From the Burrow

TaleSpire Dev Log 189

2020-06-11 00:42:26 +0000

Hi all.

Today I finished collating all the entries in the #feature-requests channel on the TaleSpire discord. With that done, @Ree and I went through them to work out what we wanted to do for each. What was cool was that there weren’t many major surprises. Most were about systems that we still have plenty of plans around improving. I’ll probably need to organize a dev-stream at some point so we can go through some of them and talk about the plans for TaleSpire in general. However, I’m not scheduling that today.

The rest of this week will be planning and prototypes around other major systems we need. The big ones being terrain, water, and the rendering changes we need to get the performance we all crave :)

Hope this finds you well. Back with more tomorrow

TaleSprie Dev Log 188

2020-06-09 02:02:37 +0000

Evening all.

Work goes well. @Ree has been looking back into the emote system work he did previously. Once that is up to scratch, we can get the data & sync side worked out, and then hopefully, it’s just testing and tweaks before we ship.

Today I started with a few hours of going through all the posts in the #feature-request channel in discord, making the big list of things to discuss internally. Starting on Wednesday, @Ree and I are taking some days to plan and hack on some experiments to set the direction for what we need to achieve over the coming year.

Inspired by an item on that list, I’ve been revisiting my old NDI tests to see how much work it would take to get this shipped experimentally. I can pick the source from NDI and get texture, but I’m currently fighting the UI side. Once that is doing what I want, I’ll need to handle some strangeness I saw when the call reconnects before looking at sync. I’m not yet sure how the sources are named on each client, so I’m not sure how to synchronize the feed information for each client. Regardless we’ll work it out or, if it takes too long, it’ll go back on the shelf for now.

That’s all for today. I’ll put out a bugfix tomorrow as today I was made aware of a bug that was introduced to line-of-sight in the last release.


TaleSpire Dev Log 187

2020-06-02 17:19:15 +0000

A quick update tonight.

Work continues of the fog of war. I’ve been fixing bugs and implementing the code that handles cleaning up fog-of-war jobs when transitioning boards. I still think there are some memory bugs, but it’s all going in the right direction.

Ree’s work on the keyboard movement has gone well. We’ve found a couple of smalls bugs in the line-of-sight and creature scaling code, so we’ll get those fixed up asap.


p.s A quick video showing what the 30 unit radius of the fog-of-war update looks like

TaleSpire Dev Log 186

2020-06-02 00:58:13 +0000

TLDR: The first prototype of 3D fog of war started working about an hour ago. Check it out:

BIG OL’ CAVEAT: This is not the final mesh or shader used on the fog. This just shows that the raw transforms can work.

A lot of the leg work over the last days has been managing the pools of cubemaps, buffers and such used in the fog of war system so that we never allocate more often than we absolutely have to. We also have been making sure that no step blocks for longer than necessary and that we have something we can easily tune.

So here is the very rough rundown:

  • when you place a creature that you control, the scene (for a 30 unit radius) is rendered into a cubemap holding creature ids and distances from the observer.
  • the ids are used by the line of sight system to accurately determine what creatures are visible to the creature you just placed.
  • the cubemap (and some other data) is kicked over to the fog-of-war system that works out every cell (a 1x1x1 unit volume) visible for the observer.
  • It packs this data into a buffer that is then applied to the zone’s fog-mask.
  • The updated fog mask is handed over to the mesher which generates a relatively low poly mesh for the fog and sends gives it to the zone to display

Multiple of these can be done at once. The line-of-sight and fog-of-war updates that rely on processing the data in the cubemap are all on the GPU, and any other step that does any kind of data processing is done in jobs dispatched over multiple cores. I’ve not profiled this yet, but it’s feeling ok, and we have the tools to make this quick.

Right now, I’m just stoked this is starting to work. Tomorrow I’ll be bug-fixing, and after that, I’ll start work on the network sync for these updates. I’ll write a dev-log on that problem as it’s a fun one too.

We are also getting closer to the creature scaling update. We found a bug in the keyboard movement and we need to get fixed before we ship. We’ll keep you posted on that.

For now, I’m gonna go poke this system some more :)


p.s. Here is a pic of a fog mesh. You can see that the mesher does an ok job of cutting down the number of polys from the worst case.


TaleSpire Dev Log 185

2020-05-27 23:41:49 +0000

Heya folks,

Today has been spent testing and fixing the backend changes for creature scaling and hooking the creature scale feature into the data model.

The scaling is feeling great, Ree’s done great work, and I’m very excited to see this ship. There are still bugs to be fixed, so we’ll keep working on those.

The server side has now been patched, and so everything is ready to go.

The first thing I’ll be doing tomorrow is adding some code to detect mismatched versions of the client. This will stop a person with an older version of the client connecting to a session hosted by someone with a newer version (and vice versa). This is important as the board sync format can change and are not compatible between different versions of the client [0].

