Game Design, Programming and running a one-man games business…

GSB2 Multithreading a single frame (so far)

Here is a big battle on GSB2 running at 1920 1200 res, on a GTX 670, quad core windows 7 PC. This was taken using the visual C++ concurrency visualizer. 3732 is the main game thread. Green is busy, red is idle, light blue is sleeping (end of frame, waiting for flip). Click to enlarge.


1284 seems to be the thread where directx or the nvidia driver does it’s stuff (not sure which).

7596 2692 and 2788 are my additional threads of GSB2 doing processing. Each of those colored bubbles represents one or more tasks that a thread has grabbed and is working through. The big red stretches are obviously gaps I could potentially fill as I find ways to break apart dependencies of tasks and push more of the main thread into the other cores. It’s obviously already been worthwhile, as I reckon I’m currently doubling the framerate (just about) thanks to multithreading. Almost all the grey blobs are transformation of particles within particle emitters, packed into arrays. These are too numerous and cause too much thread-scheduling right now so I might make those arrays bigger, or even dynamic sized.


Detached retina problem

So it seems I am getting some negative reviews of Democracy 3 on the ipad because it doesn’t scale up the text for retina displays.

Firstly… hats off to apple for getting people to bandy about their ‘retina’ buzzword for high pixel density. Secondly… I always hated the idea of higher pixel density for the ipad. I have an ipad2, it looks VERY GOOD to me. I really can’t see how doubling the resolution would be worth doing, apart from the fact that it quadruples the amount of work the already fairly poor GPU has to do… but then what would I know?

So in an effort to improve feedback from app store review writing types, we are doing a patch for the game that effectively doubles the resolution of the text in the game.

Hopefully we might actually get some reviews then from people who like the game (over 1,000 copies sold in 72 hours so someone likes it), rather than the usual 1 star reviews, including one from someone who complains the game isn’t in Spanish? Well tough! it’s not in Farsi or Japanese either! do you review every non-Spanish game with 1 star FFS? If you bought the game and would rate it well, please take the trivial time to rate it on the app store, it takes less time than it diud to read this blog post and I do really appreciate it!

The only problem other than the complaints about retina are that the itunes sales figures update periodically, randomly, and I have no idea if sales today are good or bad, which makes planning marketing hard. BMT micro tell me INSTANTLY whenever I sell a copy. maybe if apple one day have BMTMicro’s money they will have as good a reporting system. We can only hope and pray!

I probably shouldn’t slag apple off, as I’d love them to feature the game, but fuck it, I’m indie, I can say what I like :D. I’ve been back in the UK too long, my old moaning and cynicism is returning. Must go back to the USA…


Democracy 3 is now on something called an ‘ipad’, whatever that is :D

Yay! At long last, you can now control an ENTIRE COUNTRY through your finger tips, whilst idly sitting on a sun lounger on the beach! (glare-permitting of course). That’s because the worlds favorite neural-network powered turn based strategy game about politics is now available on the ipad! Check out this incredibly exciting screenshot of the store:


Here is a list of the locations you can buy the ipad version of the game:

1) The apple app store:

That’s it.

I have to admit, I am rather pleased with the way the game translates to a small tablet, it works pretty well. It doesn’t have a sprawling GUI like the PC version does on bigger monitors, but I think that is made up for by the convenience of touch controls and the ‘take-it-anywhere’ nature of the ipad. I hope it will do well. Annoyingly apples sales reports seem to lag by two days so I have no idea if anyone bought it yet.

I’ve priced it at a BARGAIN price of $9.99. This is cheaper than on PC, but then its fixed resolution, no mod support etc, so I suspect it’s reasonable. I really don’t care about anyone on the app store complaining about the price. You can basically fuck off and die in a fire if you think the game is overpriced. That’s the official developer & publisher position BTW. People who think $10 is overpriced for a game should go play angry birds of flappy birds, or similar fare and stop whining :D.

I hope it does well, partly because I like money, but mostly because ever since I bought an ipad, it’s sat and gathered dust, with far too few decent involved strategy games for the platform. If D3 does well, I’ll tell everyone so they can see it as a viable platform for more ‘serious’ strategy gaming. That would be a *good thing*.

Please help me spread the word. I am totally new to iOS gaming, so if you run a HUGE website dedicated to iOS games and haven’t got a review copy, email me at cliff AT positech dot co dot uk.


GSB module design principles, a crowdsourcing experiment

A lot of GSB players are very hardcore. they have strong opinions on the cost/range ratios of beam lasers, and why wouldn’t they? this stuff seriously affects gameplay. This is why I’ve been asking their opinions on all manner of topics as I design the modules for Gratuitous Space Battles 2. I started a discussion on the old GSB forums here:

But in addition I thought I’d throw up the actual design doc for the modules here:

So anyone can read it, and add comments ()but can’t edit the actual doc). Hopefully this draws in some really creative ideas and shoots down any stupid decisions I try to make. I’m also working on the spreadsheet of actual raw module data, which is the way I’ll be working (as opposed to the individual ini files of GSB 1), as this allows a much simpler way to balance costs and power requirements of modules, maybe involving actual equations to ensure stuff is balanced (yikes!).

GSB 1 had a LOT of modules when you take into account extra content from expansion packs. I’m hoping to make all of that content included in the base game for GSB2, without any DLC required, so all the old faves like the decoy projector and the smart bomb will be in there. There are also some wacky new ideas, Combat tractor beams (like the cultures ‘effectors’), remote propulsion projection, fuel tanks for fighters, and so on. This kind of spreadsheet-work makes a change from my recent few days of crunching away on optimizing the asteroid rendering for the engine. I’ve got it faster now, but not as fast as I’d like, and the multi-threading is a *bit* better, but still not making that much use of extra cores yet…