Photo-based hotspots flicker

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Photo-based hotspots flicker

Postby VigilanteMark » Sun Dec 09, 2012 9:27 pm

Hello! I'm designing a game using AM 4.7.1 on Windows 7 64-Bit, and most things are working great so far. However, I'm having a problem with hotspots set to appear as pictures (as opposed to transparent). Any such hotspots will flicker as soon as the frame on which they appear finishes loading (for example, when an alphablending transition completes). This is very distracting. I did NOT have this problem working on my previous setup (AM 4.5.something on Windows XP 32-Bit). I can confirm that the problem is present in all projects made using my current setup, and a copy of the game installed with an executable created by my current setup exhibits the problem as well, even if it's installed on a different computer. Any advice?

Please note: I searched the forums before posting and didn't see anyone else complaining about this same issue, but if there's already an answer somewhere and I just wasn't looking for the right keywords or something, feel free to just give me the link :). Thank you!
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Re: Photo-based hotspots flicker

Postby reneuend » Mon Dec 10, 2012 2:26 am

What image types are you using. What are the file sizes? I wonder if this might have something to do with it? I don't have this problem and I'm using the same configuration.
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Re: Photo-based hotspots flicker

Postby VigilanteMark » Mon Dec 10, 2012 3:30 am

It varies...I use both GIF and JPEG, depending on the circumstances, and the size can be between 14k and 200k. Hard to tell if I'm having problems with each and every image, but I've noticed the flicker on most of them--enough to say that it happens across a range of file sizes and types. I want to stress again that I was NOT having this problem with my old configuration.
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Re: Photo-based hotspots flicker

Postby VigilanteMark » Mon Dec 10, 2012 4:22 am

Oh and thanks for looking BTW :).
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Re: Photo-based hotspots flicker

Postby reneuend » Mon Dec 10, 2012 5:40 am

Another thought:
- Do you have problems with this on projects you started with AM 4.7.1 or just the projects that you started in earlier versions and ported to the new AM version.

Okay...a couple more thoughts:

- Is your computer at Minimum requirements for Windows 7 64bit?
- Have you ran other people's projects that were made with 4.7.1?


OTHER AM FORUM MEMBERS: please comment on your experiences! Maybe I'm just not seeing the flicker because I'm 50 years old! LOL!

I'm not sure what else to ask right now. I'll do my own tests...but I haven't noticed any flicker...maybe I'm not paying enough attention.
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Re: Photo-based hotspots flicker

Postby Simon » Mon Dec 10, 2012 3:01 pm

Hey, I don't have any flickers in my project ASA: A Space Adventure.
I have a few problems with videos inside hotspots (when I change of frame, the video suddenly becomes black for a very short time). But no problem with jpg.
I don't really see what could be the cause. If you had huge bitmap files, I could understand, but jpg between 14 and 200k...

Can you check if it happens on all pictures inside hotspots, or only in GIF, or only on JPG ?

For information, I used AM 4.6, 4.7 and 4.7.1 on windows 7 64bits, and lately 4.7.1 on windows 8 32bits. No problem like this.
But I know by experience that all kind of troubles can happen, and sometimes due to very strange things, like your antivirus software causing troubles... Can you try after you disabled it ? Temporarily, of course.

Have you tried other AM games ? Do you see the flicking too ?
I really hope you solve your problem.
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Re: Photo-based hotspots flicker

Postby VigilanteMark » Mon Dec 10, 2012 11:47 pm

Thanks for the replies, everyone! I did try making a small, new project in 4.7.1 and have confirmed that this isn't just an issue with projects brought in from the older version. My computer is well beyond the minimum requirements for Windows 7 64-Bit, seeing as I just bought it less than a month ago optimized for this operating system. I have not, however, tried running someone else's project. Could anyone recommend a good one to try? I went to look at the downloads section of adventuremaker.com, but it seems to be offline at the moment.

I'm going to try and record a video that shows the issue--will add a link when this is done.
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Re: Photo-based hotspots flicker

Postby VigilanteMark » Tue Dec 11, 2012 4:12 am

Okay, I tried to do a recording, but the free recorder I use apparently doesn't capture video at a high enough framerate to really make the flicker visible. I do, however, see the following error message about 4/5 times I load a saved game since upgrading my system and AM installation--this one I've seen mentioned elsewhere on the forum, but I haven't gotten around to dealing with it yet. Does anyone think the two problems are somehow related?
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Re: Photo-based hotspots flicker

Postby reneuend » Tue Dec 11, 2012 5:55 am

I haven't seen this error before, but it surely could be related. Do you get this error without using video in hotspots?
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Re: Photo-based hotspots flicker

Postby Simon » Tue Dec 11, 2012 4:36 pm

VigilanteMark wrote:I have not, however, tried running someone else's project. Could anyone recommend a good one to try?


