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UPDATE 9/1/2011: ignotion has put the source up on Google Code.

For a long time, I’ve found ATI’s (now AMD’s) CubeMapGen library to be an indispensable tool for creating prefiltered environment maps (important for physically based shading). Many older GPUs (all the ones in current consoles) do not filter across cube faces. CubeMapGen solves this problem and others – details can be found in a GDC presentation and a SIGGRAPH sketch, both from 2005.

Support for CubeMapGen has been spotty for the last few years, and a while ago AMD officially declared its end of life. Since then I’ve been wondering when AMD would open-source this important tool – there is a good precedent in NVIDIA texture tools, which has been open source for several years now.

Speaking of NVIDIA texture tools, a comment on its Google Code website just let me know that AMD has released source to CubeMapGen. A link to the source for version 1.4 can be found on the bottom of the CubeMapGen page. Note that this does not include the DXT compression part of the edge fixup (which was a pretty nifty feature – hopefully someone will reimplement it now that the library is open source).

Looking at the license doc in the zip file, the license appears to be a modified BSD license. This is excellent news – tools like this are far more useful when source is available. Perhaps someone should host the code on Google Code or github, to make it easier to add future improvements – or maybe it could be folded into the nvidia_texture_tools code base (if the license allows).

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This and That

I’ll someday run out of titles for these occasional summaries of new(ish) resources, but in the meantime, this one’s “This and That”.

Christer Ericson’s article on dealing with grouping and sorting objects for rendering is excellent. It mostly depends on input latency, but has concepts that can be applied in immediate mode.

An element that continues to renew the field of computer graphics is that the rules change. This article is about taking Quake 2 (from 1997) and moving it to a modern GPU.

If you haven’t seen it yet, Farbrausch’s demo “debris” is truly impressive. It’s only 183,462 bytes, and is absolutely packed with procedural content. Download here (last link works). Or be lazy and watch on YouTube.

NVIDIA’s pulled together its resources for shadow generation and ambient occlusion all onto one handy page (plus ray tracing – just one entry so far, but it’s a good one).

How to deal with various rendering paradigms on multiple platforms? GRAMPS looks intriguing.

Gamasutra put a useful Game Developer article online, all about commercial middleware game engines currently available.

OpenGL will always exist, since Macs and Linux need it. It’s easier to use in college courses because of its clarity and readability. But otherwise the pendulum’s swung far towards DirectX. Phil Taylor comments on and gives some historical context to the controversy around the latest release, OpenGL 3.0.

A nice trend for OpenGL is that people continue to write useful bits, such as GLee, which manages extensions.

New info on older effects: blur and glow, volumetric clouds, and particle systems.

The glorious teapot. I like “a wireframe view”. Yes, the real thing is taller than the synthetic model, as the model makers were compensating for non-square pixels.

“What’s the future hold?” is always a fun topic, one we’ve used each edition to end our book. I liked this presentation on SlideShare for its sheer “here are a hundred things that hurtle us towards the Singularity” feel, though I don’t buy it for a minute. SlideShare, where it is hosted, is a pleasant medium-attention-span kind of place, with all sorts of random and fun slidesets.

Finally, I am pleased to find that LittleBIGPlanet is just as gorgeous as it looked like it would be. I’ve played myself for only a bit, but walking by when my kids are playing I find I have to stop and stare.

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