Alpha 27, flying in your direction

New jetpack; use of Native Client; texture packs; translations; lots of behind-the-scenes changes.

New jetpack

We have a new jetpack model. It has animations. It still runs out of fuel, though, but we plan to leave that as it is.

A good place for fuel regeneration, but not for flying

QVM slowly going away

We began moving away some time ago from QVM towards Native Client. Now we’re starting to use NaCl binaries – we’re now able to use one for the game code run by the server. Eventually, this will be client-side too, but there’s still a lot of work to be done.

Map updates

We have new versions of Plat23 and Perseus, the differences being layout changes. Also, Parpax, Yocto and Chasm have been recompiled and we’ve sorted out some problems with gamma and there are the texture packs (see below), so these in particular will look a little different, while all other maps which haven’t been adjusted for this (yet) will look darker.

Texture packs

We’ve reduced resource duplication by introducing shared texture packs. While we’re not 100% there yet, there is still a significant reduction in the size of the map packs, and even where there are still some duplicated resources, we’ve converted the texture format to boost map load speed and performance. The texture sets also help mappers by providing a set of resources (complete with shaders) ready to be used in new maps.

There is an in-depth article on both texture packages and the map upgrades, but here’s a quick outline of the advantages:

  • Less to download
  • GPU-native texture formats:
    • Shorter map loading time
    • Lower GPU memory usage
    • Faster rendering, so higher frame rate
  • Shared texture packs:
    • Quick start for new maps
    • Less resource management for mappers

Bugfixes & Visible changes

Boosters don’t provide healing when there’s no active overmind. The trapper’s eyes should have been glowing last month – they are now. The kill and assist reporting has seen some clean-up; the visible differences are that the team-kill notifications are working properly again, and the “killed self” messages have been restored.

We’ve also added Italian and Russian translations, and some other translations have been updated.

Invisible changes

There’s been a lot of clean-up in various parts of the code – the audio system got an overhaul, some problems in the command system were fixed, and some more unused code was removed. As usual, there are other miscellaneous small fixes.

Problems beyond our control

If you use Ubuntu 14.04 (‘trusty’), you may notice a small backward step. This is due to a bug in the SDL 2.0 dev package which, basically, means that we can’t build using it without some less-than-nice hacks. So the decision was made to use SDL 1.2 for the moment.

NaCl binaries aren’t buildable on Debian 7 (‘wheezy’) at present because Google, in their wisdom, decided to use Ubuntu 12.04 LTS for building their SDK binaries. And that has a newer version of glibc than in wheezy, and a few of the binaries require code which isn’t present in the older version.