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MattScott

June 2019 - Engine Upgrade progress (screenshots & video)

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Hi everyone,

 

We are way overdue to show off screenshots, so I have decided this update is going to be a bit different.

 

To start, I’m going to give a brief update of where we are on PC and console, and then (for better or worse) I’m going to let SPCT post some screenshots that they chose from the current build. All previously shown Engine Upgrade shots were real, but they were done under highly controlled conditions. No HUDS. Fly throughs. Etc. 

 

Today's post is an attempt to lift the curtain today and give a genuine look at where we really are.

 

 

For PC, everything is now done except for migrating Unreal package content.

 

To give specifics, there are 1498 packages used in the game:

  • 919 regular packages
  • 537 map packages including dynamic layers to action districts for events and missions

 

So far we have converted about ~84% of them, with the following packages remaining to be completed:

  • 212 regular packages
  • 24 map packages

 

EDIT: Corrected after someone pointed out my bad math.

 

That leaves 249 packages to migrate, but these are all somewhat more difficult.

  • Some of them wont be migrated because G1 or LO already made changes that weren't ever in 3.0. This includes reworked Financial and Waterfront textures and geometry.
  • Some of the packages are for User Interfaces. These are tricky because we have a chunk of UIs in 3.5 already that have been glued up for console. And we have new UIs in 3.0 for the trading system and other areas. Anything we migrate from 3.0 will step on aspects of the 3.5 screens and work will need to be redone. I'll have a better sense of this effort once we get a little further.
  • Some of the remaining packages have changes in both 3.5 and 3.0 and those will need to be hand merged. Again, I'll have a better sense of this effort once we get a little further.

 

We still have plenty of bugs and crashes that need to be fixed, but we now have all the code, systems, and server work completed.

 

 

Performance Benchmarking

 

Performance testing of the Engine Upgrade is very important. Not many people would trade better looking graphics for worse performance. In APB's case, there are currently disk-based stutters and bad support for multiple CPU or GPU cores. One of our primary goals with the Engine Upgrade is to fully utilize modern hardware.

 

DISCLAIMER: It is important to point out that the Engine Upgrade has an entirely different rendering pipeline - some good and some bad. Many players have seen what the console builds look like, and the performance on those devices is terrible. The starting point of the Engine Upgrade was these exact console versions just running on PC, so there has been a lot of work to do since we started. Unfortunately most of the work is very specialized and cannot be done by a huge team without tripping over each other. We have kept as many people dedicated to the upgrade as possible, but this work is filled with rabbit holes and pitfalls. Sometimes areas that appear simple to optimize end up using global data that touches many other areas of the code.


I want to thank @SKay for all of his hard work leading the benchmarking effort to help us gauge progress in these areas.

 

To make sure the test runs were valid, they had to be able to easily reproduceable as well as being able to give a proportionate representation of what a user might see during their time in APB. The game environments vary from claustrophobic to wide open, and the benchmarks needed to account for both. In the end, he chose a short car drive that would force the game to move quickly through as many different areas as possible under consistent conditions.

 

The main goals of the benchmark are to insure that:

  • The 3.5 performance would at least reach the same speeds (on average) as LIVE
  • The main issues (stutters, low 1%' and .1% frame rates) were at least looked at and/or addressed
  • New visual upgrades or changes didn't affect the overall experience

 

test_route.png

 

The route above shows the benchmark run that was used in all cases. The test run as outlined above has open areas and enclosed areas in a single run that could be repeatedly reproduced for apples-to-apples comparisons to help identify progress with the Engine Upgrade.

 

Starting at Darryl Kent, we take a left out and stay on the road passing right of Suji. Taking the next right and keeping the City Council building to our left, we take a right at the crossroads outside of Violet Prentiss and Wilson LeBoyce, following the road as it sweeps towards Javez and passing him on the right. We hold that road and turn right when it meets the river, coming back to end in front of Darryl Kent.

 

Stats were captured with MSI Afterburner using RivaTuner Statistics Server running on Ultra settings 4K resolution.

 

Here are the benchmark results:

 

upgrade_benchmark.png

 

To explain the numbers for the graph:

  • Max FPS is the highest framerate detected during the test. This in conjunction with the other metrics can determine if the game is able to push good framerates on the current hardware.
  • Avg FPS is the average of all the frames that were taken during a run. This is used as a base metric to compare the other metrics in this list with.
  • Min FPS is the lowest framerate detected. This is not necessarily the lowest framerate outright, rather the lowest framerate that could be normally detected through normal gameplay.
  • 1% FPS is the average of the lowest 1% of frames that were taken during a run. This metric, when compared to the average, is used to determine if the PC is struggling to run the game, or if the game is struggling to drive a consistent frame rate.
  • .1% FPS is the average of the lowest .1% of frames that were taken during a run. This metric is used to detect for stutters or freezes (if any)

 

NOTE: The benchmarks do not included the non Multi Threaded renderer results. The state of the renderer was bad enough when we started that it was clearly well below LIVE and not acceptable.

