17.12.2015 - Progress report, late 2015
The thing about Oculus Rift is that if the game is bad, you get a slideshow, which is kinda meh-ish ok.
If it's good you get a smooth experience.
But if it is only so and so, then it's nauseating hell at the edge of the native FPS.
On max settings Spaceway tops at just below the no-nausea threshold, and often go down to 10-15FPS, on a fairly good system, which is 50-60-ish without Oculus...
Not good enough.
The last few month were full of hardcore optimizations to make it good in Oculus, resulting in a variety of changes and decoupling from Orbiter.
I started by compiling Spaceway with my own software implementation of OpenGL.
This way i can see every graphical issue clearly, since mine is made to crash on and log the errors, while the real vendor ones transparently ingest errors and spew out their best guesses.
Boy, was it a messy slideshow.
Not as slow as you might think, however - i managed to get it to 10-15 FPS.
Optimizing graphics is much easier when every slowdown is severely amplified. If you want to get a game running with software rendering, you need to clean it up hard.
Fixing up rendering inefficiencies brought up the FPS to 120-ish range, which in Oculus translated to straight in the middle of the nausea zone.
Oh so not good enough.
Software OpenGL does not do everything the real OpenGL does. There is no bus to the GPU to consider.
Further investigations revealed several inefficiencies in that department.
For example, you can store mesh data on the GPU, with a thing called the vertex buffer objects (VBO), to avoid sending it on every frame.
For some weird reason i only stored the vertex data, but not tangent data used by the shaders to draw the normal maps on the terrain.
I guess i thought it was not possible, but turns out it easily is.
With that the FPS got up to 180.
Neat...But that is standing still.
In motion, it was much worse.
Just moving your head produced a serious drop in FPS, almost to 10-15 in Oculus.
Well, it was Orbiter, the space flight simulator.
Spaceway grown from a graphics engine i originally designed for Orbiter (OGLAClient), and guess what?
The terrain was generated in the native Spaceway format, then converted to Orbiter compatible one, then converted back to the native format to be drawn.
This allows the engine to work with both sims, and also kills performance in Spaceway and gives a meh one in Orbiter.
It's been years since i did anything for Orbiter, so i realized it was about time to cast off.
That part felt like an end of an era - Orbiter defined many of my interests, and for a long time i developed add-ons for it, that conglomerated into Spaceway as the years went by.
Well, the past was good while it lasted, and now it's time to go ahead.
With the legacy and compatibility stuff dropped, the performance soared, getting 300FPS standing and 290FPS moving.
Almost good enough.
However, some icks still remained.
Quirks in the physics engine.
i.e. the hundreds of particles spewn by engines all went through the big physics calculations, dropping the FPS from 300 to 190 when the engines were running, or from 75 to 70 in Oculus, a critical difference between smooth immersion and nauseating jerks.
Moving them to a dedicated, fast calculation loop removed that drop.
Quirks in the drawing pipeline.
I.e. every time the terrain changed, it all got sent to GPU at once, jerking things at high speeds. That is fixed by allowing only so much terrain change per frame.
Quirks in the overlogic.
I.e. the MFDs were drawn on every frame, which at 300FPS was quite a drain. With 4 external MFDs on the lander chair that amounted to a drop from 300 to 150 FPS.
Made them draw at only ten times a second, and that drop was gone.
Now i'm getting native 75 FPS in Oculus at max settings most of the time.
Almost, almost good enough.
There are still some jerks and quirks left that i didn't track down, but the whole thing works well over ten times faster now.
Which, Oculus or not, is a good thing.
What the future holds...
Well, there are always plans and there are always ideas. Oculus VR demos, game ideas, this and that. I hope to get something interesting out in the coming months.
At the very least, there is enough bugs and performance fixes to just release it for the heck of it, with nothing extra. So out it will be.
