XMen 3: The Last Milking

I didn't realize I hadn't blogged this… Bruce, Granik, Ramp and I went to see X-Men 3 on Sunday. Ordinarily Bruce is the one to naysay our movies, so on the way out of the theatre I had to step up and be the first to say "That movie sucked".

It sucked so badly that stuff that didn't ought to matter did: For instance, if you're going to give Halle Berry a long, flowing cape, don't waste a single scene of your movie showing it off to me – at least not from behind.

The timing throughout the film is awful, and the mixture of character interest/dis-interest means that the scenes that do try to build character investment are just … *yawn*.

I went into the movie thinking "I hope they don't try to bring Jean back, because doing that in this movie would make it really cheesy and they'll waste a bunch of time trying to bring her back apologetically".

I win.

It's been my experience that you can't judge a book by its cover, or a director by his portfolio, unless he is making more-of-the-same. Even if he makes movies that are all up to par, your own varying perspective on the different genres/subject-material will alter your opinion of the work.

X-Men 3 tries to be a bit of a marvel roll-call, and does a piss-poor job of it. And it was crap enough I can't even bother to begin thinking how it could have been more tolerable. I wish I'd been to the "Movie Tavern" to watch it and gotten tanked up during the adverts. Maybe then I wouldn't have been dissapointed so much by the fact that nearly every one of Storm's outfits were un-figure-flattering.

SSE2 – or the death of your machine.

UPDATE: Battleground Europe now ships with an SSE2 executable – the versions mentioned/linked here are no-longer available.

So you want to try my experimental SSE2 version (that I mentioned here) do you? 

According to the SSE2 wiki entry:

CPUs supporting SSE2

Notable CPUs not supporting SSE2

  • Anything from Motorola , Via, or any other CPU manufacturer not listed above

The following cpu’s do not support SSE2.

 If you want to try the new executable… Update: Tough – there is no 1.23.5 version of the SSE2 executable.

Small achievements can feel so good

Over the weekend I built a specially optimized version of the client (with SSE2 instructions enabled, incase you're curious). It's good for version 1.23.4 only. Offline around Antwerp in a Daimler it bumps me from 70fps to 130-140fps. Online it's not quite so dramatic but still noticeable. We're contemplating a dual-build so that players with SSE2 capable machines can take advantage of these extra instruction sets.

Why not just plain old SSE to hit more CPUs? Well, it would certainly give some performance boost, but SSE2 makes some actual use of those extra 64 bits lying around on the 64bit CPUs so the improvement really justifies the overhead. I'm not sure whether plain SSE does without some coding specifically for it.

I got a bunch of tasks done today that were supposed to have been done last week but have been stopped by CTHL work. None of which I'm going to detail because they'd probably make anyone stuck with CTHLs cry – but there wasn't anything I could do today CTHL related (other than continuing to try to get more data, which naturally I did). We're still working on those outstanding CTHLs but its a matter of trying to find commonalities. Nothing obvious or evident is causing it. And nothing I could work on solidly today.

Final game animation

During the "Player Videos" section of the con, someone showed a couple of those "WWII Trench Video"s, and then someone had to show this video ("The Emperor gets a phone call") – its not a WWII video, its just the funniest Starwars related video I've ever seen.

Anyway, I just generated my final player activity animation for now, covering May 24-28th inclusive. I'm not going to be spending much more time trying to make this data set useful or appealing, its done its actual job, and I'm just not very good at this kind of image manipulation/etc without putting my mind to it fully and a significant amount of time.

The animation/data starts to get rather large at this resolution/timespan, but reducing the minutes per frame starts to make it a bit too "blah". I may look at some other uses for this data, or we may make some version of it generally available for players to generate their own data from.

There is a README in the zip file explaining things in a little more detail :)

Download it here.

End of con update

Couple of people asked if there were any pics. Yes there are. But I'm incredibly un-photogenic. I was successful in largely avoiding photography. But you can find one of me here – I'm the guy at the bar facing the camera, in the shadow, wearing a black t-shirt that says "WTF?" in the middle of the picture. (The one you probably can't see :) Or there's this one of my back at the end of my presentation (mine is the back on the right side of the image, the other is Rafter's)! I'd rather have pics of Blangett (so photogenic she doesn't even go out of focus) than myself any day, and I think I largely succeeded ;)

Oh – here's a fascinating one of Doc's night-time event.

Toto has a good post-con post.

End of con post?

You gotta be kidding, I slept until 3.30pm, and even then I only nominally woke up in the sense that I got out of bed, puttered around the house and wrote this. I think I actually still count as sleeping – and my head still feels like angry cotton wool. Well, I'll try…

2k6 Battleground Europe Convention

Long day today, and aside from Rafter we didn't get today or yesterday off, infact today was pretty busy.  I can only guess my bosses wanted the tour to show an office full of very busy people.  I wish I'd had more time to answer questions. Most frustrating is that I really needed to spend at least an hour – probably four – with Bable giving him chance to go over some of the obstacles my tools provide to his doing his job efficiently and smoothly. Agh. And I never did upgrade the training server – which was on my list. I've just done that now.

