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Overdraw: An effects dude’s worst enemy.

I would just love to see a thick black and grey smoke slowly sweeping throughout the battlefield and to see smoke and dust linger for several seconds after various explosions and impacts – however…

this will destroy the performance and the frame-rate will drop through the floor, making everybody curse at me and scream and yell and shake their fists in my general direction! SO…

The root of the problem is basically that particles filling out a large area of the screen will take the graphics card much longer to calculate (or draw) than hundreds or even thousands of tiny particles filling out small areas of the screen. A large number of large particles can be devastating to the frame-rate since the graphics-card will have to draw one pass for each particle filling out the screen at each frame and that takes a relatively long time.

I do however have a few things I can do to overcome the worst problems – or sort of anyway.

Instead of starting all the different particle spawns at the exact same time – a smouldering smoke after an explosion for example can be started with a slight delay so the smoke particles will only start spawning when the initial smoke particles has started to die off. This way the number of particles showing on screen at the same time can be somewhat reduced.

I can also consider making smaller amounts of particles and make them more dense instead of a larger number of more transparent ones. This may sometimes work but it’s not making the effect look just as good though.

Lastly we can make the engine look for particles that are getting too large for comfort (or too close to the camera) and either kill them off and/or render them in a lower resolution. This is a solution that we’re planning on taking a closer look at in the near future. The engine already does some of these things, but we need to refine the code a bit to make it a bit more selective and less destructive to the final look of the effects.

Hope this gives you guys an idea of some of the more boring and frustrating parts of an effects dudes daily life..
[You are just annoyed that we wont use ALL the processing power for sparks and smoke :-), Ed.]


  1. zerov25zerov2504-04-2013

    Wee new interface designs and a preview of the mortar I guess :)

    Yea, I understand how particles can be a pain in the performance, we want a awesome game and the we need to focus on engine instead on quality.

    • Reto.BomberBoReto.BomberBo04-04-2013

      Well sure enough zerov25 – but since I’m only doing effects and have absolutely no programing skills I think I’ll just keep focusing on the look and performance of my end of things and let the coders do their thing. ;)

      But thanks a bunch for commenting on my little blog! :)

  2. westwickwestwick04-04-2013

    Sounds good. I wonder, will battle smoke and drifting particles accumulate as a battle develops or be there from the start?

    Along with some destructible terrain this would be really cool to see how the battlefield gets decimated.

    • Reto.BomberBoReto.BomberBo04-04-2013

      Sorry westwick but I really can’t say as I don’t know at this point. But I personally agree with your views! :)

      Thanks for commenting!

  3. PegoPego04-05-2013

    Thank you for the Details Bomberbo!

    I was wondering, as the effects dude, Is it possible for you to use the current engine to create effects such as additional modifications to the current 3D models of the terrain and buildings due to explosions? Such as craters following a mortar blast or a tank shell explosion.
    Can you make 3D effects on surfaces instead of just classic Texture modification following a blast. It would be similar to shell craters or bullet holes, except it would be in 3D not just a texture.

  4. Reto.BomberBoReto.BomberBo04-05-2013

    You’re very welcome Pego.. As of right now it’s not really possible – however it will be in the not so distant future.

    I’m afraid the hard working coders are a little too busy doing other (more important) stuff at the moment – but I know it’s on their loooong list of future features. So please be patient – it will come some sunny day! ;)

    In the meanwhile I’ll probably do a new iteration of the bullet decals using a new and better normal map generator (Knald) so they’ll look a little better and more 3d’ish. I’ll soon do a new simple blast decal for grenade and tank shell impacts too, since the one used right now is just an over sized bullet decal that I’m aware kind of looks like crap..

    Thanks for commenting Pego! :)

  5. richardtreierrichardtreier04-05-2013

    I would suggest that you stop trying to use all the advanced particle technologies and would use simple plains that are parallell to the camera to fix jobs like this one (ofc. work it out with several of them so its not too ugly). Focus more on the textures and models themselves – fake smoke can be more authentic than real particles. This fake smoke only gets visible as you rotate the camera so there are some tricks to work that problem out. (Less GFX, better textures, pls)

    • richardtreierrichardtreier04-05-2013

      P.S. Work with your “coders” more closely together so you can use some wit in order to avoid having to drain all the gfx power.

      • Reto.BomberBoReto.BomberBo04-06-2013

        If I was working any closer with my coders I’d be inside them ;)

    • Reto.BomberBoReto.BomberBo04-05-2013

      Well richardtreier that’s exactly what I’m doing already.. I’m not using any advanced stuff only “facing camera” particles…

      thanks for commenting..

  6. ApplayApplay04-06-2013

    Any idea when we are getting wrecked vehicles and pieces floating away when they explode?
    2 weeks ago I got to hit 2 planes in a match, but it was quite bummer to see only a pilot flying away after a short explosion effect. ):

    • Reto.BomberBoReto.BomberBo04-06-2013

      Nope – sorry Applay I don’t know when… I do know that it will come – it’s on our long ‘to do list’ and on top of my wish list.. :)

      Thanks for commenting Applay..

      • ApplayApplay04-06-2013

        Thanks for the answer.

  7. ScharzerScharzer04-14-2013

    *Has two 1100$ Graphics cards* (4000$ rig)

    *Disappointed about the talk about the regular users’ their GPUs being too average to cope*

    I want my 4000$ computer to be worth its money, Reto. Being stuck at the screen max of 130 FPS while my computer wants to do 200+ is painful to see!
    …Anyway, thanks for helping create an awesome game.

    PS: Would it be an ‘Effect’ to have dead corpses of all soldiers scattered across the field? Sure, the framerate will drop after a billion soldiers die, but you could just make a lower texture map etc. for the dead soldiers, right? …It’d be nice to have your comrades’ dead corpses as cover. Or, even better, the corpses of the enemy.. <.<

    Keep up the good work ^-^

    • Reto.BomberBoReto.BomberBo04-15-2013

      Hi Scharzer… Render issues should be addressed to support… ;)

      I’m sorry but bodies scattered across the field is not really my table I’m afraid. However I do know that there’s talks about all that stuff here on base – so I bet it will come eventually.

      Thanks for commenting Scharzer.

  8. GaredGared04-23-2013

    As of right now when there’s a smoke really near to my view from some tank blast – my fps are lowering very noticeably.

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