Yesterday we saw saving, loading and well behaved cursors. Today we see the weapons added to the main engine and the sounds re-instating. The great news is that weapon assets are only loaded once, and all subsequent test game sessions happen almost instantly. Keeping them in memory is a very smart way to edit and play, and makes for very quick iterations of your creations!
I am now torn between adding in physics for all entities added to the level, or swapping in a new GTX graphics card in order to check out a bug Rick has been experiencing on his GTX card. I am also aware of a presentation on or around the 12th which also uses a GTX card. By installing one of my own, I can hopefully get to see this bug and fix it right away.
No doubt both of the above will be done before the middle of next week, but the reason for my apprehension is that taking my aging PC apart to insert something new into it is always a calculated risk. What if the little cherub decides not to boot up again - ever. Still, it needs to be done and best to find out now I suppose. You will know in my next blog which way I went.
Multi-sampling Anti-alias Mayhem
You may also be wondering what happened to my 'five minute' tweak to activate multisampling anti-alias. Well....
Can you tell which one has the MSAA x 4 effect applied? I agree it's not as obvious as I would have liked. Turns out this effect does not apply itself to transparent textures, just the edges of polygons. Furthermore, DirectX found it wise to allow MSAA on backbuffers, but not for textures. And as post process shaders require textures, I cannot re-direct the main screen render to a texture render target without losing the MSAA advantage. The only way is to create a new render target surface (and matching depth buffer), render the main camera to that, then stretch blit the contents over to a regular texture, downsizing the image in the process and then using that for the post process shader.
The bottom line is you can have MSAA but you lose all post processing such as bloom and light rays (and whatever else we want to add later). The second option is to add the extra code, performance hit and video memory hit to feed an MSAA effect into our shaders. Naturally, the second option will require some dedicated coding and incur a noticeable performance drop when active. There may be other restrictions on what I can do elsewhere in the engine with this second approach too, as yet blissfully hidden from me.
I then look at the above comparison shot and ask myself, should I be working on MSAA now, or dealing with things like more shaders, physics and AI. If this effect can only be appreciated by zooming in, do I really want to place a high priority on it? I will let you guys decide.
Forum Reveals All
I was as shocked as everyone else when we announced some solid dates to the Reloaded community earlier today:
Apparently we are going to have a website launch on the 11th and a full beta launch of the latest version we have here on the 31st. No pressure then :)
I was asked by Rick to compile the latest version of the product which zipped up to 500MB. I don't really want to keep zipping 500MB and just want to zip the changes instead. WinZip Pro are charging £42 for the ability to do this. Does anyone know a tool that does this process for free? You will find being a developer very often involves finding cheap or free solutions to problems, and this is one of them. Comments and suggestions welcome!
Before I depart to continue 'coding' or 'installing', please comment on two questions I have for you today. The first is who thinks they have the oldest desktop graphics card here? I am looking for some minimum specifications for Reloaded and at the moment I only have a very rough idea of performance based on my own graphics card and my unoptimised shaders. I am curious what you have and more important what you feel Reloaded should run on. I am excluding all laptops and Ultrabooks at this stage, as that will require some dedicated and protracted optimization for integrated solutions.
Secondly, I am curious what was the single incident that caused you to pledge into the Reloaded project. My current theory is that it was our long standing reputation in the field of game creation or a recent screenshots or video which set your imagination on fire. I am eager to learn if this is not the case, as it will increase my ability to encourage more pledging in the future.