Online and Offline

OfflineOnlineSo my web server apparently decided to die in a rather spectacular way about two hours ago;  I only just realised it now, as I came to post this update.  Apologies to those who may not have been able to connect during that time!  I’ll be watching closely to make sure it remains okay.

On the topic of offline, the screenshot here is a composite of an offline and an online view of an MMORPG, in my current development codebase.  The new things in this screenshot are the fog (mentioned yesterday), and the new offline terrain rendering, which is slowly moving in a more blocky, almost Darwinia-inspired direction.  I’m not sure whether I’ll really use that look;  it’s difficult to tune the appearance of your game when it looks different when offline than when online, so maybe I oughtn’t.  More thought will be required.

There’s also the in-progress top-left information box.  Right now it’s still using a lot of old UI tech, but I’ve got a number of key indicators on it and functional, now.  Though obviously, it needs to be prettied up an awful lot.  And right now, it’s crowding the left toolbar.  But that’s okay;  that left toolbar is going to be moving to the bottom of the screen, shortly, so it won’t look so cluttered up there for much longer.

I also fixed a pretty major performance problem in the VectorStorm engine, today.  While flying around in “noclip” mode, I noticed that despite my having code in place to keep the game from trying to draw terrain that’s under water, it seemed to be doing so in many places.  In fact, as I flew around the world, more and more often I’d find large blocks of sea floor being drawn.  It took me an hour or two, but I eventually tracked down the culprit;  VectorStorm’s OpenGL code had a minor bug in it which caused it to submit more data to the video card than was requested by the game.  The biggest place where this was causing problems was in the streaming of terrain data, where I re-used several buffers which could drastically change size from one piece of terrain to another.  Net result from fixing this bug is that on my (rather fast) computer, my average FPS rose from about 100fps to about 160fps.  I haven’t yet tested it on my slower test computers where the game was struggling to hold 60fps, but the way I see it, telling the GPU to draw fewer illegal triangles can only help performance!