PhysX

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I use a LIFO stack for these link collections, so we’re starting to get into older news. Olds? Still good stuff, though.

  • I hadn’t noticed this set of notes before from Valve, “Post Processing in the Orange Box.” It’s about sRGB (think, gamma correction), tone mapping (think, rescaling using the histogram), and motion blur (think, types of blur). Interesting that a variable frame rate combined with blur made people sick. They’d also turn blur off if a single frame was taking too long. (from Morgan)
  • Wolfgang Engel has posted DirectX 11 and DirectX 10 pipeline overview charts. In a similar vein, Mark Kilgard has a talk about the changes from OpenGL 1.0 to 3.2 with some worthwhile data flow diagrams and other material.
  • openSourceVFX.org is a catalog of open source projects that are particularly suited for film visual effects and animation work. It is maintained by professionals in the field, so the resources listed are those known to actually be used and production-worthy. (thanks, Larry)
  • Here’s another PhysX demo, of water—a little jelly-like (good spray is hard, since it’s so fine-grained), but pretty amazing to see happen at interactive rates.
  • One resource I didn’t recall for my blog entry about tools for teaching about graphics and game creation: Kodu, from Microsoft. For grade schoolers, it uses a visual language. Surprisingly, it’s in 3D, with a funky chiclet terrain system. For still more tools, check the comments on the original blog entry—some great additions there. (pointed out by Mark DeLoura)
  • Another interesting graphics programming tool is NodeBox 2, now in beta. It uses a node graph-based approached, see some examples here.
  • The story of Duke Nukem in Wired is just fascinating. We all like to tell and listen to stories, so it’s hard to know how true any narrative is, but this one seems reasonably on the mark. A little balance is provided by Raphael van Lierop.

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There’s been some great stuff lately:

  • Gustavo Oliveira has an article in Gamasutra about writing an efficient cross-platform SIMD vector library and the tradeoffs involved. The last page was of particular interest, as I had wondered how effective the Intel C++ Compiler (ICC) was vs. Microsoft’s. He also provides downloadable source code and in-depth statistics.
  • NVIDIA has given some information abour Fermi, their next GPU. Warning: their page will automatically start some audio – annoying. You could just skip to the white paper. One big deal about Fermi is its support of doubles, which means it can be used for more science & engineering number-crunching. The Tech Report has a good overview article of other interesting features, and also presents benchmarking results.
  • Tests of OpenCL, the platform-independent parallel programming standard, have started to appear for AMD and NVIDIA GPUs.
  • Speaking of NVIDIA, their PhysX engine is getting some attention. The first video clip in this article gives a sense of the sorts of effects it can add. Pretty stuff, but the funny thing about PhysX is that it must accelerate computations that do not actually affect gameplay (i.e. it should not move around any objects in the scene differently than non-PhysX machines). This limits its use to particle systems and other eye candy. Not a diss—heck, most game graphics are about eye candy—but something to keep in mind.
  • Naty pointed out an article about how increasing the number of megapixels in a camera is just salesmanship and gains no actual benefit. The author later gives more explanation of his argument, which is that diffraction puts a physical limit on the useful size of a pixel for a given camera size.
  • Sony Pictures Imageworks has released a draft describing their Open Shading Language (OSL). While aimed at high-end rendering for films, it’s interesting to see what is built-in (e.g. deferred ray tracing) and what they consider important. Read the introduction for more information, or the draft itself.
  • My favorite infographic of the week: Avatar vs. Modern Warfare 2. Ignore the weird chartjunk concentric circles, focus on the numbers. The most amazing stat to me is the $200M advertising budget for MW2.

… and that’s seven; more later.

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