You can try the demo of ASA ;)
http://bit.ly/SwdGAf

Test the demo #2 (named "sunbath, planet Fort?" : the picture on the right in the main menu). After the video intro, go down the platform via the ladder to the 360 view, click on the boat and try to see what happens when you move the boat in the top view. This puzzle uses jpg pictures in hotspots. Do you see the flicking ?
Tell us what happens !
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Re: Photo-based hotspots flicker

Postby VigilanteMark » Wed Dec 12, 2012 3:59 am

Wow, this ASA game looks quite good :). However, I am unable to click on the boat--my cursor won't go low enough on the screen to allow me to reach it. I can only move it to about 10-20 pixels above the boat, then no lower.

To answer the other question, I am using no video in hotspots anywhere in my project. The "visibility" error occurs maybe 5/10 times when I load a saved game, and I suspect it has something to do with the fact that all games load onto a custom menu screen (on which some items are either hidden or visible, depending on variables). This is also something that only started after I got my new computer and upgraded AM.

I've put together a test project using my system--there's a .jpg hotspot runtime-merged into the upper-left corner of every frame, plus there's a picture of a car's ignition floating in midair if you walk three nodes forward. The whole thing is pretty random, but it's made the same way and uses the same mechanics as my actual project, and the problem is present, so it should serve as an illustrative example. You should see the flicker right after the alphablending transitions (i.e., walking)--not all the time, but some of the time, and both the merged and static images exhibit this behavior. Does this give anyone any ideas?

http://schoolkids-sg.com/files/TestProject.zip

Thanks again for everyone's help!
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Re: Photo-based hotspots flicker

Postby Simon » Thu Dec 13, 2012 3:57 pm

Oh my... You too have the problem which makes you can't reach the boat in the demo of ASA ? :| Bad.. Really bad...

To come back to your problem :
I tried your test project (beautiful forest ^^) and I do have the flicking pictures sometimes.

It seems to happen when the screen is being refreshed, but I don't see why it would do that... Reneuend is probably the person who can help you the best, if he has the time.
I believe it is something in your code. Do you use special functions like action.refreshwindow ?

Do you make something special which would take you back to the same frame ?
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Re: Photo-based hotspots flicker

Postby VigilanteMark » Fri Dec 14, 2012 3:16 am

Good to know I'm not crazy! To answer your question, no, I don't use action.refreshwindow, and in fact, there's barely any code in this test project at all . All the node-to-node movement is done with regular hotspots ("When this hotspot is clicked, go to this frame with this transition"). I don't even have KeyGuard enabled here, though I do use it in my actual project. Your idea about each frame double-loading somehow is interesting, but I don't really know what would be doing that. I'll check, and hopefully this other person you mentioned will see this topic at some point in the meantime.

Thanks as always! As for your own problem, I'd say a good first step is to compare some different users who can't reach the boat and figure out what their systems have in common, and then look at someone who DOESN'T experience the issue and figure out how that system differs from the ones that DO experience it. I'm happy to help at some point if I can :).
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Re: Photo-based hotspots flicker

Postby Simon » Sat Dec 15, 2012 9:04 am

OK, sorry I can't help more with your problem...

What video card do you have ? Nvidia, Ati, other ? I know that it changes a few things sometimes...
Maybe you should upload your project but not as exe, so we can all open it with AM and see what could be the cause !

About my game and the fact that you can't reach the boat : it doesn't really matter as it was a pre-beta d?mo. I think I solved the problem in the full game because I added bigger hotspots. This one was very small, and it looks like hotspots react differentely with panoramas on different systems...
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Re: Photo-based hotspots flicker

Postby VigilanteMark » Sun Dec 16, 2012 12:34 am

Okay, here's the actual project:

http://schoolkids-sg.com/files/TestProject_Raw.zip

I'm using an NVidia GeForce GT 640, but I really don't think that has anything to do with this, as I've been able to reproduce the results on 2 or 3 different computers. Tonight, I did some further testing--I installed three different versions of AM (4.5.x, 4.6.x, and 4.7.x) on a laptop running Windows XP, and opened the project in each of them, in descending order (i.e., I tested the newest AM first). 4.5.x was the only version that did NOT have the flicker. It seems clear to me that something has changed in the newer versions--the only question is, have I found a bug, or have the newer versions simply made something *I* need to change more apparent? Hopefully, someone can point me in the right direction. I'll keep investigating this myself in the meantime.

