All posts tagged with "Christopher Whitman still heads the list of Suspected Wizards"

Biomes of Steampunk Colorado

Last time we talked about biomes back in February, Mr. Whitman had finished a framework for terrain generator and had implemented a few test case biomes which we have been using in-game for a while just to give us something to hack on to test the features we’re after. This small set of biomes has been the backdrop for a ton of our screenshots lately. You may have noticed a recurring theme of pine trees on a field of green grass with some lakes.

We’re going to start mixing it up in the next month or so. The system we’ve implemented runs on a concept of two or three specified biomes on a given game terrain map (the playable area in any given colony).  Some examples might be a “high prairie” (aka “Steampunk Yellowstone National Park”) biome, a tropical rainforest, a desert, or the Novyrussian taiga.  Within these biomes, we have subcategories of smaller environments that we call “mini-biomes” or “sub-biomes”.

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Not pictured: The Underdark.

For our high prairie example, these include the prairie highlands, canyons, conifer forests, aspen forests, or craggy hills. We have some heuristics for determining where these mini-biomes should go within the map.  A fairly simple random walk for determining river directions, which gives us gravel beds, canyons, and actual rivers, and Perlin-based determinations for where forests or hilly regions are placed.

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CPU and GPU Run-time Profiling in Simulation Land

[Warning: This is a very technical post.]

It’s not easy writing a complicated simulation. There are lots of complex, interconnected moving parts to worry about and when something goes wrong, it can be hard to figure out where that small, broken thing is in the midst of a larger picture. We recently discovered that the game was running… unreasonably slowly, shall we say? My desktop was getting 15 FPS, and it wasn’t clear what the problem was. On Chris Whitman’s machine, which uses a slightly different graphics card than my computer, our FPS was in single digits. I don’t like optimizing too early – as Donald Knuth pointed out famously, “premature optimization is the root of all evil” – but something was going on. Finally, sick and tired of the problems, I decided to get some answers.

There were three solutions for profiling that we looked at: Intel’s VTune, what we might call a ‘classical’ profiler which you can download a 30-day trial of from their website, and Telemetry, a different sort of profiler made by RAD Game Tools (specifically by Brian Hook, who you might know from such games as Quake 3.) RAD Game Tools also provided us with a 30-day trial of Telemetry, and this gave me an interesting opportunity to compare two profilers. Finally, we tried our luck with NVidia’s GPU Perfstudio to see if we could figure out what was happening on the graphics card.

Three profilers. One slow down. Who cracked the mystery? Find out below.

These actually have nothing to do with what Nicholas is doing but It Was Decided that the post needed some more visual accompaniment. Think of it as a tenuous thematic connection.

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