Sins of a Solar Empire : Real-Time Strategy. Unrivalled Scale.
© 2003-2014 Ironclad Games Corporation Vancouver, BC. All rights reserved.
© 2006-2014 Stardock Entertainment

Why 64-bit and Multiple cores matter

By on April 21, 2013 6:03:35 PM from JoeUser Forums JoeUser Forums

Frogboy

Join Date 03/2001
+1089

imageThere are two main problems game developers, particularly *strategy* game developers are trying to deal with these days:

1. Memory

and

2. Feeding the GPU

There's almost a third which involves CPU starvation which has to do with the poor way we handle our data structures but that's a lesser issue.

Now, with regards to memory, we can say all day that graphics shouldn't matter but they do. Forums are full of people saying how much they still like some old game but the fact is, visuals matter. A lot. It has nothing to do with coding ability. High resolution textures use a lot of memory. Moreover, Megatextures (which help with CPU starvation) use a ton of memory in exchange for greater performance, especially on lower end hardware.

People like pretty graphics and the 2GB limit we've been programming to since 2001 remains the same. On a 32-bit setup, you'd be hard pressed to beat the visual experience of Supreme Commander or Age of Empires 3 even today. Memory, not CPU or GPU, is the limiting factor on strategy game visuals.

As a result, we developers have had to find other ways of improving the visuals of strategy games while staying in 2GB of memory. We limit zooming out. We design games that have fewer units in them (there's a reason that Sins of a Solar Empire hasn't gotten a 4th faction, there's not enough memory).
Going 64-bit solves that problem right away.

Second, feeding the GPU. This is where cores come in and DirectX 11. Having a large chunk of the market sticking with Windows XP until recently was really painful because DirectX 9c only allows one thread to interact with the graphics driver. So all those cores you have on your CPU could do some nice things but at the end of the day, only 1 thread can interact with the GPU. DirectX 11 fixes this completely (other than video drivers that serialize things still but that's an issue that is being addressed). With DirectX 11, every thread (which are enhanced by your cores) can talk directly with the video driver.

When you combine these things, you could potentially have strategy games that comapre well to scenes from The Two Towers. Note that none of the Unreal engine demos take on that kind of scene. Pay attention to the number of units/objects in a given scene. To be able to show entire armies battling it out in amazing cool detail you need memory and you need multiple cores sending stuff to the GPU in parallel.

28 Replies
Search this post
Subscription Options


Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
April 21, 2013 8:07:19 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums


but you could still give us the option for pedestrians on our 32-bit systems.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
April 22, 2013 5:05:50 AM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

Good article, thanks.

My question is, with 64bit/multicore adoption nearing critical mass and new consoles around the corner, are you going to develop your next batch of games with this in mind? I mean, in the "RTS not dying" thread you implied there wont be Sins 2 until 64bit/multicore is norm...is the next iteration of Iron engine already in the works? Or it is still too soon?

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
April 22, 2013 10:10:18 AM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

Would pay $5 or $10 for SoaSE or FE 64-bit executables.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
April 22, 2013 12:10:40 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Ynglaur,
Would pay $5 or $10 for SoaSE or FE 64-bit executables.

Would pay $5 or $10 to have access to switching on pedestrians on 32-bit systems.

 

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
April 22, 2013 12:17:16 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I would pay 100 € for a 64-bit directx11 version of LH.

 

PS. The more enormous your claim, the more valid your argument is. Up next: 1000 USD for eyefinity.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
April 22, 2013 12:33:48 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I don't have any money but you can have my Grandmother for a 64 bit thingy.  She is still active and can do jobs around the house.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
April 22, 2013 1:47:03 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

Frog is right and the reason why the switch to dx11 and 64bit is important is because of APUs from intel and amd. 

The power of these APUs is the combination of a Multi-core CPU and Dx11 GPU on the same die for the price of a single CPU machine. As you can imagine the possibilities for a cheap gaming machine that supports all recommended specs of the sins are now in fruition. 

