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Author Topic: Who sucked the fun out of being able to fly?  (Read 164 times)

Thundercraft

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Who sucked the fun out of being able to fly?
« on: September 12, 2017, 08:37:42 AM »

Of course my question is rhetorical. Yet, the spirit of the question is sincere: Flying is no longer fun in PE. Why? Because of how it has changed: Every few seconds, over and over... having one's helicopter or airship suddenly stop in mid-air - as if it hit a brick wall - and waiting 1 or 2 minutes for the terrain to load and cache is not only completely immersion-breaking, it is downright boring. Indeed, I get the impression that I could travel faster by ground vehicle, by boat, or even by foot. At least by ground vehicle or boat I don't have to wait for several kilometers of land to load because one can't see that far on the ground or at sea level.

This mid-air pause while the terrain loads happens so frequently that I had a hard time verifying the maximum speed of airship. It almost never reached 100 KPH because it almost always paused and spooled before it got that high. (Usually, it barely reached 80 KPH.)

I do understand that PE can be a hardware-intensive game. But, come on! It's been over 3 years since I bought PE and I half-expected some optimizations to make the experience a bit better. If nothing else, I expected flying to be about the same as it was. What I did not expect was flight performance to drop so much as to be all but unplayable.

What was wrong with the old system, whereby we could fly faster than the terrain could load? At least flying was smooth and the experience less immersion-breaking. At least we could get from point A to point B much faster than by ground vehicle or by boat.

To add insult to injury though: Our aircraft's FUEL continues to deplete even when it is stuck in midair while the terrain loads! Why should our fuel deplete if we are not moving?

And, for heaven's sake, if you must hold our aircraft in midair like that while continuing to burn fuel, why can't we at least turn to face a different direction?

If nothing else, please give us an option in the Options Menu to disable "Pause while terrain is loading". I BEG YOU! I want flying in PE to be fun again. But that will never happen as long as I have to keep hitting a brick wall while the terrain loads.

To be fair, I realize that the game is still under development. And I do appreciate that flying mechanics is being worked on. I suppose I was mildly annoyed that some of my older aircraft designs no longer fly correctly or very well. But, I understand that things must change to get improved. Seeing continued development and systems like flight mechanics get some love makes it worthwhile... in theory.
« Last Edit: September 13, 2017, 08:28:18 AM by Thundercraft »
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Thundercraft

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Re: Who sucked the fun out of being able to fly?
« Reply #1 on: September 13, 2017, 08:28:40 AM »

To clarify: I'm talking in particular about flying aircraft in Adventure Mode, where game behavior is particularly bad. I haven't flown around much in Story Mode lately, but I can already tell that it is better (not much waiting for terrain to load) than it is in Adventure Mode, where one can only fly for a few seconds at a time.

Also, it may be noteworthy that, originally, I had PE installed on a SSD, but I now have it installed on a (rather high performance) hard drive. I may try to reinstall on a SSD to see if it makes a difference. However, I distinctly remember having to wait for the terrain to load many versions ago when the game was new to me. Though, we were not frozen in time while waiting for the terrain to load, so it was not a big deal back then.
« Last Edit: September 13, 2017, 08:31:18 AM by Thundercraft »
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Thundercraft

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Re: Who sucked the fun out of being able to fly?
« Reply #2 on: September 15, 2017, 04:23:03 AM »

Update:
I forgot to mention the strangeness of how the game seems to try to update the terrain when flying. Specifically:

(1) There seems to be a transition when one lifts up far enough above the ground that small details start to become obscured. By "transition" I mean that the game will even stall out (frozen, burning fuel, as the game loads/caches terrain data) when merely moving vertically. Could this be the game loading additional terrain data because the higher altitude allows seeing the distance further?

(2)The game will stall even when there is nothing but ocean below - no visible land. This seems like such a waste of CPU cycles and disk activity, to load or calculate something which is not even visible to the player! What is the game doing - calculating massive cavern systems below the oceans? It should not even bother to calculate the ocean floor unless it is visible from the player's viewpoint several hundred meters above.

(3) Watching how the game slowly draws the landscape, I noticed that the first thing it does is display WATER underneath every square of terrain... But, why? What's the point? Again, this is something that players will never see unless they are flying over an ocean. There should not be an ocean of water under the land, anyway.

