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27. November 2018


One of the biggest challenges for game developers working with Unity is dealing with the garbage collection.  The current system they use, Boehm–Demers–Weiser garbage collector drops everything when memory management occurs, which can lead to framerate slowdowns until the garbage collector is done.  In an attempt to improve this situation, Unity have implemented Incremental Garbage collection in the most current alpha of Unity 2019.1.  Essentially Unity attempts to split memory collection across multiple frames to minimize the impact over all to performance.

Details from the Unity blog:

Enter Incremental Garbage Collection. With Incremental GC, we still use the same Boehm–Demers–Weiser GC, but we run it in an incremental mode, which allows it to split its work into multiple slices. So instead of having a single long interruption of your program’s execution to allow the GC to do its work, you can have multiple, much shorter interruptions. While this will not make the GC faster overall, it can significantly reduce the problem of GC spikes breaking the smoothness of the animation by distributing the workload over multiple frames.

There are however downsides to this approach including greater overhead and possible performance issues if your memory changes during collection.

If you enable incremental GC, the garbage collector will split up the garbage collection work across multiple operations, which can then be distributed across multiple frames. We hope that in most cases where GC spikes were an issue, this will mitigate the symptoms. But Unity content is extremely diverse and can behave in very different ways – and it’s likely that there are cases where incremental GC may not be beneficial.

Specifically, when incremental GC breaks up its work, the part which it breaks up is the marking phase, in which it scans all managed objects to find which other objects they reference, to track which objects are still in use. This assumes that most of the references between objects don’t change between slices of work. When they do change, the objects which have been changed need to be scanned again in the next iteration. This can cause a situation where incremental collection never finishes because it will always add more work to do – in this case, the GC will fall back to doing a full, non-incremental collection. It’s easy to create artificial test cases changing all the references all the time, where incremental GC will perform worse than non-incremental GC.

Also, when using incremental GC, Unity needs to generate additional code (known as write barriers) to inform the GC whenever a reference has changed (so the GC will know if it needs to rescan an object). This adds some overhead when changing references which can have a measurable performance impact in some managed code.

For more information on incremental garbage collection, including step by step instructions on how to enable it, be sure to check out the following video, also embedded below.

GameDev News Programming


22. November 2018


As has become a tradition here on GameFromScratch, every year we track down and present the best Black Friday deals of interest for game developers.  This year is no imageexception, so here they are!  Although it is becoming less and less of a thing, this page will also track applicable Cyber Monday deals as well.  If you know of a missing deal, let me know in the comments down below and I will do my best to add it.



3D Coat (Store Link)

3D Coat is a 3D sculpting, paintings and PBR texturing application that is currently $100 off during Black Friday, valid through Nov 26th.


Adobe (Store Link)

Adobe are offering 25% off their entire creative suite annual subscription service.  This includes seminal products such as Photoshop, Illustrator, Animate and more.


APress (Store Link)

Any aPress published ebook for $7.


Affinity Paint/Designer (Store Link)

All Serif products are currently 30% off for Black Friday, including Affinity Designer, Painter and Painter for iOS.  If you want to learn more about Affinity Designer, check out our recent video.

Allegorithmic (Substance) (Store Link)

Save 33% on annual subscriptions for their Substance Suite of PBR texturing tools (Painter, Designer, B2M).  For more information on Substance Painter, check out our recent hands on video.


A Sound Effect (Store Link)

Having a sale on hundreds of sound effect libraries, as well as a one month free subscription and 112 free sounds with any purchase.


Amazon

Amazon is always heavily involved in Black Friday and sell a wealth of software and hardware that’s useful for game developers.  I will be updating this category as deals come online.

Asus GX501 15” Ultra Portable GeForce 1070 Laptop $400 Off

Corel Draw 30% Off

Corel Painter 2019 33% Off

CyberPowerPC PC Towers – @20% Off

Dell XPS 15 Laptop with 1050 Geforce $200 Off

Gigabyte Aero 15x 1070 Thin Laptop $550 Off

Google PixelBook 19% Off

MacBook Pro 13” $100 Off

MSI GS63VR Stealth $350 Off

Microsoft Surface Go 10% Off

Logitech MX Master 50% Off

Oculus Rift $50 Off

Razer Blade Stealth $200 Off

Samsung Monitors @25% Off

Samsung Tablets 33-44% Off

Smith Micro Software (Anime Studio, MoHo, Poser, etc) – Moho 30% off


CGTrader (Store Link)

CG Trader are offering up to 50% discount on 3D models this Black Friday.


