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Oddworld : Stranger’s Wrath. The good news – The bad news - you’re not Valve or Bungie Most of your team are weak links Design is unclear and changes.

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Presentation on theme: "Oddworld : Stranger’s Wrath. The good news – The bad news - you’re not Valve or Bungie Most of your team are weak links Design is unclear and changes."— Presentation transcript:

1 Oddworld : Stranger’s Wrath

2 The good news –

3 The bad news - you’re not Valve or Bungie Most of your team are weak links Design is unclear and changes often Have to make demos with little notice Features get cut and added at all times Content team and other coders don’t follow the rules


5 The Oddworld Method Lead Programmers – make the whole company more productive Use the code and engine to help other coders, content developers Improve your weak points, don’t perfect your strong points – each company is unique Rapid development and messy design – iteration, ease of changes, forgiving design tools …

6 The Oddworld Method, cont. robustness, flexibility, and rapid-response the engine is at all times crash-free and can be turned into a shippable demo on short notice little tips to improve productivity are worth millions many of your coders are junior – make it hard for juniors to write broken code; eg. Code that seniors write should be self-correcting & self- enforcing

7 Never bring down other people People make mistakes, you can’t stop that Make mistakes only affect that one system Everything is in perforce; roll back bad content, bad builds All code is reviewed Compiler asserts; table size checks Exceptions…

8 Background : engine summary All tools in Maya, all geometry triangle soup Visibility through portals, clip frustum, scissor Zones also define paging units and ticking objects; only current & adjacent zones tick Collision on triangle soup w/ KDtree and spatial index Lightmapper for static lighting; cube maps for characters; material-based renderer with high triangle throughput Objects tick one by one and move themselves; simple zone-based manager Paging in big blocks; huge continuous levels with persistent state

9 Exceptions Not in final game Not for normal errors, only for fatal errors Default action is to propagate error; better than return values (malloc example) Catch in individual object creation, tick & render SEH is better than C++ EH, lets you write code in the catch and provides call stack Handler can detect attached debugger and int 3 Bad for cross-platform

10 Stack traces and error logs Small binary stack traces on Xbox (64 bytes) Parser on PC Mailer to coders VC double-click Used for many things Error messages – for anything the artists can get wrong. Log stack traces with every error.

11 Builder Use free POP3 client; just check mail to build account Run the subject line as a command Batch file does sync+incredibuild+submit Can easily do any task – so also process lipsync, make DVD, just use windows task scheduler

12 NetSlave Simple distributed farm; master machine controls a set of slaves Just a queue of commands, farmed out FIFO with dependency analysis Lets you use simple single-proc tools; no need for multi-proc bugs! Slaves use p4 for data transfer

13 Memory Management Systems use more or less memory at different times. Stack traced alloc tracker, parser for hierarchies in tabview. 3 heaps – contiguous (20 M, relocatable), small block (5 M, fast), heap (used rarely at runtime). STL and XMemAlloc directed into our allocators Future – separate heap for 64 meg debug data

14 STL Saves dev time; dev time is not just writing code STL-port; configurable Vector is used heavily; all other containers very rarely used Array<>; few C-style arrays, lots of vectors! …

15 STL - vector Release(), tighten(), tighten if excessive Modified vector growth scheme; doubles on PC, limit at 4k on Xbox Vecsorted – like a map, but tight in memory; sometimes faster Vector_s, vector_t, vector_a ; note that the base vector class itself is 12 bytes

16 Inst/Def paradigm Many insts created from one shared def CoreObject = instance, made from tag, class factory, needs to be IO’d in save games. Resource = def, const, made from binary data blocks, const, shared, kept in memory across level loads, etc. Many other things use inst/def

17 IOZ (the Z is for cool) Templated type-traits based IO system. Client code is very easy – just call IOZ on all members; all logic is compile-time Type traits and template specialization know if a type is binary or not, also if vectors are vectors of binary, etc. Pointer IO – CoreObject or Resource? Resources written as Token references CoreObject data must be written once, but other pointers just write references (use the RefCounted table index)

18 Smart Pointers Every type should clean itself up on destruction, so pointers should too. Other types of GC would be okay; GC reduces errors, GC is required for exceptions. SP is the simplest form of GC. Weak Pointers – a reference, not a hack; 4 bytes + 4 for table entry. Table also provides index for IO. (2 byte table index, 2 byte UID) …

19 Smart Pointers, cont. Can’t have loops; use Weak or Naked for back pointers; must have a tree-structure of ownership. Pass naked pointers; avoids exposing interface and avoids temporaries; can’t do with boost style SP, need base class RefCounted; need to be a little careful with this. Stack-trace ref tracking for ref leaks; catches loops and other bugs.

20 Tweaker and Prefs Text is nice for p4 diffs and searches with simple perl tools – making spreadsheets of all healths, dependency finding, etc. Cvar – no per instance overhead, handles MI. In the future, generic template Reflection visitor. GameControl system for spatial overrides and inheritance In the future – more pref inheritance with rule- based inheritance, eg. Super Wolvark = Wolvark w/ health*2

21 Resource Bundler Just load the level and track resource queries. Bundle resources for NPC’s, Zones, cines, etc. Bundle optimization – minimize bundle count, constrain to 64 meg limit, minimize total bundle size

22 ArtWatcher Watch dirs with ReadDirectoryChangesW, copies content to Xbox and notifies game; ArtWatched resources override bundled content Does p4 adds (we add.cpp and.h files too), helps artists a lot Right click menu for common tools One error – on restart, ArtWatched info is lost

23 Other stuff Skeleton LOD Cube Map Lighting Practical PSM Decorator Renderer AI System Animation control … but technology is easy!

24 Conclusion Code responds well to bad use – enforces rules, never crashes, flexible, easily changed. Finish a good game on time; clearly helped OW Hopefully one tip here is useful at your company No C++ bashing please

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