Sunday, 3 July 2016

Lightmass Swarm Farm Growing

I picked up a used Dell Optiplex 790 SFF for $140 CDN to add to my UT4 Lightmass farm today.

The machine came with an i5 2400, 4G of RAM (2x2G) and a 360G HDD. I added a another set of 2x2G RAM I had lying around to give it 8G total RAM. That's probably overkill, 1G per core or 4G in total should be plenty but since I already had the RAM anyhow, better safe than sorry.

That gives me a 3rd machine with a little over 6100  passmark performance test cpu benchmark score to add to 6300 from my i5 4690 main computer (the main machine actually scores 8400 on all 4 cores but only uses 3 cores to build lighting, so 8400 x 0.75 = 6300) and 4600 from a 3rd machine with a Phenom II B93.

That gives me very nearly 2.7 times as much multi-threaded processing power to build lighting with as with just the main machine alone (again only 6300 since it only uses 3 cores).

6300 + 6100 + +4600 = 17000
17000 / 6300 = 2.698...

IOW, my longest build time (DM-Eliminator with production lighting quality) is about 2.5 hours with just the main computer (6300 cpu benchmark score) working on it and 1.5 hours with both the main computer and the Phenom II working on it (6300 + 4600 = 10900 cpu benchmark score). With the new machine added to the farm bumping the total available processing power to 17000 cpu marks it'll take just under 1 hour (55.6 minutes according to the math) on production lighting quality.

Edit: Rebuilding Eliminator with all 3 machines came out to 57.5 minutes, within 2 minutes of what the math above predicted.

Now just imagine what oh say four OC'd 5960X machines for 80k cpu benchmarks would do to build times. =)

Saturday, 11 June 2016

DM-Nitro Progress

I've been working on DM-Nitro lately.

I did quite a bit of meshing, another lighting pass and some optimization too (cut the filesize nearly in half).

I'm mostly using stock assets in Nitro to keep things simple, clean and readable for visual clarity and performance. I'm making heavy use of skewmesh splines and merged meshes too.


Wednesday, 25 May 2016

If It Ain't Broke Don't Fix it!

Why is it practically every new build Epic has to make changes to materials and meshes that mess up all maps using them?

Here's a recent example where for some reason they just had to screw with M_Chill_StoneWall_05 in the May 24 build.

In Editor...

Though the reddish wood looks different (brighter, more saturated color) than before, the wall material looks pretty much the same as it always has. It looks good.

But load the map in game and it's a different story altogether...

It looks like complete crap... A material I've been using for months, that's looked fine, and still looks fine in the editor, looks terrible in game. Making matters worse, I tried fixing this by using another material, but it has the same problem!

Of course it's possible it's an obscure new bug rather than an actual change to the materials but still, why do they constantly keep changing and breaking things like this?

If it ain't broke, don't fix it!


I found several materials (mostly variations on 3 wall materials in the Chill assets) doing this. Affected maps include Codex, Malevolence and Gothic.

I might start using more custom (non-stock that is) materials and meshes like the ones from various UT4 tech demos simply because there aren't any problems with them changing and breaking maps every 2nd build! Yes, the pak files will be larger but at least they won't break every time someone at Epic arbitrarily decides to change things that weren't broken.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

UT4 Quote of the Week

Maybe I was a little quick declaring a UT4 forum quote of the year recently... Found another good one today!
Im gonna be alittle harsh, what good is a crosshair if you cant hit whats directly under it anyway *mic drop* 
- MonsOlympus

Monday, 16 May 2016

UT4 Performance Fix

There's a lot of complaining about performance in the latest Unreal Tournament 4 build. Much of it from players who didn't have (or didn't notice) any performance issues before. Some have big freezes lasting several seconds, others have some less severe combination of stuttering, input lag and large FPS drops.

For still others (I was one of these) the game feels like they're playing a couple seconds behind everyone else. Typically it's far more noticeable online than offline and gets progressively worse with time.

I think I know what's behind most of these performance problems. Its your sound card, or rather your lack of a sound card.

