FlipCode is back

Kurt has tak­en steps to revive Flip­Code.

Flip­code was a place to dis­cuss gamedev + algo­rithms with a unique flair and an out­stand­ing audi­ence, some­thing IMHO gamedev.net nev­er matched. I, too, was a reg­u­lar vis­i­tor, poster, and also con­tributed the odd arti­cle and an IOTD. Ter­rain engines bor­der­ing on 100k polys with­out HW T&L will be for­ev­er in the past, but the spir­it will live on.

OpenGL 4.3

I just got the news about the OpenGL 4.3 spec, which was released today, and is avail­able at http://www.opengl.org/registry/. The spec doc­u­ment has been reor­ga­nized and cleared up con­sid­er­ably and is a lot eas­i­er to fol­low than the pre­vi­ous spec­i­fi­ca­tions. New fea­tures include (ordered by impor­tance for my projects):

  • Queries for inter­nal tex­ture for­mat parameters
  • Debug out­put callbacks
  • Com­pute shaders
  • Tex­ture views
  • and oth­ers

I’m cur­rent­ly on a project where com­pat­i­bil­i­ty and scaleabil­i­ty is prime, so the first two fea­tures are very wel­come as devel­op­ment aids to make the code run robust­ly on a vari­ety of plat­forms. Com­pute shaders and tex­ture views are of course cool, but require the newest hard­ware, so they are low­er in my list.

A nice touch by Nvidia to make to expose the new func­tion­al­i­ty as exten­sions on old­er hard­ware.

GPU Pro 3 has arrived

I found my copy of the book in the mail today. I was a lit­tle sur­prised by the mod­er­ate size—other vol­umes of this series were just that: vol­umes! I think this one is about half the size than the pre­vi­ous tomes. By the way, this post is a shame­less plug because there is an arti­cle writ­ten by me in it. Thanks go to Wolf­gang Engel, the series edi­tor, and Christo­pher Oat, my sec­tion edi­tor, and CRC press for mak­ing it pos­si­ble! I will post some com­ments on the oth­er arti­cles when I read them through.

I found one very good and com­pre­hen­sive arti­cle on data dri­ven engine design by Don­ald Revie. The ideas pre­sent­ed in there res­onate very well with the designs that I found worked well in the past, so this part gets a sol­id +1 from me.

(I end­ed up with a tri­ad of IRenderObject, IRenderGeometry and IRenderProgram, where the ren­der object would AddBatches() to a draw list, each of which refers to one geom­e­try con­tain­ing the mesh and one pro­gram for set­ting the ren­der state. For instance, a SpeedTree™ ren­der object would typ­i­cal­ly add three batch­es, one for each of the branch­es, fronds and leaves, where each batch would pair the spe­cif­ic geom­e­try with an appro­pri­ate pro­gram. The draw list is then sort­ed in one go via a gen­er­al 128 bit sort key, and the batch­es ren­dered in order. This sys­tem is gen­er­al enough that the UI sys­tem also can just AddBatch­es() to this list (so the UI sys­tem, as a whole, is just one instance of a ren­der object). In this case, the indi­vid­ual UI geom­e­try objects just rep­re­sent views into one big dynam­ic ver­tex buffer. I prob­a­bly want to explain this sys­tem in detail in anoth­er post.)

Anoth­er two very inspir­ing arti­cles so far are the one about geo­met­ric post­process antialias­ing, by Emil “Humus” Pers­son, and the piece about glob­al illu­mi­na­tion using a vox­el grid, from the teams at the Unis Koblenz/Magdeburg. I already read their ACM paper before and I think it is a viable method.

ShaderX is searched by EPO

While googling the net, I found this remark­able piece. This is a patent appli­ca­tion from 2010, and from the draw­ings, it seems that the inven­tor had the ‘rev­o­lu­tion­ary’ idea of cal­cu­lat­ing some adap­tive depth bias based on the depth map to improve shad­ow mapping.

The note­wor­thy part of the sto­ry is, that the offi­cial research, the patent clerk appar­ent­ly turned up my ShaderX4 arti­cle from 2006, as can be seen here fur­ther down on the page. The page also states that the appli­ca­tion has been aban­doned. So, maybe the exis­tence of this arti­cle has pre­vent­ed a patent on shad­ow maps, or at least dis­cour­aged the issuer to pur­sue the appli­ca­tion. In either case, let’s hope it stays that way!

We can draw two con­clu­sions from this.

  • Con­clu­sion 1: ShaderX seems to be rec­og­nized by the EPO as a source of state of the art.
  • Con­clu­sion 2: If you have an idea, write about and pub­lish it! It does­n’t mat­ter if it is just a blog post. If it can be tracked down, this can pre­vent a patent on the same idea in the future!

Comments on Advances in Real Time Rendering 2011

I final­ly got around to write some com­ments on this years Advances in Real Time Ren­der­ing held at SIGGRAPH 2011. Thanks to the RTR-team for mak­ing the notes avail­able. The talk about phys­i­cal­ly-based shad­ing in Call Of Duty has already been men­tioned in my pre­vi­ous post. So, in no par­tic­u­lar order:

Rendering in Cars 2

Christopher Hall, Robert Hall, David Edwards (AVALANCHE Software)

At one point, the talk about ren­der­ing in Cars 2 describes how they use pre-exposed col­ors as shad­er inputs to avoid pre­ci­sion issues when doing the expo­sure after the image has been ren­dered. I have employed pre-exposed col­ors with dynam­ic expo­sure in the past, and I found them tricky to use. Since there is a delay in the expo­sure feed­back (you must know the expo­sure of the pre­vi­ous frame to feed the col­ors for the next frame) you can even get expo­sure oscillation!