Arcen Games

General Category => AI War Classic => Topic started by: Fleet on September 09, 2010, 10:10:49 PM

Title: Unity progress
Post by: Fleet on September 09, 2010, 10:10:49 PM
Is a mid-september release for early public unity access is still the target?
Title: Re: Unity progress
Post by: Lancefighter on September 10, 2010, 12:16:38 AM
nobody knows....

actually, kieth might know, but he is too busy actually working on unity to post here. x4000 is too busy not getting enough sleep at night to manage the forums, so that just leaves us to write bug reports we are going to be asked to review once the unity port comes out anyway......
Title: Re: Unity progress
Post by: Fleet on September 10, 2010, 12:41:32 AM
I find your lack of faith disturbing.

Keith will indeed answer the calling.

Title: Re: Unity progress
Post by: keith.lamothe on September 10, 2010, 09:28:05 AM
I was just not working at the time :)

We're still planning on the first prerelease being in the next week or two; the game is already basically playable though I need to go back and do the lobby and the load-game interface (currently it just loads a game from a hardcoded path, so the actual loading code works fine).  There's also a showstopper in the load-game code in the actual deployed version (not the run-from-the-Unity-editor version) due to bugs in the GZip implementation normally available to the platform, so we have to find an alternate implementation that works (we're on our third one or so, still doesn't work properly).  And Chris wants to tune the graphics performance a fair bit before any releases; it's running ok right now but it should be faster.
Title: Re: Unity progress
Post by: x4000 on September 10, 2010, 10:10:00 AM
In my research yesterday I might have found a solution for the graphics thing -- if so, that will be one step closer. Yesterday was a wash for me work-wise thanks to the little boy, but hopefully today I can put some of that into practice. We also need to get the new updater and installer set up and working, but those are fairly trivial by comparison now that we're on unity and tidalis has basically already the same thing. I think having it ready within 1-2 weeks for public beta still seems reasonable.
Title: Re: Unity progress
Post by: Fleet on September 10, 2010, 12:30:21 PM
Thank you both.
Title: Re: Unity progress
Post by: WarpSprite on September 10, 2010, 01:50:23 PM
Yaaa I'm already getting excited  ;D
Title: Re: Unity progress
Post by: x4000 on September 10, 2010, 01:58:39 PM
That showstopper in the load-game code is now fixed; I posted an update in the other thread, but figured I'd mention that here.  Hooray, more progress! ;)
Title: Re: Unity progress
Post by: Frozen Critical on September 11, 2010, 09:37:55 PM
(reposted)

The Game Engine Changes to Unity on the Next Update?

Well , No , i am not Upgrading , I Already have Enough That's Eating up CPU and i Prefer Faux Fullscreen Over Fullscreen
Title: Re: Unity progress
Post by: Awod on September 11, 2010, 11:17:33 PM
(reposted)

The Game Engine Changes to Unity on the Next Update?

Well , No , i am not Upgrading , I Already have Enough That's Eating up CPU and i Prefer Faux Fullscreen Over Fullscreen

I think your overreacting.

http://www.arcengames.com/forums/index.php/topic,5602.0.html (http://www.arcengames.com/forums/index.php/topic,5602.0.html)

I suggest you give it a read but here's the very first pro listed for unity.

UV Animation: There are a ton of uses for this, and it's a powerful and free-on-the-CPU sort of activity.  This will let us do some things like making vastly-more-attractive tractor beams (and other "colored lines") in AI War, for example.  And they can be animated, with effects that look way more high-res.  And that will actually take LESS GPU/CPU load than the current implementation, which involves additive blending of between 2-5 lines.  This would require just alpha blending and UV animation of a single line.  Very win.

I don't really really understand the full screen issue even after reading that thread so I'll just wait for someone else to comment on that.
Title: Re: Unity progress
Post by: keith.lamothe on September 11, 2010, 11:23:51 PM
Quote
(reposted)
Thank you, that is much more useful than your first version.

I Already have Enough That's Eating up CPU
Are you thinking that the Unity version will be more of a cpu-hog?  The simulation certainly isn't that way, in our tests, and we're working on the graphical render stuff which is actually already not so bad.  Or is it something else?

Quote
and i Prefer Faux Fullscreen Over Fullscreen
So do I, tremendously so.  We're very sorry to see that go.  But there are other benefits that significantly outweigh that, as will become evident.

