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OpenGL Separate index for position, normal, texture coordinate

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I read that OpenGL 2.0 has added support for having multiple indices for each face, allowing me to separately index arrays containing position, normal, and texture coordinate data. Which extensions (I'm on Windows) would I need to use to take advantage of this functionality? Are there any samples / tutorials showing how to do this? Thank you. :)

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Hmm. I thought is was described in an article detailing new support for geometry sharers. Maybe they were implying that you could write a shader to do this, but it is not supported natively. Either way, thank you. Guess I'll stick with repeated vertices for now. :)

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Original post by punmaster
Hmm. I thought is was described in an article detailing new support for geometry sharers. Maybe they were implying that you could write a shader to do this, but it is not supported natively. Either way, thank you. Guess I'll stick with repeated vertices for now. :)


Well what exactly are you trying to do? Maybe we can help you get what you want.

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I am writing a cross-platform game engine for the PC and the Wii. For the most part, the PC side of things has been much easier because, unlike the Wii's libraries, OpenGL is very well documented and relatively easy to debug. Still, the Wii does have some interesting features. One in particular, that I recently discovered, is the ability to use separate indices for each vertex component (position, normal, texture, etc.). Given the Wii's very limited memory and graphics resources, this seemed like a feature I wanted to take advantage of, especially given that most modeling programs store data in this format anyway. The catch is that if I am going to encode my models like this, the PC version will need to be able to handle them too. Likewise, I went in search for some way to do this in OpenGL, and stumbled upon a few short articles talking about some new types of shaders supported in OpenGL 2.0. The article briefly mentioned that one thing they could be used for is the multiple index system stated above. I came here with the hope that somebody could help point me in the right direction as far as implementing it. I apologize if this sounds crazy, and I can always stick with the old system if nothing can be done, but I was hoping someone would have some ideas. Either way, thanks for your help. :)

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Original post by punmaster
I am writing a cross-platform game engine for the PC and the Wii. For the most part, the PC side of things has been much easier because, unlike the Wii's libraries, OpenGL is very well documented and relatively easy to debug. Still, the Wii does have some interesting features. One in particular, that I recently discovered, is the ability to use separate indices for each vertex component (position, normal, texture, etc.). Given the Wii's very limited memory and graphics resources, this seemed like a feature I wanted to take advantage of, especially given that most modeling programs store data in this format anyway. The catch is that if I am going to encode my models like this, the PC version will need to be able to handle them too. Likewise, I went in search for some way to do this in OpenGL, and stumbled upon a few short articles talking about some new types of shaders supported in OpenGL 2.0. The article briefly mentioned that one thing they could be used for is the multiple index system stated above. I came here with the hope that somebody could help point me in the right direction as far as implementing it. I apologize if this sounds crazy, and I can always stick with the old system if nothing can be done, but I was hoping someone would have some ideas. Either way, thanks for your help. :)


First off let me say, I am jelious :[ I want to program for the wii soooo bad, but dont have the money..

But, If the values are only being used in the given shader why wont varying work? If you need to pass the values to multiple shaders, only method I know is using frame buffer objects (fbo). This is used a lot in gaming, and shouldn't cause much memory issues on moderner hardware. Now, I don't know how much memory the wii has, and I have believed it to hold at least 512mb if not 1gig, but by your post im guessing not a lot, so you should already be making it in a low memory way, so adding fbo's should be much of a pain.

Hope this helps.

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Original post by punmaster
I am writing a cross-platform game engine for the PC and the Wii. For the most part, the PC side of things has been much easier because, unlike the Wii's libraries, OpenGL is very well documented and relatively easy to debug. Still, the Wii does have some interesting features. One in particular, that I recently discovered, is the ability to use separate indices for each vertex component (position, normal, texture, etc.). Given the Wii's very limited memory and graphics resources, this seemed like a feature I wanted to take advantage of, especially given that most modeling programs store data in this format anyway. The catch is that if I am going to encode my models like this, the PC version will need to be able to handle them too. Likewise, I went in search for some way to do this in OpenGL, and stumbled upon a few short articles talking about some new types of shaders supported in OpenGL 2.0. The article briefly mentioned that one thing they could be used for is the multiple index system stated above. I came here with the hope that somebody could help point me in the right direction as far as implementing it. I apologize if this sounds crazy, and I can always stick with the old system if nothing can be done, but I was hoping someone would have some ideas. Either way, thanks for your help. :)


One alternative to run-time support on the PC is to have your toolchain automatically convert from the Wii approach to the PC limitation by automatically creating extra vertices that contain each required combination of attributes (pos, norm, UV, etc).

Most games I've worked on generate completely separate data files for each platform (mostly because of endianness but also for other reasons), so this is not out of the ordinary.

This is very similar to the problem of converting a DAG (directed acyclic graph) like those in Maya to a tree and then into a list.

