showing the progress at half point to Monday's snapshot no. 3. This post is just a pretext allowing me to post a video and rant about my poor lost dovahkiin, so I'll do a quick change log since I have nothing interesting to say:
  • Fixed a harmful item duplication bug related to mouse handling. Now all mouse bugs should be harmless.
  • Some basic keyboard shortcuts that allow you to populate a large selection with objects. This is an intermediary step toward full GUI support and really puts the "creation" into creation mode.
  • Item creation code received another major optimization. Now it is yet again considerably faster. Still some possible optimizations left. Why optimize it further? Making this code fast has direct benefits on all aspects of the game. And it also allows me to add...
  • Animations! This is a highly experimental feature that I won't work on a lot for now. Unfortunately my special technique that allows for a huge number of 3D objects to coexist is almost mutually exclusive with animation. Not quite mutually exclusive, but it only allows for very CPU intensive animations. I was only able to create a 120x120 world where trees were animated and framerate was low. But after the above mentioned optimization I can create a full 300x300 world with OK framerate. So there is hope that animations will work or at least I'll be able to cheat enough that the world seems animated while only a very small percentage of what should be animated actually changes at once.
  • Did I just say trees? Preliminary support for trees and plants is back. Currently all tree species use the same mesh. And I also have only one plant mesh that I did myself in a hurry. More like a mock up, not an actual mesh. I'll remodel it after I investigate maximum complexity.
  • Very basic GUI is back! I need a new GUI skin :(. I may be able to do some basic modeling and I was pretty good at drawing and painting on paper, but I can barely Photoshop and what I get is fairly ugly.
  • Speaking of Photoshoping, I created a very simple and ugly grass texture set for grassy floors. The way I built it (there are some special rules on how to create textures so that you can avoid/reduce mip-mapping errors at seems; rules that I am only now fully figuring out) the texture is very wasteful, allowing only 4 tiles in a 1024x1024 texture. I'll rebuild it so I can get more tiles into a single texture.
  • The second experimental feature I played around with is 3D cosmetic clutter, like grass. My first experiment was a failure. I think I need a solution similar to Skyrim, where there are only a few patches of 3D grass on a plain textured ground and it still looks great. anyway, here is a screenshot of how my failed experiment turned out:

So let's see the creation part of creation mode! Keep in mind that I wrote this entire post before I could check if my laptop is strong enough to capture videos of the game running a highly experimental and brand new animation implementation, so the very next line you read could tell you that it is not, video cancelled and you'll have to make due with screenshots...

Only kidding! Well, sort of. I managed to capture a video, but not quite as epic as I wanted. Problems started as soon as I began the process: DirectX GUI bottleneck was back! So I switched over to OpenGL. Either my laptop has some problems with OpenGL or the new changes have something to do with it, but OpenGL is unstable. And FRAPS makes it even more unstable. I switched back to DirectX and the bottleneck was gone. I comes and it goes. But FRAPS refuses to record from the game on this laptop under DirectX. I tried Bandicam, but that refused to record both under DirectX and OpenGL. So long story short, this is the best version I could record out of at least 30 tries, out of which all ended in a crash sooner or latter under OpenGL, half the time the moment I pressed the record key:

I managed to rehearsed some more impressive videos under DirectX where I really show of massive item creation and destruction, unfortunately this will have to wait until I have a desktop again, so probably no more videos until then.

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