Jump to content

Three improvements I made to Leadwerks Game Engine 5 today



First, I was experiencing some crashes due to race conditions. These are very very bad, and very hard to track down. The problems were being caused by reuse of thread returned objects. Basically, a thread performs some tasks, returns an object with all the processed data, and then once the parent thread is done with that data it is returned to a pool of objects available for the thread to use. This is pretty complicated, and I found that when I switched to just creating a new return object each time the thread runs, the speed was the same as before. So the system is nice and stable now. I tend to be very careful about sharing data between threads and only doing it in a prescribed manner (through a command buffer and using separate objects) and I will continue to use this approach.

Second, I added a built-in mouselook mode for cameras. You can call Camera::SetFreeLook(true) and get a automatic mouse controls that make the camera look around. I am not doing this to make things easier, I am doing it because it allows fast snappy mouse looking even if your game is running at a lower frequency. So you can run your game at 30 hz, giving you 33 milliseconds for all your game code to complete, but it will feel like 60+ hz because the mouse will update in the rendering thread, which is running at a faster speed. The same idea will be used to eliminate head movement latency in VR.

Finally, I switched the instance indexes that are uploaded to the GPU from integers to 16-bit unsigned shorts. You can still have up to 131072 instances of a single object, because the engine will store instances above and below 65536 in two separate batches, and then send an integer to the shader to add to the instance index. Again, this is an example of a hard limit I am putting in place in order to make a more structured and faster performing engine, but it seems like the constraints I am setting so far are unlikely to even be noticed.

Animation is working great, and performance is just as fast as before I started adding it, so things are looking good. Here's a funny picture of me trying to add things to the renderer to slow it down and failing :D:


I'm not sure what I will tackle next. I could work on threading the physics and AI, spend some time exploring new graphics options, or implement lighting so that we have a basic usable version of Leadwerks 5 for indoors games. What would you like to see next in the Leadwerks Game Engine 5 Alpha?

  • Sad 1


Recommended Comments

I think you could make alot games look much better with good lightning, and also some more tools that do not directly have modeling / texturing in common. Just a thought

Share this comment

Link to comment

I would like to see Terrain and Vegetation.

I'd rather see these before lighting tbh. If I could get a "playable" version of World Factions, that doesn't require a $500 graphics card, it would allow me to hire content developers to develop content until LE5 can deliver the visuals.

*Is planning on hiring a full-time content developer in 2 months*

From a marketing standpoint, I could see how lighting would be preferred though.

  • Like 1

Share this comment

Link to comment

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Add a comment...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Blog Entries

    • By Josh in Josh's Dev Blog 6
      You might have seen this graphic comparing the size of the world in different games. I've played Fuel, and never reached the end of the world in that game. You can drive for a very long time on those roads.

      We want to use the new engine for realistic simulations of air and ground movements. At normal cruising altitude of a commercial airliner, the pilot has a view range of about 400 kilometers. The image below shows that area (800 x 800 km). You can see the areas of the biggest games ever fit neatly into the corner of just our visible area.

      The gray space above is not the total world size, it is just the area you can see at once from high altitude. The total world size is about 50 times bigger.
      This is what I am working on now.
    • By Josh in Josh's Dev Blog 26
      Gamers have always been fascinated with the idea of endless areas to roam.  It seems we are always artificially constrained within a small area to play in, and the possibility of an entire world outside those bounds is tantalizing.  The game FUEL captured this idea by presenting the player with an enormous world that took hours to drive across:
      In the past, I always implemented terrain with one big heightmap texture, which had a fixed size like 1024x1024, 2048x2048, etc.  However, our vegetation system, featured in the book Game Engine Gems 3, required a different approach.  There was far too many instances of grass, trees, and rocks to store them all in memory, and I wanted to do something really radical.  The solution was to create an algorithm that could instantly calculate all the vegetation instances in a given area.  The algorithm would always produce the same result, but the actual data would never be saved, it was just retrieved in the area where you needed it, when you needed it.  So with a few modifications, our vegetation system is already set up to generate infinite instances far into the distance.

      However, terrain is problematic.  Just because an area is too far away to see doesn't mean it should stop existing.  If we don't store the terrain in memory then how do we prevent far away objects from falling into the ground?  I don't like the idea of disabling far away physics because it makes things very complex for the end user.  There are definitely some tricks we can add like not updating far away AI agents, but I want everything to just work by default, to the best of my ability.
      It was during the development of the vegetation system that I realized the MISSING PIECE to this puzzle.  The secret is in the way collision works with vegetation.  When any object moves all the collidable vegetation instances around it are retrieved and collision is performed on this fetched data.  We can do the exact same thing with terrain   Imagine a log rolling across the terrain.  We could use an algorithm to generate all the triangles it potentially could collide with, like in the image below.

      You can probably imagine how it would be easy to lay out an infinite grid of flat squares around the player, wherever he is standing in the world.

      What if we only save heightmap data for the squares the user modifies in the editor?  They can't possibly modify the entire universe, so let's just save their changes and make the default terrain flat.  It won't be very interesting, but it will work, right?
      What if instead of being flat by default, there was a function we had that would procedurally calculate the terrain height at any point?  The input would be the XZ position in the world and the output would be a heightmap value.

      If we used this, then we would have an entire procedurally generated terrain combined with parts that the developer modifies by hand with the terrain tools.  Only the hand-modified parts would have to be saved to a series of files that could be named "mapname_x_x.patch", i.e. "magickingdom_54_72.patch".  These patches could be loaded from disk as needed, and deleted from memory when no longer in use.
      The real magic would be in developing an algorithm that could quickly generate a height value given an XZ position.  A random seed could be introduced to allow us to create an endless variety of procedural landscapes to explore.  Perhaps a large brush could even be used to assign characteristics to an entire region like "mountainy", "plains", etc.
      The possibilities of what we can do in Leadwerks Engine 5 are intriguing.  Granted I don't have all the answers right now, but implementing a system like this would be a major step forward that unlocks an enormous world to explore.  What do you think?

    • By Haydenmango in Snowboarding Development Blog 6
      So I've been researching snowboarding lately to get an idea of what animations and mechanics I need to create for my game.  I have learned lots of interesting things since I've only seen snow once or twice in my entire life and have never even tried snowboarding or any other board sports (skateboarding, surfing, etc.) for that matter.
      Snowboarding tricks are quite interesting as they are mostly derived from skateboarding.  Snowboarding tricks pay homage to their equivalent skating tricks by sharing many concepts and names.  For example basic grabs in snowboarding share the same concepts and names as skateboarding: indy, mute, method, stalefish, nosegrab, and tailgrab.  Something interesting to note is in snowboarding you can grab Tindy or Tailfish but this is considered poor form since these grabs can't be done on a skateboard (due to the board not being attached to the skaters feet) and grabbing these areas is generally something a novice snowboarder does when failing or "half-assing" a normal grab.  Check out this diagram to see how grabs work -
      So, after reading lots of text descriptions for tricks I was still confused by what all these terms meant and how they were actually applied.  So my next step was to look up these tricks actually being done and I found some really cool videos showing off how to do various tricks.  This video in particular is the best reference material I've found as it contains nearly every trick back to back with labeled names and some tweaks -
      Sadly my rigged model doesn't handle leg animations with the snowboard that well so I can't animate as many tricks as I want to.  Regardless there will still be around 15 total grab/air tricks in the game.  Now it's time for me to stop procrastinating and start animating!  
  • Create New...