Thank you!

EDIT - I did notice one other difference between the three versions. I have a custom graphic for the inventory button that appears in the top left of the screen. Version 4.5.x finds the graphic file effortlessly--the other two can't find it unless I manually re-enter the file location in the project properties box, and will display the default, white-on-black "Inventory" button if I do nothing. Not sure if that helps.
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Re: Photo-based hotspots flicker

Postby reneuend » Sun Dec 16, 2012 1:57 am

If I or other members could reproduce this error, that would be a BIG help to finding the root cause. I'd like to try and reproduce it. Could you upload a simple project that shows the flicker? Not an exe, but a project.
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Re: Photo-based hotspots flicker

Postby VigilanteMark » Sun Dec 16, 2012 2:13 am

Just did in the post above, probably right as you were requesting it! What a funny coincidence :).

Thanks for helping!
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Re: Photo-based hotspots flicker

Postby Simon » Mon Dec 17, 2012 11:11 am

Yeah, Reneuend is quite busy, I'm sure he didn't notice :mrgreen: ... yet !

I'll download the project and see what could be the cause, but I'm afraid I won't find anything if you don't have the problem with AM 4.5...

Edit :
OK, I tried it already. I found nothing, there's no code and the JPG pictures are normal (of course).

BUT !! What I can say is that I didn't have the flicking this time ! That probably means that something happens on your computer when you make the EXE to share it (or when you preview on your own PC).

What I suggest is that you uninstall all your versions of AM (including 4.5), then clean the registry (search all entries related to adventure maker and delete them).
Finally, install only AM 4.7 and try again...
I know it sounds a bit tough, but I had some issues too because I started with AM 4.5.
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Re: Photo-based hotspots flicker

Postby reneuend » Mon Dec 17, 2012 10:35 pm

I think Simon might be correct, but could it be codec issues also??? I have a new PC. I just built it and have a clean install of AM4.7.1. I didn't get any flicker when testing your project. By the way, the trail in the game is very muddy!!! :P
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Re: Photo-based hotspots flicker

Postby VigilanteMark » Mon Dec 17, 2012 11:45 pm

Okay, I'm working on the full uninstall. Is there documentation somewhere that will help me make sure I delete all the proper registry entries? There seem to be a lot of them....

EDIT - Also, at this point, I think it's far more likely that I'm looking at a codec issue, but what specific codec(s) would you suggest I add/update? I'm used to thinking of codecs more in terms of videos than images.
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Re: Photo-based hotspots flicker

Postby Simon » Tue Dec 18, 2012 11:17 am

Yeah... No :) It's not a codec issue, codecs are for video.

I'm almost sure it's something on your PC, if reneuend doesn't have the flicker too.
The registry is a good idea to begin with, but I'm afraid there is no documentation...

Uninstall properly Adventure Maker from the control panel,
make first a backup of your registry,
then search for these keys : adventure, maker, adventuremaker, VBS (= visual basic)
and delete everything related to adventure maker.

I know there were a lot of entries with AM 4.5 and 4.6, but curiously, I found a few with 4.7. (or is it due to windows 8 ? I don't know).
Good luck !
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Re: Photo-based hotspots flicker

Postby VigilanteMark » Wed Dec 19, 2012 1:20 am

Okay, I was able to do a clean uninstall/reinstall (that definitely took a few hours). Just for good measure, I took out and replaced KeyGuard, too. And yet the flickering problem still remains! I understand that codecs mean video and not images, which is why I was surprised to see reneuend suggest it as a possibility...still, I'm eager to try anything I haven't tried yet.

Even though reneuend has been unable to reproduce my problem, its presence has now been confirmed on four different computers (my main one with Win7 Pro 64-bit, my laptop with Win XP Home, my parents' computer with Win7 Home 64-bit, and whatever your machine is, Simon). The issue appears in both an installed version of the game (from .exe) and a version viewed in AM, but is only present with AM 4.6.x and up. Rather than all of these computers having the same compatibility issues, it seems far more likely that newer versions of AM are either choking on something about my projects, or else contain some kind of rendering bug. I'll keep experimenting on my own and will post if I find any more clues, but in the meantime, I'd welcome any further suggestions.

