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Surfaces and GFX Cards


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#1 banov

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Posted 26 March 2012 - 04:16 AM

Hey,

I'm looking for a general list of the system requirements Game Maker needs to render surfaces. I know many computers/graphics cards won't draw them, but it would be really handy to have some sort of indication of which ones cannot so I have a sense of how many players I alienate when I put out something that needs surfaces to function. Plus, it would be handy to have as a disclaimer alongside the game download so users know before getting the game if their system will run it properly or not.

Any information, links, etc would be appreciated... I think it would also be a nice gesture to document this info on the Game maker wiki, help file, etc since this information should be fairly standard.

-Banov

Edited by banov, 29 March 2012 - 12:03 AM.

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#2 Desert Dog

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Posted 26 March 2012 - 08:00 PM

I don't know much about hardware, or how it works with surfaces, but I'll start off with what I 'think' I know. (using GM8.1)

Well, it isn't always about whether it 'supports' surfaces or not, but often, whether it supports how you're using surfaces.

Some only work with surfaces which are power of 2's. Anything else, and poof, anything from slight distortions, to nothing.

Others, cannot work with excessive surfaces. For instance, on one computer I was testing, I could get about 4-5 512x512 surfaces, before things went wrong. This is with no sprites/background images, just a test .gmk.

On another computer, I was only using 1 surface (512x512,) and another (64x64) and it worked fine, but when I started adding extra sprites(not sure if it was the same with backgrounds) The surface started to fail on me.
(incidentally, when I put this same project on HTML5, there was no problem.. ran perfectly. )

This would suggest that externally loading the bulk of you're gfx, when you need them, would help, by keeping free space somewhere for when you create your surface texture.

In short, you really is no way of knowing. It's just like if you're using images larger than 1024x1024. A computer with a poor gfx card may find it cannot even load your game because of an 'unexpected error'.. despite the fact, they should have ample cpu power+ram, etc.

Edited by Desert Dog, 26 March 2012 - 08:02 PM.

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#3 True Valhalla

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Posted 27 March 2012 - 07:00 AM

It's not just "old computers" where this is a problem. Two out of the past three laptops I've bought could not render surfaces properly, despite having ample GPU memory. I think it is often a problem of the graphics card just not supporting them, and that makes it very hard to judge who it would work for and who it wouldn't.

Personally, I have always avoided surfaces, and I would recommend the same.
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#4 icuurd12b42

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Posted 27 March 2012 - 08:14 AM

If you use surfaces, make sure your code can dynamically deal with it and revert to a non surface drawing when it fails using surfaces.

There are so many reasons a surface would fail. but GM has enough surface functions to detect and deal with the situation each step.

But do always use the minimum possible. Like a few surfaces the size of your view, view port event.
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#5 banov

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Posted 28 March 2012 - 04:34 PM

I've no issue making things dynamic and compensating for non surface enabled gdc cards. But there are times when an effect created with surfaces simply cannot be recreated, and that's when the gameplay experience can take a sharp downward turn for people who can't see what I want then too. Right now I'm thinking specifically of a pitch black room with some point lights that create visibility, but there are many others...

I'm surprised there's no comprehensive list of incompatible gfx cards. I thought I had once seen one... Maybe I was mistaken. But this information should be documented somewhere official if it ever is researched.
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#6 Dylan93

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 04:08 PM

It's not just "old computers" where this is a problem. Two out of the past three laptops I've bought could not render surfaces properly, despite having ample GPU memory. I think it is often a problem of the graphics card just not supporting them, and that makes it very hard to judge who it would work for and who it wouldn't.

Personally, I have always avoided surfaces, and I would recommend the same.


But using surface instead of plain drawing codes is 99% of the time MUCH faster and you can heavily optimize a game that is a bit more advanced using surfaces.
For example, almost any draw function of GM is faster when using surfaces. Like if you draw text or circles or <form> and those things are static you can just draw it once and save it too a surface instead of drawing
and computing the same effect say 60 times a second.

And I believe (but don't know for sure) that for example using a shadow system with surfaces is also MUCH faster than other methods in GM.
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#7 True Valhalla

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 09:12 PM


It's not just "old computers" where this is a problem. Two out of the past three laptops I've bought could not render surfaces properly, despite having ample GPU memory. I think it is often a problem of the graphics card just not supporting them, and that makes it very hard to judge who it would work for and who it wouldn't.

Personally, I have always avoided surfaces, and I would recommend the same.


But using surface instead of plain drawing codes is 99% of the time MUCH faster and you can heavily optimize a game that is a bit more advanced using surfaces.
For example, almost any draw function of GM is faster when using surfaces. Like if you draw text or circles or <form> and those things are static you can just draw it once and save it too a surface instead of drawing
and computing the same effect say 60 times a second.

And I believe (but don't know for sure) that for example using a shadow system with surfaces is also MUCH faster than other methods in GM.


I'd rather my game works for as many people as possible than give it a slight performance boost, though.
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#8 Nocturne

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 10:04 PM

I am actually a thorough fan of surfaces. I think 99% of my stuff uses them and to my knowledge I´ve never had a problem... As mentioned before it depends on how you use them and what error capture methods you have in there. Obviously, if the game play (as you suggest) is going to rely on them then you may have to re-think things, but I´d just go ahead and use them and maybe have a spec test at the start of the game and a wee message that says "I´m sorry, your pc doesn´t meet the minimum requirements to run this game" or something...

@TV : I think you just don´t know how to buy a good laptop!!! Posted Image
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#9 True Valhalla

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 11:51 PM

@TV : I think you just donīt know how to buy a good laptop!!! Posted Image


Lol, I know what I'm talking about. 2 out of 3 laptops says surfaces fail hardcore :P
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#10 banov

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 11:59 PM

I ended up including the intended effect. Without surfaces the puzzle loses a great deal, but it still reads as a puzzle and it's passable.
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#11 Dylan93

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 06:12 PM


@TV : I think you just donīt know how to buy a good laptop!!! Posted Image


Lol, I know what I'm talking about. 2 out of 3 laptops says surfaces fail hardcore :P


What laptops are they ? I've never ever encountered a PC/laptop that has a problem with surfaces, even my netbook can run it.
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#12 True Valhalla

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 09:50 PM



@TV : I think you just donīt know how to buy a good laptop!!! Posted Image


Lol, I know what I'm talking about. 2 out of 3 laptops says surfaces fail hardcore :P


What laptops are they ? I've never ever encountered a PC/laptop that has a problem with surfaces, even my netbook can run it.


They were both pretty good computer, not low end or anything.
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