Odd graphical glitches in some of the player-created levels?

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Mechanist
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Odd graphical glitches in some of the player-created levels?

Postby Mechanist » Sat May 05, 2018 8:25 am

I've been randomly browsing through some of the player-created levels recently, and noticed some recurring patterns - none of which appear in the stock levels.

For an example, let's refer to "DRAKAN C", where all of these issues manifest at various points:

1. Bizarre, glitchy "lenticular tiles" which drastically vary their appearance depending on the viewing angle; alternating between their correct appearance, and a weird dark "flowing" texture - or sometimes just between two different (but still wrong) "flowing" textures.
Examples: along the river at the very start, just after exiting Rynn's house. Also where you use a key to unlock the portcullis at the harbor.
It appears to be somehow caused by the adjacent water somehow "leaking" onto the afflicted areas?

One wrong texture (HIGHLY color corrected).jpg
One wrong texture (HIGHLY color corrected).jpg (36.4 KiB) Viewed 746 times
And another one (also HIGHLY color corrected).jpg
And another one (also HIGHLY color corrected).jpg (30.75 KiB) Viewed 746 times


2. Z-fighting on some of the terrain faces. I also have some screenshots for this, but this shouldn't require a picture to explain.
Very obvious with at least one tile on the snowy mountain path, several steps after exiting the first cave (near where the scavenger is), not long after the start of the level.

3. Extremely bland-looking textures on some objects. It looks like some small items (such as single planks) have been scaled up to gargantuan proportions - which resulted in stretching the already low-res texture to such a level, that it makes even Tomb Raider 1 look extremely detailed in comparison.

4. Severe performance issues in some areas due to CPU bottlenecking (not GPU, I checked that).
For example, around the castle - this is, by far, the worst offender. Standing before its front door, I get ~18FPS with fog distance set to minimum, and ~12FPS with fog distance at 100%.
Of course I understand that this particular level appears to be relatively recent, but that's just nuts.

Interestingly, I've also noticed a few graphical oddities in Ruined Village - mostly just a few glitchy tiles, which sometimes would appear almost pure black. But quitting and restarting the game usually resolved that.

So here's a question to seasoned veterans: how much of this is actually more or less "normal"?

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Re: Odd graphical glitches in some of the player-created levels?

Postby UCyborg » Sun May 06, 2018 3:58 pm

Glitches in general aren't unusual in community levels, though I can't put a number on how many levels are OK and how many got bugs. Depends on the creator and I only got through them to wipe out those that don't even load, older buggier versions and those that weren't installed properly. There might have been some other basic issues I don't recall from the memory that I've taken care of. The levels themselves are just like author made them.

Regarding the GPU usage, I don't think GPU can ever be effectively used due Riot Engine's workings, it's all down to CPU. The more polygons are in the scene, the more CPU and the performance suffer. Some levels' high poly count also doesn't help with level's general appearance.

That level you mention is fairly old (2001), most modification dates in the repack are wrong because it was shared via torrent and wasn't zipped. Some things I've messed with have correct dates. From what I could gather, the development of community levels pretty much ceased after 2005. If there's an exception or two, Arokh's Twin might know about it, I only remember some talk about attempts to make some new levels few years ago, 2013-2015, but nothing was released AFAIK.

2001 was also the year Windows XP was released (and Windows 2000 was out 1 year earlier), bringing consumer features from 9x series to NT series, pushing NT forward to the masses. Due to the critical bugs in the Level Editor, it was pretty useless on these systems (and everything afterwards). That and declining popularity of the game were pretty much the final nail in the coffin of Drakan's modding world.

First attempt to patch for the editor was made in 2006, when things were already pretty bleak, but it wasn't enough. 3D view still crashed when there was more objects in the level. The fist patch for editor that mostly stabilized it was made in 2016 by me, though there are still rough edges. But if you don't close and re-open 3D view all the time and save often, it should be workable. Of course, the patch was out when 99% of people that knew their way around the editor was gone for a long time.
"When a human being takes his life in depression, this is a natural death of spiritual causes. The modern barbarity of 'saving' the suicidal is based on a hair-raising misapprehension of the nature of existence." - Peter Wessel Zapffe

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Re: Odd graphical glitches in some of the player-created levels?

Postby Mechanist » Sun May 06, 2018 4:24 pm

I only got through them to wipe out those that don't even load, older buggier versions and those that weren't installed properly. (...) The levels themselves are just like author made them.
Fair enough.
Although I still find it baffling how things like that have managed to slip by the level creators. :? The first two issues I mentioned are encountered in the first 1 and 10 minutes of gameplay, respectively.

And the performance issues in OOTF are kinda similar to the deal with game development for the older consoles: if it worked poorly on your test system, it will work just as poorly on everyone else's :D.

That level you mention is fairly old (2001), most modification dates in the repack are wrong because it was shared via torrent and wasn't zipped. Some things I've messed with have correct dates.
Oops. I just looked at "date modified", since that was the oldest value - and I had somehow failed to see its real name in the included readme file, so I couldn't find in the AL singleplayer level list.

Due to the critical bugs in the Level Editor, it was pretty useless on these systems (and everything afterwards). That and declining popularity of the game were pretty much the final nail in the coffin of Drakan's modding world. (...) The fist patch for editor that mostly stabilized it was made in 2016 by me, though there are still rough edges. (...) Of course, the patch was out when 99% of people that knew their way around the editor was gone for a long time.
Ironic. Especially since the editor seems to work fine for me in Win7 - although of course I do very little actual "editing", and use it rather as a "level viewer" instead.
I find it somewhat arcane - particularly the STOMP editor; the rest seems somewhat clunky, but not overly difficult.

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Re: Odd graphical glitches in some of the player-created levels?

Postby UCyborg » Sun May 06, 2018 5:19 pm

From my testing, it's the worst on 2000/XP. 7 is much better, but in either case, there is a variable involved we have no control over, amount of available stack space deep in the Windows kernel where it handles SendMessage call.

Documentation states that this call will silently fail under certain circumstances. This is easily observed in practice by analyzing the editor with debugger, preferably on different Windows versions with different hardware configurations.

Despite these issues, you could probably still do much with even just 2006 patch, given the right circumstances. The main reason is still just absent modding community. The technical issues are nevertheless undeniable. Missing objects in 3D view are also possible manifestation of the bug: viewtopic.php?f=2&t=3765&start=75#p31865
"When a human being takes his life in depression, this is a natural death of spiritual causes. The modern barbarity of 'saving' the suicidal is based on a hair-raising misapprehension of the nature of existence." - Peter Wessel Zapffe

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Re: Odd graphical glitches in some of the player-created levels?

Postby Mechanist » Sun May 06, 2018 5:32 pm

The biggest "issue" I have with the 3D View, is that the mouse Y axis is inverted from what it should logically be, and there seems to be no setting for flipping it :shock:.

Well, then there's also the thing that some of the enormous trigger boxes are obscuring large parts of the level. Quite possibly their visibility can be toggled somehow, but I didn't read the documentation that thoroughly.

What surprises me, though, is the sheer efficiency of how the level data is stored. A single floppy's worth of level data can easily hold around 10 hours of content - and almost twice that if compressed.
Of course all of this is possible only because a lot of the objects are stored in the common databases. But still - in modern games, such an amount of data wouldn't even make for 1 minute's worth of content...


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