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Graphics are the centerpiece of most modern games Graphics are everywhere in the introductory animation, in sprites, and in cutscenes These image files can really add up Everything that a J2ME game needs is stuffed into one JAR file Too many individual images can quickly inflate the JAR file beyond its suggested maximum size The PNG image format used with MIDP has a large amount of overhead PNG files are 24-bit and include a complete palette in the PNG header If you put twenty image files in your JAR file, you will also be putting in 20 copies of the same palette One idea is to squeeze images together by putting them into one image file, like a filmstrip That way, one file can have multiple images, but only one palette To grab the image from this filmstrip,
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your program must clip the screen appropriately More information about clipping can be found in 14, "Low-Level Approach" Another means of reducing the JAR file size is to move images off the local JAR file and onto the network This way, images are downloaded over HTTP from a Web server as they are needed The images can even be stored in the device's local database More information about downloading and storing images can be found in 16, "Managing Your Sprites"
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Speeding Up the Code
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In the world of game development, animation and gameplay are often expressed as frames per second, or FPS A typical 3D console game may animate millions of polygons at 24 FPS The time it takes for a human eye to judge a series of still images as "moving" ranges from 20 to 30 frames per second Any less than that and the animation or film begins to look choppy, like an old Charlie Chaplin movie On handheld devices, users are much more forgiving As long as a game animates at 10 frames per second or better, things will appear relatively smooth However, running 10 FPS is far from easy For example, if the animation consists of a UFO sprite flying across the screen, then every frame of the game must move the sprite, recalculate the position using complex physics, look for collisions, and so on To achieve 10 FPS, all of this must be done in fewer than 100 milliseconds Here are some cold hard facts about mobile devices and processor power:
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The processors are 16- or 32-bit The frequency of the processors is extremely low compared to PCs For example, the Siemens SL45i runs at 13MHz, and the Motorola Accompli A008 runs at 33MHz To provide low power consumption, the processors have the smallest possible number of transistors That means there's no floating-point support, no extra memory management units, and so on
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Given these parameters, a thoughtlessly developed J2ME game will run at only 1 or 2 frames per second No game player in the world will stand for that The following optimizations can help speed up your game's execution:
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Optimize the call for garbage collection Void constructing new objects Use static methods instead of object methods Speed up the screen repainting
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Dealing with the Garbage Collector
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For many developers, Java's memory management is one of its most attractive features A Java developer never has to deal directly with memory allocation and deallocation When an object is created, Java automatically grabs the memory it needs When the object is no longer needed, you simply set it to null Java's garbage collector destroys the object and cleans up the memory after the destruction
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Garbage collection only reclaims memory when it determines that the object is unreachable from any part of the application Since the Java language specifications don't provide any rules for how the garbage collection should be invoked, each JVM uses its own implementation The garbage collector generally runs in its own thread and at its own pace J2ME MIDP devices are limited not only to the heap memory, but also to the memory needed for implementation of the device's Kilobyte virtual machine In order to make the KVM small, some functionality has been stripped down or implemented in a more primitive way As such, garbage collection is usually not very sophisticated on handheld devices Sometimes creating too many objects can confuse the garbage collector and cause an out-of-memory situation To avoid application crash situations, you should call garbage collection manually whenever possible The process can be invoked by calling
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In other words, the second you are done using any object and reach a good spot in your game to pause, set it to null and notify the garbage collector A good time to call the garbage collector is after your screen paints That way, the garbage collector will not kick up in the middle of animations, making sprites seem choppy or inconsistent
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