Planning ahead for 2.1: multiplayer and OpenGL

The stable version 2.0 has been out for a bit over two weeks now. I hope you’ve been enjoying it! I have been busy working on bug fixes for 2.0.1, which is soon getting into shape for release.

Now that the goals for the 2.0 release have been met, it is time to look ahead to version 2.1. The first point release is planned to primarily feature improvements for multiplayer games. I won’t be exclusively working on that, though, so various minor improvements will also be included. Small things like a persistent console command history and options to start a game profile in a chosen map are already available in the unstable 2.1 builds.

When it comes to the release schedule, it remains futile to speculate about how much time I will have for Doomsday in the future, but my hope is that point releases in the 2.x series will have a roughly six month cadence. While there is no specific release date set for 2.1, I am uncomfortable with the idea of more than 12 months between stable releases. If that much time passes I am willing to postpone the remaining work to a later point release and do a smaller stable release instead. I prefer that there is a steady and predictable flow of stable releases, much like the situation is with the unstable builds.

In any case, if you run unstable builds you will of course get all the latest improvements as soon as they are implemented.

Multiplayer

2.1’s primary objective in terms of user-facing features is multiplayer improvements. This means both bugfixes and new features. I envision the following MP-related improvements in concrete terms (list still subject to change, in no particular order):

  • Bug fixes. Multiplayer gameplay is suffering from a variety of small glitches, particularly in Hexen. The goal here is to get rid of the more significant ones.
  • Movement smoothing for enemies. Single-player games use movement smoothing for everything, so MP games should be no different.
  • New chat UI. Modern games have some established conventions regarding in-game chat, so Doomsday should take inspiration from them. The chat should use Doomsday’s native UI widgets so the font isn’t blurry or too large, text can have colors and rich formatting, there is nice scrolling, text entry is more versatile, and there is autocompletion for usernames and commands. One particular direction this feature could take is integration with the console command prompt, so one can still issue console commands using IRC-like slash prefixes while primarily still chatting.
  • New scoreboard UI. A better scoreboard would be a nice thing to have for competitive game types. There should also be an option for a small, always-on scoreboard HUD. I will likely end up with a toggle between completely hidden, small HUD, and full-size scoreboard modes.
  • More GUI options for configuring game via Shell GUI. Most of the gameplay cvars should be configurable via the GUI. The 2.0 Shell already offers a couple of options (such as game type and current map), but there are more options that would be useful to have conveniently available. My strategy with regard to the Shell remains unchanged, though: for hosting games, the Shell should be the tool you use. Duplicating its features in the client GUI would be more or less redundant and wasted effort. However, I can look into integrating the Shell better with the client GUI, so it is quick and easy to get a local server started, for instance, by launching the Shell via the client.
  • GUI for configuring map cycle. Map cycling is one important MP feature, especially for longer-running servers. By default, a co-op server will not restart the episode once it ends; map cycling should for instance allow configuring entire episodes to be played through and then restarted.
  • Remote packages. The key feature here is loading PWADs from the server.

OpenGL

The internal objective for 2.1 is to complete or at least take a major step toward migrating the rest of the OpenGL code to version 3.3, making it also OpenGL ES 2 compatible. GLES is a requirement for Android and iOS, and also Raspberry Pi (a good low-powered testing/development platform). As a nice side-effect, this transition will also future-proof much of the code for subsequent migrations (particularly thinking about APIs like Vulkan, or some other low-level graphics API of the future). The crucial advantage that this transition will provide is support for GLSL shaders when rendering world surfaces. This truly opens up the potential for renderer improvements.

However, in the scope of 2.1, it must be noted that this will be an internal change, meaning the renderer features available to you remain roughly the same as in 2.0. Some older GPUs may no longer be supported, although it is also possible that some OpenGL drivers work better with OpenGL 3 instead of the old compatibility profile. It may also be necessary to drop some older graphics settings that are no longer relevant, if it isn’t feasible to reimplement them with new GL code.

Finally, please remember that plans may change so none of this is particularly set in stone. Stay tuned for updates. 🙂

Improved UI for multiplayer

For the past two weeks I’ve been focusing on finishing the Home UI for 2.0. I’ve also been doing plenty of small improvements and bug fixes.

The final element that has been missing from the Home is the Multiplayer tab. That is now no longer the case: build 2227 has a new UI for viewing server information, and a couple of important bug fixes for multiplayer servers.

Server info dialog

In the Multiplayer tab you can see more information about a server by right-clicking it or by clicking the […] button in the server description. This pops up the new dialog that can be seen in the screenshot above.

A direct connection to the server is automatically attempted so that you’ll see the server’s current status and to verify that the server is reachable. The status information includes the current map outline, just like in the Shell.

In addition to status information, the dialog has a “Join Game” button, a list of the packages loaded on the server (the client must load the exact same ones when it connects), and you can choose additional packages to load locally. These local packages are game-specific rather than server-specific and are remembered in the client configuration (part of persist.pack). The “Local Packages” button is disabled by default. It can be enabled in Network Settings.

Note that if you load additional local packages in multiplayer games, you must ensure that they don’t contain gameplay-affecting changes. For example, loading a different map is out of the question, as are changes to mobj states. Doomsday 2 packages with 3D model assets are safe to use locally in multiplayer games.

I now consider this UI, along with the rest of the Home, feature-complete for 2.0. The long-term thinking behind the server info dialog is to evolve it toward a mini-Shell interface so that you could issue quick console commands to servers that you control. That will not be part of the 2.0 release, though.

Continue reading Improved UI for multiplayer

Version 2 multiplayer servers

Yesterday I merged a work branch where I’ve revised the way information about multiplayer servers is stored and distributed. The changes from “mp-serverinfo” are available in build 2144.

There are some important changes to discuss. Doomsday 2 servers are now incompatible and separate from Doomsday 1.x servers. Doomsday 2 uses a new status information format, new master server web API and new, compressed LAN broadcast messages. Doomsday 1.x clients will therefore not detect Doomsday 2 servers, and cannot query information about them (and vice versa). Continue reading Version 2 multiplayer servers