Time marches on relentlessly and I haven’t been very active in blogging recently, so I figured it would be a good time to elaborate a little on my big picture thoughts about Doomsday.
The first Release Candidate build of version 2.2 is now available. The plan is to release the final stable 2.2.0 before the end of the year.
To accompany the upcoming release, the demo video on the dengine.net front page has been updated. It shows a few snippets of gameplay with the default settings, without any additional mods. This time with audio and in normal speed!
Version 2.2 is a relatively minor feature update. It comes with a number of bug fixes and a bunch of modding enhancements.
Version 2.1 is now feature complete. While I originally hoped to focus on multiplayer-related enhancements in this release, it turned out a little differently. Roughly speaking the first half of 2018 was spent working on the foundations of the next revision of the renderer (not included in 2.1), and only during the second half I focused on 2.1 related work.
One important multiplayer improvement has been added for 2.1, though: clients can download mods (e.g., PWADs) from the server in case they are needed for joining a multiplayer game.
Let’s have a quick look at the changes done over the past weeks.
This is the final installment of a short series of posts detailing what I’ve learned while exploring the possible directions that a redesigned Doomsday renderer could take. This post is about integrating the new renderer into the existing engine.
During the spring I’ve been exploring the possibilities and potential directions that a completely redesigned renderer could take. Continuing from part one, this post contains more of the results and related thoughts about where things could and should be heading.
When it comes to graphics, things sure have changed since the beginning of the project. Back in the day — almost 20 (!) years ago — GPUs were relatively slow, you had a few MBs of VRAM, and screen resolutions were in the 1K range. Nowadays most of these metrics have grown by an order of magnitude or two and the optimal way of using the GPU has changed. While CPUs have gotten significantly faster over the years, GPU performance has dramatically increased in vast leaps and bounds. Today, a renderer needs to be designed around feeding the GPU and allowing it do its thing as independently as possible.
With so much computation power available, rendering techniques and algorithms are allowed to be much more complex. However, Doomsday’s needs are pretty specific — what is the correct approach to take here? During the spring I’ve been exploring the possibilities and potential directions that a completely redesigned renderer could take. In this post, I’ll share some of the results and related thoughts about where things could and should be heading.
The spring months have been a little crazy with various Real Life time sinks preventing me from delving too deep into fun coding. Consequently, there has been little to no progress with the tasks on the roadmap, such as the multiplayer improvements for version 2.1. Given that several months have passed, it will be challenging to find motivation to restart this work. I am tempted to make some changes to the roadmap to get things rolling along again.
I have managed to steal away some time to explore an exciting new direction for the renderer, though. The basic gist of this effort is to completely revise how the game world is drawn, bringing it up to par with the recently redone 3D model renderer.
To kick off the multiplayer improvements for version 2.1, I’ve started with adding access to data files over the network. For example, if a server is running a custom PWAD that you don’t have, the client will automatically download a copy before joining the game.
That pretty much sums it up for the user-facing portion of this feature. You will see a popup displaying download progress, and there is an option to cancel.
Much of this work was recently merged to the master branch (in the form of 83 commits) and is included now in unstable builds. Note that this kind of a larger influx of changes usually leads to new glitches also being introduced… I will be improving the code in the coming days/weeks.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve made a couple of stable builds with the version 2.0.3. The first one of those was made a bit early as I was about to leave for a trip abroad, and mainly included one bug fix for Hexen related to saving and restoring object state from save files. Recently I’ve made a couple of additional stable builds to investigate and fix a problem with the Ubuntu Launchpad build scripts, where the “doomsday-stable” packages were correctly built but nothing was actually included in the generated DEB packages.
On the whole, progress has been somewhat slow. Perhaps the biggest advance was in the dengine.net website backend, where I’ve now split the API functionality to a separate api.dengine.net server, so that things like master server and update queries won’t interfere with the normal operation of the project home page and forums. I hope this will alleviate the issue of dengine.net sometimes failing to respond to requests.
Prompted by a forum post, over the weekend I was investigating an audio volume issue on Windows. It turns out there is a problem with the SDL_mixer music volume controls. I have yet to determine if there is a workaround that Doomsday can do to avoid the issue. Such a workaround would be preferable to disabling SDL_mixer music on Windows completely, since SDL_mixer does bring value to the table (e.g., music formats). The situation is also slightly tricky because SDL and SDL_mixer are built in to the engine, so there isn’t a plugin to take out or something simple like that.
I’ve been getting back into the swing of things with a set of smaller changes and improvements. I haven’t yet started work on the major focus of the 2.1 release, which is planned to be Multiplayer improvements.
2.0.2 will be out on Saturday, July 1st, with a couple of bugfixes that I hope will be useful. As usual, I will post the details after the build is available.
The recent changes include:
- Stability improvements. Several methods that went against the C++ standard were revised. Reliance on undefined behavior was leading to compiler optimization issues particularly with the latest GCC 7. Also, error reporting is now more robust. For instance, previously when something went wrong during busy mode (like engine startup), it could easily lead to a crash because the client app wasn’t reacting to the situation appropriately. When the error message was being shown, the application was still trying to do something in the background.
- More powerful model scripting. Starting animations and timeline scripts via Doomsday Script.
- The model renderer shaders support more macros for easier customizability. Generally speaking, using macros is more future-proof than writing completely customized shaders.
- Resource identification fixes. There was a duplicate IWAD spec for Heretic 1.3 vs. SOSR. Now only the latter remains; if you have problems with your Heretic IWADs, Clear Cache and restart Doomsday. Also, autogenerated package IDs had a problem with special characters in file names. Doomsday will choose package IDs based on the file name of the data file, however it allowed spaces and quotes be included in the IDs. This lead to problems because whitespace characters are used as separators in lists of IDs, and quotes may not be accurately escaped in Info strings. Again, Clear Cache is recommended.
- Assimp build option. There’s a new CMake build option (
DENG_ASSIMP_EMBEDDED) for disabling the use of Doomsday’s customized version of Assimp. This allows one to configure Doomsday to use the Assimp installed as a system library, which is more common on Linux for instance.
- More UI tweaks. Plenty of small things:
- Minor dialog layout improvements to avoid awkward dimensions.
- Changed the UI font on Windows.
- Added popup outlines for visual clarity.
- Fixed Home tab scrolling with the mouse wheel so that it doesn’t always jump to the previously selected item when switching between tabs.
- Game icons are refreshed when package availability changes. No more missing and incorrect icons shown for game profiles.
- Fixed missing window fullscreen state notification (was affecting the appearance of the “Quit” button on Mac).
- Monitor refresh rate. Yesterday I started working on monitor refresh rate configuration options. I realized these have been completely missing from the settings for some time now. Doomsday does query the supported display modes, which includes information about refresh rates, so now you have the option of choosing which refresh rate Doomsday will prefer when switching modes on Windows/Linux (display mode changes are not done at all on macOS). However, I recommend you consider adjusting the game pixel density instead of the screen resolution to keep the UI sharp and crispy.