Welcome to The Small Step Engine.



Learning Materials

Further Development



If you have any issues running the application, please refer back to this section. I will update here regarding any possible common errors which users are experiencing. If you are a first time user, I'd recommend accessing via the menu bar, File -> Load Randomised Project. This will give you an instant impression of the basic functionality of the program. Note, use the middle mouse button scroll to zoom out within the viewport. Enjoy!

Main Download Link

Thesis Download Link

Please note, I am a sole developer... there will be issues with this program, some of which will not be fixable but of the seven different machines I've used as testbeds (which have allowed me to draw up a 'requirements' section), only one has failed absolutely and it happened to have the lowest end graphics card of the lot. The program is being released as it was a labour of love for my degree, only becoming realistically distributable in the later stages of development. It is not necessarily the easiest of programs to use as a result... if you do find problems or enjoy it, or wish to develop it further, please do contact me at the below e-mail address.

If you are unsure as to whether this program will run on your Microsoft Windows based system, please do try anyway but do save and close any running applications prior to launching this program; this is a graphically intensive program so will run faster as a result, as well as protect against any possible (but highly unlikely) information loss.

I would also recommend reading the tutorials which display when the program first loads up. The development of the user interface did cause a few issues and first-time navigation may prove to be difficult as a result. You can open the Tutorials by pressing F3 at any time within the application.

Windows ONLY. Tests using Windows XP (32 bit), Vista (32 & 64 bit) and Windows 7 (32 and 64 bit) have all proven successful. I would very much like to hear any positive or negative results from using Windows 8 as I have not yet come across a machine which I can test (e-mail below!). Press the Windows 'start' button to see which version of Windows you currently have running.

Dual core processor as a minimum requirement...tri/quad core to run the program at its optimum. If unsure how many cores you have, press Ctrl+Shift+Esc and click on the 'Performance' tab. The number of separate graphs displayed along the top line denotes the number of cores you have available in your machine.

DirectX 9.0c compatible graphics card (Installer is included). If you get the error message saying - "Could not start HLSL planet.fx file!" please check that your card is compatible with DirectX 9.0c first.

2Gb (Recommended 3Gb) System RAM.

50Mb free harddrive space (There is no Small Step installer, just copy the folder to use).

If you do have an XBOX360 controller, navigational support has been included for it!

Known system issues:
Integrated graphics cards have proven to be temperamental when attempting to use this program. Of the four systems tested with such cards, three worked without issue yet the fourth, whilst able to open the program, failed as soon as an object was loaded into the program. If this occurs for you, please do let me know; whilst I may not necessarily be able to fix the issue, the more information I have, the greater the chance of a fix.

If you have a hyperthreaded machine (or only two cores), DO NOT DISABLE V-SYNC. A warning is present in the program but it needs reiterating; this is not a fault of the technology, more of the problems I have had in coding the multi-threaded program. If anyone knows how to fix this (any coders?), here is a little more information: I still have found no way of specifically assigning a process to a designated core beyond leaving the system to do it for me. Unfortunately, as I have used a user interface which manages itself (not within DirectX), assigning the second process will attempt to run as a hyperthread instead of a separate one altogether! This effectively freezes the user interface.

I recommend not pushing the detail level above 8 or 9 as the amount of memory used increases massively. As a 32-bit application, the engine is limited to around 1.9Gb. If you hit this limit, the program will fail. If you do go upto this level of detail, keep your system small (circa 10-20 objects).

Note many redundant features have been left in the released program for future development reasons. This is a BETA product so final polish is missing in certain regards.

Finally, please don't unplug/plug in USB devices too quickly, it does confuse the poor thing!
Copyright ©TSSE 2013. Contact via support@tssengine.com