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A few days before the official release date of July 1, the book GPU Pro is out. Think “ShaderX, but now with color”. The example programs and source code are free to download. As mentioned before, more about it at Wolfgang Engel’s book blog.


Quite the backlog, so let’s whip through some topics:

  • GDC: ancient news, I know, but here is a rundown from Vincent Scheib and a summary of trends from Mark DeLoura.
  • I like when people revisit various languages and see how fast they now are on newer hardware and more efficient implementations. Case in point: Quake 2 runs in a browser using javascript and WebGL.
  • Morgan McGuire pointed out this worthwhile article on stereoscopic graphics programming. Quick bits: frame tearing is very noticeable since it is visible to only one eye, vsync is important which may force lower-res rendering, making antialiasing all that much more important. UI elements on top look terribly 2D, and aim-point UI elements need to be given 3D depths. For their game MotorStorm, going 3D meant a lot more people liked using the first-person view, and this view with stereo helped perception of depth, obstacles, etc. There are also some intriguing ideas about using a single 2D image and reprojection using the depth buffer to get the second image (it mostly works…).
  • I happened to notice ShaderX 7 is now available on the Kindle. Looking further, quite a few other recent graphics books are. What’s odd is the differential in prices varies considerably: a Kindle ShaderX 7 is only $3.78 cheaper, while Fundamentals of Computer Graphics is $20 less.
  • Speaking of ShaderX, its successor GPU Pro is not out yet, but Wolfgang started a blog about it (really, just the Table of Contents), in addition to his other blog. The real news: you can use Amazon’s Look Inside feature to view the contents of the book right now!
  • Here are way too many multithreading resources.
  • In case you somehow missed it, you must see Pixels.

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Shortly after publication of the first volume, Eric Lengyel is now calling for chapters for the second volume of this series, due to ship at GDC 2011.  Details can be found at the book website.  The first book turned out pretty good, so this might be a good one to contribute to.

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I’ll get back to actual informational posts realsoonnow when I have some time, but I had to put this up immediately.

Amazon sent this one on to me, a book recommendation entitled Polygon Mesh: Unstructured Grid, 3D Computer Graphics, Solid Modeling, Convex Polygon, Rendering, Vertices, Computational Geometry. I am a bit sad there’s no cover image nor “Look Inside!” feature; it’s these little touches that no doubt would have convinced me to lay out $47 for such a fine-sounding volume, even though it’s only 88 pages long. The book Rasterisation: Vector Graphics, Raster Graphics, Pixel, Rendering, 3D Computer Graphics, Persistence of Vision, Ray Tracing by the same editor has a nice cover (though no “Look Inside!”), but at $62 is just a dollar too much for me.

The first of three editors for both books, Lambert M. Surhone, has 18,247 books that he’s worked on personally. Miriam T. Timpledon and Susan F. Marseken are also pretty productive, with 17,697 titles each. If they would only take a chance to break out and edit their own books, they could overtake Lambert in no time, I’m sure.

Welcome to Betascript Publishing. The idea is to grab (possibly) related Wikipedia pages, print them out, and put them in a book. More about this here. I don’t know who would buy such books, but I guess you need just 100 customers to net you perhaps $5000 or more. Peculiar. I expect with 18,247 titles, there are likely to be a hundred that sound like real books. The part that is sad to me is to see such books listed on foreign bookseller pages. I guess the good news is that the system works only once per customer, though I would guess the next step is to make 18,247 imprint names with 18,247 different editor names.

I thought the editors’ names were perhaps anagrams. Using the Internet Anagram Server, the first combination for each name is:

Lambert M. Surhone gives Blather Summoner

Miriam T. Timpledon gives Immolated Imprint

Susan F. Marseken gives Frankness Amuse

Probably just a coincidence. Anyway, I am frankly unamused by the idea of books automatically being produced, then automatically being recommended by Amazon, given that some people will undoubtedly pay for something they could get for nothing.

Now I just need an AI that will automatically buy these with robo-dollars and the cycle will be complete. Really, better yet would be to write a script that would automatically post a review for each one and note the content is free on Wikipedia. That would be the best automation of all.

Update: I wrote Amazon to complain. They reply (among other boilerplate sentences), “As a retailer, our goal is to provide customers with the broadest selection possible so they can find, discover, and buy any item they might be seeking.” They forgot the words “and pay us.” No one in their right mind seeks to pay for information they could get for free. It turns out Betascript is just one of three imprints under VDM Publishing – reading the Wikipedia article on VDM Publishing is fascinating, especially the discussion section. Amazon currently lists 38,909 Alphascript and 18,289 Betascript books, plus 321 books in German by Fastbook Publishing.

If you’re as disgusted by Amazon’s behavior as I am, I suggest two strategies: write and complain (and get a boilerplate response, but enough complaints might add up) by going here and clicking on Contact Us in the right column, and post 1-star reviews for any of these you run across, e.g., mine here – something to do while waiting for your code to compile.

Update: as of January 24th, 2011, Alphascript is up to 112,420 titles and Betascript has 230,460 titles. What a crock – shame on you, Amazon. Sadly, Miriam and Susan never caught up to Lambert: he has 230,535 titles to his name, while they each have only 69,395.

One more update: see my followup article here.

