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About this blog

Learn about game development technology

Entries in this blog

Voxel Ray Tracing and Physically-Based Rendering

Light is made up of individual particles called photons. A photon is a discrete quantum of electromagnetic energy. Photons are special because they have properties of both a particle and a wave. Photons have mass and can interact with physical matter. The phenomenon of "solar pressure" is caused by photons bombarding a surface and exerting force. (This force actually has to be accounted for in orbital mechanics.) However, light also has a wavelength and frequency, similar to sound or other wave

Josh

Josh in Articles

Leadwerks 5 Editor Extension Example

Our new editor is being designed to support user-created extensions written in Lua. I want Lua to work in our new editor the way MaxScript works in 3ds Max, to allow an endless assortment of new tools you can create and use. Now that the editor GUI system is well underway, I want to start thinking about how user-created extensions will work with our new editor. I'm going to lay out some theoretical code for how a road creation tool might integrate into the editor. First we declare a st

Josh

Josh in Articles

Leadwerks 5 Beta Update

A new update is available for beta testers. This update focuses on the GUI capabilities, mostly for interfaces created directly on a window, rather than 3D interfaces. We are moving from a Lua-driven GUI system to one coded more explicitly in C++. This will provide us with better documented behavior, easier portability, and a more responsive interface. Changes: GUI widgets no longer use Lua scripts. Each widget type has a C++ class, a creation command, and style constants. A

Josh

Josh in Articles

Forum Software and Theme Updated

Our forum software and theme have been updated. The new theme is just the default Invision Power Board skin, with our own header and footer added. In the past I put a lot of effort into getting the forum to look exactly the way I wanted, and I don't think that effort was a very good use of time. Each forum update requires us to redo the skin, and I just don't feel like it is that important. I can fine-tune the appearance of the user interface in the Leadwerks Editor, but this web stuff is o

Josh

Josh in Articles

GUI Work

The terrain streaming / planet rendering stuff was the last of the feature creep. That finishes out the features I have planned for the first release of the new engine. My approach for development has been to go very broad so I could get a handle on how all the features work together, solve the hard problems, and then fill in the details when convenient. The hard problems are all solved so now it's just a matter of finishing things, Consequently, I don't think my blogs are going to make any

Josh

Josh in Articles

Reflection Colors

An update is available for Leadwerks 5 beta on Steam that adds a World::SetSkyColor() command. This allows you to set a gradient for PBR reflections when no skybox is in use. I learned with Leadwerks 4 that default settings are important. The vast majority of screenshots people show off are going to use whatever default rendering settings I program in. We need a good balance between quality and performance for the engine to use as defaults. Therefore, the engine will use SSAO and bloom effe

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Terrain Deformation

In games we think of terrain as a flat plane subdivided into patches, but did you know the Earth is actually round? Scientists say that as you travel across the surface of the planet, a gradual slope can be detected, eventually wrapping all the way around to form a spherical shape! At small scales we can afford to ignore the curvature of the Earth but as we start simulating bigger and bigger terrains this must be accounted for. This is a big challenge. How do you turn a flat square shape into a

Josh

Josh

Leadwerks 5 Beta Update Available on Steam

A new update is available for Leadwerks 5 beta. This adds the ability for to use post-processing effects together with render-to-texture. The SpriteLayer class has been renamed to Canvas and the Camera::AddSpriteLayer method has been renamed to Camera::AddCanvas. The beta has been moved to Steam and updates will be distributed there from now on. Beta testers were sent keys to install the program on their Steam accounts.

Josh

Josh

Streaming Terrain Data Fetching

Previously, I showed how to create a terrain data set from a single 32768x32768 heightmap. The files have been uploaded to our Github account here. We will load data directly from the Github repository with our load-from-URL feature because this makes it very easy to share code examples. Also, even if you fly around the terrain for a long time, you are unlikely to ever need to download the complete data set. Think about Google Earth. How long would it take you to view the entire planet at full r

Josh

Josh

Streaming Terrain Data Preparation

Being able to support huge worlds is great, but how do you fill them up with content? Loading an entire planet into memory all at once isn't possible, so we need a system that allows us to stream terrain data in and out of memory dynamically. I wanted a system that could load data from any source, including local files on the hard drive or online GIS sources. Fortunately, I developed most of this system last spring and I am ready to finish it up now. Preparing Terrain Data The first st

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Josh

Optimizing the Vertex Pipeline

In my work with NASA we visualize many detailed CAD models in VR. These models may consist of tens of millions of polygons and thousands of articulated sub-objects. This often results in rendering performance that is bottlenecked by the vertex rather than the fragment pipeline. I recently performed some research to determine how to maximize our rendering speed in these situations. Leadwerks 4 used separate vertex buffers, but in Leadwerks 5 I have been working exclusively with interleaved v

Josh

Josh

Leadwerks 5 Beta Update Available

A beta update is available. The ray tracing system is now using a smaller 128x128x128 grid. There is still only one single grid that does not move. Direct lighting calculation has been moved to the GPU. The GI will appear darker and won't look very good. Additional shader work is needed to make the data look right, and I probably need to implement a compute shader for parts of it. The system is now dynamic, although it current has a lot of latency. GI renders only get triggered when somethi

