Findings from the tutorial series

For sharing bugs and usability issues in Outer Colony.
Anachronic
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Findings from the tutorial series

Postby Anachronic » Fri Jan 13, 2017 6:01 am

Spent a few minutes going through the first couple tutorial videos this evening. The videos are really well done, thanks! Think I might have found a bug? I dunno... This screenshot shows how Temperate Dry forest with no ground cover was created in a square-ish pattern in the middle of the tutorial world (the other three corners are all 90 degrees. Is that a product of the world generation? It seems a bit out of place... Not exactly sure how big the area without ground cover is, but it's a few screens worth but still small compared to the full map size.

Although I admittedly haven't played much, things I'm really loving area:
1) The music! Really sets a good mood.
2) The auto-update process. Seamless. Did you code all that yourself or are you using an add-on? I've used a program that automatically creates an installer from a Unity game before, but I don't think it supported auto-updating like that. Yours is really sleek and user friendly!

My extreme budget build lagged a bit while changing Z levels. I also have a feature request that some players might find useful: switching between z levels using the scroll wheel. Sorry to be so demanding :mrgreen:


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Re: Findings from the tutorial series

Postby Administrator » Fri Jan 13, 2017 11:58 pm

Excellent work, as always, Anachronic! Way to come through for me, man. Every single tester has a new bit of extremely valuable feedback for me, especially with respect to these tutorials, and I'm in your debt for scouting these out.

Anachronic wrote:Think I might have found a bug? I dunno... This screenshot shows how Temperate Dry forest with no ground cover was created in a square-ish pattern in the middle of the tutorial world (the other three corners are all 90 degrees. Is that a product of the world generation? It seems a bit out of place... Not exactly sure how big the area without ground cover is, but it's a few screens worth but still small compared to the full map size.

I'm intrigued by this! I can't seem to find this square patch in the world, but I have an idea as to what has caused it. When ships land on a world, exhaust from their engines kills all grass, plant life, and any animals that happen to be underneath where they land. There's a chance that maybe barbarians or some other group landed there, did something, and then took off again, since this looks a bit like a landing site to me.

Did you enter the "no events" code when you first started playing? Was this area present as soon as you loaded the tutorial world, or did it appear at a later time? It looks like you're only at hour 10 of the first day, so I don't think it's an NPC settlement being constructed just yet, and I don't see any evidence of cultists or roboticists or other weirdos in your screenshot. Let me know if any more of these pop up, alright? I'd advise just staying away from it and building in the Prairie of Signs and Wonders, right at the starting spot shown in the tutorials, to make following along as easy as possible.

Although I admittedly haven't played much, things I'm really loving area:
1) The music! Really sets a good mood.
2) The auto-update process. Seamless. Did you code all that yourself or are you using an add-on? I've used a program that automatically creates an installer from a Unity game before, but I don't think it supported auto-updating like that. Yours is really sleek and user friendly!

I'm really glad that you're digging the music, as it's received almost universal praise. Brain on these forums is the project's composer, and I'm positive he'll be happy to hear your praise! And the installer suite is truly amazing, but I can't take credit for it. I use a tool called install4j (https://www.ej-technologies.com/product ... rview.html), which is the product of EJ Technologies / Dr. Ingo Kegel, a veritable genius in my book. I can't even begin to say how much I love install4j, and it's a borderline embarrassment that Oracle hasn't yet found a way to buy this company and integrate install4j into the core of Java.

I even wrote a blog entry describing distribution options for Outer Colony, which covers why other options proved insufficient, and why install4j was so great for me. You can scout it here, if you're interested:
https://voyagergames.com/distributing-a ... plication/

My extreme budget build lagged a bit while changing Z levels. I also have a feature request that some players might find useful: switching between z levels using the scroll wheel. Sorry to be so demanding :mrgreen:

Oh man, this is a fantastic feature request, and Jennifer asked for it, too! You just have to hold down the control button while scrolling, and it should work fine. If you go to the help menu, you should see controls help, which will show you this:
Image
But I might need to make these controls clearer to users somehow, perhaps via a new tutorial video.

And one final request from you, man - would you mind posting the full specs of your new build? I don't think you should be getting Z level transition lag, but I'm not sure if I ever saw your full specs on the new machine. I looked through the old posts in the hardware thread, but I had some trouble finding them. I think that an 845k should be able to handle Outer Colony, but if it's not, that probably means I messed something up in the code in one of the recent builds that's causing a performance issue.

Huge thanks, man!! This feedback has been extremely valuable so far, and if you run into anything else or get stuck somewhere in the tutorial series, please let me know!