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Original post by cherryyosh
Now, I don't know how much memory the wii has, and I have believed it to hold at least 512mb if not 1gig, but by your post im guessing not a lot, so you should already be making it in a low memory way, so adding fbo's should be much of a pain.


From what I understand, the Wii has a TOTAL of 88MB of RAM (some of that is reserved for different things, like texture and audio memory, and I'm sure someone else can be more specific). It sounds like it'd be tough to develop for...

I second Nypren's approach. For a quick hack, you can have your PC and Wii builds optimize the data structure of the models when they get loaded up. However, in my experience, you get the best results by generating platform-specific content at compile-time. Most major cross-platform engines have this functionality (Cryengine 2, Unreal 3, Source [I think]). Since iterating on the PC is so much faster, I always just build all the content in the preferred PC format (Windows, I assume), and then build a utility to convert to the other platform-specific data types.

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Original post by generaleskimo
Quote:
Original post by cherryyosh
Now, I don't know how much memory the wii has, and I have believed it to hold at least 512mb if not 1gig, but by your post im guessing not a lot, so you should already be making it in a low memory way, so adding fbo's should be much of a pain.


From what I understand, the Wii has a TOTAL of 88MB of RAM (some of that is reserved for different things, like texture and audio memory, and I'm sure someone else can be more specific). It sounds like it'd be tough to develop for...


Oh man, that's insane. I could see most of the fun little party games not needing much, but a game like zelda, or okami (only ones I can comment on).. How?? But that value really does seem small, s this just for the wii? or are the other consoles as low or near as low on the memory?

PS. I dont mean to hijack, but hardware specs are hard to find, and I really am intrested in programming for consoles once I can afford it.

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I concurr. As Nypyren stated, the only reasonable approach to this problem is to generate content for each platform as required. Every studio I've worked for took this approach, and it makes the most sense. You need to develop for the platform, rather than hoping the hardware/APIs will support (or bend to) your arbitrary formats.

Each additional platform you develop for compounds the requirement for a flexible toolchain.

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When I first began this project, I immediately assumed that the toolchain would compile resources in different formats for each platform. I started with the PC version and designed all data formats to make the most sense on the PC. Then, when I began coding for the Wii, I surprised myself by being able to load the unmodified PC files on the Wii with little more than an on-the-fly endian swap. Still, later in the project, as the formats have gotten more advanced, keeping up this 100% compatibility has become increasingly difficult, and the next rewrite for the format specifications will probably mean specialized specs for each platform. One of the candidates for this new spec is the index system I have been describing. Obviously, there is no problem with making the PC files use the single-index system, but I thought as long as I was considering it for the Wii, I'd look into it's applications on the PC as well, because it seemed like a generally nice idea. Further reading though suggests that this might not be as good of an idea on the PC (amusing the extra memory isn't an issue) because the single index system improves the usefulness of the cache by keeping things close together and contiguous. I already know that, on the Wii, vertices are read by the GPU uncached from main RAM, which would explain why this loss of cache performance isn't a topic for concern here (and thus the three index system is supported.) If anyone here thinks this system, despite possible cache issues, is still worth pursuing on the PC side of things, feel free to let me know. Otherwise, I'll leave it as a Wii-only feature.

If you have any comments or suggestions, feel free to share. :)

Slightly off topic, but here's some background on the Wii for those interested. The Wii has a whopping 88 MB of main memory (which is much less than the Xbox 360 and PS3). The GPU will read data from anywhere in addressable memory space, as long as that area has been flushed from the cache before the GPU goes to read it, as all GPU reads are by-nature uncached. Because this puts the memory as a 100% bottleneck for graphics performance, 24 MB of this total is included as high-performance SRAM inside the GPU package (so that frequently used objects can be allocated here and thus rendered more quickly.) The GPU also contains a 3 MB dedicated "Embedded Frame Buffer" (not included in the 88 MB main RAM total) which is clocked directly by the GPU and automatically serves as the destination for all rendered graphics. Frames are then copied from this buffer to main RAM before being drawn to the screen (as the Wii's video encoder can only scan frames from main memory), or can optionally be fed back to the GPU as a texture. The CPU and the GPU communicate by means of a shared FIFO buffer allocated in main RAM. The CPU can fill this buffer with graphics commands, do something else, and then come back in a few milliseconds and grab the rendered frame from the EFB. Other non-graphics tasks are issued via IOCTLs to an ARM296 coprocessor, which is also built into the GPU package. This processor also handles various tasks related to system management and security. An audio decoder is also provided in the GPU package, which can also take advantage of the previously mentioned 24 MB of on-die SRAM.

There's today's supplement of Wii developer knowledge. If you want to know more, just ask. :) Otherwise, happy coding, and thanks for all the help.

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