Windows 7 is also in fruition with at-least 45% of the users still refusing to switch to windows 8 and have upgraded from windows xp. The windows OS segmentation says that dx11 is actually a very mainstream API. 

 

 

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
April 22, 2013 2:12:40 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums

All I've got is 64-bit, 4GB of RAM and two cores.  And the last two aren't going to change any time soon.  In fact, it's quite probable that I won't be able to afford any new games even if they do cater to that bare minimum.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
April 22, 2013 2:32:46 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

Quoting MarvinKosh,

All I've got is 64-bit, 4GB of RAM and two cores.  And the last two aren't going to change any time soon.  In fact, it's quite probable that I won't be able to afford any new games even if they do cater to that bare minimum.

 

you already have some of the recommended specs except for not mentioning the graphics card. You don't account for the low spec users because the original crysis was intended for two cores.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
April 22, 2013 2:53:35 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums


The Totalwar series has done large scale battles that look sexy for a fair while now..

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
April 23, 2013 9:52:36 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Yes, many, including moi, resist moving to win 8,  Way too many horror stories out there about win 8.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
April 23, 2013 2:23:00 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

Don't get people started about windows 8 !

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
April 23, 2013 2:49:43 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

Windows 8 is the best OS ever written.

 

Let the carnage begin...

 

 

backs out of the room slowly...

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
April 23, 2013 4:23:04 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums
Oh, I am so sorry, I was struck by a byte of momentary insanity. My apologies. What i meant to say was: "Thinking of Riddlekings comments about the percentages of users who have win7 and have refused to upgrade to [the OS that is not to be named]..." My bad. (embarrassed blush)
Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
April 23, 2013 9:58:16 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

Windows 8 is by far better than Windows Vista was, just no reason to upgrade from Windows 7.

Wait... what was this thread about???

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
April 24, 2013 12:09:20 AM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

"Why 64-bit and Multiple cores matter" ... I believe this was the topic you were looking for.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
April 24, 2013 9:28:48 AM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

Well Windows 8 would only need 8 cores to get 64 bit....windows 7 would need like, 9.14 cores....or would that be 9 cores and 1 GB of RAM? 

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
April 24, 2013 5:00:36 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I really like these articles about computerhardware, 64bit, DirectX 11 and such

 

 

About zooming in and amount of units on the field, I don't want the player to be able to zoom out and neither do I want large armies. I like Company of Heroes which have a maximum outzommed camera and have abandoned the old "unit spam" RTSs like C&C, StarCraft and Supreme Commander that focused on macromanagement.

I feel alone on that in this place but then again I like competetive multiplayer which people here don't like....

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
April 24, 2013 7:12:59 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

Quoting Campaigner,
About zooming in and amount of units on the field, I don't want the player to be able to zoom out and neither do I want large armies. I like Company of Heroes which have a maximum outzommed camera and have abandoned the old "unit spam" RTSs like C&C, StarCraft and Supreme Commander that focused on macromanagement.

I feel alone on that in this place but then again I like competetive multiplayer which people here don't like....

 

See this is a conversation I would like to see ... well ... a rational conversation about because I feel it needs to be discussed.

 

I am not a huge fan of the competitive RTS style of StarCraft, Dawn of War, Warcraft III, etc. I enjoy it absolutely I do, but for the story that it tells, not the competitive aspects of it. I am much more an individual who enjoys the story aspect of games and perhaps that is why I am drawn to game-styles of that regard. I don't play much competitive SoaSE online but I do play 'beer & pretzels' LAN games of SoaSE.

 

Within the Space 'genre' of 'RTS/4X'-ish games I feel you really have two groups of people for EACH style (RTS / 4X) that exist. You have the StarCraft crew that loves the competitive, everything is defined, each unit is of much higher importance. You also have the StarCraft crew that loves crafting amazing mods or single-off missions that last for 3 hours and are heavy on voice acting and story. You have the same sort of scenario in your 4X style of things as well whether it be Galactic Civlizations or SoaSE.