Josh

Josh

Voxel ray tracing and motion

So far the new Voxel ray tracing system I am working out is producing amazing results. I expect the end result will look like Minecraft RTX, but without the enormous performance penalty of RTX ray tracing. I spent the last several days getting the voxel update speed fast enough to handle dynamic reflections, but the more I dig into this the more complicated it becomes. Things like a door sliding open are fine, but small objects moving quickly can be a problem. The worst case scenario is whe

Josh

Josh

Starting with a Bang

Crowdfunding campaigns are a great way to kick off marketing for a game or product, with several benefits. Free promotion to your target audience. Early validation of an idea before you create the product. A successful crowdfunding campaign demonstrates organic consumer interest, which makes bloggers and journalists much more willing to give your project coverage. Oh yeah, there's also the financial aspect, but that's actually the least important part. If you make $1

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Dynamic Voxel Updates

I've been working to make my previously demonstrated voxel ray tracing system fully dynamic. Getting the voxel data to update fast enough was a major challenge, and it forced me to rethink the design. In the video below you can see the voxel data being updated at a sufficient speed. Lighting has been removed, as I need to change the way this runs. I plan to keep two copies of the data in memory and let the GPU interpolate smoothly in between them, in order to smooth out the motion

Josh

Josh

Leadwerks 5 Beta Update Available with Faster Raytracing

A new beta update is available. The raytracing implementation has been sped up significantly. The same limitations of the current implementation still apply, but the performance will be around 10x faster, as the most expensive part of the raytrace shader has been precomputed and cached. The Material::SetRefraction method has also been exposed to Lua. The Camera::SetRefraction method is now called "SetRefractionMode". The results are so good, I don't have any plans to use any kind of sc

Josh

Josh

Leadwerks 5 Beta Update Available

An update is available for beta testers. All Lua errors should now display the error message and open the script file and go to the correct line the error occurs on. The voxel raytracing system is now accessible. To enable it, just call Camera:SetGIMode(true). At this time, only a single voxel grid with dimensions of 32 meters, centered at the origin is in use. The voxel grid will only be generated once, at the time the SetGIMode() method is called. Only the model

Josh

Josh

Fast Voxel Raytracing with Vulkan

PBR materials look nice, but their reflections are only as good as the reflection data you have. Typically this is done with hand-placed environment probes that take a long time to lay out, and display a lot of visual artifacts. Nvidia's RTX raytracing technology is interesting, but it struggles to run old games on a super-expensive GPU, My goal in Leadwerks 5 is to have automatic reflections and global illumination that doesn't require any manual setup, with fast performance. I'm on the fi

Josh

Josh

Leadwerks 5 Beta Update Available

An update is available that adds the new refraction effect. It's very easy to create a refractive transparent material: auto mtl = CreateMaterial(); mtl->SetTransparent(true); mtl->SetRefraction(0.02); The default FPS example shows some nice refraction, with two overlapping layers of glass, with lighting on all layers. It looks great with some of @TWahl's PBR materials. If you want to control the strength of the refraction effect on a per-pixel basis add an alpha channel

Josh

Josh

Advanced Transparency and Refraction in Vulkan

Heat haze is a difficult problem. A particle emitter is created with a transparent material, and each particle warps the background a bit. The combined effect of lots of particles gives the whole background a nice shimmering wavy appearance. The problem is that when two particles overlap one another they don't blend together, because the last particle drawn is using the background of the solid world for the refracted image. This can result in a "popping" effect when particles disappear, as well

Josh

Josh

Transparency and Refraction in Vulkan

One of the downsides of deferred rendering is it isn't very good at handling transparent surfaces. Since we have moved to a new forward renderer, one of my goals in Leadwerks 5 is to have easy hassle-free transparency with lighting and refraction that just works. Pre-multiplied alpha provides a better blending equation than traditional alpha blending. I'm not going to go into the details here, but it makes it so the transparent surface can be brighter than the underlying surface, as you can

Josh

Josh

Leadwerks 5 Beta Update Available

A new update is available that improves Lua integration in Visual Studio Code and fixes Vulkan validation errors. The SSAO effect has been improved with a denoise filter. Similar to Nvidia's RTX raytracing technology, this technique smooths the results of the SSAO pass, resulting in a better appearance. It also requires far fewer sample and the SSAO pass can be run at a lower resolution. I lowered the number of SSAO samples from 64 to 8 and decreased the area of the image to 25%,

Josh

Josh

Leadwerks 5 beta update adds Visual Studio Code Integration for Lua

A new update is available to beta testers. This makes some pretty big changes so I wanted to release this before doing any additional work on the post-processing effects system. Terrain Fixed Terrain system is working again, with an example for Lua and C++. New Configuration Options New settings have been added in the "Config/settings.json" file: "MultipassCubemap": false, "MaxTextures": 512, "MaxCubemaps": 16, "MaxShadowmaps": 64, "MaxIntegerTextures": 32, "MaxUIntegerTe

Josh

Josh

Leadwerks 5 beta update adds post-processing effects system

A new update is available that adds post-processing effects in Leadwerks 5 beta. To use a post-processing effect, you load it from a JSON file and apply it to a camera like so: auto fx = LoadPostEffect("Shaders/PostEffects/SSAO.json"); camera->AddPostEffect(fx); You can add as many effects as you want, and they will be executed in sequence. The JSON structure looks like this for a simple effect: { "postEffect": { "subpasses": [ {

Josh

Josh

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