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 Cyna Games > News archives
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November 7, 2002
November 07, 2002, 00:00:00
Today I received my replacement Radeon 9700 Pro from ATI. It has yet to crash, even after running (for a test) Kyodai Mahjongg for 51 minutes. So it's probably safe to say that the previous card was faulty and my PC was okay. Hopefully I can now use it for programming. I'm also glad to announce that the DirectX 8 version of Kyodai Mahjongg is about 10% faster on the Radeon 9700 than the DirectX 7 version. Okay, not that it would matter much in such conditions (over 200 frames per second...), but it's still a nice surprise to me. Back to work now ! I have a beta version to finish for this week Smile
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November 6, 2002
November 06, 2002, 00:00:00
Out of curiosity, I launched version 18.75 of the game today. I hadn't played it for months. Guess what. It's so slow that it's close to unplayable on my machine. I don't know why. The game is always very fast, but there is something in the input routines that wouldn't work, slowing down the mouse in the process. Anyway, that problem doesn't appear in the upcoming version. Everything that was slow for you in the current version, might probably be fast in the next. We'll see. I'm preparing a special beta version for registered users. If you're on my mailing list, well... Wait for my e-mail ! It'll be coming this week Smile  Update : I've been told by an user that the problem I was describing happened only with 40+ Detonator drivers (the latest ones), not with the 30+ series. And indeed I was using the 40+ series. I thought you'd like to know.
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November 5, 2002
November 05, 2002, 00:00:00
After two days of rewriting, rethinking, remodeling everything, I finally figured out that the performance drop I had was in fact due to myself using CopyRects routines from IDirect3DSurface8 interfaces (created by CreateImageSurface) to the backbuffer. I wasn't aware that CreateImageSurface would create surfaces in system memory, so obviously it was a slow process to copy to the backbuffer -- although I didn't expect it to create a sort of "bottleneck" that would limit the game to a maximum of 100 FPS. Anyway, I had to rewrite (again) a part of the interface routine, and make it use IDirect3DTexture8 interfaces instead of simple surfaces. Now, it works, it's (supposedly and hopefully) compatible with early 3Dfx cards (even though I don't see myself playing the latest version of Kyodai Mahjongg with a Voodoo Graphics board...), and it's, well, roughly the same speed as the DirectX 7.0 version, as opposed to the last time I tested. Oh, and that's during the game. The 3D logo animation is actually much faster now, jumping to 285 FPS. But with the same video card, my Pentium III 450mhz computer managed 320 to 360 FPS on the same screen, same settings. Why could a machine 7 times slower manage better performance than my current one ? Hu ? I don't know. I'll have to check the settings. Maybe it's the GeForce3 that sucks with newer CPUs. Anyway. I'll be spending the next few days restructuring my code, cleaning it, trying to implement correctly the fullscreen modes without having the game crash (well, at least I've been able to run it in multisample mode a couple of times, and it looked good !). Then I will fetch a few "to-dos" from my to-do-list, do a private beta session, think about adding a mini-game, and, and... finally I'll be starting my new game. That should be in about... 4 or 5 y..m...weeks. Hopefully Smile Anyway I'm aiming for a release of the new version before the end of the year. I'd like a Christmas release Smile
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October 30, 2002
October 30, 2002, 00:00:00
Still working on the DX8 port... I've been able to convert all dialog boxes (and visual components, obviously), all windows (with fade-in effects, eh eh), and today I finished the main menu. Well, nearly finished. I'm still having a few minor issues with the highlighted text and shadows, and I haven't found a workaround so far. But I probably will, uh. So, basically, most of the game is now powered by DX8, although I'm not so happy about it. I mean, I was expecting a jump in performance, and there's actually a 10-20% drop instead. It's even worse during the game selector, where the 3D logo animation only reaches 170 FPS when it used to be at 230 FPS with the DX7 version. Okay, at this level, there's no real point in gaining performance or not... I know. But I'm still thinking about the older video cards that have trouble running the game at full speed (sob). I believe DX8 will only be a transition for me. From now on, I'll be able to decide whether I want to switch (back) to OpenGL, or give DX9 a try. I've been enrolled in the DX9 beta program today, and am looking into the 200mb SDK. It's absolutely useless to me for now (there are no Delphi headers provided, and the people I know who usually do the header conversion aren't on the DX9 beta program, so I'm stuck with the C++ headers which aren't of much interest to me), but at least I can start learning what DX9 could bring me. I was first interested in the library because it re-implemented DX7's "GetDC" instruction [allowing GDI operations on DirectX surfaces] which Microsoft seemed to have given up in DX8. Only, I've now made a workaround by having a GDI surface in memory and copying its contents manually into a DX surface whenever the GDI stuff is modified. It's a rather CPU-intensive routine which manages to noticeably slow down a Pentium III 450mhz, unfortunately, but not enough to bother me. On my new Pentium