Talking about Performance

Posted by Hugh 1 week ago

Performance, frame rate, FPS – When a game does not run fast enough, it’s hard to have fun. Subnautica doesn’t run fast enough right now, on either Steam or Xbox One. We’d like to update you on three things we are doing to improve performance on both platforms.

Calling for Backup

We’ve hired new programmers to work on Subnautica. Adding more people to a project is tricky, and can sometimes even slow down development. Right now, we are confident that more programmers specifically targeting performance will help us improve frame rates.

Look out for David – He’s chewing on frames and sending messages in our chat with headlines like “Just pushed a big chunk of optimization work to main.” You’ll also see him popping up in the Subnautica Changes twitter feed, mentioning things to do with performance:


No More Ingredients 

It’s really hard to optimise a game for better performance when new features are being added. As new updates are built, they mess with any concurrent attempts to improve framerates. It’s also really hard to optimise a game that hasn’t yet received all its intended features: Without all systems in place, it’s impossible to see how they interact and what needs to be optimised to achieve great framerates.

With that in mind, we are starting to lock down our feature set. The days of updates bringing bucket-loads of new features are drawing to a close. Across the team, more of us are accepting the idea that pet features and ideas won’t make it into the game. This is a healthy, good thing. As Subnautica’s feature set is finalised, we will be able to better effect performance improvements.

You can the last features we are aiming for on the Subnautica Roadmap trello board.

Trimming Dead Wood

Subnautica is a big, complex piece of software. For better or worse, there are data structures, code, and paradigms that trace their roots to original prototypes from 2013. It has pushed the underlying game engine, Unity, in crazy directions. The software has oscillated between various game design priorities throughout Early Access, as we responded to your feedback and found the final direction.

In the interests of improving performance, we are hunting down bits of the game that don’t contribute much anymore. For example, we are removing a system called ‘Eco Events’ that was designed to create interactions with the environment. That system has been superseded by special cases where interactions are truly special, but it is still sitting in the background sucking at performance, especially on Xbox One.

Bear with us

We know you want Subnautica to perform better, and we’re committed to making it happen. By bringing new programmers onto the team, narrowing our feature set, and removing legacy code, we are making good progress to delivering the frames you are looking for.

– Hugh