 

Here is a quick summary of our development timeline on the Engine Upgrade:

  • May 2018, we chose to focus on infrastructure which took us a couple months to clear the cobwebs
  • End of July I posted my first update on the Engine Upgrade with details around bringing on more devs for the Unification project
  • November we rebuilt the Music Editor for 3.5 and the majority of external libraries had been upgraded just to get the build running
  • Early February we had finally sorted out a number of crash bugs that allowed SPCT to get their first play tests on 3.5
  • March we had realized how bad the renderer was and had implemented most of Multi Threaded rendering

 

And here is a walk through of the results working up from the bottom:

  • The bottom shows our LIVE comparison which was taken in the March / April time frame.
  • The first set of results above the bottom was from the initial Multi Threaded renderer implementation back in April. These results were very encouraging, however in-game lighting was completely broken in this build, so the results were skewed higher than any other build that had lighting working correctly.
  • 806538 shows what the initial finished implementation of Multi Threaded rendering from May. This was our first good look at performance, but it revealed several areas in the renderer that needed work - mostly in the Culling and Level of Detail systems. Culling is what decides which elements on screen to render and which to ignore. Level of Detail (LOD) determines if we can show a lower resolution model based on distance.
  • 809566 shows some early Culling work from late May, but the routine had severe graphical issues with objects not getting rendered properly.
  • 810873 shows our current build that is rendering properly with Culling and LOD fixes. 

 

EDIT: We are not done with the lighting or post processing. I should have made that clear. We are waiting for the content packages to get migrated and then we plan on doing a fairly big pass to adjust the look and feel.

 

EDIT: @rooq spent the time to edit down this video showing the current state of the game. I look forward to doing comparisons against this as we finalize lighting and post processing.

 

 

 

For console, we have a 2nd round of bugs to fix.

 

The initial builds did not pass QA (quality assurance). Several crash bugs were found, so we couldn’t submit to Microsoft or Sony. However many have already been fixed. XB1 is being tested internally, and it may be ready to resubmit. PS4 has a couple more crash bugs left.

 

And now onto the screenshots.

Each SPCT member is going to start by posting a single screenshot.

Feel free to request areas / content you’d like to see, but just so we don't make this thread too long I've limited them to 3 shots total.


Thanks,

Matt

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I'll do my part, here's my personal favorite out of the screenshots I took, as I've mentioned in my last post in regards to 3.5, I really like the more vibrant look of the game, this is just one of many examples.

 

a9EKRKV.jpg

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cool, there's progress. 

 

game still has cheaters, lower pop and is stale. hope u guys fix it :^)

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Late but here's a random mission we did for giggles.

 

Z3axWLc.png

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1 minute ago, SkittyM said:

Late but here's a random mission we did for giggles.

 

 

YIKES at those indestructible wire poles....

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1 minute ago, iRawwwN said:

YIKES at those indestructible wire poles....

Matt has already said several times they will be removed before this goes out.

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Some requests for pictures: 

Yoshi's in Financial

 

The Boat in Waterfront

 

German Fortress in financial

 

Main Gas Stations in financial

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3 minutes ago, SkittyM said:

Late but here's a random mission we did for giggles.

 

 

Thank god we still have Fast and the incarcerated on 3.5

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1 minute ago, ExoticZ said:

Some requests for pictures: 

Yoshi's in Financial

 

The Boat in Waterfront

 

German Fortress in financial

 

Main Gas Stations in financial

Yoshi's 

 

Dkr4Fk2.jpg

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3 minutes ago, ExoticZ said:

Some requests for pictures: 

The Boat in Waterfront

 

 

You mean the Ferry?  Inside or out?

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2 minutes ago, SkittyM said:

You mean the Ferry?  Inside or out?

Yes, the Ferry. Could also call it the yacht.

 

Thinking of the outside of it (perhaps both sides)

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Now this is epic. Glad to finally see some progress on the engine upgrade, but I see some visual issues:

 

Lighting looks a bit.. uncanny?

Improper shading on the unlit sides of objects under light.

Lighting seems to just look.. too sharp.

Lighting looks too warm compared to the cool Skybox.

Textures all look like they're made of the same material to me.

Also the water looks horrendous.

 

Still, thanks again for finally giving us a peek and letting us know you're still hard at work.

Theres a lot more to be done but I look forward to it.

 

Edited by Helix Reloaded
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1 minute ago, ExoticZ said:

Yes, the Ferry. Could also call it the yacht.

 

Thinking of the outside of it (perhaps both sides)

jsBol1l.png

Same from all sides pretty much.

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How's the performance at 1080p, or even 1024x768? Those benchmarks seem pretty decent for playing in 4K

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Anti-aliasing not working yet?

 

Anyways, thanks for finally giving us an update.

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