Tonight had a couple of good presentations. Rafter's was pretty interesting especially for its uniqueness – Playnet is nothing if not secretive about its business, and Rafter lifted the skirts on some of our production and publishing issues.

I'd touched on a number of issues last night expecting a long QA afterwards, so I kept my presentation short. Gophur actually ran his long and re-covered those topics in great detail. His presentation had great slides if you see them on-screen. I hope he posts his slides – the backgrounds are all actual photographs of whiteboards from around the office. Naval players will have conniptions.

He also revealed plans for new lighting in-game to create atmosphere, and yet-another infantry redo in the makes using much, much higher poly models with screenshots of some sweet looking rifles, and a list of vehicle additions that are back in the 1.24 pipeline.

After that we had a QA session with some interesting questions. Someone asked why the grenades had changed – Granik revealed that he'd tried to get the grenades to work the way everyone expects, firing from your centerline, so that the windowsil-of-death would come to an end, but that they'd had to roll the code out and try and fit the new grenade/models to the old method instead.

There were some questions about the UI – why can't we select brigades from the map, eg, which Gophur answered (we want to make it so you can), someone asked when we'd have the Ju88 and Doc said when we can get around to not just it but companion vehicles. I'm getting sleepy now so I don't remember all of the great questions. I answered Slam/17th AACs (correct me, I'm real tired) question about strategic bombing targets, and I expanded on it with him afterwards, that we want to introduce some as STOs – whether they be radar stations, fuel dumps, player based spawnables, etc: but we want to add objects for these so that they are connected to gameplay but they are not simply attracting increased numbers of bombers to the ground pounder fights. Gophur had already mentioned possible STO naval convoys as a naval/air target, but raised the issue of what to give the land-locked Axis. Doc and I thought MOF (Mobile Oktober Fest) was the answer.

Someone asked about dynamic missions – something Gophur had touched on in his presentation – asking how hard to make it so you can change mission target. Right now, nearly impossible, the coding involved is just too complex, the systems too fragile and delicate, until I can finally break the map/mission host out of its shell and drop the code, instead, to the chat host. The reasons are fairly complex and I'm too tired to cover them again here.

Then Doc ran some kind of Axis vs Allied operation in the live theatre, and we all watched on the buzzard cam. His timing was impeccable, with the first 30 minutes being at night and the conbox having a very low gamma setting so we all watched a black screen for 20 minutes.

Once daylight came up tho it was fascinating to watch – the players who come to the con salivate over the buzzard view – people don't believe us when we say its a totally different picture, and totally different than you imagine, until they see it for themselves. And there was some awesome in-con action – fluth being hunted down by his own brother, a 190 vs a 520, with the two of them sitting next to the con box, and with Doc following on their tails – tripple perspective for those of us standing nearby. And mingbat flying a wounded 520 with 6 lufties chasing him, and managing to take 3 of them down with him – shame we don't award maneuver kills ;)

Maybe tomorrow I'll remember to take some pictures.

There's a bunch of people I wanted to say Hi and Thank you to, but I suck at names.

I need to call it a night. I have to be back at the con tomorrow, and I have to get right back to CTHL/related stuff Sunday and Monday. So I need my beauty sleep.

To those at the con: Salute!

To those who didn't come: /wtf!

Worst thing about the convention so far: I don't have a computer at the con so I only get to *watch* people playing the game. Man I was itching to play tonight. But having chance to answer a few questions kinda makes up for it.

Player activity animation

Kinda cool – with two days worth of data its strange how similar the activity looks, obviously nobody is rolling anybody…

slow.overview.gif(this is static overview of the 2 days).

If you want to see the animations and maybe the source data…

At the con…

The BE convention is in progress. Somehow I managed to land a speaker role again. It has to be a cruel streak in Rafter, making the quiet English guy with the most boring job in the company the first speaker people have to put up with when they're tired and hungry after arriving. Sorry to those of you who delayed your dining to hear me waffle.

For those twisted individuals who were spared it and want to know what I said… I was expecting more of a QA session, so I skipped through a bunch of things meaning to fire off some ideas, but all I did was put folks to sleep ;)

I'd had some ideas for what I wanted to do but my plans were foiled by 1.23 somewhat, so I entitled my talk "Connection To Beer Lost"…

I did, however, get to reveal….

Oh yeah, its that time…

[osmith@kfsone host]$ make -ks clean
[osmith@kfsone host]$ ./release-config
PUBLIC_RELEASE configuration [-Wall -Werror -march=pentium4 -mmmx -msse -msse2 -mfpmath=sse -funit-at-a-time -ftracer -funroll-loops -funswitch-loops -frename-registers -pthread -O3 -g0]
[osmith@kfsone host]$ make -ks -j8
creating libwwi.a
creating libauth.la
creating libteaulauth.la
creating libteulserver.la
creating libteultransport.la
creating authHost
creating dbse
creating chatd
creating mmhost
creating stratd
creating hostd
[osmith@kfsone host]$ build-patch ship=live LIVE-1.23.4
creating distribution …
copying distribution to live (66.28.224.141)

No eta on the client but I've got most of my part out of the way, I can carry on with what I'm supposed to be working on…