In any event, if you prefer to not upgrade that's your right.  Also, the Unity version will be a separate installer since it's basically a different program, and it will be quite possible (and recommended) to leave your current SlimDX/.NET version as-is since the first prereleases of the Unity version are likely to have some serious issues just due to the magnitude of the change.
Title: Re: Unity progress
Post by: Lancefighter on September 11, 2010, 11:30:01 PM
there will be a great many people shedding a tear over faux-fullscreen.  :'(
Title: Re: Unity progress
Post by: keith.lamothe on September 11, 2010, 11:39:35 PM
Me too.

Though, honestly, it shouldn't be too hard to simply size the window to fill your screen and use the OS's window movement mechanisms to get the borders off the edge, etc, and get the same effect.
Title: Re: Unity progress
Post by: Lancefighter on September 12, 2010, 12:33:56 AM
thats the theory :p sometimes the OS gives you issues with moving stuff offscreen, but there are apps around to do that for you if you must

(i play eve like this, the faux fullscreen is srs business when you tab out every 5 minutes to visit forums, youknow?  ;D )
Title: Re: Unity progress
Post by: Zeba on September 12, 2010, 02:32:10 AM
Quote from: Lancefighter
(i play eve like this, the faux fullscreen is srs business when you tab out every 5 minutes to visit forums, youknow?  ;D )
New IGB ftw.  It lets you pew pew and forum whoor at the same time as long as the fc is not looking in your general direction.. ;D

Also: Hai Lance!

Re-also: Can't wait for the unity port as this is simply my favorite non eve related game evah and I always love moar shineys. 

Shameless Plug: Me and lance hold down the eve-o section of the ai wars fanboi club. Send royalties in teh form of isk plx.  8)

Fake-edit: Did I mention this is my favorite non eve related game evah?
Title: Re: Unity progress
Post by: Sizzle on September 12, 2010, 11:15:54 AM
IGB? wha?
Title: Re: Unity progress
Post by: Lancefighter on September 12, 2010, 12:37:02 PM

Also: Hai Lance!


HAI!
I thought you said you wouldnt be coming this way? Something about the AI war forums being all proper and not to be trolled?  ;)
Title: Re: Unity progress
Post by: Zeba on September 12, 2010, 02:43:01 PM
I was nice..  :-[

Also IGB is short for in game browser. The new chrome based one that got put into eve is pretty sweet though it won't let you install flash for security reasons. 

Hrmmm, so is that something that could be ported into the unity client? Would certainly make getting at the ai wars wiki simpler.
Title: Re: Unity progress
Post by: x4000 on September 12, 2010, 05:00:49 PM
Ah, I didn't know what IGB was, either -- unfortunately, to my knowledge Unity 3D doesn't have one.
Title: Re: Unity progress
Post by: HellishFiend on September 12, 2010, 06:48:02 PM
I'll be one of the ones shedding a tear over the loss of faux-fullscreen. It's been very good to me.
Title: Re: Unity progress
Post by: x4000 on September 12, 2010, 07:02:38 PM
Well, so will I -- I love that feature.  It's not like we don't value that feature.  It's just one that's far outweighed by all the other benefits.
Title: Re: Unity progress
Post by: Baleur on September 13, 2010, 09:24:45 AM
Cant you just do it like some third party apps do it? Just have the game start in normal windowed mode, then auto-move the window a certain ammount of pixels so the window frame isnt visible?
Exactly the same effect as faux-fullscreen, just that you dont see the window borders even if they are still "there" :P

A good example is the eve online tool, which just moves the window in the manner i described. You have the option to either have the app attempt it at start-up of EVE, or check every minute or so and move the window if required. Takes no cpu power, no resources (okay, 500 byte perhaps :( ).
I dont see why this couldnt be done for AI War as well, i suggest the devs take a look at it and see if it cant be incorporated on start-up.
Title: Re: Unity progress
Post by: x4000 on September 13, 2010, 09:26:58 AM
We don't have any control for doing things like this with Unity.  We'd have to resort to platform-invoke calls specific to each platform, and that's... dicey.  It's likely to introduce a lot of bugs, etc.
Title: Re: Unity progress
Post by: Mánagarmr on September 13, 2010, 10:10:53 AM
VEMon (and EVEMover) are indeed made of win and awesome. However, I think we have some aspiring programmers in the AI War player base, and someone will inevitably make an app for us xD
Title: Re: Unity progress
Post by: zespri on September 13, 2010, 05:52:26 PM
x4000,

since you've been pretty open on game development topics, let me ask you this.

