When a game shows a slowly filling "loading bar", how is the game measuring what it needs to load? Is the bar actually connected with the actual loading process or is it just a lie just so the player doesn't think the game isn't actually loading anything?
The loading bar is (mostly) a huge lie. The first thing we actually do is dump all of the unnecessary data we’ve loaded up to this point. After all, most games start in some kind of front end UI, with some graphics, sound, menus, models, textures, animations, etc. All of that stuff takes up memory and we probably won’t be using them in the game proper. There’s no reason for us to waste our limited system resources keeping those unnecessary things loaded, so the first part of the loading bar is dumping all that crap out of memory so that we have more to work with. That takes a bit of time.
The actual loading part of the loading process isn’t the entirety of the operation, though it is a large part. Obviously, we need to load the data for the level or area or whatever the player is about to enter, and reading from the disc takes a reasonably long amount of time.
If you play on the PC and have an old magnetic HDD, this is usually the part where it makes a lot of swapping noises - it’s doing a lot of reading from the disc at this point.
But just because we pull a big hunk of data from the disc doesn’t mean it’s actually ready to use. After all, it’s just a clump of billions of 1s and 0s. We need to spend some time parsing those values and turning them into meaningful information, like “this next string of 1s and 0s is a texture” and “that string of 1s and 0s is animation data”. The lion’s share of the time is spent getting the data from the disc, turn it into something meaningful to us, and then storing it someplace in memory for easy future access.
In addition to just pulling the data from the disc and organizing it, we also need to run through all of the initialization aspects of it too - variables need to be set up, saved game data needs to be read and taken into account, enemy spawners need to initialize with the correct type of enemy to spawn, systems need to initialize, etc. We can’t do this without the data from the disc, but the elements of data from the disc need to be placed in the right locations. The game needs to know what state everything is in before it starts - it has to put the player in the spawn location, set the state of every door, prepare the items, chests, and pickups at their proper locations, initialize the triggers for the set pieces, and get all of the logic set up for the current set of player variables. You might notice that the hard drive goes quiet during the last part - it’s because we’re probably not reading data from the HDD anymore - we’ve got it all in memory, but we’re preparing and fixing everything so that it’s in the right place. This part is often the final little bit in the loading bar that takes so long to finish.
Once everything is done loading and initializing, we let the player start the game. The interesting thing is that the animated loading bar (or loading animation) mostly exists to let the player know that the game hasn’t frozen during the load, and not to keep the player apprised of how long the process will take. Console manufacturers like Sony and Microsoft actually require this functionality to pass certification - your game is only allowed to freeze during loading for so many seconds before it fails the cert process.
omg you guys my likes section is almost EXCLUSIVELY mad sweeney
i………………………………love him so much and AG was so satisfying BUT IT TOO IS OVER
that being said, i’m still going to spend most of the summer doing American Gods work, because it was so refreshing. after the wringer spn put me through, i really was trying to make mountains out of molehills. i do have a few spn comic ideas to get to, tho!
SO IN REGARDS TO SPN CONS I’M WORKING! my plans for the rest of the year (which are subject to change, but this is the basic overview!) are:
CHICAGO, IL JULY 14-16
MINNEAPOLIS, MN AUG. 25-27
PITTSBURGH, PA SEPT. 8-10
NEW ORLEANS, LA OCT. 27-29
WASHINGTON, DC NOV. 10-12
sanfran might still be on the table, but it’s a bit too far off to tell right now. i love seeing everyone’s faces with my traveling comic show HOWEVER i might need a month to get my bearings at some point :’)
anyway here’s that gif of me with my cat band again
A while back, I came up with an idea for a sequel to Godzilla (2014) centering around an offbeat take on Mothra. Some of you might remember me carrying on about it in group chats. Well, I was never able to set aside the time to hammer out a complete script, but I hope this 3,000-word outline proves entertaining. I started working on it before Kong: Skull Island came out, then reworked it into something that would align with that movie in a couple of marathon writing sessions.