ClipPaint Studio (Store Link)

ClipPaint Studio (the successor to Manga Studio) is an anime style painting application that is currently 50% off for Black Friday.


The Foundry (Store Link)

The Foundry are offering 30% discounts to Modo subscriptions and 15% off maintenance.


Humble Bundle RPG Game Dev Bundle (Store Link)

Technically not a Black Friday sale, but the Humble RPG Game Dev Bundle is going on during the same period.  Now with an improved license, you can get a ton of RPG related graphics, music and icons for a low price while helping charity.  I got hands-on with the bundle in this video.


Huion (Store Link)

Huion are offering their tablet devices for between 20-25% off.


Kitbash3D (Store Link)

Kitbash are offering 50% off their 3D model kits for Black Friday.


Marmoset (Store Link)

Save up to 50% on all Marmoset Software, such as Toolbag, Viewer and Hexels.  See Hexels in action in this video.


Marvellous Designer (Store Link)

Marvellous Designer is offering up to 50% off their virtual clothing design software, on both subscription and perpetual licenses.


Microsoft Store (Store Link)

The Microsoft store is an ecceletic mix of software, computers and devices, with a variety of items on sale during Black Friday such as laptops, tablets and VR headsets.


PluralSight (Store Link)

Pluralsight offer online training and courses.  Their Black Friday sale includes 33% off on subscriptions.


Packt Books (Store Link)

All eBooks and videos from Packt Publishing are available for $10 during the sale.


Quixel (Store Link)

Quixel’s sale doesn’t actually start until Black Friday.  Generally its a discount of their texturing software as well as their texture resources.


RealAllusion (Store Link)

Save over 50% on Character Creator, Crazy Talk Animator, iClone and more.


Safari Books Online (Store Link)

Safari Books is O’Reilly Press’ online book repository, offering full access to thousands of computer related books.  This sale, good through Monday, is good for 50% off an annual subscriptions, a $200 value.


SketchFab (Store Link)

SketchFab are offering models for 25% off using the code BLACKFRIDAY.


Smith Micro (Store Link)

Smith Micro are offering their suite of products for 30% off including Poser, Moho and more.  The same deal is available on Amazon if you prefer that store.


Syntorial (Store Link)

Syntorial is offering 50% off their audio synthesis hands-on tutorial system.


Steam Autumn Sale (Store Link)

Steam is also having their annual autumn sale with tons of game development software available at discounted pricing.


TurboSquid (Store Link)

TurboSquid is offering select 3D models from their catalog for up to 40% off.


Voxengo (Store Link)

Voxengo are offering subscriptions and individual VST/AAX/AU plugins for 25% off.


Udemy (Store Link)

Udemy is offering most of their thousands of online courses for $10 each.


Unity Asset Store (Store Link)

There are sales across the entire Unity Asset Store for Black Friday, generally 50% off or better.  Pretty much all kinds of assets are currently on sale, models, plugins, tools, you name it.  They have also organized several discounted bundles specifically for Black Friday.

Unity Essentials Bundle – 55% Off

Unity World Building Bundle – 55% Off

Unity Ultimate Characters Bundle – 55% Off

Unity Quick Prototyping Bundle – 55% Off


Unreal Engine Marketplace (Store Link)

Unreal Engine aren’t having a Black Friday sale… they are having a “Fall Sale”.  Same thing, different label.  Save up to 90% off on 3,100 items in their online asset store.  The “totally not a Black Friday” sale ends on November 27th.


YoYo Games (Store Link)

YoYoGames are offering 20% off all licenses for all GameMaker products.



Some of the above links contain affiliate codes, meaning if you make a purchase through a link on this site you help GameFromScratch.

