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 What is the OLDEST Windows OS version are you running your bridge on?
 XP 3 21%
 Vista 1 7%
 7 8 57%
 8 0 0%
 10 2 14%
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Total votes: 14   Please or sign up to vote.


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LawsonThompson

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Reply with quote  #1 

Familiar with the Dunning-Kruger effect? In this case I'm using it to refer to the fact that I know just enough about what I'm about to express a strong opinion about, that I can sound very competent... to myself... when in reality folks far more familiar with the topic will simply roll their eyes at my lack of clue.

So, from the top of "Mount Stupid," I'm putting forth my dangerously educated opinion!

Warning: opinionated rant follows. Please temper replies with understanding of my recent Artemis stability frustration.

After some fairly tedious testing of one particular set of hardware, I'm coming to the conclusion that it might be time for Artemis to move on to a new graphics engine. At the very least, it appears that DirectX v9 is not doing us any favors.

There are a few contributing factors leading me to this conclusion:

  1. DirectX 9 is no longer provided with Windows 10; it's emulated, with notably reduced performance on anything less than stellar hardware. 
  2. DirectX 9 was released with Windows 98. Not a typo. 98.
  3. Windows 7 OpenGL benchmarks and "torture testing" on some of my older hardware passes with flying colors. After a long run, Artemis on the same hardware causes a catastrophic failure of the display and a complete system deadlock. 
  4. On the same hardware noted above, Linux Wine works well (faster than Windows 10 does); though Artemis still crashes with a more reasonable, consistent error message, it runs much longer before failure.
  5. The #1 negative comment I get about Artemis from first-time players: "It looks kinda old." 
Now, switching graphics engines probably presents a few hurdles:

Non-trivial: I do know enough to realize this is not a drop-in operation. 

Not free: Unless Artemis is using some free engine (does it use Panda 3D?), this represents some cost in both real-world money, and time.

Low-end Hardware penalty: Some of us have rather trailing-edge hardware for our bridges; being able to run on Windows XP was a big advantage when I got started, that's for sure! But at what point does "staying old-school" begin to cost player base because other things look so much better? I've heard that there are performance gains in going DX 10 or 11, just due to the way the render pipeline works. 

Graphic Asset rework: Just plugging in a new version of DirectX or OpenGL isn't going to make the game look prettier. You gotta have textures and assets updated, and those aren't free/easy either.

The proverbial straw that broke this camel's back was having Artemis crash twice in a row during Border War scenarios at a LAN party this past weekend (though not on my hardware). My theory is that Monster spawns were causing the problems, but I can't prove that except to say that I never put Monsters in my LAN games and haven't had a Border War crash like that.

On the same hardware, we switched over to Empty Epsilon (open source, OpenGL), and it ran flawlessly

To sum up: I have this "feeling" that most Artemis crashes of late are due to DirectX 9 driver problems, and switching to DirectX 10+ or OpenGL might provide better stability. 

I'm not changing my convention plans: we're going to keep running Artemis on whatever gear is necessary and whatever settings I find that are rock-solid. The UI makes sense to newbies, and gets them into the simulation quickly. But I am getting rather frustrated in having to hack around to get older hardware for best performance! I'm being dragged kicking and fighting into Windows 10, and its lackluster support for older games like Artemis.

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Sandman

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Reply with quote  #2 
I'm glad you started this discussion. I had been wondering what plans might exist for the future of Artemis (i.e. Whether 3.0 might bring a move to DX10 or a dedicated server perhaps). Not being as deeply involved in the community, I wasn't sure it was my place to push for such things.

That said, one of Artemis' strengths has been the ability to run on trailing edge systems. Five years after getting into Artemis, I'm finding what qualifies as an affordable and easily obtainable trailing edge machine has surpassed Artemis' min specs. It's beginning to take more work to get it to run well on newer old systems. I hope that it's feasible to make improvements that will allow Artemis to run well as the bar is raised.

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Mike Substelny

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Reply with quote  #3 
I don't have the authority to make promises, but I strongly believe that you will get your wish. I will try to confirm this with Thom later this week.

I base my response on the fact that Artemis was written using a game engine that Thom himself created. For years he has lamented that his engine was getting old and stodgy. Over the winter he mentioned that he had already begun work on a brand new game engine and he plans to port Artemis over to it. Because we were very busy planning Armada at the time we did not discuss Thom's timetable for this in much detail.

