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OpenGL 1.1.0 for some users


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#1 Oogst   Members   -  Reputation: 337

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Posted 06 August 2012 - 07:11 AM

For our games Awesomenauts and Swords & Soldiers (made with OpenGL and SDL 1.2.13) there is a small group of PC users who cannot run the game because they have OpenGL 1.1.0 and their videocard is reported as "GDI Generic". In all cases I have seen so far, this was on Windows Vista/7/8 and this was fixed by installing drivers by hand from the Nvidia/AMD/Intel website.

However, quite a few users find it difficult to install drivers, and I would prefer that our games would run immediately for everyone. Also, some laptop manufacturers disallow downloading drivers from the sites of Nvidia/AMD/Intel directly. So I am wondering why this happens exactly, and whether something can be done about it.

Until this week I thought the cause was that Windows Vista/7/8 automatically installs new drivers, but installs incomplete drivers and leaves out OpenGL. That would mean an evil scheme by Microsoft to destroy OpenGL on Windows, by not installing it properly, thus giving problems to all OpenGL games.

However, today I installed GLview and on my computer this tool only reports GDI Generic and does not recognise my ATI card, while our own game Awesomenauts recognises it just fine. This makes me wonder: for those users who get GDI Generic in Awesomenauts, is OpenGL maybe secretly properly installed but not selected by SDL for some reason?

So is there some evil Microsoft plot, or am I just initialising SDL/OpenGL incorrectly?

This is how I initialise OpenGL+SDL:
SDL_GL_SetAttribute(SDL_GL_DOUBLEBUFFER, 1);
SDL_GL_SetAttribute(SDL_GL_ALPHA_SIZE, 8);
SDL_VERSION(&windowInfo.version);
SDL_GetWMInfo(&windowInfo);
screen = SDL_SetVideoMode(xRes, yRes, 32, SDL_OPENGL | SDL_FULLSCREEN);

Also, is it correct that unlike DirectX, it is not possible for a game to install OpenGL, so OpenGL can only be installed with the drivers?

Sidequestion: are any of the big games still OpenGL these days, or is Rage the only AAA OpenGL left?

Edited by Oogst, 06 August 2012 - 07:12 AM.

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Awesomenauts (2D MOBA for PC/Mac/Linux/XBLA/PSN)
Swords & Soldiers (2D RTS for Wii/PS3/PC/Mac/iOS/Android/Linux)
Proun (abstract racing game for PC)
Cello Fortress (live performance game controlled by cello)

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#2 samoth   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 4067

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Posted 06 August 2012 - 07:30 AM

I'm not very much acquainted with SDL, but from what you describe, it is possible that you select a bad pixel format, either by providing some ill arguments to SDL or (less likely) a bug in SDL. That would explain why one program works different from another on the same machine.

It is very possible to select a pixel format which will generate non-accelerated OpenGL 1.1 contexts. PFD_SUPPORT_GDI is mutually exclusive with "accelerated OpenGL" and "anything higher than 1.1".

As for the "evil Microsoft plot to end OpenGL", this was surely something that was on the table when Vista was conceived, but the massive uproar that followed quickly put an end to that. Microsoft, like Intel, has gone Rudi Dutschke's way since then.

All in all, if someone doesn't have an IHV driver installed, it's questionable whether you really want them as customers. I'm not talking of the latest bleeding-edge drivers, but, you know, anything at all.
They must either be quite poor (not able to afford a $10 card!?) or quite stupid. In either case, you probably don't want them as customers. The poor won't pay you, and the stupid will cost you more in support than the revenue they bring in.

Edited by samoth, 06 August 2012 - 07:36 AM.


#3 mhagain   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 6328

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Posted 06 August 2012 - 08:37 AM

No evil plot. MS don't include OpenGL support with the default drivers which come with Windows, and many OEMs don't either. Most people who are even halfway serious about running games will junk those drivers (they're frequently incredibly out of date and buggy with D3D too) and install proper drivers from the GPU vendor instead. But this has been the way of things for a long long time now.

