The Haus

Tuesday, November 16, 1999

More Stupid Patent Office Tricks

I saw this on Slashdot. It's so great, I'm going to quote the whole thing:
"Apparently CDNow has patented the ability to create a custom CD over the Web." Insert appropriate sarcastic comment here. And I've actually patented respiration, so if everyone could send me a small royalty fee whenever they breathe, that'd be great.
The Master comments: And I've got a patent on circulation, so I guess you all need to send me everything ya got. It's mine now.

Finger Fixed!

The Master whipped out his magic bag o' coding tricks and got the finger tracker and the news site tracker working again! Oh frabjous day!

Break the Server!

id's Graeme Devine updated his .plan with a request for all the Q3DemoTest players:
We've got a debug server up on, if people could connect to it and bash on it that would be great.
You heard the man, bash away!

Pondering the Imponderable

Enough of this news business for a while--I've got to play some Q3DemoTest!

More Voodoo5 News

I'm hearing various reports from Comdex that 3dfx's Voodoo5 5000 and 5500 cards will have connectors to your system's power supply. The Voodoo5 6000 will have a 100 watt external adapter to provide enough juice. no one yet has addressed how they will keep your computer from bursting into flames though. That much power consumption is going to require massive cooling.

The Master comments: Well-we'll know who has Voodoo4/5's on their machines. The cooling towers are going to be hard to miss :-)

Also of note is that the Voodoo4/5 will use SDRAM instead of the more expensive DDRAM. It will be interesting to see what tricks they used to avoid the inevitable bottlenecks over the AGP and especially the PCI busses.

I also would like to see their motion blur stuff in real-time. The screenshots of it make it look like it's something I would not want to use. The full-scene anti-aliasing looks very cool. The only problem with it is that it will be VERY fill-rate intensive. Most first-person shooter fans won't want to give up precious fps to use it.

New Ask Hook

VoodooExtreme has put up a new issue of Ask (Brian) Hook, formerly of id, currently of Verant. This issue deals with why more games don't have more client-side simulation. Can't the server just use a CRC check to make sure the client is legit? Just as an aside, too much client-side simulation is what caused the online downfall of Shogo.

3dfx: Market Suicide?

Ga'ash Soffer at Voodoo Extreme has posted an article called "3dfx Demise?". The article discusses the recent announcment of the Voodoo 4/5 and how the spec sheets make clear what we've known for a little while already, 3dfx is no longer the market-leader and innovator that it once was. I must admit that I agree with him 100%.

Along these same lines, EuroGamer put up an article called "3dfx: On the Ropes?" which echoes many of the same sentiments. They question the reason for the Voodoo4 4500 existing, since it will basically be a Voodoo3 3500 with 32 bit color and support for larger textures. Hooray! By next March, 3dfx will have caught up with the TNT2 Ultra!

As the first article mentions, it seems that 3dfx stockholders aren't thrilled either, since their stock dropped 5% on the day new product was announced. Ouch.

Q3DemoTest Console Info

I.Am/Q3A has posted an updated console command list as well as some tips on using the console. Well worth a read. Thanks, um, everybody for the links.

Xian on Q3DemoTest Authorization

Christian "Disruptor" Antkow, a level designer at id, updated his .plan last night with the good news that all the Q3DemoTest authorization issues with the master server have been cleared up. I thought that was the case late last night when I saw about a million people playing online :)

GreenMarine .plan

Brandon "GreenMarine" Reinhart updated his .plan with his thoughts on the sense of accomplishment now that Unreal Tournament has gone gold.

Carmack on Q3DemoTest Issues

He who is to be ph34r3d (sorry), John Carmack, updated his .plan to address a number of issues with the new Q3DemoTest. Here's his take on complaints that the vertex lighting is considerably slower in Q3DemoTest as opposed to Q3Test 1.08:
The way vertex lighting is working in the existing demos is that only two pass shaders (lightmap * texture) were collapsed to a single pass, all other shaders stayed the same.

Xian added some chrome and energy effects to parts of q3tourney2, which changed them from two pass to three pass shaders. We felt that that 50% increase on those polygons was justified in normal play, but as people have pointed out, when you are playing with vertex lighting, that three passes stays three passes instead of collapsing to a single pass, resulting in a 300% increase on those polygons over the way it was before. Still faster than lightmap mode, but a large variance over other parts of the level.

Today I wrote new code to address that, and improve on top of it. Now when r_vertexlight is on, I force every single shader to a single pass. In the cases where it isn't a simple light*texture case, I try and intelligently pick the most representative pass and do some fixups on the shader modulations.

This works our great, and brings the graphics load down to the minimum we can do with the data sets.
He also comments on slight slow-downs due to the super-sweet (IMHO) dynamic-compilation instead of dlls (which makes mods, etc., cross-platform):
Performance is still going to be down a couple msec a frame due to using dynamic compilation instead of dll's for the cgame, but that is an intentional tradeoff. You can obviously slow things down by running a lot of bots, but that is to be expected.

I am still investigating the high idle dedicated server cpu utilization and a few other issues. The server cpu time will definitely be higher than 1.08 due to the dynamic compiler, but again, that is an intentional tradeoff.
Next he gives some tips for people with a need for (fps) speed, at the expense of graphical beauty. Apply all these settings and Q3DemoTest will fly, but look hella lame:
A set of go-fast-and-look-ugly options:
r_mode 2
r_colorbits 16
r_vertexlighting 1
r_subdivisions 999
r_lodbias 2
cg_gibs 0
cg_draw3dicons 0
cg_brassTime 0
cg_marks 0
cg_shadows 0
cg_simpleitems 1
cg_drawAttacker 0
Finally, he gives us his latest worklog:And The Master thought I was long-winded yesterday!

