I am developing a sprite based 2D game for mobile platform(s) and I'm using OpenGL (well, actually Irrlicht) to render graphics. First I implemented sprite rendering in a simple way: every game object is rendered as a quad with its own GPU draw call, meaning that if I had 200 game objects, I made 200 draw calls per frame. Of course this was a bad choice and my game was completely CPU bound because there is a little CPU overhead assosiacted in every GPU draw call. GPU stayed idle most of the time.
Now, I thought I could improve performance by collecting objects into large batches and rendering these batches with only a few draw calls. I implemented batching (so that every game object sharing the same texture is rendered in same batch) and thought that my problems are gone... only to find out that my frame rate was even lower than before.
Why? Well, I have 200 (or more) game objects, and they are updated 60 times per second. Every frame I have to recalculate new position (translation and rotation) for vertices in CPU (GPU on mobile platforms does not support instancing so I can't do it there), and doing this calculation 48000 per second (200*60*4 since every sprite has 4 vertices) simply seems to be too slow.
What I could do to improve performance? All game objects are moving/rotating (almost) every frame so I really have to recalculate vertex positions. Only optimization that I could think of is a look-up table for rotations so that I wouldn't have to calculate them. Would point sprites help? Any nasty hacks? Anything else?