IV 2.8ghz, the routine is just as fast as what I used to get with the GetDC method. One of the advantages of my manual method is that I could port the game to OpenGL without many changes needed. So I'm sticking with it for now... Overall, I haven't been very creative this week. The only changes I made to the game are cosmetic, and these are very small graphic details that nobody but me will notice. Ah, never mind. At least I'm currently reworking a lot of code to make it cleaner, delegate low-level tasks to subroutines, and make the code generally easier to understand and to port to another API -- hopefully. I'm still a long way from achieving a professional-looking source code, but it's still better than what I had last week. And I'm not planning to stop there. Maybe I could implement a dual-engine to enable both OpenGL and DirectX support. Ahhh, silly me. I know it would never work... I'm too lazy to do this kind of thing Smile Anyway. It's bedtime for me now (I know, you're relieved !). I'm not too sleepy though. I don't want to count sheep. What about DirectX versions. DirectX 2, DirectX 3, DirectX 5... Brr... Zzzz.....  PS : I know that "only" 86% of you don't seem to have problems with OpenGL, but I have one question... Why, out of the remaining 46 voters, has no one taken the time to send an e-mail explaining the crash ? I'd specifically asked you to write... Hu. Maybe you're just teasing me and you didn't even try version 10.21 ;o)
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October 22, 2002
October 22, 2002, 00:00:00
Hello hello. I've been fortunate enough this week to NOT crash during work ; so far so good. I've taken into account the results of the 3D API poll (yes, I did !!) and gave up DirectX 7.0 definitely. Since I didn't keep an usable copy of my DX7 source code, I just hope people who voted for newer DirectX versions won't have trouble with Kyodai Mahjongg in the future... Anyway. Now I can play a Solitaire game in DX8. I'm quite happy about it. I still have to reimplement all of the dialog boxes and menus, which used 100% DirectDraw (DX7) instructions in the latest build... And since DirectDraw (and specifically GetDC) support has been removed from DX8, err... I guess I'd rather make a DX9 version as soon as possible, since it re-implements GetDC support. Phew... Now who's going to be kind enough to send me a copy of the DX9 SDK ? (Well, I'm asking the question Smile)  I don't even know when DX9 will be officially released... MS is really lagging on this one ! Hey MS, make it quick or I'm saying good riddance and switching to OpenGL ! Wink (I don't know if that kind of threat is thrilling them or not... After all there are millions of users of Kyodai Mahjongg who would have to... switch to OpenGL as well.... Wink)  Oh, this is all geek rubbish again !! I must be cursed or something. Oh, no, I just remembered : I'm a game developper. That explains everything !
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October 16, 2002
October 16, 2002, 00:00:00
And here's another silly poll for all of you who like to click on buttons Smile Honestly, the poll is here to see whether people are scared of OpenGL because it doesn't work on their machine, or because version 10.21 isn't as pretty as version 18.75. As I told you yesterday, if I did come back to OpenGL, the game would not only retain its current graphics and interface, but I could also improve on them much faster, because I wouldn't have to spend time figuring out the problems caused by DirectX. Don't forget to install OpenGL drivers if you haven't (gl-setup). You normally don't need it if you've already played a Quake-like game recently.  
Does Kyodai 10.21 work on your computer ? (No crashes)
No (please e-mail me to tell me what happens)
Yes it runs, but crashes during a game (please e-mail me with the error message)
Yes, but it's so slow it's unplayable

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October 15, 2002
October 15, 2002, 00:00:00
Okay, the good news is, I recovered all of the data I lost on October 10... Good thing there are programs to "unformat" quick-formatted partitions. Now if only I could save the 20gb I lost a couple of weeks ago... The drive was so fragmented that all of the large files are unusable (sob).  The bad news is, I'm nearly unable to work on Kyodai Mahjongg. Not that I don't want to. But my brand new Radeon 9700, which I hoped would fix the infamous Radeon 8500 "infinite loop" bug (which causes full PC crashes on Direct3D games at any random time), is actually worsening the problem... So, now the crashes even appear when Kyodai Mahjongg is minimized and only running in the background. And it used to appear only during the Game Selector screen. Now it happens in all mini-games as well. I tried a lot of things to get rid of the problem, and nothing works. I love PC's when they tend to crash even out of the box. At least, if you had a problem running Kyodai Mahjongg and other 3D games, you know you are not alone. Even a competent programmer who knows how these machines actually run can have such trouble.  I've also heard that NVidia cards also had similar "infinite loop" problems, but only on VIA chipsets. Does anyone have a spare GeForce Ti 4600 board for me ? Wink Anyway, I'm concerned about something. If Kyodai Mahjongg wouldn't run on my machine, why should it run on yours ? I mean, it's not my fault (I'm getting crashes on all Direct3D games), but what if I simply switched to OpenGL ? "Simply" is an easy word though -- it would require rewriting the whole graphic engine. But I did just that in a few months back when I switched from OpenGL to Direct3D 6.0 in 2000, between version 10.21 and 11.00 of the game. Originally, I switched to DirectX because OpenGL wasn't widely supported on video cards at that time, but it has probably changed, because there are a lot of OpenGL-based games out there now, mostly using the Quake engine. Hey, even I was addicted to Anachronox at one point. (Never could finish it though, because it couldn't stop crashing after some time... Not because of OpenGL, mind you !)  