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March 24, 2008 - Urban Empires Update + Screens

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I'm working on a lot of stuff right now including :

- iteration #2 of the dynamic debris system
- iteration #3 of the dynamic civilian system
- Various RTS aspects
- Vehicle movement tweaking
- Mini-map stuff
- Blah blah blah blah

I've spent most of the last week working on memory issues, I slammed against the "2GB" 32-bit OS limitation. 32-bits = 4 billion values, XP/Vista allocate half of the memory (2GBs) to the application, and the other 2GB to the kernel, so I only get access to 2GB when it comes down to it. Closer to 1.6GB in practice ( using Get ProcessMemoryInfo fuctionm using the WorkingSetSize member, seems to be the only relevant piece of info in that struct). I've coded a visual memory usage graph that can run 24/7 so I can watch the memory grow. I've also added timestamps and RAM usage to ALL debug/logging statements to give me a better feel for what's going on with the game when looking over the logs.

The resulting lame memory limitation, coupled with the increase of the # of in-game vehicles to over 40, and the number of weapons/characters nearing 40...considering I have 5GB of texture data alone...I'm in some trouble.

The problem with my scenes is that everything can be visible at once...never a good thing.

Using this 1.5GB limitation I've settled on a nice 690MB idle @ the main menu, and in major gameplay usage goes up to the 1.5GB mark with 100s of characters in the scene (each with their own animation controllers, etc.).

I've been tackling so many issues lately because of this...it makes my head hurt :-p

Ususally the game will be cruising at aroung 1.06GB of memory usage...this is with the city textures @ 50% quality (no normal mapping), and the vehicles/characters/weapons/props at 25% quality (considering 100% is 2048x2048 color/normal/spec maps on everything).

I have some systems to substitute-in the higher quality textures for controlled/important objects in the scene, etc....

Anyways here are ~30 resized screenies of the game...I'm running extensive tests to see how many civilian characters I'll be able to get away with in a scene...more info to come.

It's very close to being testable, this is the 3rd time around, creating many of these systems so I'm tired of doing it....but now I have a game engine I'm really happy with.

As usual if you want in the BETA, e-mail me ( dgreen aaatttt radioactive-software.com ) BETA in the e-mail title & with:
- Name
- Location
- Comp specs
- Experience testing games
- Any other stuff you wanna tell me

I'm also working on art production for my next title., right now it's assembling reference images, getting the specs to the artist, proto-typing assets, etc...

Okey...I've put in my 18 hours for today...time to faceplant on my bed.

- Danny


Ohhh yeaaa, I think I found a solution to the 32-bit memory limitation ;-)

-dualboot XP 32-bit & Vista Ultimate 64-bit
-Triple SLI, 3 8800GTX, 2+GB dedicated video memory total
-8GB titanium RAM @ 800mhz
-2 HDDs, a terrabyte samgung for XP, and a 200GB Raptor @ 10,000RPM for Vista
-Nvidia 780i motherboard
-Blu-ray burner/reader, DVD burner/reader, CD burner/reader
-Coolermaster tower 1k power supply [ this case is FIN' HUGE]
-Insane thermal cooling unit for CPU
-Placeholder Q8800-soemthing-quad-core processor...was only like 300$...will replace soon.
-Some other crazy shit I'm forgetting...

The gear -

50" 1080p plasma, PS3, etc...

Where all the magic happens...

Final deal...I've gotta KVM a buncha stuff and I'm really busy so I have not even powered it on! rofl. *runs away*

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Now that's a proper Batcave.

And btw, I still think Terabyte drives are evil. I've done the math (based on prices from NewEgg), and while it is slightly more cost-efficient (by around $50-$75) to purchase a 1TB drive over 6 160GB drives, you think it's easier (or cheaper) in the long run to replace or lose 1TB of data or 160GB of data?

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Ah, well I opted for a single HD per-OS over many smaller HDs mostly because this machine will just be a workhorse (not a primary dev machine). I'm going to record/burn HD blu-ray movies of my (future/current games) and send them to publishers, press, distributors, etc...so they can see how the game is supposed to look @ 1950x1080 HD w/ highest options :-D

There will be no primary source storage, etc on this machine. My 2 main work machines are still pretty "down to earth" and I'll be using them for a while...no point in just making some 64-bit crazy game that only 1% of people can play :-D Though I'll be compiling 64-bit versions of the game now (that should be a fun adventure, it'll be worth it though, having a 16 terabyte virtual address space lol).

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dgreen02 I envy you so much......you have the perfect setup. I would never leave my room if I had what you had. All you need now is to convert your computer chair to a toilet seat / refrigerator / microwave and you'll be set.

Also, it doesn't appear that there is any sort of uniform lighting model in your screenshots. The character models are glowing too much with respect to the rest of the scene. Buildings and roads seems very neutral and dim, but characters are glowing and even the cars have reflections that don't necessarily seem like they should be there. Am I wrong?

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Yup, there is no uniform lighting...it's a balancing act with the HDR lighting and trying to get things to "look good" (not bland)..I'm still tweaking it all.

The problem with the player models is that they look too bland when in the shadows ( no normal mapping/specular, just color texture used in that situation)...so instead of cancelling out all lighting/normal mapping I do the lighting using the inverted light vector and scale by 0.6 or something like that. Later on I have some kind of multiplication to make the players not look dull...I havn't messed with the values in a while. I totally agree with you on the glowing characters, I'll have that worked out soon....though ATM I'm just trying to get into BETA :-D

The vehicles are the same story...the reflections look amazing in motion [ same way the Half-Life 2 reflections work, a approximated cube-map]. Since I'm not doing a forza/gotham racing type game with 5 car models max per scene I can't render a cubemap for each vehicle. I also tried doing it anyways, for say the nearest X vehicles...and it didn't look nearly as good. That was a while ago...but the cube-map approximation I use works very well with the HDR lighting etc...I'm quite happy w/ the car relfections...it's entrancing at resolutions > 1900x1050 I'll leave them as-is until BETA.

But yea, it is visually down to tweaking shader parms, etc...besides you can pick apart approximations in every game, I had a field-day with bioshock, etc....and have noticed a fair amount of errors/artifacts/lighting issues in games like crysis, etc.

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Well I know Grand Theft Auto IV doesn't seem to put a whole lot of expensive shader effects into the graphics, most of the screenshots look like 2 year old graphics effects....but it still looks perfectly fine. I guess it depends on what type of feel you want the game to have, I've always liked the GTA series because it felt 60% realistic but 40% arcade, and to me, the somewhat less realistic graphics contributed to the arcade feel. Anyway, just my two cents.

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