Author Topic: Unity progress  (Read 6933 times)

Offline keith.lamothe

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Re: Unity progress
« Reply #30 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 :)

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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).

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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.

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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".

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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 ;)

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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.
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Offline x4000

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Re: Unity progress
« Reply #31 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. ;)
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Offline x4000

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Re: Unity progress
« Reply #32 on: September 13, 2010, 07:35:09 PM »
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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?
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Offline keith.lamothe

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Re: Unity progress
« Reply #33 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.
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Offline HellishFiend

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Re: Unity progress
« Reply #34 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
Time to roll out another ball of death.

Offline zespri

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Re: Unity progress
« Reply #35 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
.NET Framework Cleanup Tool User's Guide

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.

« Last Edit: September 14, 2010, 05:00:02 PM by zespri »

Offline zespri

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Re: Unity progress
« Reply #36 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.


Offline x4000

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Re: Unity progress
« Reply #37 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.
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Offline Ktoff

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Re: Unity progress
« Reply #38 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... :)

Offline keith.lamothe

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Re: Unity progress
« Reply #39 on: September 14, 2010, 11:28:43 AM »
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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 ;)
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Offline x4000

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Re: Unity progress
« Reply #40 on: September 14, 2010, 11:32:45 AM »
Indeed.  Sigh.
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Offline Zeba

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Re: Unity progress
« Reply #41 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..  ;)