I'm guessing most of those with performance issues are, like I was until recently, using onboard audio. In other words, you don't have a soundcard. And it's probably a Realtek chip too (by far the most commonly used mb audio chips).

Myself, I have MSI H81M-E33 motherboard with Realtek ALC887 audio. I've been having UT4 performance issues all along (going on 1.5 years with this mb) until a couple weeks ago (before the latest game build). I got a Kingston HyperX Cloud II headset a few months ago, which has it's own built in 7.1 sound, but I didn't turn off the onboard audio until recently.

The game never played very well for me online. In fact it was pretty much unplayable with anything much over 40 ms ping. Even with 40 or less ping, it wasn't great, but it wasn't too bad either... At least for a little while, but the longer my play session lasted, the worse it got. And it kept getting worse with each new build too. The last couple builds it was rarely playable for an entire 10 minute match.

Then, a couple weeks ago I turned off the onboard audio in the bios, started a local (offline) match and immediately noticed a big difference. The game felt much smoother and more responsive. I added a few bots, the bots were way slower to react than ever before, much easier to kill them and much easier to avoid their fire.

After a couple minutes I realized I could see rockets coming... I could react after they were fired and consistently dodge them... Even at quite close range...  Unbelievable!

So I went online with similar results. That was a couple weeks ago, since then playing online has been far more enjoyable. It's not perfect, but there's a whole lot less warping, hit registration is more reliable and though rockets are still difficult to dodge online (I blame the netcode, prediction and time rewind on that), I can play ok with higher ping too. 70 ping isn't bad now and even 90-100 is mostly playable as long as the other guys aren't all pretty good.

So for all of you having performance issues, especially those with Realtek audio chips, try turning off onboard audio in your motherboard bios and see if that helps. I bet in most cases it either solves the performance problems or at least makes a very noticeable improvement.

Whether it's the sound chips and/or drivers from a specific vendor (Realtek) or from multiple vendors and whether it's a problem with the actual chips/drivers or just a problem with how Epic uses them, I can't say for sure. But it sure seems like onboard audio has an awful lot to do with performance issues in UT4.

I would post this on the official UT4 forums... Except I can't.

Sunday, 15 May 2016

UT4 Quote of the Year

One of the best comments I've ever seen on the Unreal Tournament 4 forums and certainly the best in a year or more..
Please reduce rocket speed and damage.
Everyone just spamming with rox. Or remove the other weapons-.- it make no sense to have other weapons if everyone just spamming with rocket launcher. 
- c0x 

Thursday, 12 May 2016

DM-Phobos for Unreal Tournament 4

DM-Phobos - version Alpha 1 (A1) released 12 May 2016

This map is based upon the original DM-Phobos for Unreal Tournament. The UT99 version that is, not the 2kx version, which is very different from the original.

It's scaled up 2.5 times larger, with UT4 materials and a CTF-Face style "skybox" (the only space sky assets in game right now).

There are (so far) no custom assets and very few meshes so the download is very small, roughly 9M.

The original map had no pulse gun (aka link gun) though there were 2 ammo packs for it and did have 2 rippers with 4 ammo packs for them. I've reversed that in this version. The rippers and their ammo packs have been replaced with link guns and ammo for them while the link ammo packs have been replaced with ripper ammo packs (there is no ripper weapon).

Besides that item placement is the same as in the original map.

There is no secret door in front of the alcove with invis and jumpboots (one of two jumpboots on the map). That's temporary until I make a proper door for it.

- Added UTGenericObjectivePoints for Showdown.
- Added blocking volumes to smooth out the stairs. All but the curved stairs which are a real pain to do, that can wait until it's meshed.
- Added killzone beneath the station.
- Did an initial lighting pass.

Bots are supported. The navmesh was working fine yesterday but it looks really funky in the new version of the editor, I hope they didn't break it!

The latest versions of all my maps can be found here:

I'm in the process of updating all the maps for the latest game build. 4 are already up now and working on getting the rest built and pak'd.

Feedback is always welcome!