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Quick look on new features and changes from A7 to A8

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Conitec released the next generation of GameStudio with Acknex A8 engine. New A8 features in a quick look:

Except for physics commands, A8 is 100% compatible to A7, so all A7 projects will nomally still run under A8 without any change. The differences of version A8.00 to A7 are listed below.

  • A8 Commercial uses the graphics hardware for accelerated bones rendering. This way, A8 can render bones animated actors about 3 times faster than A7 (5 times faster than A6). An example level crowd.c is included for comparing the A7 and A8 rendering speed (A7 Commercial: 14 fps; A8 Commercial: 40 fps).
  • Due to an improved ABT algorithm, all A8 editions render levels with many entities noticably faster than A7. A8 supports up to 200,000 entities per level (A7: 100,000; A6: 15,000). A8 Pro renders sprites with instancing, and runs the terrain demo about 30% faster with twice the vegetation density.
  • Due to an improved collision shape management, sprites are now loaded faster and consume less memory.
  • The hardware accelerated PhysX engine replaced the old ODE physics engine. There are a lot of new physics commands, but the syntax of the old commands is maintained, so it's very easy to move old physics applications to A8. In almost all cases this will result in a better frame rate and greater stability of the physics simulation.
  • The DirectPlay network library was replaced by the Enet library. This won't affect the network functions, so no script change is required and previous network projects still work as before. The main advantage is that a network server now doesn't use DirectX anymore, which allows a possible future development of Linux based network servers.
  • A8 supports user-switchable portal regions in WED. This way, rendering speed in indoor levels can be greatly increased even without using a BSP tree.
  • The publish process was improved. A published A8 acknex.dll now works with all executables generated with the same development system. This way, a single DLL can be used for many EXEs (A7 and before required a separate DLL for any EXE). This also overcomes the problems with some commercial wrapper systems.
  • An overlay channel in the window outside of the DirectX area is now supported. This way, arbitrary shaped windows are possible under Vista and Windows 7. An example can be found in the digital.c sample.
  • A8 supports layer particles as a 2D effect, similar to layer entities.
  • A8 Commercial uses the graphics hardware for bitmap processing and even general mathematics parallel processing.
  • For maintaining compatibility to old C-Script projects from the A6 age, A8 Extra and above still supports C-Script.
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