I do understand when game developers fix bugs after the release. It's what everyone expect them to do for the price of the product. Also it is natural for developers themselves as when they develop an expansion and come across a bug they just feel dirty if they don't fix it right away.

I do understand when new features are added and free expansions are made - this instils faith to the game users in the company/developer making the game, so the a) more likely to buy future titles knowing that they will receive a lot of love even after purchase and b) more likely to buy this particular title for the same reason. Let's face it everyone like to be in an active project rather than in finished and closed one.

What I don't quite get is why to change graphic engine in already released title. I actually can't remember a single game, where it was done. It is usually a big job that costs a lot of money and for the finished game it usually is not worth the investment.

So, can you tell me why? I'd be really curious to know why a developer choose to spend time (equals money) on such a tremendous change rather than concentrating on new games / expansions / etc?
Title: Re: Unity progress
Post by: keith.lamothe on September 13, 2010, 05:56:59 PM
Welcome to the forums :) (you may have already gotten that, but anyhow)

The conversion to Unity is way more than just the graphics engine, it's the whole platform.  So the game will no longer require .NET, DirectX, or SlimDX.  Going further, the game will work on Mac (and be much more likely to work in WINE on Linux, though we won't be able to officially support that).

More details here:

http://www.arcengames.com/forums/index.php/topic,5602.0.html
Title: Re: Unity progress
Post by: zespri on September 13, 2010, 06:03:14 PM
So the motivation is to let those who use mac and linux play the game? I guess this makes sense, there should be quite a lot of them.

Re: .net 3.5 dependency. I think that .net 3.5 comes built-in to Windows 7 and there are more and more Windows users now that are using Widnows 7 If they are not prevalent among windows users yet they'll sure soon be.

It's also kind of funny. Mono, I think is more like .net 2.0, not like .net 3.5 and .net 2.0 is installed with operating system almost on every windows os and if not you can get it with windows update easily. I guess the problem is that SlimDX requries 3.5 and Unity happily runs on mono.

Do you think that if SlimDX ran on .net 2.0 you'd have a lot less problems with installation?
Title: Re: Unity progress
Post by: Mánagarmr on September 13, 2010, 06:42:49 PM
x4000,

since you've been pretty open on game development topics, let me ask you this.

I do understand when game developers fix bugs after the release. It's what everyone expect them to do for the price of the product. Also it is natural for developers themselves as when they develop an expansion and come across a bug they just feel dirty if they don't fix it right away.

I do understand when new features are added and free expansions are made - this instils faith to the game users in the company/developer making the game, so the a) more likely to buy future titles knowing that they will receive a lot of love even after purchase and b) more likely to buy this particular title for the same reason. Let's face it everyone like to be in an active project rather than in finished and closed one.

What I don't quite get is why to change graphic engine in already released title. I actually can't remember a single game, where it was done. It is usually a big job that costs a lot of money and for the finished game it usually is not worth the investment.

So, can you tell me why? I'd be really curious to know why a developer choose to spend time (equals money) on such a tremendous change rather than concentrating on new games / expansions / etc?
You haven't played EVE Online (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TkfGd-x0ZwI), I take it? They completely replaced the Trinity 1.0 engine with an new one (dubbed Trinity 2.0) in order to make use of a lot of new effects, shaders and whatnot. I admit, it's just one game, but it's been done.
Title: Re: Unity progress
Post by: zespri on September 13, 2010, 07:13:13 PM
You haven't played EVE Online (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TkfGd-x0ZwI), I take it? They completely replaced the Trinity 1.0 engine with an new one (dubbed Trinity 2.0) in order to make use of a lot of new effects, shaders and whatnot. I admit, it's just one game, but it's been done.

I admit, I didn't know EVE Online did this, but MMORPG is the type of game I'm the least surprised would do that, since their revenue model is to keep up the number of subscribed customers. So for MMORPG it makes complete sense.
Title: Re: Unity progress
Post by: Lancefighter on September 13, 2010, 07:18:26 PM
it seems more to me that they were using this engine because they either hadnt found unity or this one was currently better - after developing tidalis in this new engine, they wanted to move it all there as to easier develop for both games..