It is my own leap of logic that tells me Thom's next generation game engine will not rely on DirectX9.

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LawsonThompson

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Reply with quote  #4 
*NUDGE!*

Hey there, Mike! Any further rumors on this? 

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Mike Substelny

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Reply with quote  #5 
Yes, Lawson Thompson, Thom has confirmed that his next release will be written for Windows 10 and will not rely on ancient DirectX 9. For an idea of what to expect, look at the Steam games he has recently published under his company name Incandescent Workshop. Those were written in the early version of the new engine.
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LawsonThompson

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Reply with quote  #6 
dstfp.gif 

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Mike Substelny

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Reply with quote  #7 
Update: Saturday night we played Thom's new naval combat prototype game, which Thom is making to help with development of the Artemis 3 network layer. The network stuff worked pretty well, but we had a lot of computer headaches. The issues were related to Windows 10 and DirectX11 vs DirectX12. Thom's new engine works in DirectX11, but computers that have DirectX12 do not necessarily speak DirectX11. Two Windows 10 computers played the game immediately without needing any other work, but four other Windows 10 computers needed a lot of help before they could run DirectX11. I would not want to go through that in setting up a whole starship bridge!

Stay tuned.

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LawsonThompson

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Reply with quote  #8 
What kind of DirectX 11 effort was need for errant Windows 10 machines? Installing a driver? Or did it require major hacking?
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Longbowman1346

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Reply with quote  #9 
How will this update affect those of us who have perfectly running systems and bridges on computers that are on the older side of technology?  Will an update as you speak of make those bridges no longer compatible with any new updates?
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LawsonThompson

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Reply with quote  #10 
I'll take a stab at this one. Here's my prediction:

  • Windows 98 or XP? You're out of luck, stuck with DirectX 9.
  • Windows Vista, 7: Sweet! DX 11 was made for you!
  • Windows 8 and 10: DX 12 is supposed to be backward-compatible with 11, but hey this is Microsoft we're talking here!
  • Linux/Wine: You'll need to run the latest bleeding edge version to get DX 11--or hopefully Steam will fix this.





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Longbowman1346

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Reply with quote  #11 
Quote:
Originally Posted by LawsonThompson
I'll take a stab at this one. Here's my prediction:

  • Windows 98 or XP? You're out of luck, stuck with DirectX 9.
  • Windows Vista, 7: Sweet! DX 11 was made for you!
  • Windows 8 and 10: DX 12 is supposed to be backward-compatible with 11, but hey this is Microsoft we're talking here!
  • Linux/Wine: You'll need to run the latest bleeding edge version to get DX 11--or hopefully Steam will fix this.






Thanks! I think I good to go then....  I am using 7 on just about everything I have I believe!

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Mike Substelny

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Reply with quote  #12 
Quote:
Originally Posted by LawsonThompson
Windows Vista, 7: Sweet! DX 11 was made for you!


I am not confident that this is the complete picture. We only tested the Naval Combat Game on Windows 10 machines because Thom said that only Windows 10 would work. The reason for Windows 10 may have been related to the new networking layer rather than the graphics.

Most of our bridges are made up of Thom's Windows 7 machines so we asked party guests to bring their own Windows 10 machines to test the naval game. Once we put them all on the network the Windows 10/DirectX11/DirectX12 trouble took all of us, including Thom, by surprise.

I supplied two identical Lenovo Windows 10 laptops and they were able to play the Naval Combat Game immediately. I don't know why.

The other four machines were brought by party guests. No two were alike, and I think each required a different solution from the Microsoft website. I personally spent about 20 minutes trying to troubleshoot one of the machines, but I was also busy hosting the party and had to turn over the unsolved problem to someone else. I did not stick around long enough to see how the problems were actually solved . . . but I'm pretty sure every computer took a lot of time.

The problems seemed to stem from unspeakably poor documentation on the Microsoft website. Microsoft made everything so unclear that we wasted a lot of time trying to find just one or two steps. I believe that each of those four Windows 10 machines gave us a struggle searching for its own unique DirectX 11 solution.

Perhaps someone who was in the room when the problems were solved can fill in more details.

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