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Making Games

One pixel too many

Over the weekend I blasted so many visual effect-y particles simultaneously on the screen my iPhone 6 almost melted. Since I’m not a an actual engineer, this gave something akin to range anxiety, more commonly experienced by people with electric vehicles.

Part of the retro game charm is that there’s a warm and fuzzy safety buffer from performance issues: Because there’s only a couple of hundred *) pixels you need to move around, no need to worry about how many polygons or real-time ray-casted shadows can I have. Basically I shouldn’t need to think about the inner life of a graphics processor at all.

Because I truly madly deeply don’t have a goddamn clue what the limits of the hardware are, if there’s a way to optimize visual performance on Unity, or if there are little elves inside the phone, it’s worrisome to bump into a reminder that even in the year 2015 2016 *) not everything is possible. Add  just one too many particle, and the game is suddenly jerky and unplayable.

In the end, my solution was to cut out 50% of the flying particles and then just put plug my ears and shout “LA LA LA LA” and everything seemed to work fine.

An adult developer might read the Unity documentation on Optimizing Graphic Performance, but I’d rather let the problem fester for a bit to make it extra tasty.

*) I’m not a mathematician either.
**) Or a historian.

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