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Thursday, May 22, 2014

New renderer

Our new deferred renderer is taking shape:

I like the water in particular. Still many features missing, like point lights you can move around. And I haven't given up yet on a realtime global illumination hack. I think this is mandatory today to make interior spaces interesting.

This seems a lot of work. Does it make sense to build your own renderer? My interests are more around content generation and management.

Having a custom renderer has some advantages. It makes it very easy to get any project going. Once this engine is packaged into some form of SDK, it will help that anyone can make changes, compile them and run them without any third party libraries (just the OS and OpenGL).

And then, looking at the problems you get when implementing a renderer gives you some perspective. That tiny pixel in the horizon should grow and become a fully volumetric rock. Understanding how these distant features can be produced by the shaders helps tie them down to their close-range volumetric representations.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Grammar Time

Yes, grammars. The last update had a hint of this, but here you can see them in more detail. As you probably know, we are building a repertoire of architectural grammars. The following video shows a few of them:

This set is geared towards medieval, fantasy settings, but I suspect most of these grammars would hold for a different theme.

This system becomes very interesting once you consider ending building blocks could be replaced by elements that tie closely to your project's vision. At any time you could replace the arches, columns, ornaments, even bricks, by custom components you may have sculpted earlier. What the grammar gives you is the order and structure of these prefabs, but the final look and feel can be pretty much up to you.

As you can see for the moment we are focusing on smaller grammars. You can think of these as smart brushes that will allow to lay walls, floors, bridges, even towers in the locations you choose.

While grammars are able to express entire buildings (even cities), I believe we need to start small and allow you to place these smaller elements following your imagination. Also there is little point in generating an entire castle if the building elements are not interesting enough. So we are making sure we have a solid repertoire of grammars before we take on larger things. Even something as simple as a basic stair tool can save you a lot of time.

As usual let me know what you think. I'm in particular interested in how many of these do you think we would need for a particular theme, how generic or specific they should be, what kind of parameters would you like to have as inputs.

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