I can't tell you how valuable this is to me, as this sort of boots-on-the-ground feedback from new, realistic users like you and RetroPrincess is infinitely valuable to me.
Anachronic
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Re: Findings from the tutorial series

Postby Anachronic » Sun Jan 15, 2017 12:26 am

Administrator wrote:
And one final request from you, man - would you mind posting the full specs of your new build? I don't think you should be getting Z level transition lag, but I'm not sure if I ever saw your full specs on the new machine. I looked through the old posts in the hardware thread, but I had some trouble finding them. I think that an 845k should be able to handle Outer Colony, but if it's not, that probably means I messed something up in the code in one of the recent builds that's causing a performance issue.


No worries:

AMD Athlon X4 845 Quad Core 3500 Mhz processor
Gigabyte F2A68HM-H Motherboard
MSI GeForce GTX 560TX-TI Twin Frozer II video card
Patriot Viper Xtreme 8GB DDR3 1600MHz PC3-1500 ram
Windows 10 operating system

Any useful information for you that I'm missing?

Install4J looks rad; nice perk for working in Java. I'll play OC some more soon and report back when I find out more. Could the weird patch of land be an area where the incorrect sprite got assigned... Both those brown tiles and the surrounding green ones are labelled as Temperate Dry Forest but they have different sprites.
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Re: Findings from the tutorial series

Postby Administrator » Mon Jan 16, 2017 1:34 am

Anachronic wrote:No worries:

AMD Athlon X4 845 Quad Core 3500 Mhz processor
Gigabyte F2A68HM-H Motherboard
MSI GeForce GTX 560TX-TI Twin Frozer II video card
Patriot Viper Xtreme 8GB DDR3 1600MHz PC3-1500 ram
Windows 10 operating system

Any useful information for you that I'm missing?

Outstanding! Yes, this should be more than enough to play Outer Colony, and I'm definitely a bit surprised that you're getting lag when switching between Z levels. I'm really not sure what might be causing that - when you're getting this sort of lag, if you look in the task manager, does it show Outer Colony eating tons of CPU resources? Maybe there's something askew in the rendering pipeline, but your rig should dominate the tutorial world, for sure.

My alternate theory is that it's something about Windows 10 - I've never tested on Windows 10 before, but I have identified certain minor issues that were slightly different between Windows 7 and 8. Maybe it's something about the Windows 10 JVM, but this is speculative, and probably a stretch.

I'm going to run some profiling on my end to see if I can figure it out. If you notice that Outer Colony isn't using much CPU in the task manager, then it's almost certainly a frame rendering issue.

How bad is the lag? Does the game lock up for many seconds at a time?

Could the weird patch of land be an area where the incorrect sprite got assigned... Both those brown tiles and the surrounding green ones are labelled as Temperate Dry Forest but they have different sprites.

It's a good thought, and your natural instincts serve you well to think of this, but I don't think that's the case. Temperate dry forest can have a variety of different ground covers, like different sorts of grasses, that you can see with the inspection tool if you're paying very close attention. Raw dirt will be present when the ground cover was wiped out by something, like a ship landing or a miner digging away a surface tile.

Is the area of dirt all the same elevation?

I'm sorry to ask a ton of questions, but it is a very curious case, indeed!
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Re: Findings from the tutorial series

Postby Administrator » Mon Jan 16, 2017 6:45 pm

Anachronic wrote:My extreme budget build lagged a bit while changing Z levels.

As a quick update to this, it appears as though there is something wrong in the rendering pipeline. I haven't been able to identify the precise nature of the problem, but RetroPrincess found a semi-related bug yesterday and DM'd me on Twitter.

I'll keep you informed, but hopefully I can fix this quickly and get an adjustment out in the next patch.
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Re: Findings from the tutorial series

Postby Administrator » Thu Jan 19, 2017 2:49 pm

The more I'm looking at this:
Anachronic wrote:AMD Athlon X4 845 Quad Core 3500 Mhz processor
Gigabyte F2A68HM-H Motherboard
MSI GeForce GTX 560TX-TI Twin Frozer II video card
Patriot Viper Xtreme 8GB DDR3 1600MHz PC3-1500 ram
Windows 10 operating system

The more certain I am that this is actually an outstanding build for playing OC. I've been profiling hard the last couple days, and I put out a new release that should yield some significant performance improvements.