(4) With Voxel Cache left on, it does not seem to help flying over explored terrain. But - for me, anyway - turning it off did not seem to improve or worsen performance, either. (See the Voxel Cache / drive error Steam discussion for details.) Flying back over terrain which I've already explored does not seem to be any faster than exploring new terrain. Indeed, it almost seems like the game is trying to update old explored terrain, leading to the same stalling and lack of performance as flying over new, virgin terrain.
   (4.a) As evidence of my theory (updating old terrain instead of properly using it as cache to speed things up), I've noticed that the game will pause/stall to update terrain even over explored terrain when said terrain is still visible below. It does not look like it needs to be loaded from disk or recalculated, but it stalls anyway. And then, right before the game resumes and I can fly again, I noticed that the terrain visibly changes, but ever so slightly. The fact that it subtly changes implies that the game had to recalculate or reload something already there.
   (4.b) Further evidence that the game is not properly utilizing the Voxel Cache (when on) to speed things up is how it forgets explored terrain. When flying over already explored terrain, I get stalled and I watch as it slowly redraws most of it, as if it is unexplored terrain. Strangely, though, this is patchy. Parts of explored terrain remain behind, while other parts just disappear and have to be reloaded or recalculated.
« Last Edit: September 15, 2017, 04:31:03 AM by Thundercraft »
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Zifei

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Re: Who sucked the fun out of being able to fly?
« Reply #3 on: September 16, 2017, 04:37:30 AM »

The flying part is kinda borked, the Unity 5 physics were very different from the Unity 4 ones, that was the major issue. We tried to minimize the effects as much as possible, but right now, it is what it is.  :(
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Iron Newt

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Re: Who sucked the fun out of being able to fly?
« Reply #4 on: September 16, 2017, 06:08:00 AM »

From messing about terrain travel speed can be limited by CPU & media speed.

For reference on an i5-7600K @ 4.4GHz & a 330k IOPs NVMe SSD I can cruise at, a cpu limited, 130~135km/h on unexplored terrain with very minor pausing. Over explored terrain I'm able to travel at around 280km/h, which seems to be SSD limited, before significant glitching occurs. With my voxel cache on a rotational drive it's more like 45~50km/h & 80~90km/h, which is HDD limited in both cases.
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Thundercraft

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Re: Who sucked the fun out of being able to fly?
« Reply #5 on: September 17, 2017, 12:14:15 PM »

I appreciate the replies, really. But...

A) In PE versions prior to converting the engine to Unity 5, there was no pausing, regardless of the CPU or hard drive speed. Players did not need excessively expensive or bleeding edge hardware as the game allowed us to fly over empty space - terrain that the game had yet to load or calculate - without issue.

What part of switching to Unity 5 necessitated that the game pause while flying? For ground vehicles or boats this makes sense, as driving over terrain that has not been loaded would cause the player to fall through the ground. But... why aircraft? Even if it was necessary, there's no logical reason why an aircraft should burn fuel while the aircraft is stuck and the game is basically paused.

B) The Voxel Cache is supposed to improve performance in Adventure Mode when flying over terrain that has already been explored... correct? That was my understanding. However, according to everyone posting in the Voxel Cache / drive error Steam discussion, disabling this actually improved performance (or makes very little difference, as in my case).

Does this mean that the Voxel Cache is broken or bugged? If it's not broken, then why gobble up tens or hundreds of gigabytes of the player's HD space for actually worse performance?

I really do appreciate all the hard work in trying to improve PE, especially with bug fixing and adding new content and features. However, it seems like many new patches change certain things in a negative way. In hindsight, wouldn't you say the switch to Unity 5 was a mistake? At this point, I think I'd prefer to play one of the older versions, prior to Unity 5, with all the original voice acting and everything. At least it would run reasonably well even on older hardware.
« Last Edit: September 17, 2017, 12:24:49 PM by Thundercraft »
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Iron Newt

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Re: Who sucked the fun out of being able to fly?
« Reply #6 on: September 17, 2017, 01:29:57 PM »

The Voxel Cache is supposed to improve performance in Adventure Mode when flying over terrain that has already been explored... correct? That was my understanding. However, according to everyone posting in the Voxel Cache / drive error Steam discussion, disabling this actually improved performance (or makes very little difference, as in my case).

To use the voxel cache or not is basically finding out what's a bigger bottle neck; your CPU or your storage sub-system. In very simplistic terms your CPU will be able to calculate voxels at a certain rate, your disk sub-system will be able to read/write voxels at a certain rate. You have to find the one that produces more voxels per unit of time. If your CPU can calculate more voxels than the disk sub-system can deliver then it'll be faster turning the cache off. This isn't a bugged or broken caching, it's just the performance balance of that system.

For me, my SSD is about 2x faster at delivering voxels than the CPU, hence why I can do 280km/h over explored terrain but 135km/h over unexplored terrain. If  were to only have my rotational drive, it would be faster to turn the voxel cache off.
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