2013 Level Up Contest - target platform and what we're looking for!

2013 Level Up Contest - target platform and what we're looking for!

The offical rules have this spelled out in detailed legal terms, but I wanted to unpack more informally the target platform and what the screeners and judges will be looking for this season.

Target Platform: 3rd Gen Core Ultrabooks w/ Intel HD Graphics 4000, touch and sensors

  • 3rd Gen Core (formerly code named Ivybridge) w/ Core i5 processors
  • Intel HD Graphics 4000 - the "integrated graphics" that comes with most current in-market Ultrabooks (note, games like Call of Duty, Skyrim, etc all can play on Intel HD Graphics, so no crybabies saying "my demo can't run on your crappy graphics" - if your game can't run because your art and production pipeline is too heavy duty, you either (1) haven't used Intel GPA to optimize or (2) should go work for a AAA games studio :)
  • Touch and sensors - most new Ultrabooks feature touch screens and a variety of sensors.  What kind of innovative usages and experiences can your demo deliver that exploit these features?

What we're looking for:

  • Typical installed games that are NOT YET FOR SALE (this is a game DEMO contest after all) and that would be cool to run on an Ultrabook and that could be distributed via Steam
  • Something new and innovative that the judges haven't seem before - innovation is the hallmark of what we're looking for - wow and surprise us!
  • A demo that is fun, entertaining, and well presented
  • Something that runs great on Intel HD Graphics
  • Takes advantage of touch and sensors on the platform

I'm looking forward to seeing what you all have!

~Mitch

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For more complete information about compiler optimizations, see our Optimization Notice.

In terms of a start-up gfx details/resolution set-up (upon first running) - should we go the "least-hassle from the player" route or just let the judge configure all the details himself ?

Basically - go for Console-style ("just let me play the game"), or PC-style ("just let me configure the visuals the way I want") gfx settings ?

The reason I am asking is that I know from testing under HD 4000 that I can't just max everything out. While the Console-style sure sounds best from the judge perspective (no need to figure out the configuration for 100 games), it does hurt a developer - should I target visuals for 20, 30 or 60 fps ?

Once they play it, they may never figure out they are actually running on low details (which obviously hurts the developer). And if I overshoot and the game stutters (which is a VERY subjective thing) that is not good either.

Ideas ?

Part of the judging includes presentation.  So if your start-up is into a config menu, that's probably less desirable than being able to jump into game play, but have the option to tweak the settings if you want.

I'm surprised that with Intel HD Graphics 4000 you can't max out your game and hit a decent frame rate.  Have you used Intel GPA to see where the biggest bottlenecks are?  There might be optimizations in your rendering pipeline that you can exploit so that you can run fast on high settings.

~Mitch

Can our system specs be better then that, like having an i7 and 8GB ram?

-Nevermind. You want play testing to be done on those specs

Citation :

Mitchell Lum (Intel) a écrit :

I'm surprised that with Intel HD Graphics 4000 you can't max out your game and hit a decent frame rate.

This is the answer:

I am using self smooth shadowing parallax occlusion mapping(POM) on terrain,tons of textures for a big variety on environment,baked global illumination mixed with very high quality realtime shadow(computing 4 times each frame),lots of tessellation shaders,translucent shader for characters,realtime water reflection,many post processing effects* and lots of other features needing a system more than any ultra book,but there will be a preset quality settings which will be optimal for the target system.

On my own PC I have 45-60 fps on maximum quality @1080p,but on average quality @720p it is more than 200fps(settings are really thought-out and effective)

I hope this game starts a new generation of indie games as the new generation of AAA titles are in progress.

*(some of post processing effects are DX11 reconstruction motion blur,DX11 noise and grain effect,bloom and anamorphic lens effect,HDR,high quality FXAA,SSAO,sun shaft and the most important one is dirty lens effect previously seen in Battlefield 3,NFS MW,Crysis 3 and 2 or 3 more games.)

There are only 10 types of people in the world: Those who understand binary, and those who don't

@Cecillia - correct, we encourage play testing on the "target machine" since it's what the judges will be using. The reason for this, is as a contestant, you want the judges to have their best possible experience with your Demo.  So if your settings are too high, and the frame rate is too low, then it could lead to a bad experience, and if your settings are lower than they could be, and your frame rate is through the roof, you're leaving effects on the table that you could've wowed the judges with.

 

@HotSun - same kind of advice as I'm giving Cecillia.  You don't really "need" to run 200fps.  We're not hooking up FRAPS or GPA and getting a frame rate and awarding prizing to the highest possible frame rate.  What we're looking for is the playability and overall presentation.

In general our guidance is to set your demo to run on the target platform with

  • >30fops but frame cap yourself at 60fps (in most cases, over 60fps on a mobile system and you're really just burning battery more than giving a visual difference)
  • Medium quality settings running at 1368x720

Hope this helps! 

~Mitch

After profiling my game I found that the fillrate of my game is high so in the lower resolution(lower than 1080p) it is runing incredibly fast with no lag,so at 1366*768(most laptops and ultra book) it will run very nice.

Thanks for the advice.

There are only 10 types of people in the world: Those who understand binary, and those who don't

@Hotsun - what tool did you use to profile?  I hope Intel GPA, but if not, I'm wanting to learn what folks are using.

~Mitch

Citation :

Mitchell Lum (Intel) a écrit :

what tool did you use to profile?  I hope Intel GPA, but if not, I'm wanting to learn what folks are using.

In my opinion the deepest profiling system will be achieved only by the game engine you are using.

I am using Unity 3D and it's profiling system is showing me even the most detailed orders in the scripts.

Intel GPA is very nice when your game engine is not showing you anything useful and this means in most cases Intel GPA is very nice as most indie game engines are not showing useful details and even are not having a profiling system.

There are only 10 types of people in the world: Those who understand binary, and those who don't

@hotsun - I'm sure our friends at Unity will be very glad to hear you're finding a lot if great information via their profiling system in the engine!

~Mitch

Citation :

Mitchell Lum (Intel) a écrit :

I'm surprised that with Intel HD Graphics 4000 you can't max out your game and hit a decent frame rate.  Have you used Intel GPA to see where the biggest bottlenecks are?  There might be optimizations in your rendering pipeline that you can exploit so that you can run fast on high settings.

Actually, I was wrong in my previous post - since I did not really do the test at that time, so I don't really know what kind of gfx chipset was in that notebook.Must have been Intel 950, which is really old.

When I finally got hold of the machine with HD 4000, my game ran very smooth with everything maxed.  HD4000 is truly blazing fast.

Sorry for the confusion.

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