Hey, I'm thinking about implementing Instancing, but before doing so, I need some general advice.
So far, most of the rendering is done by looping through (sorted) lists and call a VBO for each object. In some other cases, like drawing a simple sprite, I still use the good old "glVertex3f(...) <4 times>) method. And then for particles, I use a VBO containing many particles that can be updated with OpenGL Transform Feedback.
It makes sense that using Instancing helps when rendering lots of the same object (but at a different position, or with slight differences). But in practice, most of my objects only come in small numbers. 3 boxex, 5 decals, 1 barrel, et cetera. Does it still make sense to implement instancing, or does it actually slow down things with overhead? Or to put it different, when rendering a single quad, is instancing equal or faster than doing it the old 4x glVertex3f way?
Second, some of my objects are animated, and use Transform Feedback to let a Vertex Shader calculate the skinned vertex positions. Each animated model would have its own secundary VBO to write back the transformed vertices. This takes extra memory of course, then again the amount of animated objects is very small compared to the rest. I'm guessing this technique does not co-operate with instancing in any way right?
Third. My meshes use a LOD system. So when getting further away from the camera, they toggle to a simplified mesh. Is it possible to put all LOD models (usually I have 3 to 5 variants) in a single buffer and let the Instancing somehow pick the right variant depending on the distance? Or would using LOD's being less needed anyway?
Any other things I should keep in mind when working with Instancing?