The D3D driver model is completely different to OpenGL, and it's actually not possible for a game to install either. D3D is split between a runtime (provided by MS and common to all hardware) and a vendor-specific driver, and what games can install is just the runtime. If the vendor-specific driver needs updating the game cannot install that - the player must. With OpenGL on the other hand, everything is in the vendor-specific driver; so far as the vendor-specific component is concerned, both APIs are equivalent - it's just that the vendor-specific component happens to be absolutely everything with OpenGL.

Regarding major titles, Rage is the only recent one, and that had some colossal problems on release. Those have mostly shaken out by now, but there remains a danger that certain vendor's OpenGL support may be limited to "get what id Software does working", and not be otherwise robust. It's not totally lost however - there's a new Doom 3 release coming out soon which will also need solid GL support, as well as the ever-present Minecraft.

For options going forward, one might be to provide a D3D backend for cases where OpenGL support is not detected. You can use D3D with SDL and it will give you good coverage of those handful of cases. You could even position your GL renderer as the "premium version" to encourage upgrades, and have the D3D renderer as a fairly cut-down/minimalized version (you would need to notify the user of this). The other option is to do as samoth suggested and just not consider those people as part of your target audience.

It appears that the gentleman thought C++ was extremely difficult and he was overjoyed that the machine was absorbing it; he understood that good C++ is difficult but the best C++ is well-nigh unintelligible.


#4 SimonForsman   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 5462

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Posted 06 August 2012 - 08:38 AM

Also, is it correct that unlike DirectX, it is not possible for a game to install OpenGL, so OpenGL can only be installed with the drivers?

Sidequestion: are any of the big games still OpenGL these days, or is Rage the only AAA OpenGL left?


That goes for part of DX aswell, DirectX is basically 2 parts, the DirectX runtime and the driver, (Microsoft provides the runtime, the IHV provides the driver, allthough Microsoft does provide drivers for most hardware through Windows Update aswell). (IIRC Microsoft does some quality assurance on D3D drivers aswell to ensure basic compatibility)

For OpenGL the IHV provides both the driver and the runtime allthough Microsoft does provide a basic OpenGL 1.1 software driver and runtime to get basic support no matter what.

One likely candidate for the Win7/8 problems could be that the machines are using multiple GPUs, alot of newer laptops have both an integrated Intel GPU and a nvidia GPU, it is not impossible that the integrated GPU lacks OpenGL drivers while the nvidia one has them and that by default your application tries to use the Intel GPU. (installing drivers manually from the IHV rather than from the system builder might override this behaviour)

Edited by SimonForsman, 06 August 2012 - 08:40 AM.

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#5 Oogst   Members   -  Reputation: 337

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Posted 06 August 2012 - 11:42 AM

I get the idea that doing OpenGL well is just not possible these days. Which sucks, because the game is already live and I definitely don't want to switch to something else when it works for 99% of players already. A DirectX fallback wouldn't be too difficult, though, since I already have a complete DirectX 9 renderer for Xbox360. It just lacks the link with SDL and the window.

However, adding DirectX very much rubs me the wrong way. The problem with OpenGL is that it is not used enough, so switching away from it makes the situation worse for OpenGL... Posted Image

It is very possible to select a pixel format which will generate non-accelerated OpenGL 1.1 contexts. PFD_SUPPORT_GDI is mutually exclusive with "accelerated OpenGL" and "anything higher than 1.1".

My initialisation code is just what is in my opening post. So I don't consciously set any weird pixel formats. What would be wrong there that would cause this situation? Also, since it works on 99% of videocards as is, is there a way with SDL to do my current code, see whether it gave proper OpenGL, and if not, try again with different pixel settings?

All in all, if someone doesn't have an IHV driver installed, it's questionable whether you really want them as customers. I'm not talking of the latest bleeding-edge drivers, but, you know, anything at all.
They must either be quite poor (not able to afford a $10 card!?) or quite stupid. In either case, you probably don't want them as customers. The poor won't pay you, and the stupid will cost you more in support than the revenue they bring in.

I have seen this happen even on good Nvidia cards, so just ignoring them as "not our target audience" is definitely not an option...