GameDev News


20. November 2018


Substance Painter, the popular PBR based texturing application, just received a major update.  The fall update comes with a completely new rendering engine resulting in better performance with lower hardware demands by incorporating Sparse Virtual Textures, which simulate large textures using less memory.  The new engine also supports up to 300 UV Tiles at once enabling support for massive scenes.  There are also several new tools aimed at mobile users including a new 2D viewport exporter with the ability to bake into a single high resolution texture and more.


Complete details on new features from the release notes:

Added:

  • Summary: a huge boost in performance, viewport upgrades, proper 2D view export, new UI helpers, an enhanced symmetry tool and new content
  • [SVT][Engine] Sparse Virtual Textures (SVT)
  • [SVT][Preferences][UI] SVT hardware support acceleration option
  • [SVT][Log] Additional information for Sparse Virtual Texturing feature (e.g. size disk)
  • [SVT][UI] Message window at start if size on disk too low for the cache
  • [SVT][Preferences][UI] Substance Painter global cache location
  • [SVT] New environment variable to specify the path of the cache of Substance Painter
  • [SVT] New environment variable to activate the SVT hardware support acceleration
  • [SVT] Detect sparse support by hardware
  • [SVT][Hardware Sparse] Raise minimum driver version for Nvidia GPU
  • [SVT][Shader][[Viewport][UI] Warn user if artefacts present with Sparse Virtual Texturing at project opening
  • [Anti-aliasing][Viewport] New temporal anti-aliasing filtering for 3D viewport (via Display Settings)
  • [Export] Export the content of the 2D viewport as a single texture
  • [Export][Dithering] Expose dithering at export
  • [Layer stack] Colors on layers and folders
  • [Layer stack] Quick activation and deactivation of multiple layers and effects
  • [Layer stack] Easier navigation for blending modes with up down keys and mouse scroll
  • [Proj][UI] Additional rotation manipulator on all three axis for triplanar
  • [Proj][Shorcuts] - and + to change the UV projection manipulator size
  • [Shader] Control coated layer parameters with channels in the PBR-coated shader
  • [Substance] Expose new mesh-based texture inputs for filters and generators
  • [Symmetry][Viewport][UI] Control symmetry offset with manipulators
  • [Symmetry][Contextual toolbar][UI] New symmetry panel with options
  • [Symmetry] New symmetry line intersection mode
  • [Symmetry] New symmetry clone cursor
  • [Symmetry][Shortcuts] Q to hide and -, + to change size and shift to snap
  • [Log] Improve error messages when unable to export textures
  • [Scripting] Allow to change or update the resources in Display Settings
  • [Scripting] Allow to create or remove channels in Texture Sets
  • [Content][Shaders] Add support for anisotropy with a dedicated shader (pbr-metal-rough-anisotropy-angle)
  • [Content] Update of the preview sphere with anisotropy and modified angle
  • [Content] Updated matFx shutline
  • [Content] New Texturing.XYZ seamless face scan
  • [Content] New anisotropic procedurals
  • [Content] New filter: baked lighting stylized
  • [Content] New environment map: studio automotive neutral
  • [Content] New project template: PBR - metallic roughness Anisotropy angle (with anisotropy channels)
  • [Content] New project template: PBR - metallic roughness Coated

Fixed:

  • [Color Picker] Painting cursor appearing when trying to pick a color
  • Crash by Selecting or Unselecting layers in a specific order can lead to crash
  • Crash when pasting as an instance a layer with a mask
  • [User Channel][Regression] Crash when renaming user channel
  • [User Channel] Grayed brush preview
  • [Alembic] Only one texture set from several materials after import
  • [Engine] Exported texture differs from viewport for brush stamps
  • [Engine] Invert with a level effect does not fully affect a texture
  • [Material picker is applying a brush stroke while picking
  • Switching resolution to 128x128px leads to a crash
  • Mesh map links are not updated properly when rebaking or instancing layers
  • [Substance] UserData ColorSpace does not work on Baked Mesh Normal requested as input
  • MDL association mismatch when using multiple shaders instances
  • [Symmetry][Fill Layer] Symmetry plane and its manipulator active in Fill Layer
  • [Viewport] Pivot point for translation not always updated after clicking
  • [UI] Fixed icons and removal of placeholders for HDPI monitors

Known Issues:

  • Computation freeze on AMD VEGA GPUs
  • Huion tablet issue with shortcuts on Windows OS
  • Anti-aliasing and shadows when active together may give unexpected results

You can learn a great deal more about this release in this blog post.

