Quick and Dirty Torque X 2D Optimization Tips: T2DAnimatedSprite

Last we left our mad hacker, he was staring at a screen like this one:

LotRL T2DAnimatedSprite Performance Problem

The last optimization worked to get T2DTileLayer out of the running for top framerate sink. Now T2DAnimatedSprite had risen up to claim the crown. A bit of investigation pinned vertex buffer updates as the slowest operation associated with rendering T2DAnimatedSprites. Similar to the index buffer updating that slowed T2DTileLayer rendering down, locking the actual graphical resource data for updates could be potentially very slow on the Xbox 360.

Unlike T2DTileLayer, however, simply skipping superfluous updates wouldn’t work since, for the most part, T2DAnimatedSprite was already, via T2DQuad, skipping updates that shouldn’t change the vertex buffer (it could do with being a little pickier about when actually perform the vertex buffer refill, but that’s a story for another day.) The big problem for T2DAnimatedSprite is that the main feature that makes it so useful, the ability to change the part of a texture displayed based on animation data, causes it to lock and update the texture coordinates in the vertex buffer every time a frame of animation changes.

The key to optimizing T2DAnimatedSprite is to make it able to update texture sampling coordinates without locking the vertex buffer, thereby making the updates a whole lot cheaper.

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Quick and Dirty Torque X 2D Optimization Tips: T2DTileLayer

With the content cleared of the easy performance problems, it was time to settle into some serious code profiling. And so, I rolled up my sleeves, ran Legend of the Rune Lords through Torque 2D X’s profiler and got a little something like this:

LotRL T2DTileLayer Performance Problem

What immediately jumped out was seeing that I was spending over half of my sampling time in the Render() function for T2DTileLayer. Something was up and it was time to figure out what it was and find a way to fix it.

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Quick and Dirty Torque X 2D Optimization Tips: Content Clean-up

Recently, I’ve been working on a small update for Legend of the Rune Lords. This has been a chance to clean up some of the dirty bits of code that I let slide during the original rush to release. In particular, I’ve had a chance to profile a lot of the game and find performance bottlenecks resulting from both my usage of Torque X 2D as well as the engine itself. In this and the next few articles, I plan to share a few tips for improving the performance of your game running on TX2D.

Note that Legend of the Rune Lords was built using the 3.1.0 release of Torque X and I haven’t had a chance to fully evaluate the 3.1.5 release of Torque X yet. Judging from the release notes, the 3.1.5 release is focused on fixing stability issues and joining the 2D and 3D sides of Torque X into one product, so it’s likely that the following tips will still be relevant to the 3.1.5 release.

For our first round of optimizations, I’ll focus on techniques you can use without having to dive into the engine itself. Namely, I’ll share a couple tips on optimizing your content to improve your framerate.

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Legend of the Rune Lords, July Sales Figures

The numbers are in for July, the first month for Legend of the Rune Lords being completely off the Xbox Live Marketplace dashboard. As one might expect, the numbers for July are down compared to June, generally about a quarter of the figures from LotRL’s initial month. The numbers are low, but not insignificant. It seems that Legend of the Rune Lords has some legs. Short stubby little ones, but legs none the less.

On with the numbers:

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Postmortem for Legend of the Rune Lords

On June 11, 2010, I released my first indie game, Legend of the Rune Lords, on Xbox Live Indie Games. LotRL is a short role-playing game featuring many of the trappings of full RPGs: stat-driven combat, leveling, multiple characters, and a cutscene-driven story. While hardly a great game, I think that it stands as a good example of what a determined (or at least stubborn) individual can accomplish in their spare time even while crunching at their day job.

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Legend of the Rune Lords Soundtrack now available on YouTube

I just posted the soundtrack for Legend of the Rune Lords up on YouTube. Hit the following links to give it a listen:

  1. Follow Me
  2. Winning Over the World
  3. Condor
  4. In Your Face
  5. Equine Dreams
  6. Medieval Village
  7. Rise Again

Or you can hit up the soundtrack in playlist form here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hbg5sXpvoKc&feature=PlayList&p=2712D8AFB98AA854&playnext_from=PL&index=0

Legend of the Rune Lords, Initial Sales

The initial sales figures are in for Legend of the Rune Lords and they look a little something like this:

Total trials and purchases from 6/11/2010 to 6/23/2010
Trials: 2481
Purchases: 445
Purchase/Trial Ratio: 17.94 %

In pretty chart form, the data looks like this:

Trials
LotRL Initial Trials

Sales
LotRL Initial Sales

These curves are pretty typical of most XBLIG games. New XBLIG start off with a high visibility placement on the New Arrivals section of the Xbox Marketplace (see the pic below) which coincides with relatively large initial numbers. As newer games come in, older titles are pushed off the graphical list until they end up in a slow-to-browse text-only list of titles. At that point, trial download counts drop dramatically as it now takes real dedication to find your game in the pile. Legend of the Rune Lords managed to stay on the New Arrivals list for about 5 days before it fell off the list and into the rabble. Looking at the Trials curve, you can almost see LotRL moving more and more towards the right end of the list everyday before falling away on the 17th.

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Legend of the Rune Lords, Powered by Torque X: Was it worth it?

The funny thing about releasing a game on Xbox Live Indie games is that you start to view prices in terms of unit sales of your game.

Cheeseburger ($5)?
7 copies of Legend of the Rune Lords.
Worth it?
With Monterrey Jack cheese, most definitely.

Pint of Nakameguro Taproom beer ($10, but sooo delicious)?
14 copies of Legend of the Rune Lords.
Worth it?
Absolutely!

Indie license for TorqueX 2D ($150)?
214 copies of Legend of the Rune Lords.
Worth it?
Now that’s a good question…

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New Trailer for Legend of the Rune Lords

Just finished a new trailer for Legend of the Rune Lords and uploaded it to YouTube. You can check it out right here:

YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2BmVD6hiZRM

Or you can download the trailer directly in both standard and high-definition flavors:

SD (480p): http://www.dusk-and-dawn.com/images/etc/LotRL_Trailer_480p.wmv
HD (720p): http://www.dusk-and-dawn.com/images/etc/LotRL_Trailer_720p.wmv

Video Game Market Japan: Still Shrinkin’

Hey look, a typical display of DVDs of Japanese musical idol groups, the kind of thing you see all over Japan:
Tsutaya “Game” Floor

Except, something doesn’t feel quite right… Oh yeah! This is the bottom floor of the Tsutaya in Shibuya. The floor that used to be dedicated totally to video games. Demo kiosks, large displays, the works. The whole floor. All video games.

Now, not so much. But don’t worry, the games still manage to keep the other half of the floor occupied. See, right there behind the Used DVDs:
Tsutaya “Game” Floor

Maybe next year video games will get a nice cozy spot next to the old VHS and audio tape overstock.

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