They say that what one person sees as Wildflowers, another sees as Weeds. This could not be more true for our latest Scene release of Mexican Mountain, It’s story time…
The scene has been well received, and it’s packed there just about any time of day in an otherwise overlooked and empty region. People seem to enjoy the simplicity created by all its complexity. Multiple custom fire settings with smoke, fire effects, heat blur, and even sounds. Handheld CB radios transmitting shenanigans, an RC plane buzzing around with sound that follows it, a smoke trail, and even its driver moving his head tracking the RC. More collidable objects than you can ever crash into line the strip on both sides and ends, and that's only the short list of details.
Essentially lots of ways that we pushed the envelope creating a solid lineup of suspects should there be a performance issue, but that will never happen to us, right? We test internally at Area42 for a stupid amount of time, and with a large group of dedicated testers, we can catch everything first!
Okay, Houston, we’ve had a problem here…
Launch day comes and goes, then I start to notice a few people on Facebook groups speaking of a notable performance hit at the strip. To this day we’ve not received a single support ticket in our system, but we actively watch socials for mentions where we can swoop in and learn/assist.
So I ask each user what they are on, and a pattern is identified. Xbox Series S.
The only real problem is what to do next…
But this is the part that should be a solution right? So why is the solution a problem? Oh man, where do I begin…
We immediately activated our Xbox testers made up of both Series X and S users, keep in mind until a product is publicly released, they cannot use a product on their consoles. NEITHER CAN WE.
We confirm Series S sees a significant impact to frame rates, and Series X can feel a little blip. How on earth can we test a fix? The MS team takes a minimum of 1wk+ to push an update out, and what if it’s still not resolved?
I immediately sent a message to the MS test team to ask if they could assist on the xbox side, it’s been a week and we still have not received a reply.
FUN FACT: It took us ~6 builds to fix this issue. Let's imagine that all those had to go out via MS…that’s 2–3 months of attempts.
Understanding the core problem…
Developers are in a TERRIBLE position where we’re unable to test releases or updates for/with Consoles. This needs to change.
MS once made a statement that they don’t feel there is a need for developer tools on consoles. So we’re expected to develop hoping and praying that it works well across the board while being unable to test to make sure. My fear is that this could evolve in the industry leaving Console users in the dust.
Developers may eventually care less about the Xbox experience, remember how we didn’t get a single ticket? In fact, we haven’t gotten a single Xbox user ticket…EVER. As developers, we have to understand that the Console market is a very different one from PC. We’re less likely to hear from these customers due to the nature of the platform.
Read into that, let it sink in, as it also likely explains why crapware is so happily fed into the marketplace system.
At //42 we are very inclusive of the console market, even holding back a release because it can’t properly be enjoyed on consoles, yet.
Xbox, You belong among the wildflowers.
So I had an idea to find the most 🥔PC we could within our testers and to bring that user front and center for deep testing. Efforts switched over to the PC side and we found a machine that was seeing roughly the same kind of impact as we saw on the Series S.
The usual suspects were tested first, removing fires, RC plane, collidable objects, blah blah, nothing worked.
LOD’s were on point. and with every build, we stripped down more and more until almost all that was left were the weeds…I mean wildflowers.
It was…the flowers. There is a vibe at this airstrip, and it’s not due to large terminal buildings, glass jetways, or elaborate signage. It’s due to a series of tiny little sparks that make a great impact almost without you noticing them there. The closer you look in any direction, the more detail you’ll find. Our wildflowers were handcrafted for the region and there are multiple variants scattered around the terrain.
We have revisited the wildflowers and thru some creativity and back and forth build sessions with the potato PC, we have an update pushing out today for Orbx and now submitted to Microsoft that will optimize performance on Xbox and low-end PCs. This also addresses a few issues brought on by WU X.
It should be noted that we offered to buy the potato PC for future internal testing, but apparently, the value has gone up in the last week ;)
- 42MX: Increased performance on Xbox Series S & low-end machines
- 42MX: Corrected bear positions after WU X mesh fidelity increase.
- 42MX: Corrected new terrain tears in the region caused by WU X
- 42MX: Corrected RC plane path after WU X mesh fidelity increase.
- 42MW: Corrected new terrain tears in the region caused by WU X
- 42MW: Corrected ground surface blending due to new satellite imagery in WU X
- 42MM: Corrected new terrain tears in the region caused by WU X
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