Keep in mind that valve completely rewrote the hl2 engine to run on macs recently as well...
Title: Re: Unity progress
Post by: keith.lamothe on September 13, 2010, 07:29:09 PM
So the motivation is to let those who use mac and linux play the game? I guess this makes sense, there should be quite a lot of them.
Out of curiosity, did you read the post I linked to? :)  Mac (and unofficial Linux) support are a fairly big deal (and the Mac point is probably the only one with the potential to single-handedly bring in some moderate amount of revenue), but there's a lot more on there than that :)

Quote
Re: .net 3.5 dependency. I think that .net 3.5 comes built-in to Windows 7 and there are more and more Windows users now that are using Widnows 7 If they are not prevalent among windows users yet they'll sure soon be.
Actually .NET deployment at the current time is a disaster, and a real embarrassment to an otherwise totally awesome platform.  Yes, if they have Windows 7 they're probably ok.  Probably.  They won't lack the platform in that case, but a certain percentage of customers will have hosed .NET installs that will basically make it impossible to play AI War unless they want to go through the marathon of trying to uninstall/reinstall and/or truly repair a .NET install, or simply re-installing their OS (which can actually be faster).

Quote
Mono, I think is more like .net 2.0, not like .net 3.5
Yes, very much so; there's some neat stuff in 3.5 but 2.0 has everything we feel an actual need for.  Very often we wind up having to write our own libraries for stuff to get the performance we need, so the difference is not great.

Quote
and .net 2.0 is installed with operating system almost on every windows os
This is simply not true ;)  XP does not have it by default, and a significant portion of our customers have to install it when they want to first play the game.  This problem will diminish over time, but it will take a while to reach "almost every".

Quote
and if not you can get it with windows update easily
Easily in the overall picture, yes, but it can take 2 hours and 2 reboots depending on the situation, which is a lot more than many folks are willing to go through to play a game.

One really killer point on the .NET thing is that even if the players have it, and the install isn't hosed, we still have no way of making sure (or really even knowing) that they have exactly the same versions and service packs as the people they are trying to play multiplayer with.  Even a small discrepancy can lead to mysterious desyncs that force a reversion to a previous save (which sometimes will simply lead to another desync at the same or a different time).  Granted, this is due to our networking model requiring 100.00% determinism across the parallel simulations, but that's the only way we can do it this side of Terabit ethernet ;)

Quote
Do you think that if SlimDX ran on .net 2.0 you'd have a lot less problems with installation?
Possibly, but all the recent tech support issues we've had with .NET/SlimDX installs have been other things.  And we've had an alarming number of those problems lately, which is one reason I'm really glad we're making the switch to a platform which inherently contains its prerequisites.

Lancefighter also mentioned another key motivation: having all our games running on the same engine.  Helps no end in being able to use cool feature xyz easily in all the games that benefit from it.
Title: Re: Unity progress
Post by: x4000 on September 13, 2010, 07:32:14 PM
Well, SlimDX actually runs on .net 2.0, and we were only ever using the .net 2.0 features.  However, the base .net 2.0 is a really buggy and slow version of .net for running games, relatively speaking, and there are two or three service packs that they made for .net 2.0.  However, those are an enormous pain to distribute and install, I believe requiring multiple reboots, etc.  So, we distributed .net 3.5 because it packages all of the .net 2.0 service packs and .net 2.0 runtime files in general inside itself.

While tech support issues haven't been enormous with AI War, if you look at the tech support forums most of the challenges there have to do with .net, directx, or other platform-related things.  We have the perception that that's turning off some potential customers, the install process was certainly annoying to everyone (and prerequisites with Steam always cause some problems for some people, with them running every time, etc).

Plus the lack of a GUI system, and other limitations of the D3DXSprite classes that SlimDX is wrappering (amongst other things) weren't doing us any favors.  And we wanted the mac support.  And we wanted all our games on one platform, to avoid having to try supporting multiple platforms (given that we're always growing AI War, and plan more expansions, etc).

In short... there were a whole host of reasons.  It saves a lot of hassle for us and for players, opens up new functionality to make things easier for us to move forward, and opens up whole new potential customer segments for us.

EDIT: Ninja'd by Keith.  But, yeah, what he said. ;)
Title: Re: Unity progress
Post by: x4000 on September 13, 2010, 07:35:09 PM
Quote
and if not you can get it with windows update easily
Easily in the overall picture, yes, but it can take 2 hours and 2 reboots depending on the situation, which is a lot more than many folks are willing to go through to play a game.

