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The use of DirectX 7 in CMBN and its terrible performance (edited)


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The fact of the matter is that videocards and processors today are not manufactured with the intent of running, by now, 15 year old API packages like DirectX 7 (e. Or old OpenGL versions). When will we see modern development for modern hardware? Or are we always destined to run decade-old looking games (on decade old architecture) with sub-30fps gameplay? I understand a lot goes on under the hood, but we live in an age where games like Crysis can now be run by most decent gaming PCs and GM chess matches can be simulated at the click of a button. The fact that I can't maintain a smooth framerate in Combat Mission leaves me in awe. 

 

I read Steve's assertion that rewriting the game for multiple cores is not viable. That's because you're dealing with an old engine running on old APIs - decade and a half old architecture - created six years before the first multi-core processor was even developed. I understand not retroactively updating old games; don't fix what's not (sort of) broken. But why on God's earth wouldn't you, with a new game, start from scratch with newer, better, more dynamic game development tools? With the technology we have today, doing just that would be easier than ever. 

 

Again, I don't mean to be inflammatory. I just discovered the game and I find it to be an incredible piece of simulation software. I just am genuinely oblivious as to how a development process works in a way that results in this kind of performance. I only speak as someone with knowledge of the pipeline and experience in game modelling, and that's why it bothers me. Thanks for reading.

 

Edit: DXtory falsely reported to me that the game ran under DirectX 7. It actually runs under OpenGL. I apologize for that mistake.

Edited by Uncultured Swine
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Do you have a Nvidia-card? In that case, do a search for Nvidia settings on the forum. There is a thread with suggested video card setting that, at least for me, helped a lot in improving frame rate and speed of navigating the battlefield. Even on highest graphics settings and with maps with lots of woods and with shadows turned on.

 

Hope it helps.

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Do you have a Nvidia-card? In that case, do a search for Nvidia settings on the forum. There is a thread with suggested video card setting that, at least for me, helped a lot in improving frame rate and speed of navigating the battlefield. Even on highest graphics settings and with maps with lots of woods and with shadows turned on.

 

Hope it helps.

Really, the point is not "you can use x and y workaround for acceptable performance." The point is precisely that I shouldn't have to do that for a game that looks like this. It is, to me, indicative of a wider development problem that appears to have been swept under the rug for the past n number of years. 

 

I use RadeonPro for my 7950 3GB card. In order to get smooth gameplay, I have to limit my framerate to 30. I shouldn't have to do that. This is how consoles deal with poor performance, and I'm not playing on a console.

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The fact of the matter is that videocards and processors today are not manufactured with the intent of running, by now, 15 year old API packages like DirectX 7.

What hell are you talking about?

The game does not use Direct X - of any version. It uses Open GL.

Can you clarify what you mean by smooth frame rate? I don't play a lot of games and I am not a measurebator so I think of smooth as - does the camera move smoothly and does the action unfold nicely. Sure a decent frame rate has some importance but if my camera moves around smoothly and the frame rate counter drops below 20 I don't even look. So do you have a problem or do you have a frame rate count that you are watching like a hawk?

As for all your other spouting I recommend you ask questions instead of making declarations. You might learn something.

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The base development environment is OpenGL. A decision made at the inception of CMSF, I believe, which has now outlived its usefulness. BFC have mentioned that they intend at some future point to drop that and move to another 3D environment. If they'd chosen DirectX back in 2007, AIUI, it would have been impractical to produce a Mac client, which wasn't an option Steve would entertain, being a Mac user himself. They have mentioned what 3D engine they will be moving to, I gather, but can't remember which it is. They have not given any indication whatsoever of a timescale for the move. Until that unknown future day dawns, though, we are, I'm afraid, shackled to oldtech. There's a bunch of other architectural decisions beyond the graphics engine that need revising at the CMx3 point too, IMO.

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What hell are you talking about?

The game does not use Direct X - of any version. It uses Open GL.

Can you clarify what you mean by smooth frame rate? I don't play a lot of games and I am not a measurebator so I think of smooth as - does the camera move smoothly and does the action unfold nicely. Sure a decent frame rate has some importance but if my camera moves around smoothly and the frame rate counter drops below 20 I don't even look. So do you have a problem or do you have a frame rate count that you are watching like a hawk?

As for all your other spouting I recommend you ask questions instead of making declarations. You might learn something.

DXtory, my chosen recording software, (erroneously, apparently) detected Combat Mission as operating under DirectX 7, so I don't know what the disconnect is. 

 

That having been said, there's even less of an excuse for such poor performance, though I doubt the technical merit of whatever OpenGL engine they are using doesn't much surpass the ability of DX7 to begin with.

 

As for your other inquiries, I could argue the semantics of the meaning of "smooth" all day long, but I would generally agree with your definition. I don't experience your definition of smooth unless, as previously stated, I tweak with my framerate settings. I don't have a problem with doing that, but it's something that shouldn't have to be done. The game just runs poorly, period. The exact poorness was only illustrated to me after I attempted to record the game, which prompted an FPS counter. 

 

Your snideness is not helping you much nor is it appreciated. I apologize for my incorrect assertion and perhaps the blunt nature of my OP, but there's no need to be callous.

Edited by Uncultured Swine
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I have no idea what you mean by poor performance, CM runs great on my machine.

As a separate topic as noted above BF is lookIng at other options, but I wouldn't go so far as to say things that give the impression it is a crumbling game hobbling around on it's last legs. There are ways to ask about the future road map without some of strongly worded thoughts above.

Edited by sburke
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Your snideness is not helping you much nor is it appreciated. I apologize for my incorrect assertion and perhaps the blunt nature of my OP, but there's no need to be callous.

