Thursday, October 27, 2005

Live blogging fr AGC: Feature Postmortems, Matt Shaw, Mythic Entertainment

27 October 2005, Texas, Austin, Austin Game Conference

Matt Shaw, Mythic Entertainment

Subject: pitfalls Mythic has been through when making new system for character rendering to Dark Age of Camelot.

Was late again, missed beginning


60 artists now, started out with 6

"Catacombs"

Facial graphic/animation system modified.

Character system: new system, but required to have the old system optional for the players. Some players had grown attached to the old system, even if faces were flatter, and wanted to use it.
/* was it worth the cost of keeping both systems, was the pressure from the player base that strong? */

Card manufacturers can seldom give answers on how much the new cards really can handle.

Advice: dont change textures, meshes, shaders, render states. Pusch as many triangels you can in one call.

Draw calls in direct X.
Limited to 1000 - 1500 draw calls in a frame to keep a decent framerate.
Assume 200 figures on the screen... 8 piedes per character is one limit one could choose. Some games use 20 - 40 per figure...
Display of comparative figures in ppt.
They wanted a LOD system where it was actually possible to distinguish things. Not realistic with stickfigures.

Reducing Draw Calls.
One try was to use reusable textures etc, but tests w players showed that it was not such a good idea. Ppl want unique things. Also needed to put in new things later.

Player logs in - highly specified pieces. How get them in there fast enough?


They ended up using shaders.

Lessons:
Shader combining trick had short life
In nxt game, warhammer they will use another method to reduce figure draw calls.
Important to keep sharp eye on draw calls.
Its less of an issue if one uses OpenGL
Educate designers and art department of what's critical for performance.

Now when the new graphic cards have so big performance: not solving this problem.
Test early and often...
Good to have tools where team members can see how many polygons they use.

Questions.
- OpenGL not having so much issues w draw calls? O more light weight... Vista...
Talk about limited support for vista in openGL. If starting from scratch speaker would consider opengl.

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