Or, even more precisely, to play a demo for a game to see if they like it.  People who try our demo at present are either really interested, or happen to already have the .net framework in place, or didn't realize what they were biting off before they started and then just wanted to see it through.  In the latter case, they're not exactly in a positive frame of mind when they start actually trying the game itself, and that's something that really has been bugging me.

As Keith noted, the .NET platform is simply amazing, but their distribution methods for it are an absolute embarrassment.  And it's so OS-integrated that if something is hosed with .NET, in some rare cases you wind up needing a complete OS reinstall.  Now who's willing to do that for any game?
Title: Re: Unity progress
Post by: keith.lamothe on September 13, 2010, 08:00:39 PM
Not trying to pile on tons of replies here, but another thing that makes our decision making for AI War different than those behind most games is that we're planning to keep developing AI War for at least 4-5 more years, and we've realized a bit ago when we crossed the 1-year mark that we're likely to want to keep it going well beyond that.  Most games are well past the end of their active-development cycle a year after release, so that's one big difference.
Title: Re: Unity progress
Post by: HellishFiend on September 13, 2010, 09:08:59 PM
Not trying to pile on tons of replies here, but another thing that makes our decision making for AI War different than those behind most games is that we're planning to keep developing AI War for at least 4-5 more years, and we've realized a bit ago when we crossed the 1-year mark that we're likely to want to keep it going well beyond that.  Most games are well past the end of their active-development cycle a year after release, so that's one big difference.

Makes me so happy to hear that.  ;D
Title: Re: Unity progress
Post by: zespri on September 14, 2010, 12:13:58 AM
x4000, Keith, thank you very much for very detailed answers. These are really interesting and valuable insight into game development.

There are quite a lot of recent indie games built on .net platform. They all must face the same problem. I wonder how they solve it. I would be interested to know how many users have hosed .net installation? Is it any significant percentage?

I know that what I'm going to post won't help you or you user (as they may not be technically competent enough to use it), and maybe you already aware of these links, but I'll post them anyway just in case as information for future reference, should .net installation ever become a problem again. In ideal world it should never be the case that just because of .net you need to re-install the entire system. Unfortunately we are not in ideal world.

Here are the links:

How to repair an existing installation of the.NET Framework (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/306160)
.NET Framework Cleanup Tool User's Guide (http://blogs.msdn.com/b/astebner/archive/2008/08/28/8904493.aspx)

The last link is from Aaron Stebner's blog, by following links in this post you can also reach "Unified .NET Framework Troubleshooting Guide", "what to do if other .NET Framework setup troubleshooting steps do not help" and other relevant and useful articles.

I would like to repeat again, that these are no consolation for a end-user who just wants to try out a game, but I do believe they are useful nonetheless and can solve quite a lot of hosed install cases.

Cheers,
Andrew.

Title: Re: Unity progress
Post by: zespri on September 14, 2010, 12:32:19 AM
Out of curiosity, did you read the post I linked to? :) 
I actually read it even before you linked it. It was linked by someone else earlier in this thread. When I posted my question I already knew the contents of that post.

Title: Re: Unity progress
Post by: x4000 on September 14, 2010, 10:38:07 AM
Very cool on the cleanup links, thanks for that, Andrew.  The percentage of players with hosed .NET installations is very small -- maybe 1 in 600 or 800 players in my experience, something along those lines.  But, that adds up to an ongoing annoyance for us as well as a certain subset of potential players, and those are just the ones that actually report anything; I don't have statistics on people who try to install the demo, have an issue, and ragequit never to return.
Title: Re: Unity progress
Post by: Ktoff on September 14, 2010, 11:24:14 AM
I don't have statistics on people who try to install the demo, have an issue, and ragequit never to return.

There was a reviewer who did exactly that, if i recall it correctly... :)
Title: Re: Unity progress
Post by: keith.lamothe on September 14, 2010, 11:28:43 AM
Quote
There was a reviewer who did exactly that, if i recall it correctly... :)
Hmm, it seems the ninjas didn't complete the "erase all memory of subject" part of the contract.  Funny how they still invoiced for it.  Ah well ;)
Title: Re: Unity progress
Post by: x4000 on September 14, 2010, 11:32:45 AM
Indeed.  Sigh.
Title: Re: Unity progress
Post by: Zeba on September 15, 2010, 01:14:03 AM
Heh, this is why I love this game along with Eve.

Devs with the gahonies to buck the trend and do what they please for the greater good..  ;)