Bits of News

Just some quick bits to chew on for breakfast:

  • Microsoft announced Project Natal at E3; the (simulated) video is entertaining. Lionhead Studios’ demo is also worth a look. Somehow a little creepy, and I suspect in practice there’s a high likelihood that a user will quickly run off the rails and not do what’s expected, but still. Considering how limited the Eye Toy is compared to its hype, I’m not holding my breath, but it’s interesting to know & think about. (thanks to Adam Felt for the link)
  • New book out, Graphics Shaders: Theory and Practice. It’s about GLSL, you can find the Table of Contents and other front matter at the book’s site (look to the right side). I hope to get a copy and give a review at some point.
  • I mentioned Mark Haigh-Hutchinson’s Real-Time Cameras book in an earlier post. The, honestly, touching story of its history is republished on Mark DeLoura’s blog at Gamasutra.
  • Nice history of graphics cards, with many pictures.
  • Humus describes a clever particle rendering optimization technique (update), and provides a utility. Basically, make the polygon fit the visible part of the particle to save on fill rate. One of those ideas that I suspect many of us have wondered if it’s worth doing. It is, and it’s great to have someone actually test it out and publish the results.
  • This is an interesting concept: with an NVIDIA card and their new driver you can now turn on ambient occlusion for 22 games that don’t actually use this technique in their shipped shaders. In itself, this feature is a minor plus, but brings up all sorts of questions, such as buying into a particular brand to improve quality, who controls and who can modify the artistic look of a game, etc. (thanks to Mauricio Vives for the link)
  • Old, but if you haven’t seen it before, it’s a must: transparent screens.

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  1. Mauricio’s avatar

    Oh, the memories! Even though the graphics cards history doesn’t really go back that far (mostly 10 years, and only 3D), some of it feels like ages ago. Also, this only covers consumer cards: no 3Dlabs, E&S, or Intergraph here.

    Vastly amusing to me is that the first ones had bare ICs: no cooling whatsoever. The first heatsink appeared in 97 and the first fan in 98. Now we have boards that are *mostly* cooling, in terms of volume. The Intel i740 was the first one with a fan, and I remember interviewing with that group (Real3D) in Orlando out of college. I’m glad I didn’t accept that offer, in retrospect, given how long they lasted.

  2. PolyVox’s avatar

    NVidia’s addition of SSAO is interesting, particularly because we are already seeing the development of more advanced algorithms in this field. There has been work on image space global illumination and shadows, so logically they could try and integrate this into their driver as well.

    I think in modern games this is best left to the developers, but its an interesting way of adding features to older games which weren’t available at the time.

    By the way, it’s a great book you all wrote. I like just opening on a random page and reading a few minutes of whatever I find during my compile times…

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