The Haus

Wednesday, November 17, 1999

Q3DemoTest for Mac Soon!

Graeme Devine updated his .plan with this good news for Macintosh gamers:
Okay, the Macintosh Test build is going up real soon now. It's all built and working well. I'm really happy with the way we're working on the Mac. I've been building the new id servers on a G3 using Java and it's been a real nice change from the PC.

You'll need the newest version of OpenGL for the Macintosh, which came out today. It's available at Go download that while we're coordinating on getting the Mac build out there through Sandpiper.

BTW. There's been over 1 million downloads of the Win32 build!!!
A million downloads?!? Wow. Looks like Q3A is shaping up to be a HUGE seller (as if we didn't know that already).

New GLSetup

Yes, kids, there's even a newer version of GLSetup out, the handy-dandy utility to update your system with the latest OpenGL drivers for your video card. Thanks sCary.

IE 5.01 released

Microsoft has released a new version 5.01 of Internet Explorer. Supposedly this version fixes a lot of bugs and stuff. My bet? Lots of new security holes. Microsoft actually breeds security flaws.

Bots on Q3ADT Servers

Several people are complaining that Q3DemoTest administrators are running a number of bots in Nightmare mode all the time on their servers. I can understand why you'd want to play online with bots (The Master, Eeyore, and I did all the time on the QW Requiem mod), but why they'd want to have bots that powerful on 24/7 is beyond me. Of course, if they want no one to join the server, that's a good way to go about it.


Okay, there was a time I would have had no problem with the sexually explicitly advertising methods of UGO's ad banner subscribers, but now that I have a child, I AM PO'D! I understand sex sells. But do we really need to do this kind of crud? If your product doesn't sell itself, get it the heck out of my face. Geez. . .

Mozilla M11 Released

Mozilla.Org, Netscape's open-source web browser site, has released Milestone 11 for Win32, Linux, and Mac. Make sure to read the M11 release notes before downloading.

Note: this is pre-alpha software with a number of known bugs and incomplete features. It is NOT Communicator 5.0, or even a beta of the same. A beta of Communicator 5.0, based on Mozilla, is scheduled to be released in early 2000. I'm downloading M11 to see how well the new layout engine, codenamed Gecko, is progressing.

Thanks Slashdot for the news.

Intel 820 Still Messed Up

Ars Technica pointed me to an interesting article on EBN News. Even though Intel formally announced its 820 chipset (Camino) at Comdex, this article claims that the signal integrity problems that caused errors with three Rambus RIMM modules are still there. Basically, Intel decided not to fix the problem, just to release the chipset and change the specifications to use no more than two RIMMs. Would you be willing to trust your company to such a solution?

The Master comments: Are you REALLY surprised Intel would do this? They did this with a MAJOR crash issue in the GX (Pentium II Zeon) chipset as well.

VE and CliffyB

VoodooExtreme has posted an interview with Epic's CliffyB with his thoughts now that Unreal Tourney is shipping. Included is his favorite things about UT, things he wished he could have put in UT, and his favorite brand of vacuum cleaner. Don't ask.

UT AI Info

Epic's Steve Polge has posted a document mainly for level designers and programmers. He goes into detail on how to design levels or mods so that bots can efficiently navigate them. He also discusses the differences between the AI levels and gives some helpful console commands for debugging the level. Some of the console commands might have other uses too (hint, hint).

Thanks Blue for the link.

More Q3A Renders

Redwood has posted more renders of the various characters in Quake 3 Arena. In this installment, they present Angel (who is anything but), Mynx (another model brought to you by N.O.W.), and Biker (the only model with a quarter slot). As always, links to all of the renders can be found here.

John Carmack .plan update

John Carmack (da MAN) updated his .plan in the bloody wee hours, with more news on the demo.

First, he talks about the flood protection (whooo!) in the Q3ADT servers:
The demo servers have general purpose flood-protection that hascaused some confusion.

Clients are only allowed to make one command a second of any kind.

This prevents excessive flooding by chats, model / name changes, and any other command that could possibly be exploited. The command streams are stalled, so it doesn't have any effect on processing order or reliability.

This means that if you issue two commands immediately after one another, there will be a one second stall before the second command and all movement clears. You see this on the lagometer as yellow spiking up for a second, then dropping away.

Hitting tab for the scoreboard sends a command, so you trigger the flood protection if you bang tab a couple times. This has been fixed so that the scoreboard will never send more than one update request every two seconds, but you will need to watch out for it in the existing demo.
He also explains the deferred model loading system in Q3ADT, which IMHO is a very good way to deal with rapid joins/leaves of players who are attempting to lag out/crash the server.
The defered model loading has also caused some confusion, but that is a feature, not a bug. :-)

In previous tests, you hitched for a second or two whenever a client with a new model or skin joined a game.

In the demo, when a client joins the game they will be given the model and skin of someone else temporarily, so there is no hitch. The only time it will hitch on entry is if it is a team game and there isn't anyone on the team they join. I make sure the skin color is correct, even if the model isn't.

These "defered" clients will be loaded when you bring up the scoreboard. You can do this directly by hitting tab, or you can have it happen for you when you die.

The point is: you died BEFORE it hitched, not as a result of the hitch.

The scoreboard header is up, but it is still a bit easy to miss.
Then he adds an update to his worklog:

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!

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