In case nothing happens, next progress report will be around spring 2016.
|I really love this Spaceway, I keep coming back to play it every now and then. Good to read you're still working on this awesome project. I like all the technical mumbo jumbo on the MFDs and I just love the procedural terrain. I also liked the Orbiter mod you made. Can't wait to try it in Oculus mode if I ever get one. Keep up the good work!|
19.04.2016 00:09 - Haggis
|Never is harsh of a word, I'm certain that you'll think of something Spaceway doesn't have to just do one thing ;), as they say just throw it on the wall and see if it'll stick :3 we'll tell ya if its good or not. If I could make a suggestion perhaps you could develop a way for us to contribute to the game to test/show ideas without cracking open anything private, it is also very nice seeing you pop up around :) this has potential|
03.08.2015 07:39 - TheDude
|Yep, it's still being worked on. "What kind of gameplay to add" is the same old "what's the purpose of life" question of Spaceway that i never could make an answer to, unfortunately.|
29.07.2015 12:01 - Artlav
|The game is Still being worked on? Dang When I first tryed it out I was amazed how complex it was but I still getting used it, but it is actual a worth while game I really just waiting for some kind of gameplay to be added. Maybe a realistic elite with a twist None the less I'm still coming back! :)|
28.06.2015 07:09 - TheDude
|So about the new layout. The colors definitely match. I guess you could try getting some color themes from the game, making everything look a bit more like it was inside of the Rapier cockpit or something. |
13.12.2014 03:25 - llehsadam
Most parts of the story where easy to follow, but some things need more explanation, like docking to the orbiting spaceship.|
17.11.2014 23:07 - D-Vader
I'm so glad your still working on your game.
We need more good sandbox space sims out there.
04.10.2014 07:01 - Motherbrain
I have a suggestion for the Rapier. Why not make the front circular portion out of glass instead of metal? When landing, it is difficult to see what is exactly in front because of the frontal metal portion. From an aesthetic standpoint, perhaps the Rapier would even look better with a glass cone there.
And I noticed you can go through rocks. It was a little annoying. I parked the Rapier next to a rock and wanted to jump on it to get a better view and I just sank through!
Awesome game, it has a lot of potential. :)
22.09.2014 01:39 - llehsadam
I hope today's update helps with controls somewhat.
No, there are no mailing lists to subscribe to. You are the first to ask for one. :)
I'll see what i can do. I don't have a linux machine powerful enough these days, and a blind build is unlikely to work, since i haven't checked the related code for years.
21.09.2014 04:09 - Artlav
I just downloaded the game and I found it a little hard to get used to the controls, but it was really fun, a lot like Google Earth's flight simulator but with space. I would love to see the direction this game is heading, and I can't wait for this weekend's update. That being said, is there a mailing list I can subscribe to so I can find out about upcoming updates?|
20.09.2014 17:32 - mostmodest
As a lover of them space-games (oolite, pioneer) i would enjoy to have a recent Linux(Ubuntu)-build. Is that somehow possible?? -- Finding a suitable gameline/backgroundstory for a vast galaxy shouldn't be too hard a job, considering the amount of SF-stories since the 60'... -- your project has to continue growing!!!!! thos.|
19.08.2014 03:45 - indaba42
i'm watching every day for news
try to add a random life
14.07.2014 16:15 - ariano
I've run into this for my own projects. I agree with everyone above! Keep working on it. You'll feel better to release a final product.|
29.06.2014 16:51 - Derek
Hey man, don't lose faith and hope. Please finish your game. It's not an accident that people are downloading and playing it. I just found it today and I LOVE it! If you had lost hope and taken it down before I NEVER would have found it and that would have been sad. So hang in there and finish it- after NINE YEARS, you need too! And I REALLY want to see the finished game!!|
29.06.2014 12:39 - William Roeben
This game actually looks really nice. What you should do is focus on mechanics and bring someone else in to add textures/bells & whistles, then down the road do a kickstarter to get it finished.
I *loved* Frontier/Elite and have been wanting to play a game like this again for a long time. You don't even realize how nice what all you've done actually is.
You need to stop working in isolation, that's all.
29.06.2014 08:49 - Josh
Your game is awesome!
Its being discussed on reddit: http://www.reddit.com/r/IndieGaming/comments/29bplf/this_guy_has_been_developing_a/
and I imagine it will end up on hackernews soon.
P.S., you should emphasize your catcha being about adding a number to it... I was typing in the captch over and over again not realizing what you are suppose to do.
