Since the last update on Project “W” I worked on a lot of smaller things and also did a lot of work on the “background” of the game (the stuff most players won’t notice but which is still important to work on), so this news posting will be a collection of all the things I did over the last days.
Transfer market : This was actually the last thing that was really bugging me as up until recently each staff member would have the same image with only name and values being different, so I started to take care of this and in the final version there will be around a dozen of different faces for each of the professions (scienists, spies and generals) so the staff you hire is much more personalized and can easily be recognized.
New cursors : I finally got rid of the default windows cursor and created my own cursors for the game and now the cursor is also dynamic, which means that it’ll look different depending on where you hover or what you’re currently doing. So if you e.g. hover the cursor above a button it’ll be colored different so you quickly notice that clicking will trigger an action. I also added new cursors for assigning and moving armies and spies and for rotating the cube, with more different cursors to follow. It’s just a small thing but it adds a lot to the general usability of the UI.
Usability changes : During playtesting I noticed that several things in the game (e.g. the cursors above) concerning the user interfaces usabilitay weren’t as great as they should so I changed mostly some minor things. But one bigger change is a new hovering panel with detailed information on a division that’s stationed in a region. Before this change you had a very small listbox with units in that division withouth actually having additional information like the unit’s current health. So I replaced that listbox with a panel that shows only the armie’s name and strength and as soon as you hover your cursor above it a hovering panel will open that contains all important information on that division like the assigned general with his abilities and all units including their health. And btw. if you take a closer look at the globe you can see that the clouds are now a separate layer and are also moving across the globe which looks much better than the old static clouds.
Texture compression and VRAM-usage : By using a tool to see VRAM usage I quickly noticed that Project “W” used much to much VRAM (> 200 MBytes) which would have made it very slow on cards with only 128 MBytes of memory and after longer games (lots of stuff is loaded on demand) it would even use up the whole memory of a 256 MBytes graphics card. This was too much so started lowering texture sizes (where possible) and finally compressed most of the textures by hand using NVidia’s Photoshop plugin for creating DDS textures. At first I just wanted to compress “blind” by just having my texture manager always compress textures. And although this halved the amount of VRAM used it also degraded visualy quality far to much to be a option. But the plugin allows you to set the quality of compression and also to select different compression formats with different channels and so after around two works of compressing and optimizing textures the game now uses around 100 MBytes of VRAM and visual quality is almost the same. This means that for owners of cards with only 128 MBytes of VRAM the game should run faster, but as DDS also stores mipmaps the loading times of the game also decreased a lot no matter what graphics card you use.
As you can see a lot of stuff is happening and it’s getting closer to release each day…