Updates per second

When you first run the Pop program, you will see the startup game Spacewar, which resembles an Asteroids game. Look at the Updates per second figure in the status bar at the bottom of the Pop window. The number is a rolling average, so it takes a few seconds for it to respond to changes, and the value will sometimes dance between two or three nearby numbers. The highest rate the Pop Framework allows is the speed of your graphics card's updates per second; if you are at or near this rate the message will say '(Near Max).' If you are in a mode where the program is running slower than the real time that it simulates, the message will say '(Slower than Real Time).' Except in the '(Slower than Real Time)' case, one second of simulated game time equals one second of real-world time.

On most recent machines you should expect to see an Updates per second ranging from about 40 to whatever your graphics card's refresh rate is. Commonly used refresh rates are 60, 75, and 85. (For general ergonomic reasons, you should set your graphics card's refresh rate as high as is possible for the currently used resolution.) If you see a number below 15, your system is running the Pop program too slowly for effective play. You should remedy this before continuing, or use a different machine. Normally the cause of a low updates per second rate is an old or a low-quality graphics card.

Here are some steps you can try to improve your updates per second.

The updates per second is dependent on the number of pixels in the Pop window, so if you run your display at a very high resolution, large Pop windows will run slow. You can gain speed at any time by resizing the Pop window to make it smaller.

The updates per second is dependent on the number of critters in the game you are running. If you used the controls to create a very large number of critters, you can expect the speed to be slow, particularly if you also give the critters complicated sprites that are slow to draw.

Also note that there are both Release and Debug builds of the Pop program. A Release build always runs faster than a Debug build, sometimes even twice as fast, though this varies with the machine and with the nature of the game you are running. For better speed make sure you're running a Release build; you can tell which is which from the names of the executables.

Both the 2D and 3D graphics modes of Pop will often run faster if your monitor is set to use something like 64,000 colors rather than 'Millions of Colors' or True Color. To change the number of colors your display uses, right-click on your desktop, choose Properties from the floating popup menu, and then go to the Display Properties | Settings page. In this dialog you can also adjust your graphics card's refresh rate. (Note, however, that certain kinds of cards only support hardware OpenGl acceleration if you do set the number of colors to 24 Bit, 32 Bit or True Color.)

The Pop program has a View menu that allows you to run the games in the 2D Windows Graphics mode or in a 3D OpenGL mode. Different games default to different graphics, but all of the games except 3DStub and Defender3D work in either 2D or 3D view mode. On most systems the Windows Graphics mode is faster, but systems with certain types of 3D graphics acceleration may in fact run the 3D OpenGL mode faster.

If your games consistently run too slow when in the View | 3D OpenGL Graphics mode, look into getting OpenGL hardware acceleration to work for your graphics card. Although most desktop machines have cards that support OpenGL hardware acceleration, the OpenGL drivers are often not put in place by the default install. You may need to download a driver from your graphics card manufacturer. The Web site www.opengl.org/developers/faqs/technical/mswindows.htm has further information about OpenGL hardware acceleration. Note, however, that some systems, including most laptops, have graphics cards that will not support OpenGL hardware acceleration.

    Part I: Software Engineering and Computer Games
    Part II: Software Engineering and Computer Games Reference