load times

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Post: #1
In a recent internal debate with myself (no one was online!) I was struggling with the concepts of lad times. In cases where they are inevitable, where is it better to have them? I see 2 options.
1) At the beginning of the game. This leads to a vast amount of time of waiting before you get to even play with the game. It also causes a need for more memory since you are loading everything right then and there. The upside is that while in game, everything will happen instantly and there will be no pauses.
2) Between key spots during the game. So the game will start up instantly and you can get to playing right away, but throughout the game you will encounter a short load sequence, or a pause. Such as in an rpg, switching maps or so. Or in a FPS when exploring large maps they hit you with a major frame rate drop which is actually the new part of the map loading. This method also keeps memory usuage down since only a small (relative) amount of data has to be retained.

Thoughts?
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Member
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Post: #2
The way I do it in the game I'm making now is like this:

At the beginning of the game I load some of the stuff (I do enough so that it doesn't take too long), and then I load the rest of the stuff during the game (like before a new game or at the end of a level). I do it so there is minimal loading time during the game.

I think its best to load most at the beginning (that is how I like it when I play a game). I hate long loading times before a new game.

Just my thoughts.

-Justin
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w_reade
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Post: #3
Speaking personally, I'm much more willing to endure long startups than long gaps in the middle of play; if you want to please me, do all your loading upfront so I can play without distractions. I have no idea what other people think, though...

The very best solution to long startup times that I have ever seen was Invade-a-load (on some C64 games). First, load a tiny tiny game, and then let the player play that while the main game loads. Of course, in those days we had cup-of-tea load times. Not many things I've come across these days have anything longer than roll-a-cig load times, if that.

So... if it really is long enough for the player to get bored, do a minigame, 'cos it'd be cool. Otherwise, I reckon people'll tolerate it.
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macboy
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Post: #4
Depends on what type of game... if it's some sort of action game I usually don't like stopping for more than a few seconds because I like to keep going. Now if it's something a little "slower" or turn-based, like a board game or RPG, it would be okay for a minute loading every once in a while (okay, maybe not every once in a while Battle.net style Wink )
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Post: #5
Out of curiosity, is there any way you could load data asynchronously while the game is playing? Would it make the action jerky?

Neil Carter
Nether - Mac games and comic art
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Luminary
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Post: #6
People who think that load times are necessary should go play Jak and Daxter. There's a small wait at the beginning before you get to the menu, but after that the whole place is seamless. I don't know how they did it, but it's pretty incredible if you ask me Smile
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macboy
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Post: #7
Quote:Originally posted by NCarter
Out of curiosity, is there any way you could load data asynchronously while the game is playing? Would it make the action jerky?
Threads... it shouldn't make it jerky if the loading is relatively low-profile (compared to the game)
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Post: #8
Funny you should mention Jak and Daxter OSC, I read the postmortem on http://www.gamasutra.com yesterday, it was quite an interesting read and includes a small section on the 'seamless environment'. Some of the features include a mesh tesselation/reduction scheme, and LOD for all objects, including pre-rendered flats used to represent distant geometry.
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Post: #9
Quote:Originally posted by OneSadCookie
People who think that load times are necessary should go play Jak and Daxter. There's a small wait at the beginning before you get to the menu, but after that the whole place is seamless. I don't know how they did it, but it's pretty incredible if you ask me Smile

Yeah, thats great. As is many games for the GC(esp the first party ones, or its more or less they who do it) which has like 0 loading times.

I would do like this: Loading enough in the beginning to be able to start the game without any loading and the load the game as you play it, even tho that might be hard to program.

"Gameplay Uber Alles. And if you can make it psychedelic too, great!" - Jeff Minter
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Nibbie
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Joined: 2010.11
Post: #10
I do all my loading in Gunslinger Chronicles while jumping from planet(EV style) and while landing on a planet. It works well and seems to fit into the game play. Levels take only 2 seconds max so I don't worry about them.
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Mars_999
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Post: #11
Load everything up front and not while I am playing the game. Nothing pisses me off more than a disk access when I am gibbing someone in a FPS game. Or jerky game play. Argh! DO NOT DO IT for the LOVE OF GOD!Wow
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Oldtimer
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Post: #12
There's an interesting Flipcode thread on this. Very readable, and with the highlight being, to answer OSC on the Jak&Daxter thingy:

Quote:the best one I ever heard of was how they say that in Jak & Daxter, if you are moving fast towards a new area and the engine hasn't finished loading the next level, they make Jak stumble and fall down, thus earning those precious few seconds. Now, THAT is a good one.


Ninja-style! Grin
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Post: #13
I would say just load everything you need at a given time, and load new stuff/discard old stuff at logical intervals. I.e. if you enter a new town it could pause for a second to load the town stuff. The best way to cover it would be to, for example, have a second-long sound play while it fades to white, and then it would fade back and you'd be there.

Or do it like half-life, where there are semi-frequent small load points that pause for half-second or so.

Whatever you do avoid any ridiculous unnecessary load times, i.e. if you have a map with components A,B,C,D,E, it would be best to just have an option to go from point A to E without having to load and traverse B,C, and D, as long as it is safe for them to do that.
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Post: #14
What if you offered a choice?

My web site - Games, music, Python stuff
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Feanor
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Post: #15
Quote:Originally posted by OneSadCookie
People who think that load times are necessary should go play Jak and Daxter. There's a small wait at the beginning before you get to the menu, but after that the whole place is seamless. I don't know how they did it, but it's pretty incredible if you ask me Smile


Same with Dungeon Siege (which you can play on your Mac, now). Unfortunately I have some kind of weird I/O problem or my hard drives are going to sleep too soon, because I still get little stutters during loading. So yes it is possible to load the assets to the game while playing the game, and with Direct Memory Acccess the loading should use minimal CPU. You can use separate threads to load things, although with DMA I guess you should get asynchronous loading anyway, so it should not matter.

How do they do it? I don't know, but I have some guesses.
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