Beta Build 249 Released on Steam!
Yesterday, we released a beta build of Natural Selection 2 onto Steam. It is a test version of build 249, and it is being released in beta form first because it is a little bit special. Build 249 includes a new ‘Lua binding layer’ – This is the layer of code that allows the Spark Engine (written in C++) to talk to Natural Selection 2 (Lua). It is this binding layer that has been the primary performance bottlneck of Natural Selection 2 since the dawn of its development. Read more about it in the performance section of the May State of Development Update.
The new binding layer has been built during LuaJIT, and it was far from a trivial exercise. Thomas ‘fsfod’ Fransham has moved heaven and Earth to get the system working. Right now, we think it is working well. Extensive testing has been performed, and most bugs seem to have been eliminated. We have begun running extensive benchmarks to determine just how big the performance gain is. Based on feedback from the playtest group, forums, and social media, we are reasonably confident that this is the biggest single performance increase Natural Selection 2 has ever seen.
However, it is not 100% finished. Hence the beta release – The more people test this thing, the more stable it can be made. The change is extremely significant – The equivalent of an organ replacement in the large, complex, interdependent body that is Natural Selection 2 + Spark. Things might very well be broken horribly. Servers may crash, players cats may explode. If you choose to beta test, we would be immensely grateful. If you choose to beta test, please be prepared for the game to break!
To access the beta build, follow these instructions:
First, right click ‘Natural Selection 2’ in your Steam Library, and select ‘Properties’ in the pop up list.
Select the ‘Betas’ tab, and then selected ‘Beta – Patch test release branch’ from the drop down menu. Now run Natural Selection 2 as normal – The game should download an update. When the game runs, there are two ways you can check the game is in fact beta build 249. First, bring down the console using the tilde (~) key. Look for a line that says ‘Main menu initialised at build 249.’
Next, check your server browser. It will look pretty empty! Now you can be sure you are playing 249. Which brings us to… If you choose to play 249, not only will your cat possibly detonate, but servers will be relatively few. If you can’t find a game, you can always opt-out of the beta program in the same properties dialogue box. The game will ‘downgrade’ itself to 248.
After playing a few rounds on 249, give us your feedback in the thread below! Tell us if things are crashing, frame-rates tanking, players, warping servers struggling. Remember that information with context (e.g. specifications, server, ping, game size) are useful. Phrases like ‘Feels slow on my i7’ tell us nothing!
Good luck and happy fragging!