engine

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Portal adds

No, not that Portal (which if you haven’t played, you should, even if you have no time; it’s short! For NVIDIA card owners the first slice is free). I’ve updated our portal page with a few additions.

New blogs added: Pandemonium, C0DE517E, Gates 381, GameDevKicks, Chris Hecker’s, and Beyond3D. Being a trailing-edge adoption kind of a guy (I’ve kept my Tivo 1 alive by replacing the disk drives three times so far, my cell phone’s $90 from Indonesia via eBay), I ignored blogs for the most part until last year, when I finally learned how simple it was to use an RSS reader (I like Google’s). My philosophy since then is that if a blog has any articles relevant to interactive rendering techniques, I’ll subscribe. Since most graphics blogs don’t post daily, traffic is low, so checking new postings takes a minute or two a day. That said, if I had to pick just one, it would probably be GameDevKicks, since it’s an aggregator, similar to Digg (though the low counts on the digs, excuse me, kicks, means that some things may fall through the cracks). This service means I’m off the hook in noting new articles on Gamasutra on this blog, since these usually get listed there.

Ogre Forums has been added to the list of developer sites. Ogre is a popular free game development platform. I can’t say I frequent the forum, but on the strength of this article on using the pixel shader to generate the illusion of geometry, there are obviously good things happening here.

The Unity Web Player Hardware Statistics page is similar to the well-known Steam survey, but for machines used by casual gamers.

A site that’s been around a long while and should have been on the portal from the start is the Virtual Terrain Project, a constantly-expanding repository of algorithms about and models of terrain, vegetation, natural phenomena, etc.

… and that’s it for now.

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So you want to play with a 3D modeler, or want to teach a class using one, but have zero budget. TrueSpace is now free. This is pretty darn wonderful; TrueSpace has been around approximately forever – I once wrote an exporter from the Trispectives modeler to its file format back in 1994 – and has grown in capabilities over the years.

The Torque game engine is now available for making games on the iPhone. The licensing terms are of the “email us and we’ll tell you” type, but the standard Torque engine is ridiculously affordable for indie game developers at $150, including all source, etc. If you spent all your spare money on an iPhone, oolong is a free engine for games on the iPhone/iPod, originated by Wolfgang Engel and Erwin Coumans, along with assets from PowerVR – it even has a physics engine.

There’s an interesting performance post on cache misses from Dave Moore. Dave Eberly told me a related tale recently: “I am the PS3 programmer.  I spent a lot of time trying to write code to avoid branching, to remove load-hit-stores, and to avoid cache misses. For example, our physics programmer decided that if one function in a class is virtual, then make them all virtual.  He did not realize that a look-up in the virtual function table invariably causes a cache miss.  Make a lot of function calls (like physics systems tend to do), and now you have a serious performance problem.  I removed all the unnecessary virtual modifiers and reduced frame time by 5 milliseconds.  When your goal is 30 fps (33 millisecond frame time), 5 ms is significant.”

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