I had a deadline of having an internal testing version for Thursday morning, and due to the nature of the remaining work I had to work through. I started what I thought was a simple clean-up and integrate at 3PM on Wednesday and have just now finished at 7AM on Thursday (with about two hours break). As this is technically a lot of my Thursday energy used up, I thought I would make my blog now, just in case I sleep through the rest of the day.
It was grueling, but managed to solve the occlusion popping issue and tame the quad renderer in time to make an installer and upload. The quad stuff was a real challenge and included a LOT of stuff I had not really considered such as regenerating based on various camera factors, requiring multiple quad buffer data structures for each camera and the balance between per-cycle workload and overall performance in real terms. Fortunately, much vexing and trial and error solved the issues and I was able to come up with something passable.
I am still not entirely happy with the transition effect between the LOW LOD model geometry and the QUAD imposter, one because there seems to be some lighting differences between the two renders and also due to the clipping thresholds which will need to be model specific rather than hard coded into the shader. I am pretty sure the lighting is due to incorrect use of shadow and dynamic lighting, both of which I can either simulate in the quad render or alternatively, to fade the LOW LOD render slowly into the lighting attributes which the quad uses. The former is more desirable, but may have a cost given their distance from the player camera.
The goal of a 1.004 beta for Friday night is now very reasonable to achieve given the work just done. I have a few tweaks I want to get in, such as saving the slider settings between sessions, and perhaps some way to reset them. The question of whether they should be saved with the level files, or saved globally is something I should like to think on. I suspect both, but I will need to come up with a system that is intuitive and not clumsy.
There are some other tweaks that are less important, but would transform the overall look and sound of the beta to give it a nice feel, but we will see how much actual time I have for these trinkets.
Hopefully I can get the larger bitmap fonts for the ammo and health numeric before the update as I think it would improve the in-game stat panels quite a lot. Eventually we will have a lot more stat panel choices, but for now I am aiming for something generic and functional, also clean and polished so it would not look out of place in any modern game. There are some other graphics in the wings too, but I will leave those as a surprise for when you get the next beta update!