Freshly recovered from fighting yesterday's flames, I am back, big as life and twice as ugly! Spent the first few hours sorting out some character ragdoll and waste twist issues, emails and other small touches, but spent most of the day working on the Pre-Bake Ambient Occlusion code (finally).
Here is the present HIGHEST shader with everything ramped up high and no real-time shadows present, to give you an idea of the raw clay my pre-bake is working with. After applying my new lightmapping process, we get this:
As you can see, because we used a simpler shader with the light mapping texture, we have doubled the render frame rate, and the ambient scatter and directional light shadows bring out the depth of the scene. I will be introducing stuff back into the shader such as bump mapping, specular and other touches but our watch word for this work is performance which retaining visual quality, so hopefully we can strike a good balance with this technique.
In other news, new art is being formed for a more interesting set of modern day scenes, including lots and LOTS of concrete. As ambient occlusion on terrain will take some time, I figured I would get some entity floor down so we can see nice ambient scatter on the ground. It turns out these extra pieces will also make for some great building blocks when creating game levels too!
Once the pre-baker is integrated within Standalone Export (and perhaps even Test Game) and seamlessly working, I will switch my focus over to some serious performance work and see if I can reduce the overdraw currently hammering graphics rendering performance. This technique above should allow me to make some savings inside the shader, and other rendering processes overall, and get your FPS back to a high level.
Finally, for those users moving on to pastures and Engines new, the best of luck with your future projects. Also remember, you have life-time updates to this technology you helped create, and you are welcome back to check our progress any time! I can guarantee that performance and visual quality will improve and our final release will be an awesome game creator!