Unlimited Detail Technology Interview
Post by trog @ 10:02pm 03/08/11 | Comments
Brisbane-based company Euclideon is making waves at the moment with new information about their "Unlimited Detail Technology" engine for games, boasting a 100,000x improvement in graphics.
Euclideon CEO Bruce Robert Dell was kind enough to take a few minutes to answer some questions posed by our community, so read on for the full interview:
AusGamers: How did you overcome the data storage and computational problems involved in dealing with trillions of points in space? It seems like tracking that much data would be very memory intensive, to say the least!
Euclideon: If we were making our world out of little tiny atoms and had to store x, y, z, colour etc… for each atom, then yes it would certainly use up a lot of memory. But instead we’ve found another way of doing it. I could say were using less memory than what the current polygon system uses, but if I did that I think I’d exceeded my quota of unbelievable claims for the day. So we'll leave that for future demonstrations.
The sample video seemed to show a lot of replicated objects and terrain features. How well is the technology able to scale to varied terrain and many different objects?
Euclideon: Several weeks ago, we decided that we needed a demo. Our aim was to show the technology, not necessarily beautiful graphics, I think we succeeded in our task, it’s not a limitation of the technology, it simply came down to not having enough time to make more objects. We only have one artist and the poor guy has been slaving away to the point that even Cinderella would have pity on him. Please don’t accuse him of too much laziness. As said before we're a technology company, not a games company, that is all the art that could be included in the demo in such a short amount of time.
Does rendering in terms of "atoms" instead of polygons make it easier to implement destructible type environments that polygon mesh engines typically have difficulty dealing with?
Euclideon: Regarding destructible environments, we haven’t even touched that yet, but in theory there is no reason why we can’t destroy your environments down to the single atom level. So rather than a game where a table has been made to smash in a certain way, were hoping that we will be able to make the table so you can cut a piece off it and cut it into a little wooden hamster if it pleased you to do so. We’re hoping for total destructibility in our environments. So those of you who used to be mean kids who knocked down the sand castles of others will have a place to vent :)
So far it sounds like all the grunt work in your system will be done by CPU - is there any possibility for a user's GPU to be used in your engine, or can the engine intrinsically not be hardware accelerated like that?
Euclideon: At the moment we’re running everything very well in software alone, however, we're a greedy bunch and seeing as more power is available in the GPU why not use it? I’m sure in time we will make more use of that.
Several of the things you covered - like the realistic looking trees, and ground, and rocks - can be achieved with tessellation under DirectX 11 - how is your approach better?
Euclideon: Well I'd like to proceed compassionately here. Tessellation is nice, I like tessellation, it was a proposed solution to the problems with low polygon counts and it was designed by some clever people who tackled the problems that the present polygon system brings in a very good way, but no I don’t think that tessellated height bumps are better than real geometry if you put the tessellation picture next to unlimited detail there is a pretty big difference. [See picture below]
Euclideon: Also an increase of height doesn’t make blades of grass. Even if we came out 4 years from now and tessellation was actually used in games I still think infinite converted polygons would win over bumpy pictures.
As with your previous announcement, there's a fair bit of healthy skepticism. What are the chances that you might release a small-scope downloadable, playable technology demo that people can actually experiment with to get an idea of the technology?
Euclideon: I think the demo video we released is a little bit like the second movie in a trilogy, it’s like The Empire Strikes Back. It is our intention that we will disappear again, work very hard and then come back.
At our third appearance we hope to release our real time downloadable demos for our supporters.
id Software's John Carmack - a renowned name in graphics programming - has made a cautiously optimistic comment that your technology sounds feasible in a couple of years, but probably not on current hardware. Does that match your timelines?
Euclideon: Firstly I’d like to say that I greatly respect John Carmack for his enormous contribution to 3D industry.
In light of the fact that we haven’t released real time demos, his statement is… sensible, sane, reasonable, but incorrect.
We look forward to sharing our discoveries with the 3D industry when complete.
Carmack also mentioned there's not enough information to know if you're doing ray tracing or "splatting" - any comment there?
Euclideon: We are not raytracing there are no rays, we are not splatting there are no splats.
We'd like to thank Bruce for taking the time out to respond so comprehensively to our questions and we look forward to seeing what else they've got in store for us further down the track!