One likely candidate for the Win7/8 problems could be that the machines are using multiple GPUs, alot of newer laptops have both an integrated Intel GPU and a nvidia GPU, it is not impossible that the integrated GPU lacks OpenGL drivers while the nvidia one has them and that by default your application tries to use the Intel GPU. (installing drivers manually from the IHV rather than from the system builder might override this behaviour)

I am indeed seeing that computers with multiple videocards sometimes select the wrong one. This is only a few cases, though: most just have one videocard that needs its drivers updated. I am also seeing that the game doesn't work together with Nvidia Surround (their multi-monitor-SLI-thingie).

Edited by Oogst, 06 August 2012 - 11:43 AM.

My dev blog
Ronimo Games (my game dev company)
Awesomenauts (2D MOBA for PC/Mac/Linux/XBLA/PSN)
Swords & Soldiers (2D RTS for Wii/PS3/PC/Mac/iOS/Android/Linux)
Proun (abstract racing game for PC)
Cello Fortress (live performance game controlled by cello)

#6 mhagain   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 6328

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Posted 06 August 2012 - 01:31 PM

Try it without framebuffer alpha, maybe? I.e., remove this line:
SDL_GL_SetAttribute(SDL_GL_ALPHA_SIZE, 8);
It's possible that the users having problems have GPUs that can't support a hardware accelerated pixel format that has framebuffer alpha, or else SDL is screwing up it's pixel format selection with this included.

If that resolves it, and if you really need framebuffer alpha, you could consider creating an FBO, doing your main render to that, then blitting it to the backbuffer before present. There will be some perf cost for sure, but if that's the price of getting it working.....

It appears that the gentleman thought C++ was extremely difficult and he was overjoyed that the machine was absorbing it; he understood that good C++ is difficult but the best C++ is well-nigh unintelligible.


#7 samoth   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 4067

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Posted 07 August 2012 - 03:29 AM

no IHV driver installed

I have seen this happen even on good Nvidia cards, so just ignoring them as "not our target audience" is definitely not an option...

Support costs money.

My father is 70 years old, and until a year ago or so, he was still talking to the mouse sometimes. Nevertheless, even he knows that it's necessary to put the CDROM that came with his new graphics card into the computer to make it work, and even he could figure that there is this driver thing that the little electrons in the grey box need to work properly. He also knows that Google will download it for you, or something the like, if you type "nvidia" into the search box. No kidding, but he has working, up-to-date drivers.

My opinion stands: If someone is unable to even do that much, you do not want this person as a customer, even if they can pay you. It's a support nightmare, and it will cost you more than it's worth.

#8 Flimflam   Members   -  Reputation: 653

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Posted 12 August 2012 - 04:25 PM

However, adding DirectX very much rubs me the wrong way. The problem with OpenGL is that it is not used enough, so switching away from it makes the situation worse for OpenGL...


If you already have a code path to support this, you should probably support it. I doubt any of the users who are currently unable to play due to this bug care about the status quo of OpenGL; they just want to play the game they paid for. You'll burn a lot of consumer good will if you simply tell these people the problem is ultimately unfixable over politics (preferring to keep it 100% OpenGL on PC.)

#9 Oogst   Members   -  Reputation: 337

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Posted 13 August 2012 - 01:22 AM

If you already have a code path to support this, you should probably support it. I doubt any of the users who are currently unable to play due to this bug care about the status quo of OpenGL; they just want to play the game they paid for. You'll burn a lot of consumer good will if you simply tell these people the problem is ultimately unfixable over politics (preferring to keep it 100% OpenGL on PC.)


It's not that bad, actually: in the end I can get it to run on everyone's computer with OpenGL. There are a couple of bugs that I need to fix right now, but in the end I think DirectX would only be a convenience thing and it works without.

You are right, though, that such a principal point should not affect customers. On the other hand, that does mean that big companies like Microsoft get away with everything, every time...

Edited by Oogst, 13 August 2012 - 01:22 AM.

My dev blog
Ronimo Games (my game dev company)
Awesomenauts (2D MOBA for PC/Mac/Linux/XBLA/PSN)
Swords & Soldiers (2D RTS for Wii/PS3/PC/Mac/iOS/Android/Linux)
Proun (abstract racing game for PC)
Cello Fortress (live performance game controlled by cello)




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