This fortnight has been spent plugging all the memory leaks that had built up in the Free Company code base since the last time I went through and plugged them all. The work was considerably eased this time by the use of a new tool I discovered called Visual Leak Detector which makes the process of pinpointing where the leaks are happening fairly trivial by providing callstacks. It also runs fairly quickly in the background so I can leave it on permanently in debug builds to continue passively identifying new leaks as and when they spring up. VLD is super simple to integrate into any project as well so if you are still struggling along with C++ out there I recommend adding it to yours immediately. The only thing it doesn’t catch are Direct X memory leaks for which a more traditional approach, and the debug runtime, is still needed.
Once all leaks were deftly disposed of it was on to a HUD tune-up, something which is still ongoing and probably will be right up until the release. You can see some of the results of the changes in the screenshot above. I was aiming for less numbers & more visual ways of showing what is going on, as well as adding more widgets to give you better control over your whole party of mercenaries. The portraits added back in January now provide a handy way to select a particular mercenary and jump to his current position in the world, and they will also soon contain a shrunken down overview of the bars on the main HUD for each merc. There are now special pointers for all of the various ways you can control the camera which possibly only I care about. Finally, I spent a bit of time tweaking the colours of various elements to tie the buttons into the HUD better, improve consistency between different elements and generally reduce the ‘primary’ nature of most of the colours I was using before. I’m still not very happy with the layout of the bottom HUD area ( a lot of spare/wasted space, the elements are a bit boring) nor the fairly crappy skill icons but it is coming along all the same.
While I was fiddling with the HUD I also went through and ticked off a whole heaving heap of bugs with the skill system so that the handful of currently implemented skills now actually work properly all the time and give slightly better feedback when they are being used to boot. Implementing a host of new skills and improving their feedback is one of the big upcoming tasks so I wanted to have the ground prepared for when that is started. And as a final thing I’ve just now tweaked the post effects again to add a vignette.
To give a sort of general picture of where the game is at I have about a week or so’s more tasks listed on my current ‘polish’ to do list to get through before I start on one of the big three remaining tasks pre-alpha release. Those big tasks are; skills, AI & real-time play between combats. I’d welcome any feedback on the changes/look of the HUD in the comments. Or really, any comments at all. Speak your brains internet.
March 25th, 2012 at 19:24
I really like how things are shaping up! If I’d have to nitpick the HUD I’d say that I personally don’t like the cyan colour of the energy bar (move to a more stylish teal perhaps?), and I’d like to see a less neutral font. I don’t think the game needs a ridiculously medieval font, but something just a tad less spartan, like a freeware Garamond, Brioso or similar lookalike?
Keep it up, I want to see those rats taste some steel!
April 16th, 2012 at 14:14
I should really remember to reply to comments when I actually do get them. I took your suggestion on the font thanks to the heroic efforts of google’s excellent newish online free font archive. Font legality is a huge minefield, which is why I was using arial as a default choice in the first place rather than any specific love for the font. Anyway, the lovely legal team at google has managed to hammer together a rather large collection of free to use fonts now including a Garamond-a-like which I’m now trying out.
I’ll look into the energy bar colour as well next time I’m fiddling with that bit of code.