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Marwan Ansari has put out a call for participation (i.e., articles) for an upcoming book, “Game Development Tools”. The CFP is short, so I’ve included it below. Please pass on the URL for the book’s website to anyone you think would be interested.

To me, the things I most appreciate from Marwan are his two articles in ShaderX 2: Tips & Tricks (free for download). These are still relevant today: “Advanced Image Processing with DirectX® 9 Pixel Shaders” (written with Jason Mitchell, now at Valve, and Evan Hart, and the article “Image Effects with DirectX® 9 Pixel Shaders”. He’s worked for a number of games companies since his ATI days.

The CFP:

We invite you to submit a proposal for an  innovative article to be included in a forthcoming book, Game Development Tools, which will be edited by Marwan Y. Ansari and published by A. K. Peters. We expect to publish the volume in time for GDC 2011.

We are open to any tools articles that you feel would make a valuable contribution to this book.

Some topics that would be of interest include:

  • Content Pipeline tools (creation, streamlining, management)
  • Graphics/Rendering tools
  • Profiling tools
  • Collada import/export/inspection
  • Sound tools
  • In-Game debugging tools
  • Memory management & analysis
  • Console tools (single and cross platform)

This list is not meant to be exclusive and other topics are welcome.

The schedule for the book is as follows:

June 30th           – All proposals in.

July 15th            – Final list of accepted authors are informed and begin articles.

August 15th       – First draft in to editor

September 15th  – Drafts sent to other book authors for peer review

October 15th      – Final articles in to editor

November 30th   – Final articles to publisher (A K Peters)

GDC 2011          – Book is released.

Please send proposals to marwan at gamedevelopmenttools dot com.

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Game Engine Gems

A little under a year ago, we mentioned the call for papers for a new “gems” book: Game Engine Gems, edited by Eric Lengyel.  It’s available for pre-order on Amazon, not surprising since it’s due to be launched at GDC, just two weeks from now.  The table of contents is available on the book website, and looks promising.  Although the book contains some rendering chapters, its focus is broader, similar to the successful Game Programming Gems series to which it is likely to be a worthy competitor.  I’ve added it to our upcoming books list.


GPU Pro 2 book CFP

GPU Pro (the rebranded ShaderX series) will be published soon. Wolfgang Engel, the editor in chief of the series, has now put out a call for participation for GPU Pro 2read about it here. Proposal deadline is May 17th.

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Amazon sent an auto-recommended of this book to me. Unlike last time, which was humorous but unrelated, I actually appreciate this one: “Temporal Coherence in Real-Time Rendering: Practical Approaches for Capitalizing on Temporal Coherence in the Domain of Real-Time Rendering,” by Daniel Scherzer.

At $81 for a 132 page book, I suspected it was a thesis reprint. Indeed it is: you can download the thesis from here. The thesis is 130 pages long, so my guess is the book form adds nothing (and subtracts $81).

So, you can download it for free now, but should you read it? Well, it is a thesis, which means it collects various papers and presents each in turn. This thesis focuses on using temporal coherence, i.e. use previous frames’ computations in various ways. It includes Daniel’s hard shadow (history buffer), soft shadow, and discrete LOD blending work, as listed here. Since it’s a thesis, the author can stretch out a bit more and cover various areas in depth. The focus is on improving image quality: hard shadows are higher resolution, soft shadows look smoother. There are limitations to his approaches, e.g., the lights are fixed in place, and objects generally should be static.

As with most theses, it also includes an extensive “previous work” section at the beginning. There is a 23 page overview of a number of shadow techniques and LOD work, explaining strengths and weaknesses. From my skim, this looks quite good; not quite all-encompassing (which is good: there are way too many shadow papers), but hitting most of the major areas of research. Let’s put it this way: if and when we write a fourth edition, I’ll certainly carefully read his categorization of various problems and think about how to integrate it into our section on shadows. His is the best recent overview of the subject that I’ve seen. He’s also the coauthor of an upcoming survey on hard shadows, not yet available for download but which I suspect is similar to his thesis’ overview.

Update: I asked Daniel about this post, he said it’s about right (and the long subtitle is indeed a Verlag decision). The book version contains an index, and different (non-copyright-protected) images. Also of interest, their upcoming STAR survey on hard shadows will be more theoretical and detailed, similar to the hard shadow section in the SIGGRAPH Asia 2009 course Casting Shadows in Real Time (which has a solid 90 pages on shadow algorithms).

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Eric Preisz has a book coming out in time for GDC, “Video Game Optimization.” I haven’t seen it yet, but judging by his article on optimization on Gamasutra, it should be pretty good—he knows what he’s talking about.

By the way, assuming you’re using Google Chrome for browsing (it’s what the cool kids use), I found AutoPager Chrome to be a nice little extension. Instead of needing to click at the end of every page of an article, it glues page after page into one long scroll.

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Made me laugh

I noticed Kirk & Hwu’s “Programming Massively Parallel Processors” book is back in stock at Amazon (and now with 2 mixed reviews), after being unavailable for a number of days. The part that made me laugh is Amazon’s ranking listing:

#1 in  BooksComputers & InternetHardwareMainframes & Minicomputers

If GPU computing isn’t the antithesis of mainframes and minicomputers, I’m not sure what is…

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