29.06.2014 06:24 - ultimape
This is a fantastic, smooth engine. Exploring is great, but some gameplay goals would go a long way for this game. Keep it up.|
29.06.2014 03:47 - Anon
Wow... I'm high and this game is incredible. I'm putting this on my desktop to play all the time! I love it!|
29.06.2014 03:43 - Anonymous
Keep up the good work!|
29.06.2014 00:35 - Allie
Just wanted to let you know that this game is a fantastic example of what hard work and genuine creativity can do for gaming. Please don't give up hope. As many above have said, you've created a brilliant game that can only improve from here on out, and with a little promotion across reddit and other sites I can see this really gaining a following. Developers like you are what keeps this industry fresh - don't lose hope.|
28.06.2014 10:26 - EmbersToAshes
No don't give up now! You have put to much work into this and it looks amazing! Try posting on Reddit! This looks outstanding! Great work don't give up friend!|
28.06.2014 06:50 - TheSnowyeskimo
Don't give up, damn it! You need to get your game out there where people can see it. I agree with posting to reddit, that would be your best bet by far.
If it's well received then you may consider setting up a kickstarter or an indiegogo campaign. Be careful with crowd funding though.
28.06.2014 06:26 - Trentosaurus
Don't give up! Post your game to reddit.com/r/indiegaming and maybe it'll get its momentum back. You need more users.
Procedural space games are just getting popular, a lot of players want a free version like the one you offer.
You've put nine years into this game, finish it!
28.06.2014 03:24 - lleh
Nooo! Don't give up. This is very impressive for a single developer.|
28.06.2014 02:19 - Anonymous
This is great! I've been following the releases, but I've only just now had time to check it out. So much in such a small file, it's amazing. I hope development continues!|
27.11.2013 08:22 - Mordriel
Спасибо, очень интересный проект.|
03.10.2013 20:00 - Boris
Lots of things can be done.
- natural phenomena
- analysis of these phenomena/of planets/whatever
- research technologies: you have an infinite universe, but can you reach and understand it all?
- have a home planet which develops on its own and can be helped by the player
Possibilities are infinite :)
03.08.2013 23:16 - WhiteRaven
Indeed i think that would be enough to gain some momentum. ;) Also presenting the new version for testing on orbiter forums would get it some attention as well and help to iron out more bugs with more eyes to spot them. It had worked well last time.|
02.08.2013 08:10 - Anonymous
Online/MMO is not going to happen for years, if ever - that would require me to learn a whole new branch of programming.
Currently i'm working on optimizing the terrain engine, to get the system requirements down. So far it's only 10 times faster that the 120420, and still crashes occasionally. So, planet variety is a little bit lower than the top of the list. :)
Anyway, you think that if i can get it to run smoothly, have a clear interface and no crashes, then it would already be fun enough for a new release?
01.08.2013 21:41 - Artlav
Woops forgot to put this but planet variety should probably be top of the list as that is probably why people haven't played this as much. (This is an alpha can escape without gameplay for now.) They like eye candy. ;) |
01.08.2013 19:32 - Anonymous
True then maybe have some planets already colonized or be homeworlds by either human or alien just to give something to interact with when landing on certain planets.(they can give you missions if your bored) Then you cold have resource rich planets or asteroids that you could set up camp for a few game days and gather materials to sell. Also I do still love just aimlessly wandering the galaxy so these things can wait.
P.S. With the warp drive in this game this could probably be online without major consequences.
01.08.2013 19:28 - Anonymous
Colonizing and building structures is nice, but it feels either insufficient or diverting - might as well limit the game to a bunch of Spore-sized planets, and remove all the physics and flight simulation parts respectively.|
01.08.2013 11:21 - Artlav
I like the idea of colonizing and building structures on the planets even if they are lost in the vastness of the universe. Afterall Earth is a mere speck orbiting another speck orbiting an insignificant galaxy.
Also if/when alien life is added the ability to categorize and discover new species would be neat.
There are endless possibility's with what you can create with this and it doesn't need to be limited to one thing.
31.07.2013 19:42 - Anonymous
Artlav, keep working on this project, its not popular now, but there are fans. You said this project was doing very badly on the KSP forums, but you shouldn't be discouraged. There is an experimental that must be stabilized.|
21.04.2013 07:17 - Bob
This is great! But, will there ever be the ability to create colonies linked by star gates etc?
I love how there are all these planets, I'd love it more if you could do stuff with them!
20.02.2012 20:15 - Mazera
Glad to see progress still being made! Looks terrific!|
05.02.2012 19:19 - DarkEnergy
Leave a comment: