I want to buy this - but first...

Discusion of Pishtech's game VR Sportfishing

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I want to buy this - but first...

Postby gonefishin » Sun Mar 22, 2009 2:23 pm

This is extremely exciting to see a game like this! I've bought many fishing games before but none offer a virtual reality experience. I want to buy this game. But first, before I do, I need to address some concerns I have after having reviewed the site, the YouTube videos, and the demo:

The game runs poorly on my HP laptop equipped with 2 GB. RAM, Intel Core2 Duo 1.66 GHz., Windows Vista Home Premium, Intel 945 Express video w/ latest drivers, DirectX 10. The mouse DRAGS even using the lowest-quality video settings in the game. The graphics really lag. My setup isn't the problem - I'm able to run other 3D graphic intensive games without a problem.

There is a lack of detailed system requirements. I want to know what is the minimum recommended configuration and the optimal recommended configuration (memory, OS, video card, DirectX, controllers, etc.).

The installer resembles something from the Windows 3.1 days. InstallShield would be better or even using a free alternative (they're out there).
Also the game has a beta-ish feel to it, and doesn't conform to how Windows apps should be installed. The use of modern Windows APIs should take care of this. For example, why default to "C:\Games\...", when you have modern operating systems like Vista and Windows 7 which have a default apps folder (usually "C:\Program Files"). Installing elsewhere could present permissions problems if not using an administrator account. User settings (save games, etc.) should be stored in the user folders (i.e. "C:\Users\my_name_here\AppData\Roaming\Pishtech\VR Sportfishing"). Again, use of modern Windows APIs would make this a non-issue.

More configuration options - particularly 3D video settings like "anti-aliasing", "triple buffering", etc. should be including in the options menu.

A game manual would be nice - preferably in PDF format. It should detail the controls, the options, the AI involved (tactics, lure selection, and so forth), and the VR support info.

I'm going to play around with the demo a little more - I realllllllllllllly want this to work better so I can make my purchase to support the game. I simply can't bring myself to do so right now though since it would be a waste of money. Please understand my perspective as an end user and one of many who have to watch every penny in these tough economic times.
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Re: I want to buy this - but first...

Postby paul » Mon Mar 23, 2009 1:39 am

Thanks for your feedback. Here are few responses to specific points:

The installer is old-school in appearance, but it installs to c:\games rather than c:\program files by default since many users aren't running with administrator settings (and many don't know the difference) and newer service packs of XP and all versions of Vista will block programs from writing to the program files folder without administrator rights. That's a sensible feature of Windows, but it causes a lot of tech support for those not familiar with user profile permissions trying to install the game. Installing to a folder other than "program files" has saved a lot of headaches.

That being said, a future edition of the game will use a new installer, much more modern and conventional in style. That will also streamline installing updates, but I don't have a timeline for the next edition yet.

As for performance, almost any game will run more slowly on Vista than on XP. I have a Vista laptop on which I have to run with some settings turned down (especially water effects) while on a very similar laptop running XP I can have the settings pretty well maxed out. Vista simply has quite a bit more overhead, but with the right settings your computer ought to manage a decent frame rate. Make sure Vista extras like the Windows sidebar are turned off, and that will help some. Next I'd suggest you try the latest update of the game. It's not on the downloads page yet since it's still being tested, but so far it's looking stable and it includes some changes to speed up the game. You can download it with this link:

http://www.pishtech.com/vrsportfishing_ ... 090307.zip

See the "readme" file for installation instructions.

You may want to turn down the number of trees and possibly weeds in the settings screen, since in some lakes it may draw thousands of individual trees. With the new update the game is more efficient at drawing what matters, and adjusting the draw distance effects different parts of the scene at different distances now. For instance, it will always draw trees out to a greater distance than fish.

Right now anti-aliasing isn't directly adjustable, but that's a good suggestion for the next update. Many video cards (including all nVidia cards) come with control panel software that let you enable or disable features like anti-aliasing at that level. Giving control over that in the game is a good option for the next update that could boost performance.

If you still get a slow frame rate, try turning down the water effects setting. With it set to high much of the scene has to be rendered 3 times for every frame: Once for direct line-of-sight objects (and parts of objects), once for refraction of things at least partially under the surface, and once for reflection. In a scene with a lot of detail that obviously takes quite a bit of computing power. Setting the effects to low draws everything only once per frame which will speed things up dramatically at the expense of the reflection and refraction.

One thing to keep in mind is that this game is designed with a range of computing power in mind. When I developed Real World Fly Fishing my goal was to have a maximum setting option that most computers could handle, with lower settings available to make it at least playable on very old computers. But if you had a really hot gaming computer there was no option in the game to let you tap into your computers full potential. With VR Sportfishing I wanted to allow for old computers to run the game at very low settings, and for most typical computers to run at higher settings for much better graphics, but also to give the really fast computers of today and for the next few years something to do with all that extra power. In other words, it's to be expected that many computers including some typical newer models to need to run with settings less than maxed out, but hopefully they can still run with settings that make the game a lot of fun.

I wish I could give more detailed system requirements, getting into a list of which video card models and CPUs are capable of running with every setting maxed out. Unfortunately Pishtech is simply too small a company to have a room full of testing computers to get a precise measurement of performance on lots of different configurations. Perhaps I should start a thread here where people can share their own results, posting their system specs and the settings that gave the best performance.

A users manual is now available, and the next update of the game includes it in the installer, creating a shortcut to the manual in the start menu. I'll be uploading a full non-beta update in the next few days.

Tight lines,

Paul
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Re: I want to buy this - but first...

Postby Fisherman » Mon Mar 23, 2009 4:59 am

...I guess those MAC commercials were right after all, because Microsoft is bringing out a new OS called Windows 7 later this year. A beta is available now. I hope they get it right this time 'round.
...I beta-tested VSportfishing on my desktop and my laptop. The desktop, an older emachine(t5086)-pentium 4 3.0 gz, 1 gb(at the time now 2 gb memory), with Vista premium 32bit and an Nvdia256mb card since upgraded to 512mb. My laptop is very similar to the poster's machine, a compaq presario with amd dual core running at 1.9, windows vista premium 32 bit, 2 gb and nvidia onboard graphics nvidia geoforce 8200m g. Why games work well on one system and not another has been a puzzle since computers were made. A video card for the notebook might be required, onboard graphics being what they are. Even desktops require upgrades to play individual games at max settings. I hope it works out, as I can tell he really wants to play the game properly. That said, the game works fine on my system, and unlike other developers, I trust Paul will do his best to make the game available and playable on as many systems as possible.
...The game, if Paul does not mind my saying so in my own words what he communicated to me in an e-mail, is going to be evolving for a long time. Sort of a Ever-Beta. It is, in its current form, the underlying basis for a masterwork, perhaps the most ambitious and comprehensive fishing game ever conceived. In current form, it is already the best and most fun I have ever played, and with his continuing development and tinkering of the game, my disappointment with Trophy Bass in all its forms, Rapala Pro, FLW Tournament etc fades away. Having read just a bit of his plans for the game, I eagerly await each new addition, and hope he never really considers it "done".
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Re: I want to buy this - but first...

Postby gonefishin » Mon Mar 23, 2009 8:47 pm

Thanks for the detailed follow-up. I did find the game manual link in the Start Menu. I downloaded and applied the patch linked on the VR Sportfishing downloads page but I see you have posted a newer one in this thread - I downloaded it and will apply it later as well.

This game seems like a work in progress, which after reading this thread I understand about the lack of resources and so forth. But it already looks GREAT and has awesome potential. I myself have wanted to code a realistic fishing simulation for quite some time now but first things first, gotta put it to paper and get my coding skills up to par (again). 'Real life' stuff always slows that down. I appeciate the great feedback. It seems there are some dedicated people here to help. I'd like to help too. A true fishing simulator is something I'd throw all my other games out the door for - and that's saying A LOT. I have about every fishing game out there and they excel in some areas, are weak in others, and generally don't provide the environmental feel of actually being out and fishing.

I'm going to evaluate the demo some more and post any ideas or issues. I have some great ideas about media distribution, game features, and so forth, which I have pondered on for quite awhile in my dream to create a good fishing sim. Maybe now I don't have to bother... :-)
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