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Author Topic: [NEWS] Important D2X-XL update  (Read 3674 times)

Offline karx-elf-erx

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[NEWS] Important D2X-XL update
« on: February 24, 2012, 03:32:18 PM »
(I have published an important D2X-XL update, so I thought I'd share the corresponding post on my forum here, too.)

Recently I have had e-mail contact with Grant Hallman, one of the level authors from the G.E.L.D. team (Grant Hallman, Lars Christensen and Robert Pedersen) who had built a bunch of top notch single player missions back in the day, which has inspired me to play a bit Descent and explore their levels again. The one I am fondest of playing is Minotaur, which mostly consists of a just perfectly executed, huge three story labyrinth.

Well, I am always the one to find the most D2X-XL bugs, so it seems ... :P ... and it proved true again here. There was stuff like
  • Areas behind walls that got removed during playing the level staying pitch black despite light sources being nearby
  • Environmental sounds (e.g. water) being extremely loud
  • Spawn markers being duplicated instead of relocated
  • The guidebot not properly staying away
  • The player ship changing its type back when being killed by robots after having changed it
Since there had been complaints about sound being too loud, I was glad I finally had a test case where this was reproducible. What confused me quite a bit during my tests was that the debug version of the program only ran the level at 4 fps or so. Unoptimized debug code or not: Given my hardware that was just too slow. When I looked into it I found a small design flaw in the sound processing's path finding I had made. I even remembered why I had coded it that way (both the obvious and the subtle reason causing it - I had just been too tired when implementing it). Changing two lines of code immediately raised the performance to over 80 fps.

Fixing the other issues listed above was of course desirable, but not crucial. Fixing the path finding certainly was, and particularly players with slower machines should feel the impact quite a bit, and maybe finally find D2X-XL to be playable on their machines, too (hint, hint, Wolfie! ;)). Another side effect was that sound handling and distance dependent decay now seems to work properly. The only backdraw is that some fixes also affect visibility and lightmap calculation, so all related data needs to and will be recomputed by D2X-XL. I will start to update the precomputed light, mesh and lightmap data hosted on my website soon though.

Something I also took care of was sound building up extremely if there were several sound sources in a segment (e.g. flowing water on four of its sides). D2X-XL will now scale the volume of the individual sound sources down to decrease the total volume to an acceptable value.

In the course of my tests I even created a new cheat marking a path from the current player position to some other segment in the level, which I aptly and in honor of the fabulous maze mission "Minotaur" I had mentioned above labelled "minotaur"; so if you type in "minotaur", a dialog asking you for the destination segment will pop up. On closing it, a path of energy boosts (which cannot be picked up and will disappear after a while) will lead you there.

The rather limited range of the Guidebot of 200 segments from its current position has also been extended to 1000 segments, meaning that you have better chances to have it find stuff for you in huge mines like Anthology. ;)

So I hope that many users will find this upgrade particularly useful and enjoyable this time. Have fun. :)
« Last Edit: February 25, 2012, 02:43:15 AM by karx-elf-erx »

Offline akula65

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Re: [NEWS] Important D2X-XL update
« Reply #1 on: February 24, 2012, 07:12:30 PM »
And if you are curious about G.E.L.D. levels, check out Lars Christensen's site in the Wayback Machine ( http://www.archive.org/ ):

http://hjem.get2net.dk/dittehus/lac/descent1.htm


Offline karx-elf-erx

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Re: [NEWS] Important D2X-XL update
« Reply #2 on: February 25, 2012, 02:28:00 AM »
My website has a section in the level spotlight dedicated to G.E.L.D. and those of their levels I found particularly good. You can find a few more levels made by them via akula's link.
« Last Edit: February 25, 2012, 02:41:34 AM by karx-elf-erx »

 

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