Rendering Fixes, Performance, and More Playtesting
Hey Folks! A fair amount of progress today, as I continued playtesting, and solving rendering/performance issues, many of which have been around a while.
The day's first fix was the ambient light button in ship editing mode. Now that I have a better handle on camera culling masks, I was able to adjust the scene's objects to render even in shadowed areas, which solved the annoying issue of trying to edit a ship in the dark. I also removed the non-functioning "Dim" property on objects, and created a new "Highlight" property for use in connecting signal sources in a control panel. We can now see valid targets highlighted when doing so!
I made a bunch of changes to the power overlay, which ultimately means it only appears when you toggle it on now. Much like the highlights above, I made use of the culling masks and layers to show/hide power icons and meters completely, so we get a clean scene render now, without all those icons floating everywhere in the dark.
During all of this editing, I was finding the big ship layout painful to load. Often 30-50s of watching a static screen as it loaded! It turns out there was some string concatenation inside each tile, causing it to be called 250k times on the large ship. Changing that to use StringBuilder appends cut the loading time in half. Plus, some other optimizations further reduced loading times to be less painful. Still probably too slow, but 5-15s is much easier to stomach :)
The big ship now has its batteries segregated from the rest of the ship's grid via the reactor, so it works like the chargen station. This reduces battery drain when the reactor is offline in derelicts.
There was a minor bug in stacked items causing them to appear in the scene's root node, instead of on their ship. So that's fixed now. I also found and fixed a pesky bug that wasn't cleaning-up old ships when they were removed, which caused weird lighting shadows in the player's initial ship.
The result is a handful of improvements to the playability of the game. Incremental visual improvements, faster speed, etc. Today's screenshot is the view we see as we board the derelict from our salvage pod, and you can see debris littering the dark gangway. Holes and damaged walls here and there. And no floaty UI icons!