I'll try to be more straight-forward. Please try version 10.21 of Kyodai Mahjongg. I'm not asking you to tell me if it's better. It isn't. It's slow, it's not well programmed, not optimized, I was just a beginner in 3D programming. I'm really ashamed of that version. But it's OpenGL-based. If it works for you, then you might as well play the game in OpenGL in the future if the result is exactly the same. Plus, I could even try to make a Linux version of the game. Wouldn't promise anything though. I'm aware it wouldn't sell much anyway Wink And I've never been able to install Linux correctly Wink))  What I'm trying to say is, if you're having problems with the current DirectX (Direct3D) version, and the OpenGL version is working fine for you, then please answer the poll below. In any case, I'd like you to answer, I'd like to hear your opinions about what I should do. If I'm the only one having "infinite loop" and other crashes on Kyodai Mahjongg, then I'll just switch to a GeForce card and continue my work on the current version. Otherwise I'll have to delay it a bit. But switching to OpenGL could also help me simplify my code overall. I have to say it : DirectX sucks. Microsoft always claims their API is being simplified. Yeah, that's it. Simplified. Adding an assembly-language-based vertex/pixel-shader engine is not exactly my conception of simplification. (And, yes, I know OpenGL 2.0 will include shaders too) I'm not trying to "bias" you into voting for OpenGL, I'm not even sure I want to start again from scratch, especially because I'll probably have to reprogram the GUI and drop Voodoo 2 cards support, but I'm sick being forced to consider DirectX as my only "viable" option. I can do both. I already did. I like both APIs. I just chose DirectX long ago because most people didn't even have OpenGL drivers and couldn't run the game. For the first time in my life, I won't vote in a poll I uploaded here. I used to have an opinion on every question I asked. This time I don't. I'm open.  So it's up to you. Make yourself heard Smile Feel free to e-mail me as well about the matter. (As always, I just want to remind you that I won't answer, but I will read your e-mails)  Thanks !
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October 10, 2002
October 10, 2002, 00:00:00
And today I lost another 15gb of data... Wink  'was my fault, unfortunately (?). I formatted a partition for reinstalling Windows on it, and didn't look hard enough at its contents... It had a small "C" directory which, as it names implies, contained the whole C: partition of my previous configuration... This was actually the only partition I had managed to salvage entirely. Now it's become the first partition to have been wiped out entirely... Ouch. Well, I can't complain too much. Now I have a Pentium 4 2.8ghz with 512mb RIMM4200 RDRAM. Which makes Kyodai Mahjongg run at 366 FPS on my Radeon 9700 with Realistic Tiles disabled. What's the point ? Err... There's no point in that. I'm just a poor geek, and my life is hopeless Smile I can't believe I actually lost over 35 gigabytes of data in less than 2 weeks, and nearly entirely by my fault. Well, a few hours ago I was pretty convinced I had lost my 80gb hard drive (which contains all of my data), so I like to think I actually recovered 65gb of data instead of losing 15gb today. Always look on the briiight side of life... Wink
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October 8, 2002
October 08, 2002, 00:00:00
(Virus warning) Hmm, it's happening again... A stupid virus is spreading and I'm being a victim of it. Not that I "caught" it. I'm well aware of how viruses work, having myself written an anti-virus in my good ol' Atari ST days. No, just like the Klez virus earlier this year, the BugBear virus is spreading through your address book and forging the "From:" header with e-mail addresses taken from your address book or from your web cache (read: my website).  So, basically, a lot of people are receiving e-mails from me with an attachment. They were not sent by me, but by a virus faking my e-mail address. It's actually quite easy not to fall into the trap, as I'm not used to sending unsollicitated e-mails (I'm already having enough of a hard time answering the e-mails I receive !), especially e-mails containing attachments. Plus, if I did send an attachment, I would mention it in the body of the e-mail -- neither BugBear nor Klez do that. In conclusion, please stop complaining about viruses you received from me. Thank you for listening ! Smile
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October 7, 2002
October 07, 2002, 00:00:00
I don't know why, there's always a few fans who will ask me for news when I haven't updated this page for over a month. Well, I'm still alive (hopefully), trying to finish a first public beta before the end of the month, but I just don't have anything to say... Unless you're strongly interested in how my PC and my data have coped with my latest hard drive crash (last month) which made me lose over 20gb of data (including a few things related to Kyodai Mahjongg). Eh, can't do anything about that. I've recovered the Kyodai data anyway. I'm going to purchase a new machine soon, probably to make me learn to stop worrying and love computers Wink  Oh, and yes, I finally received the SIA trophy. Looks really nice on my desktop ! Smile
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