If you get a chance, Anachronic, would you mind trying the Z level scrolling again and making sure it's smooth? It might still not be, especially if this actually is some sort of issue with the JVM on Windows 10, but I'll be curious to see if this improves.
Anachronic
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Re: Findings from the tutorial series

Postby Anachronic » Fri Jan 20, 2017 1:53 am

Hey Sam, just got the chance to update and load OC just now for a few minutes before making dinner. In regards to your questions -

At the start the tutorial world was running at around 50% CPU load. Now that I've selected a site it's running around 35%.

The z level scrolling is smooth now. I don't think it was as bad as a few seconds before, maybe just occasionally taking a half-second or so between levels. Now it's pretty much instantaneous. Maybe I had another program like Unity or something before that was affecting it.

The elevation of the dirt soil area is all 58 (consistent across the whole patch). There appear to be animals wandering across it now. I need to go and watch more of those tutorials, but just playing with it a bit there's one thing I'm noticing about the interface. When I select a different view mode with the mouse (Top Dow, Surface, or Z-level), the arrow keys switch from panning around the map to switching between the view modes. I got kinda stuck for a moment and couldn't figure out how to zoom around. Eventually I figured out that clicking on one of the buttons with icons reverts the keyboard control back to panning around the map. Before figuring that out though, I managed to accidentally set my ship down in the middle of the empty dirt patch... oops :roll:

I've got it figured out now, but it's not super intuitive how to get keyboard control back to panning after you select a view mode. Is there a hotkey that does that, or am I missing an interface option? Not sure if that keyboard behavior is desirable by default. I totally get wanting to make the game completely playable with the mouse or keyboard alone for accessibility, but maybe shifting through view modes with the keyboard should only occur when the player makes a conscious decisions to switch the keyboard's focus away from the main game panel, say theoretically by hitting tab to switch between different parts of the interface. Another thing I'm noticing is that I don't seem to be able to hit alt to get the keyboard to focus on the File menu. Would be a nice thing to have to use the keyboard instead of the mouse for the drop-down options.

That's like 15 minutes of QA for 1 minute of play-time :lol: I'll get you some more feedback when I have a chance to play more through the tutorial. Cheers eh!
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Re: Findings from the tutorial series

Postby Administrator » Tue Jan 24, 2017 3:02 pm

Excellent, man, more great stuff here!

Anachronic wrote:At the start the tutorial world was running at around 50% CPU load. Now that I've selected a site it's running around 35%.

There are a handful of initial processing tasks that run at the very start of a world's first load, and those account for the initial spike. It does dissipate fairly quickly, and 35% for background simulation processing + rendering is within the acceptable range, I think.

The elevation of the dirt soil area is all 58 (consistent across the whole patch). There appear to be animals wandering across it now. I need to go and watch more of those tutorials, but just playing with it a bit there's one thing I'm noticing about the interface. When I select a different view mode with the mouse (Top Dow, Surface, or Z-level), the arrow keys switch from panning around the map to switching between the view modes. I got kinda stuck for a moment and couldn't figure out how to zoom around. Eventually I figured out that clicking on one of the buttons with icons reverts the keyboard control back to panning around the map. Before figuring that out though, I managed to accidentally set my ship down in the middle of the empty dirt patch... oops :roll:

Good find, man! I'll make it so that pressing the buttons to pan the world will return focus to the tile view and work the way you describe, instead of cycling through view controls.

The ticket is logged right here: http://info.outercolony.com/view.php?id=223
I just fiddled around with the behavior you described myself, and I'm digging your request here in a big way!

I've got it figured out now, but it's not super intuitive how to get keyboard control back to panning after you select a view mode. Is there a hotkey that does that, or am I missing an interface option? Not sure if that keyboard behavior is desirable by default.

I think you're right on here, it is less intuitive that the keys cycle through view controls at that point rather than moving the world. The reason they cycle through view controls is just because it's the standard behavior for JavaFX - in most normal sorts of interfaces, using the arrow keys should move you through controls on a form, but in this specific context, it's not what most users would expect / want.

Another thing I'm noticing is that I don't seem to be able to hit alt to get the keyboard to focus on the File menu. Would be a nice thing to have to use the keyboard instead of the mouse for the drop-down options.

Another excellent request!! I've logged it right here, and you can expect it to be implemented in the next release!

http://info.outercolony.com/view.php?id=224

That's like 15 minutes of QA for 1 minute of play-time :lol: I'll get you some more feedback when I have a chance to play more through the tutorial. Cheers eh!

Way to go, man! As you can clearly see, the tiniest bit of your time is nigh infinitely valuable to me. You and RP are killing it lately, and I've got multiple rock solid UI improvements to make from this post. Huge thanks again, and I can't wait to see what other improvements you identify!

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