Making more work

Posted by | Posted in Game Development, Pioneer | Posted on 09-03-2014

After taking a look at the awesome No Man’s Sky videos and artwork I decided that enough was enough: Pioneers terrain engine must die!

Now I’ve been “meaning” to do something about it for several years, and I have done bits of work too it over the years: reduced it’s memory footprint drastically, refactored it internally, multi-threaded it with a job system, numerous optimisations etc. There’s some things though that I’ve just left well alone.

That time is over: yesterday I merged some work-in-progress code that takes the underlying GeoSphere code and splits it into 3 classes: BaseSphere, GeoSphere and GasGiant.

In future there will be more splits because Stars are still rendered with the GeoSphere system meant for CONSTRUCTING PLANETS! That won’t do at all.

It also means separate shaders, materials and all manner of other technical bits which means that the way gas giants are generated and rendered can now start to diverge drastically and rapidly without worrying about breaking the way that stars or rocky planets are created. Even just doing this much has taken a surprising amount of time mostly because I do this as a hobby and don’t have a lot of opportunity to dedicate too it. Also my real job tends to leave me without an awful lot of spare mental capacity at the end of a day.

Progress s progress though and there’s ┬ácouple of other things coming up.

  1. I’ve been working on implementing terrain texturing, which you can read about on the forum, and am currently writing the system to manage to tiles and build the texture atlas.
  2. GPU generation of gas giant textures, hopefully allowing for less CPU work and bigger textures, possibly updating them in realtime someday in the future.
  3. Placing instanced detail objects – think trees, rocks, grass etc – this ones very very early work though don’t expect it … for a long time!

I haven’t forgotten the Oculus Rift stuff either, it’s just a little bit down the priority list.

Oh and I am now on Twitter, although I haven’t figured out why yet.

Comments posted (3))

  1. So, what’s new about Pioneers terrain engine refactoring ? Did you made some progress ?

  2. Yeah there’s some progress. Mostly I’m being held back by Linux open source drivers :(

    I’m rendering the Gas Giant textures to a texture using noise etc but it’s on hold until it can resolve that stuff.

    Next step is to change the way we generate the heightmaps with rendering to a floating point texture.
    Of course none of this matters if I can’t get it to run on the Linux build since that seems to be most of our developers AND users :/

  3. Well that and my day job does get in the way slightly.

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