Thanks as always! :)
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Re: Photo-based hotspots flicker

Postby VigilanteMark » Wed Dec 19, 2012 2:41 am

Further information--I created an even simpler test project (three frames, all default settings, no custom cursors, no frame-to-frame transitions, one .jpg on the final frame) and I THOUGHT the flicker was gone, but it may just be harder to see. I also tried altering the test project I posted before to remove all runtime frames merging, but the problem remained. In fact, I reset the inventory graphics to their defaults, and even the black-and-white "Inventory" button flickered frame-to-frame, regardless of whether there was a full-screen transition turned on.
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Re: Photo-based hotspots flicker

Postby reneuend » Wed Dec 19, 2012 3:57 am

This is so odd. I don't know what to think!
However, remember this....we don't see the flicker, so you can build games and it will run on other systems without the flicker. Maybe over time we can work this out.
One last idea and its a punt! How about getting the latest driver for your graphics card? I really doubt this would be it, but I just had to offer something.
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Re: Photo-based hotspots flicker

Postby VigilanteMark » Wed Dec 19, 2012 4:34 am

Yeah, I already tried that, sorry :/. Tell you what--I'll send the test project around to some other people I know and ask them if they see the flicker. At worst, it'll confirm for me that not everyone sees the flicker, meaning, as you say, I can make and release games with some confidence. At best, I'll gain some more insight/data that could help me narrow the possible causes down a bit.

Thanks again!
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Re: Photo-based hotspots flicker

Postby reneuend » Wed Dec 19, 2012 5:12 am

If you would like, I can help test. I have 9 PCs and laptops to test on with both XP and Windows 7 and varying types of components. I tested your last project on my own Windows 7 machine because its new which i figured was closest to your current setup.

Best of luck. Please stay in touch.
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Re: Photo-based hotspots flicker

Postby Simon » Wed Dec 19, 2012 3:01 pm

VigilanteMark wrote:... has now been confirmed on four different computers (my main one with Win7 Pro 64-bit, my laptop with Win XP Home, my parents' computer with Win7 Home 64-bit, and whatever your machine is, Simon).


For info, I'm on Win8 Pro 32-bit
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Re: Photo-based hotspots flicker

Postby VigilanteMark » Thu Dec 20, 2012 4:08 am

Thanks for the info, Simon. And reneuend, yeah, if you'd like to try the same test project on some of your other setups, that would be great--I'm curious if you ever see the flicker. For clarity, it only happens 60-70% of the time. I'll keep testing and keep you posted on anything I find out. :)
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Re: Photo-based hotspots flicker

Postby Simon » Sun Dec 23, 2012 3:02 pm

Hey, any progress here ?

It would be nice to summurize your problem to make things clear. Feel free to complete this, if I forgot something or made a mistake :

Problem :
In your AM project, the static pictures sometimes flicker when you change of frame.
The "[1] compiled project to exe" is here : http://schoolkids-sg.com/files/TestProject.zip
The "[2] AM not compiled project" can be downloaded here : http://schoolkids-sg.com/files/TestProject_Raw.zip

- the pictures are usual jpg, no problem
- the project uses no code, and has nothing weird inside
- you tried AM 4.5, 4.6 and 4.7. You don't see the flicker with 4.5
- tried on various computers
- the "[1] compiled project to exe" shows the flicker on any computer --> the flicker appears on ANY PC when it's built on VigilanteMark's PC.
- the "[2] AM not compiled project", opened in AM, shows the flicker on VigilanteMark's PC, but not on Simon's PC
- it's not a video card problem, neither the drivers.
- a full unistall, including clean registry, didn't solve the problem
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Re: Photo-based hotspots flicker

Postby VigilanteMark » Sun Dec 23, 2012 4:08 pm

Wow, thanks, Simon! That summary is completely accurate except that there is some very limited code in the project, and also some runtime frames-merging. I did, however, try running a version of the project without either of these things, and the problem remained, so I don't think that matters.

I'm still working on this on my end, and I've contacted several friends to have them test the project on their machines as well. I don't expect to hear back for a few days, though, since Tuesday is Christmas....
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