Posted by: eygneph | 2010/02/08

Next step: voxel-based game

It’s been a week after the bizarre gamma4 game submission. Now whatever the outcome(of course I hope it will be!), I started to thinking about the next.

Basically I need one with easy-to-customize avatar/weapon and some stylish graphics, and most important the correct feeling of the gameplay. Here’s some thought shared. At the meanwhile, building a world is no doubt difficult and only accessible from those professional developers with in-house tools, or mod communities. This, however, is really unfriendly to user-generated-content methodology and design philosophy. In recent years there comes some games shipped with in-game editors but they either still need devoting time to create a new world, or just a too simple tool to be creative.

After some readings and searching, I’ve come up with an idea with voxel or volume based method. The voxel based rendering is way back to 1990’s and deprecated by the graphics developers since the 3D acceleration card dominate the PC market. However it still has some benefit that triangle mesh can’t compete: deformable terrain, partially destructible objects, easy level of details, the ability to crafting out the model, and solid volume instead of eggshell world. Further more, in recent years, GPU has come to an beast-complex and inefficient in programmable pipeline, and more efforts has been put on to GPGPU/hybrid solution to take the advantage of the raytrace approach by the community. This also gives voxel based method an huge chance. The Carmack, from id software, has shown that volumetric based method or hybrid method will be the main part of id tech 6. Jon Olick, also an veteran programmer in id software, shared his thought with the world in an Siggraph 2008 course. Also Time Sweeney, the creator of Unreal Engine, also state that the volumetric and hybrid approach might dominate the next 10 years of graphics market.

So what about my game? Alright, those tough and pioneering research are not going to feed us to a bare living, so I leave them to Carmacks 🙂 But that doesn’t necessarily mean I will stand and wait! Even with low-tech studio like us, we can do something different and innovative. Example is a game called 3D dot game heros on PS3. Something like that but different feelings.

Reference:

Carmack on id tech 6: http://www.pcper.com/article.php?aid=532
Jon Olick course notes on voxel approach: http://s08.idav.ucdavis.edu/olick-current-and-next-generation-parallelism-in-games.pdf
Tim Sweeney on future of graphics: http://graphics.cs.williams.edu/archive/SweeneyHPG2009/TimHPG2009.pdf

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