In year 2047, the alien crystal element - commonly known as "Tiberium" - began blanketing the Earth. As war continued over the past century between the European Union (EU) and the Pan Asian Coalition (PAC), Tiberium fields continued to grow, changing the course of Nature forever. The year is now 2142, and the dawn of a new Ice Age has thrown the world into a panic - a global threat that nobody has ever expected. In "Command & Conquer 2142", the two military superpowers will collide - in an epic battle for the last habitable lands. The math of this war is simple: Some will live, most will die.

Report article RSS Feed CNC2142 - Our first update in 2012!

Great news! Today we are delighted to give an overview of our mod progress, this is a must read for you fans :P

Posted by derek328 on Apr 25th, 2012

Hello to our moddb friends and visitors :D

First of all, I hope 2012 has been treating all of you well so far! ^^

On behalf of the entire CNC2142 team, we want to thank you again for all the support! You guys really make this a fantastic community, and your support is vital to our success! :) We have a bunch of exciting updates to share, so let's get started! :D

Firstly, we are very happy to announce that Cerbere Landing, our first official map, is now 100% complete! Based on its original design in BF2142 - we made sure that almost everything, from the placement of every crate, tree, bush and street lamp, to the gradient of cliffs, the orientation of buildings, even the direction of sunlight - have been recreated with pin-point accuracy for CNC2142's SAGE engine. The map runs smoothly, and unlike BF2142's static environments, all of these objects in SAGE are destroyable - but let's leave that topic till next time ;p We hope all of you will like it so far! ^^

Unlike many mods out there, we take community feedbacks seriously :) For those of you who are familiar with CNC2142, you would know many of our design choices (such as the team color layouts) have been made because of you guys ^^ We started focusing on our second map, Sidi Power Plant, a few days ago. It is the winner of our earlier Favourite Map vote, but sadly, CNC's SAGE engine will not be able to handle the entire map in full size. We will try our best to fit everything into the map as they were in BF2142, and if you have any suggestions, do make sure to leave us comments below or on our moddb front page!~

Finally, we are also extremely happy to tell you that after months of hard work behind the scenes, we have successfully optimized CNC2142's performance across the board! Compared to its predecessor, our latest CNC2142 testing-beta version loads maps 80% faster. Performance-hogging draw calls have been reduced to approximately 75%, and CNC2142 textures are now almost twice as efficient overall :D As a result of these optimizations, CNC2142 is now much more stable, and we are still yet to see any crashes even with everything now set at maximum. :D


Quote:CNC2142 High Textures (After)
Notice the additional sharpness, highlights and shadows. All this improvement comes without any extra performance costs too :)

Today, we will be posting pictures of our most up-to-date Cerbere Landing map! As always, tell us what you think, we hope you'll like this update as much as we do! :D

Derek

Post comment Comments
Foxhounde
Foxhounde Apr 25 2012, 9:18pm says:

Saw the pictures and had complaint with them. They were way too epic for words!
Keep up the Amazing work!

+13 votes     reply to comment
Glarg
Glarg Jun 23 2012, 12:07am says:

I am curious, how do you go about reducing draw calls (and what exactly is one). I think I have a rough idea, but I am not certain.

And how are you making textures more efficient? Clearly you are making them better looking without extra cost, and I'd like to be able to do these better practices as well.

+2 votes     reply to comment
derek328
derek328 Jun 23 2012, 9:50pm replied:

Hey man! ^^ Well, optimization techniques really depend on what you're dealing with to be honest.

For each unit that you train, each structures you build, even the map terrain itself, all of these add "draw calls" to the game. In reality, it is a bit more complicated than that, but this is the simple version :)

Using CNC2142's SAGE engine as an example: it renders 3d objects by giving each object it's own "draw call". Because of this optimization, the SAGE engine can render a 2000-poly model, with the same efficiency as a 100-poly model.

The key to having great in-game performance, is to keep the number of draw calls to a minimum, so even if players mass crazy armies on-screen, lag will be less noticeable. ^^ There are many ways to reduce draw calls, but for the CNC2142 team, we try to merge all 3d models into 1 object as often as possible!

Using our EU tank unit as an example: its design included wheels, tracks, main body, main turrent, main gun barrel, machine-gun turrent and machine-gun barrels. However, as we work on it for the CNC2142 mod, all of these high quality polygons are optimized, then merged into no more than 2-3 parts in total. As a result, each EU tank polygon/model in-game will only take around 2-3 draw calls only, which is even more efficient than many of the original models from EA ;)

+2 votes     reply to comment
derek328
derek328 Jun 23 2012, 10:06pm replied:

As for making textures more efficient and better looking, that is a much more complicated problem.. :/

When EA designed BF2142, they textured all the structures using a "palette system". So, something as simple as a brick house could have wall textures from the file "herp_derp.TGA"; window textures from "blablabla.TGA"; and roof textures from "hahalol.TGA". Each of these texture files could contain some sort of texture for up to 5-6 totally unrelated structures, and that made our job very difficult.

We tried to recreate the structures by hand, but the results were just too different. Finally, we decided to build our own in-house tool, which would automatically read EA's programming and sort out each structure's original textures. We then bake those textures, and optimize them by removing unnecessary spaces, reorganizing sizes, giving larger structures a better focus on graphics quality.

Our goal is to strike the best balance between texture quality, and in-game performance. It was a slow and seriously painful process, but we managed to sort out all of the materials in the end, and the results definitely pay off!

Ultimately, each engine has its own pros and cons. Optimizations largely depend on what kind of final product you're looking for. Larger texture files will always look better, but they also seriously affect performance.

It is almost always a constant battle for balance between game performance, and graphics quality :) Let me know if you have any other questions ^_^

+2 votes     reply to comment
Glarg
Glarg Jun 23 2012, 11:42pm replied:

Thanks for the excellent response. As it turns out, my hunch was right. I learned to reduce the amounts of objects in a model while modding CnC Generals. That game had an almost criminal amount of parts per unit/building/ect, resulting in sub optimal performance. It was why mods that replaced many of the units could get better performance despite more complicated models and effects.

+2 votes     reply to comment
Glarg
Glarg Jun 23 2012, 11:52pm replied:

Generals also did a lot of texture sharing as well, but not quite to the scale of what you describe. I can see where the optimization is coming from now, you are tailoring things individually.

Again, thanks for taking the time to reply. Actually, you may consider posting this in some sort of how-we-mod/tips/tutorial post, so others can see (since comments on moddb are mostly ignorable).

I look forward to seeing more of the beautiful work you guys do.

+2 votes     reply to comment
derek328
derek328 Jun 25 2012, 5:17pm replied:

Thank you buddy! ^^ Yes, CNC Generals definitely has the potential to perform a lot better with some further optimizations, but considering it was one of the very first full-3D RTS games back in its day, I felt it was a pretty successful attempt by EA :)

The CNC2142 team is definitely planning a how-we-mod tutorial series for the future, including everything that we've learned in terms of game performance optimizations, gameplay coding, realistic heightmap environments in SAGE, etc. New modders should find them super useful in the years to come ^_^ Thanks again for your support!

+2 votes     reply to comment
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Capt_Polak
Capt_Polak Feb 11 2014, 7:06pm says:

The mod looks interesting, just not alot of updates though :/

+2 votes     reply to comment
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