Monday, November 15, 1999

Vampire: The Masquerade article

Check out this mega-interesting "Designer Log" article for Vampire, on The Vault. Interesting read.

Q3DemoTest First Impressions

I've heard a number of people complaining about a major speed slow-down in Q3DemoTest from Q3Test 1.08. After changing to my Q3Test settings (high quality settings, 640x480, cg_gibs 0, no dynamic lights, plus going to "high" audio quality) my fps dropped less than two fps from 1.08 (DemoTest: 42.4 fps, Q3Test 1.08: 44.0). It's hard to tell exactly because it's not the same demo (DemoTest: demo001, Q3Test: q3demo1) but I don't notice the huge changes that some were griping about.

The bots are pretty slick, you have to keep your head up even on the easier difficulty settings. I like how each bot has different weapons preferences, attack/retreat tendencies, etc. I do agree that their comments are a bit repetitive though (and they don't like people with spaces or initials in their names--kept calling me athun instead of A.T. Hun). I think a bunch more research is in order :)

Just a note: cg_gibs 0 cuts down on the gore but gives a significant speed increase, especially in the heat of battle when every fps counts. Try it, you'll like it.

The Master comments: Okay, A.T. got all long-winded on us here. Q3ATD frippin ROCKS. Period. Okay, maybe amplify that rocks to 747-takeoff-volumes.

Unreal Tournament Gold

According to Blues News, Unreal Tournament has gone gold. They're saying store dates of Friday, which is just incredible. Good Job Epic :-)

A.T. adds: Excellent! After two really boring days in a row, a really exciting day on the gaming scene!

Voodoo4/5 Announcement

3dfx Europe issued this press release (Update: This link no longer works. To view the press release now, click here.) regarding their forthcoming Voodoo4/5 cards based on their new VSA-100 chip. Basically the cards will have from one to 32 (!) VSA-100s per card. Here's the product run-down, edited down from the press release.
The Voodoo4 4500 will be available in both PCI and AGP versions, and will feature a single VSA-100 processor and 32 MB of graphics memory. The boards, which render two fully featured pixels per clock, will deliver between 333 and 367 megatexels/megapixels per second fill rates and are expected to be priced at $179.99*.

The Voodoo5 5000 PCI will have dual VSA-100 processors and 32 MB of total graphics memory. The Voodoo5 5000 PCI board, rendering four fully featured pixels per clock, will deliver between 667 and 733 megatexels/megapixels per second fill rates and is expected to be priced at $229.99*.

The Voodoo5 5500 AGP will feature dual VSA-100 processors and 64 MB of total graphics memory. 64 MB of memory allows for higher resolutions and pixel depths with full-scene anti-aliasing and T-Buffer effects enabled, along with more memory available for texture storage. The board, which renders four fully featured pixels per clock, will deliver between 667 and 733 megatexels/megapixels per second fill rate and is expected to be priced at $299.99*.

The flagship product of the VSA-100 architecture, the Voodoo5 6000 AGP, will feature quad VSA-100 processors and 128 MB of graphics memory. It will be the first consumer graphics product to break the one billion pixel per second fill rate barrier. The Voodoo5 6000 AGP, which renders eight fully featured pixels per clock, will deliver between 1.33 and 1.47 gigatexels/gigapixels per second fill rate. It is expected to be priced at $599.99*.
Note: the Voodoo4 will NOT have any of the T-Buffer technology (full-scene anti-aliasing, etc.). In order to get the gigapixel fill-rate they were talking about, you'll have to drop $600 NEXT MARCH! What's up with that?

Looks like these will be nice boards and probably faster than what we have now, but they aren't going to be enough to get 3dfx to leapfrog NVIDIA, IMO.

Q3DemoTest Bot Commands

While you're downloading the demo, head on over to the Shugashack and check out the list of Q3DemoTest bot commands. It looks as if the bots have quite the vocabulary and pretty high intelligence. Looks like people who fancy themselves as team leaders will have to do a lot of binds to get all those commands pre-programmed. sCary doesn't say if there is a bot command menu a la Unreal Tournament.

New GLSetup

To celebrate the release of the Q3DemoTest, a new version of GLSetup has been released. What is GLSetup? It's a handy utility that automagically updates your 3D card's OpenGL drivers to the latest version. No more scouring the web for the latest drivers!

Q3DemoTest Issues

Christian Antkow updated his .plan with the following list of bugs found in the DemoTest. Here's the scoop:
Ok, known issues so far;Zzzz.....

Quake 3 DemoTest is Out!

Check the Quake 3 Arena DemoTest page with more information and the "official" mirror. Blue also has a list of mirrors here, not to mention the mirrors that are FilePlanet.

Q3A Model Shots at Stomped

Redwood has posted three more shots of some new models in Quake III Arena: Daemia (same model as Major, different skin), Grunt (Quake II Marine), and Stripe (Quake II Marine, different skin). Check them out!

It's stupid late. I'm going to bed.

Pondering the Imponderable

OK, it's Monday morning now and I'm staying up late to try to snag a copy of a not-quite-official demo. Seems to me I need a life. At least I've got my tape of Godzilla vs. Mothra (the newer version) to watch. :)

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