 

 

Hmm, Uncultured Swine is offended by snide comments. How ironic. :P

 

I think Ian's tone is because there have been quite a few people over the years that post claims and their supposed knowledge of how Battlefront.com should be running their business. And quite frankly it gets old for us that have been with Battlefront since 1999 or there abouts. We know, more or less, the reasons behind their software development decisions because Moon and Steve occasionally pop in the forums and give us answer to questions about these topics.

 

Anyway, forgive Ian and others, including me, if we seem a little cranky. We can be a little defensive about the software we love. I understand why you posted: you're like us -  you want a better Combat Mission.

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There are ways to ask about the future road map without some of strongly worded thoughts above.

 

Yep

 

Hmm, Uncultured Swine is offended by snide comments. How ironic. :P

LOL

 

I think Ian's tone is because there have been quite a few people over the years that post claims and their supposed knowledge of how Battlefront.com should be running their business. And quite frankly it gets old for us that have been with Battlefront since 1999 or there abouts. We know, more or less, the reasons behind their software development decisions because Moon and Steve occasionally pop in the forums and give us answer to questions about these topics.

Indeed 

 

Anyway, forgive Ian and others, including me, if we seem a little cranky. We can be a little defensive about the software we love. I understand why you posted: you're like us -  you want a better Combat Mission.

That is very nice of you @Pak40.

@Uncultured Swine: if you look at my post history you will see that I often offer helpful advice (he says not so humbly :) ). If you want to know how things work and why things are the way they are, I recommend asking. You will get helpful and kindly worded answers. If you demand, declare and deride you will get unpleasant responses. And I'm one of the nice ones around here...

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Hmm, Uncultured Swine is offended by snide comments. How ironic. :P

 

I think Ian's tone is because there have been quite a few people over the years that post claims and their supposed knowledge of how Battlefront.com should be running their business. And quite frankly it gets old for us that have been with Battlefront since 1999 or there abouts. We know, more or less, the reasons behind their software development decisions because Moon and Steve occasionally pop in the forums and give us answer to questions about these topics.

 

Anyway, forgive Ian and others, including me, if we seem a little cranky. We can be a little defensive about the software we love. I understand why you posted: you're like us -  you want a better Combat Mission.

Firstly, as a gamer and simulation fan, I want to say that I do love this game. Absolutely. It and everything it does is incredible, and I appreciate how much goes into it by the dedicated souls who work on it. It's the only title like it, and for that I am grateful. However, as a CG artist and someone with knowledge of the pipeline, it both bothers me and arouses questions and concerns as to the inner workings of the development process here. Hell, I would volunteer as an artist if I could/knew how. It's my admiration for this game that brings criticism, and I hope that doesn't get confused. 

 

@IanL: Thanks for the welcome. Coming off as arrogant or antagonistic was not my intent, and I apologize. However, I hope you understand my concern. I don't want to come off as a passive complainer. If I see something that could be improved, I want to take action and help in any way I can. 

Edited by Uncultured Swine
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I use RadeonPro for my 7950 3GB card. In order to get smooth gameplay, I have to limit my framerate to 30. I shouldn't have to do that. This is how consoles deal with poor performance, and I'm not playing on a console.

With that group temper tantrum out of the way :)...

I have to say I do not under stand what you mean by limiting your framerate to 30. Do you mean change a setting in your video driver? On my older machine I did have some issues with performance - I had to turn down the model and texture settings depending on the size of the map I was playing on. But on my new machine I play with the game's settings on max and never have a problem. By that I mean the game plays well and feels good. On occasion I do capture screen images and so I sometimes do have a FPS meter running and it will drop below 20 on occasion but the game it self still feels fine to watch and manoeuvre. So I do not consider that I have a problem when the frame rate drifts up and down from 50 to 20 and back.

I'm trying to figure out what your problem looks like. What is your machine like? The game is pretty CPU intensive - a large part of the load is the calculations for the simulation rather than the rendering (not that the rendering is easy just that the simulation calculations seem to be a significantly higher load than many games).

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I'm just curious as to the problem with limiting framerates to 30 - can your eyes tell ?

I've seen the Fraps counter on my system drop to 20 and I wouldn't have known, it was still smooth.

 

Anyway, it's not like a flight sim where a low framerate might trick your perception of an enemy's flightpath - in CM, the bullet still goes where it would have gone :)

I'd rather run my graphics on Best and have framerate 20-30 than turn it down to get a ( imperceptible ) higher framerate. Just my opinion, of course.

 

I do strenuously disagree with your characterisation of CM as a " decade-old looking game". I think ( esp. with Aris and other mods ) it looks pretty damn fantastic, especially with what's going on "under the hood".

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Technical details aside, the frank answer to your question is that BattleFront is a small-scale business with a small but very dedicated (motivation: fanatic) user base.

 

This means that BF don't have much money for developing the technical side of things, and also that they have very little reason to do so. Because when it comes to tactical warfare, this is pretty much the only show in town. There are other wargames of course, but nothing that really compares. After playing Combat Mission, all other strategy games just seem hopelessly childish to me.

 

I don't blame BF for running their business the way they do, I just wish they would modernise or rebuild their engine to take more advantage of modern hardware. Or that, failing that, another developer would be inspired by the Combat Mission formula and build a new game to take the concept to the next technical level. I would prefer to continue to support Battle Front though.

Edited by Bulletpoint
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As others have stated, once I set my framerates to 1/2 vsync, the replays have been butter smooth.

 

The cpu intensive aspect of the game is the real limiter (IMO). I've got one machine with an i7 @ 4.5GHz, running off a Samsung SSD. The game STILL takes a while to crunch turns. I don't know if multi-core enabling would help these times. I do know that the game includes so many details that I can't imagine how many computations have to happen for each turn...in a 2km x 8 km map with multiple battalions engaged. But it works.

 

Ken

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