Art GameDev News


19. November 2018


The Game Creators have just released an updated version of the AppGameKit GameGuru Loader (phew, that’s a mouthful).  GameGuru is an extremely easy to learn 3D game engine with a complete game editor and loads of 3D content available to help you get started.   The 1.6 release adds several new features including LOD support, new 3D environmental effects (rain and dust), particle based bullet holes and more.


New features in the 1.6 release include:

  • Added 3D environment dust system
  • Real LOD support - 100% automated for much faster rendering
  • Fixed shadow fading errors in non PBR shaders
  • Fixed issue with rotation speed
  • Added ShadowCameraBias# to adjust shadow camera near plane, if you use a large spotlight object
  • Improved orthographic projection matrix to better centre on spot light position
  • Work in progress Shadowflashlight!
  • Added fake volumetric light - use "volumetric.lua" on a spot light to create the light cone
  • Added fake volumetric light shader that animates/rotates the light rays/smog
  • Fixed spot shadow camera rotation problem
  • Background GameGuru objects like billboard now don't get any light, results in better visual
  • Shaders expanded light ranges for improved smooth light
  • Fixed terrain distance improvement (did not work when using gamegurescale 1)
  • Improved terrain height map - it now matches GameGuru more precisely 
  • Added useVegNaturalPlacement = 1 - places grass using a formula, reduces the number of grass objects but still looks packed
  • Added PBR alpha control from AppGameKit code, so special alpha can be set per object
  • Fixed shadow bias for more precise shadows in new shaders.
  • Added speedShadows = 1 - will double the speed of your cascade shadows (really fast realtime shadows)
  • Added faster foliage/trees handling around 15 percent faster
  • Improved setup time for vegetation
  • Added makeBulletHoles = 1 - adds particle bullet holes where they hit
  • Added makeCharHitBlood = 1 , adds particle blood when you hit a NPC
  • Added environment rain, just set env_rain = 1 - many settings to control how it looks like speed/color/size/gravity!
  • Added rain_make_splash = 1 - make rain drops splash on the terrain and objects
  • Added rain_stop_when_indoor = 1 - stop rain when an object is above you ( you're indoors )
  • Added rain_sound = 1 - when raining play a rain loop sound
  • Added global maxNormalSize = 4096 - set max normal texture size to use
  • Added global maxDiffuseSize = 4096 - set max diffuse texture sizes to use
  • Improved: super sampling when using: "postprocessshaders = 5" - stops more flicker in distance
  • Added a additive blending particle effect sample
  • Improved: main game loop speed up by 50%! - Way better FPS when you have many objects on your levels
  • Improved: speed of water reflection render
  • Added tryconvertingmedia = 1 - source code can now convert .dbo to .x (no need to use fixpbr), and convert .dds to .png (Windows only)


If you are interested in learning more about GameGuru, be sure to check out this video also embedded below.

GameDev News


16. November 2018


The source code to the indie game Delver was just released under the GPL2 license on Github.  The release includes full source code to the engine and editor, but does not contain the binary assets needed to run the game.  Delver itself is available on Steam and can be purchased here.  Delver is a 3D roguelike game, a bit of a mashup between Spelunky, Minecraft and Ultima Underworld.  The source code is written in Java and is configured to use  the IntelliJ IDEA IDE.

Delver is described as:

Delve into the shifting dungeons on your hunt for the Yithidian orb, but getting it might just be the easy part. Delver is a single player first-person action roguelike dungeon crawler, just like you wished they used to make.
Slay monsters, blast wands, hoard potions, and loot everything.

  • A silky smooth mix of 90s FPS combat with classic RPG mechanics.
  • In these dungeons once you're dead you stay dead. Permadeath means that when you die, you begin each run into the dungeon anew.
  • Tough as nails gameplay will test your skills, no grinding will save you here.
  • A procedural dungeon that will keep you on your toes, no two runs will ever be the same.
  • Delicious chunky pixels!


If you are interested in checking out the Delver source code, be sure to watch the following video for instructions on how to install, navigate and run the source if you are new to Java or IntelliJ development.

GameDev News


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