That’s the lot for today


[0] Please note that this format is not the same as the board persistence format for which there are format upgrade methods written.

TaleSpire Dev Log 184

2020-05-26 23:01:53 +0000

Hi again :)

Today went reasonably well, although it was mostly getting my new laptop set up.

I finally tried out i3 and decided that, right now, it’s not for me, and I’ve gone back to using stumpwm. I’ll probably spend more time getting used to i3’s approach to splitting in the future. It’s stacks and workspaces did seem very cool although I should experiment with stumpwm’s groups feature first.

Getting my server dev environment set up was pretty painless (yay docker), although I currently have an issue where TaleSpire isn’t uploading boards to my local minio server. I’m not sure what the issue is, so I’ll need to do more testing tomorrow. I’ve prepared the patches for the DB and erlang server, so I now need to test TS with these changes. With that done, I’ll be able to push to production, and then we’ll be ready for creature scaling.

Ree’s been working hard on fixing all manner of issues relating to creature control at low (and high) fps. Getting that stable is a heck of a project, but it’s paying off.

To follow up on the log from earlier today, it does seem that the latest patch does fix the SSE4 issue, which is great! We’ll be able to close a bunch of tickets from github real soon :)

Have a good night folks, Back with more tomorrow.

TaleSpire Dev Log 183

2020-05-26 12:59:08 +0000

Heya folks, time for another log.

We have a content update dropping soon, but also in there is a potential fix for those who have been unable to play due to their machine not supporting SSE4. This limitation was due to older versions of the Burst compiler not supporting earlier SIMD instructions. We had wanted to upgrade the Burst compiler package previously, but we found a bug in that package that blocked us. We (reported it to Unity not long back)[] and they have already shipped a fix! With the packages updated, we should now support fallback to SSE2 (which every x64 machine supports).

My laptop, after holding on for nine years, finally started breaking the other day. My new one has just arrived. That means I’m going to lose at least a day to swearing at windows for being such a massive, invasive, pain in the ass and setting up Linux so I can get server work done in a more agreeable environment.

I’ve also started on the server changes to support creature scale. These are going well, and I will begin integrating the changes on the client-side soon.

Alright, that’ll do for now. Back to the laptop for me.


TaleSpire Dev Log 182

2020-05-22 15:49:54 +0000

A short one this time. Between two Norwegian national holidays and my own brain, I’ve been struggling with focus. Progress has slowly continued on the fog of war. I’ve written the compute shader, but I still need to do some plumbing, so I’ve nothing gif-worthy yet.

Ree’s work on the creature controller is wrapping up, so that will ship soon. There are a slew of fixes, and the work includes the bulk of the work for creature scaling. So once the first update has shipped (hopefully early next week), I’ll jump tasks to implement the sync and persistence for scaling.

The art team has also been working away, so you can expect a new asset update soon!

I’m going to spend the rest of today around the community, so if you are around, seeya there.

TaleSpire Dev Log 181

2020-05-20 02:17:14 +0000

Hi folks, another day of slow but steady progress on the fog of war. What I did today was hook up the code that queues up mesher jobs when the underlying fog data changes. I can now select a region, press a key, and the fog volume data for all the zones in the region is updated. The presentation for those zones then enqueues a job that reads the volume data and generates a minecraft-style mesh that will (in time) be used for fog. As, in this test, the selection tools work with cuboids, the fog only follows that shape, but we can see that the resulting mesh is reasonable (lower poly compared to the worst case), and I can see that the jobs are being run in parallel. So far, so good.


Now, this is done I can write the code that takes the cubemaps captured from the line-of-sight system that handles hiding creatures, and passes them to a new compute-shader which will make an update mask of what areas are visible. I’ll be doing this on the GPU as:

  • The data I need is already on the GPU which means no having to shift it around
  • The approach I’ll be trying is trivial to parallelize without divergence and so should be very suited to running there.

From the CPU side, we will then wait on a GPU-fence (which tells us when the compute-shader has finished), read the result from the compute-buffer, and apply it to the fog data in the zone. This change will then trigger the code we wrote today and we should see the new mesh which will hopefully have removed all parts that were in view. It will absolutely be rough, to begin with, but with the full round trip written, we can move onto playing with it and making it better.

I’ll go into more detail on the approach once I’ve got it working as it should be pretty simple.

Alright, seeya around.

TaleSpire Dev Log 180

2020-05-19 01:19:51 +0000

Hi folks, today I’ve been poking around with fog of war and working out how the updates are going to be spread over multiple frames. I’m going to keep working on this so I can select areas and apply fog to them. For now, the mesh generated will just be a big, grey, minecraft-looking mesh as we don’t need to worry about the visuals for a while yet.

Ree’s been working on business things today, and his work on the creature-controller has gone well too. There are still some things to work out with creature scaling over various framerates, but it’s getting closer.

Back soon with more!