 

I can greatly apreciate and at least feel like I understand the competitive nature of it that style of gameplay, it's just not for me. A lot of people say it can only be this, or that and yet so far ... it boils down to one thing.

 

64-Bit, whether it is StarCraft style, or Supreme Commander style, will improve the amount that can be done both in the game visibly as well as behind the scenes with AI and everything else. I think it's a Win-Win no matter how you look at it. It enables both styles of gameplay as well as both crowds to get more opportunity to enjoy the crud out of their games.

 

... right?

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
April 25, 2013 5:28:27 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

@ OP

Thank you for guiding our perspective.

@ windows 8 conversation:

Frogboy should advertise stardock software's windows 8 solution more on their website, as I'd consider upgrading as long as I didn't have to endure the new GUI of Win 8.  I found out about this new GUI from another site... and i'm on this a bit, lol.

 

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
April 26, 2013 5:54:37 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

boshimi,

 

Moving on to 64-bit I support. Brad though only talks about "hundreds of units on the battlefield" which kinda make me think that that is the prime reason for RTS to go 64-bit....

 

I do hope that my RTS-preference survives. Thing is, I'm not sure it will 

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
April 26, 2013 6:14:26 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

Quoting Campaigner,
About zooming in and amount of units on the field, I don't want the player to be able to zoom out and neither do I want large armies. I like Company of Heroes which have a maximum outzommed camera and have abandoned the old "unit spam" RTSs like C&C, StarCraft and Supreme Commander that focused on macromanagement.

I've never played company of heroes, but I tried playing a real tactical RTS recently, Wargames: European Escalation. I didn't realize virtually all the game is just positioning your tanks and guessing which units the enemy is going to send at you. Just micromanaging a few units around was totally boring to me.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
April 27, 2013 9:52:00 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting GoaFan77,


I've never played company of heroes, but I tried playing a real tactical RTS recently, Wargames: European Escalation. I didn't realize virtually all the game is just positioning your tanks and guessing which units the enemy is going to send at you. Just micromanaging a few units around was totally boring to me.

I've only seen the official trailer for that game and MAYBE a gamecast (can't recall if it was that game) so I can't say anything about it but Company of Heroes is ALOT more involving than that!   You have to train troops, order them to capture the resourcepoints on the map, send them behind cover (if you want them to live longer than 10 seconds), use abilities, flank and micromanage a lot.

Found you a video so you can see how it plays on the highest level. I haven't seen this video myself but it is in ImperialDanes Hall of Fame list so it must be good. I'm guessing it is one of the best games ever played.

 

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
April 27, 2013 3:24:14 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

Quoting Campaigner,
I've only seen the official trailer for that game and MAYBE a gamecast (can't recall if it was that game) so I can't say anything about it but Company of Heroes is ALOT more involving than that!   You have to train troops, order them to capture the resourcepoints on the map, send them behind cover (if you want them to live longer than 10 seconds), use abilities, flank and micromanage a lot.

Okay I may have exaggerated a little bit, but with the possible exception of the training troops stuff, that doesn't sound very different. No base building, limited resource management, and especially the cover part really bothered me in Wargames: European Escalation. I'm not sure why, as I don't have a problem with things like Total War's tactical battles, but of course those battles are a small part of the game in total war. I guess what really bothered me was if you didn't have your troops in the perfect position at all times you'd probably lose, and I don't really care for that level of micro management. I preferred games like Sins and SupCom where it is rightly outrageous to have that level of tactical depth.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
April 29, 2013 5:48:07 PM from JoeUser Forums JoeUser Forums

Game developers want to maximize the profit from their creations. To do so they must target the lowest common denominator, the game consoles. The currently available game consoles are five year old technologies.

Yes, the developers could write code that would gracefully downgrade based upon the system capabilities, but this would cut into their profit and would complicate testing.

The bottom line is still the bottom line!

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
Stardock Forums v1.0.0.0    #108433  walnut3   Server Load Time: 00:00:00.0000766   Page Render Time: