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OpenGL 30 year deadline for 3D game

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I'd like to spend at least 30 years on a killer game. By that time, everything can be raytraced and made from millions or even billions of polygons. At least for me, hacks like texture mapping or even bump mapping will be less of a priority for me. Basically, I'd like to know a basic universal 3D format that will still be around in 30 years time so I can begin designing the polygon structure of the game. Preferably, it will allow scope for materials too (but I want super low-level definitions, not just presets like 'glass' or 'wood' etc.) Finally, the ideal 3D format would be programmable through C. In other words I would want to program any point of any polygon to move in any way. I'm guessing something like OpenGL would support this kind of thing. What 3D format would be best? And what (preferably cheap) 3D software can get me started on this 30 year-long quest? Many thanks all for any answers to these questions!

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I assume this is a joke, but I have a few minutes to spare, so what the hey.

Forget it. You have no possible way of knowing what will be around in 30 years time and neither does anyone else. You could ask John Carmack, Cliffy B, Will Wright or anyone else what was going to happen to game development, in terms of design, 3d formats, platforms, genres, 3d engines or whatever, and they'd be lucky if they got it 5% right. Chances are that we won't be using polygons in 30 years time. It might be subdivision surfaces or splines or some other high level approximation of polys that hasn't even be adopted yet.


Besides, even if you ignore the fact that whatever you come up with won't work in 30 years, whatever you came up with would be crap in 30 years. It used to be said that todays FMV would be realtime in five years, and it's probably less now. In other words, even if you created the highest quality you can currently manage with the high end rendering tools, it would be old tech in six years, and you'd still have 24 more years to go.

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Not a joke - I just have big ambitions :)

Quote:
terms of design, 3d formats, platforms, genres, 3d engines or whatever, and they'd be lucky if they got it 5% right.

That's why I want to work on as low a level as possible. You surely can't go wrong with designing a super-detailed polygon mesh for a game, even if it's 30 years away.

To take 2D graphics as an example, one can (almost) be sure that pixels will still be around in 30 years time. Pictures will still probably be defined by a 2D array of pixels. Even if they aren't defined that way, the quality will still be exceptional given 30 years of work.

Let's say I do work on billions of polygons, and it turns out the future is a bunch of purely mathematical surfaces, one could still convert it I'm guessing.

Also bear in mind that there are graphics today which look amazing, but only run at 0.01 frames per second (i.e. unplayable). I hope to design to that level of detail, and when the future comes (say 30 years from now), it will run at a super smooth 60fps or more.

Quote:
Besides, even if you ignore the fact that whatever you come up with won't work in 30 years, whatever you came up with would be crap in 30 years.

I'll be aiming more for highly detailed and tasty, but at least partially abstract graphics. I'm not going for super-uber realism, at least not at first. Even something like the Tron film had graphics which in many ways would look 'polished' in 30 years, even if they're not as sophisticated.

So again, which current low-level universal 3D format would most fit what I'm looking for?

[Edited by - TwinbeeUK on May 2, 2009 10:41:12 AM]

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No, really. You can't say anything about it. For example look at the games 30 years ago: here. These are all 2D, with the pixels visable and some just lines. Nobody could imagine a game like Crysis (with milions of triangles) to emerge within a few years. Nobody could even imagine that we would have triangles in 3D space in our games in just 30 years.

The same is true for the future. We can't "see" what lies in the future of game development. Thirty years is just too much. The splines that sybixsus proposed could be just as wrong as another representation.

Edit: reply on your edit.
2D graphics were then defined as lines/shapes and for the exeptional games as pixel arrays. It's still the same but the procedural textures are gaining field.

Emiel1

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My point is that even if that is true, one can convert it whatever format exists at that point. There are many awesome artistic/highly detailed 3D pictures around today, and the future will animate those so that they run in realtime. We can certainly expect something along those lines.

With enough polygons, and maybe some texture mapping, results will eventually reach a point where the eye can't tell any difference anyway.

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Forget C, forget DirectX, forget OpenGL, forget raytracing, forget polygons. None of those are gonna matter (probably won't even be around). Here's my best uneducated guess about the lowest level file format for computer games in 30 years. If we don't just go down the road of cyberbrains, instead. Then I have no clue. Maybe neurons?

Quote:
Original post by TwinbeeUK
With enough polygons, and maybe some texture mapping, results will eventually reach a point where the eye can't tell any difference anyway.

It will probably be like that but go into the direction of augmented reality, but that's not 30 years out, more like five years.

Quote:
Original post by sybixsus
It used to be said that todays FMV would be realtime in five years, and it's probably less now.

I already can't tell the difference between some of the in-game cutscenes and FMVs in PS3 games like DMC4 and Uncharted. The only way I can tell in Uncharted is if I put on a custom costume and it disappears during the cutscene.

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In 30 years we are going to raytrace volumes instead of polygons or polynomial surfaces for sure.

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Good point. Though I thought even if polygons are 'empty inside' as the representation inside the computer, they are still *treated* as if they were solid when doing the final raytrace.

lightbringer, the qubit looks complicated, but hey maybe. I like the idea of using a bunch of voxels, or 'atoms' for a game. Make every part truly interactive.

Naturally, one can convert between polygons, atoms, voxels, qubits etc., given a high enough res to start with.

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I can gurantee you that if you spend 30 years making a different game every three years then your last few games will be of significantly higher quality than your single 30 year game. Plus you'll have ten games instead of one.

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I can gurantee you that if you spend 30 years making a different game every three years then your last few games will be of significantly higher quality than your single 30 year game.

I'm not entirely convinced of that, especially as I will be researching as I go. Each bit of the game would be extensively planned, and experimented with etc. At the most, I can imagine creating many external 'sandboxes' for playability/gfx ideas. This way, I can try out lots of different things without having to make each one into a game.

Each bit may undergo several revisions and drastic changes until I was completely happy.

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Plus you'll have ten games instead of one.

Ten lesser games, instead of one killer :D

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Sounds like this is more of a 30-year graphics demo than a game. Do you actually have any gameplay in mind, or is it just graphics?

I'm glad someone said that. Ironically, my tastes in gameplay are very much 'old-skool', so I'd spend just as much time on the gameplay. It will be very much like 'twitch' gameplay, where there's always something to do/move/react to, not like a lot of recent games where one might sprawl a terrain for ages before anything happens. (example SNES Zelda 3 compared to 3D Zeldas such as Zelda 64).

I often prefer 2D games in general, because of the more 'restrictive' gameplay. However, the 3D game I plan on making will use more 2D gaming concepts, despite the gfx being entirely 3D and (hopefully) breathtaking.

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Original post by chronocalamity
Forget game design all together the world will end in 30 years
Some even say.. 2012, so better limit your game design..

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While slightly off-topic, I have to point out that the games we are comparing your future game to that look amazing right now have maybe dozens of artists working for years to create them. I don't have any numbers on hand but in man-years, for an amazing looking game 30 doesn't sound like much to me. If your going to do the one-man-crew thing, I would recommend doing what OrangyTang said.

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Quote:
Original post by TwinbeeUK
Ten lesser games, instead of one killer :D


You mean ten finished games instead of one Battlecruiser clone, right? :D

Quote:
Original post by juturnas
I don't have any numbers on hand but in man-years, for an amazing looking game 30 doesn't sound like much to me.

I don't have any numbers either but I would imagine that today's AAA titles need much more, somewhere around 100 or 200 man-years. Just look at the lengthy credit roll of a game like Metal Gear Solid 4. But the man-month is a myth anyway!

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class SubatomicParticle
{
};

class XXX:public SubatomicParticle
{
};

you can't go wrong with this

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Sure, research 30 years for one killer game...then in Q2, a better game is released. I bet you'd wish you spent those 30 years doing something more meaningful than a mere entertainment product. If you're going to study something for 30 years, at least make it something worthwhile.

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I bet you'd wish you spent those 30 years doing something more meaningful than a mere entertainment product

Well I suppose that depends on how highly you value games as an art. Remember though that it subsumes other art forms to a degree, such as graphics, animation, music, and maybe story.

One could say the same thing about music, and of course there's tons of throwaway songs out there, but that doesn't mean there aren't timeless classics as well.

Also, it would be ridiculously fun and exciting to play (in theory). Breathtaking and tons of set pieces too (which would not sacrifice playability). I would try to give it as much atmosphere as when one goes to their first theme park as a kid, which is obviously incredibly tricky to capture for jaded adults (including myself).

Apart from that, there's potential worldwide fame/money. I'm sure many would do it just for that if possible.

So, back on topic, do people think that something like X3D, U3D, Collada or Obj would be a good 'foundation' to build 3D data upon?

[Edited by - TwinbeeUK on May 2, 2009 5:45:15 PM]

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Well, as people have said, this topic is unlikely to produce many accurate predictions... but it's interesting none the less.

Personally I'm interested in what kind of display technology we'll be using. I'm pretty sure all screens will be 3D, so you should probably be targeting you game at these kind of devices:

3D Monitors
Volumetric Displays

Concepts such as pixels and polygons may well be extinct - after all, 30 years ago we were probably on vector-based graphics.

And what about input? The mouse and keyboard have served us well but I think we can assume they won't last for ever. And, as shown by platforms like the Wii, input devices are becoming increasingly important.

For the much more immediate future (over the next 5 years) we're likely to see a lot more of these kinds of technologies:

">Future Gaming Technologies

At least, I'm hoping so :-)

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Quote:
Original post by PolyVox
">Future Gaming Technologies


At least, I'm hoping so :-)


Pretty rad, and a number of these already exist separately in commercial games (there was Assassin's Creed in it, apparently Shadow of the Colossus, Far Cry 2, Crysis and Zelda, something that looked like Half Life 2, something that looked like Infinity, and certainly many others that I missed) the only thing I could ask for is that all of this is fed directly into my brain through some helmet, complete with navigation output directly from the brain. I want my Otherland/Multiverse today :)

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Nice find PolyVox - I love all that particle stuff.

3D monitors sound great, though in principle I bet it would be very easy to adapt any 3D game to a future 3D monitor.

I'm still holding out for wall-sized OLED displays :D

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      ShaderCreationAttribs Attrs; Attrs.Desc.Name = "MyPixelShader"; Attrs.FilePath = "MyShaderFile.fx"; Attrs.SearchDirectories = "shaders;shaders\\inc;"; Attrs.EntryPoint = "MyPixelShader"; Attrs.Desc.ShaderType = SHADER_TYPE_PIXEL; Attrs.SourceLanguage = SHADER_SOURCE_LANGUAGE_HLSL; BasicShaderSourceStreamFactory BasicSSSFactory(Attrs.SearchDirectories); Attrs.pShaderSourceStreamFactory = &BasicSSSFactory; ShaderVariableDesc ShaderVars[] = {     {"g_StaticTexture", SHADER_VARIABLE_TYPE_STATIC},     {"g_MutableTexture", SHADER_VARIABLE_TYPE_MUTABLE},     {"g_DynamicTexture", SHADER_VARIABLE_TYPE_DYNAMIC} }; Attrs.Desc.VariableDesc = ShaderVars; Attrs.Desc.NumVariables = _countof(ShaderVars); Attrs.Desc.DefaultVariableType = SHADER_VARIABLE_TYPE_STATIC; StaticSamplerDesc StaticSampler; StaticSampler.Desc.MinFilter = FILTER_TYPE_LINEAR; StaticSampler.Desc.MagFilter = FILTER_TYPE_LINEAR; StaticSampler.Desc.MipFilter = FILTER_TYPE_LINEAR; StaticSampler.TextureName = "g_MutableTexture"; Attrs.Desc.NumStaticSamplers = 1; Attrs.Desc.StaticSamplers = &StaticSampler; ShaderMacroHelper Macros; Macros.AddShaderMacro("USE_SHADOWS", 1); Macros.AddShaderMacro("NUM_SHADOW_SAMPLES", 4); Macros.Finalize(); Attrs.Macros = Macros; RefCntAutoPtr<IShader> pShader; m_pDevice->CreateShader( Attrs, &pShader );
      Creating the Pipeline State Object
      After all required shaders are created, the rest of the fields of the PipelineStateDesc structure provide depth-stencil, rasterizer, and blend state descriptions, the number and format of render targets, input layout format, etc. For instance, rasterizer state can be described as follows:
      PipelineStateDesc PSODesc; RasterizerStateDesc &RasterizerDesc = PSODesc.GraphicsPipeline.RasterizerDesc; RasterizerDesc.FillMode = FILL_MODE_SOLID; RasterizerDesc.CullMode = CULL_MODE_NONE; RasterizerDesc.FrontCounterClockwise = True; RasterizerDesc.ScissorEnable = True; RasterizerDesc.AntialiasedLineEnable = False; Depth-stencil and blend states are defined in a similar fashion.
      Another important thing that pipeline state object encompasses is the input layout description that defines how inputs to the vertex shader, which is the very first shader stage, should be read from the memory. Input layout may define several vertex streams that contain values of different formats and sizes:
      // Define input layout InputLayoutDesc &Layout = PSODesc.GraphicsPipeline.InputLayout; LayoutElement TextLayoutElems[] = {     LayoutElement( 0, 0, 3, VT_FLOAT32, False ),     LayoutElement( 1, 0, 4, VT_UINT8, True ),     LayoutElement( 2, 0, 2, VT_FLOAT32, False ), }; Layout.LayoutElements = TextLayoutElems; Layout.NumElements = _countof( TextLayoutElems ); Finally, pipeline state defines primitive topology type. When all required members are initialized, a pipeline state object can be created by IRenderDevice::CreatePipelineState() method:
      // Define shader and primitive topology PSODesc.GraphicsPipeline.PrimitiveTopologyType = PRIMITIVE_TOPOLOGY_TYPE_TRIANGLE; PSODesc.GraphicsPipeline.pVS = pVertexShader; PSODesc.GraphicsPipeline.pPS = pPixelShader; PSODesc.Name = "My pipeline state"; m_pDev->CreatePipelineState(PSODesc, &m_pPSO); When PSO object is bound to the pipeline, the engine invokes all API-specific commands to set all states specified by the object. In case of Direct3D12 this maps directly to setting the D3D12 PSO object. In case of Direct3D11, this involves setting individual state objects (such as rasterizer and blend states), shaders, input layout etc. In case of OpenGL, this requires a number of fine-grain state tweaking calls. Diligent Engine keeps track of currently bound states and only calls functions to update these states that have actually changed.
      Binding Shader Resources
      Direct3D11 and OpenGL utilize fine-grain resource binding models, where an application binds individual buffers and textures to certain shader or program resource binding slots. Direct3D12 uses a very different approach, where resource descriptors are grouped into tables, and an application can bind all resources in the table at once by setting the table in the command list. Resource binding model in Diligent Engine is designed to leverage this new method. It introduces a new object called shader resource binding that encapsulates all resource bindings required for all shaders in a certain pipeline state. It also introduces the classification of shader variables based on the frequency of expected change that helps the engine group them into tables under the hood:
      Static variables (SHADER_VARIABLE_TYPE_STATIC) are variables that are expected to be set only once. They may not be changed once a resource is bound to the variable. Such variables are intended to hold global constants such as camera attributes or global light attributes constant buffers. Mutable variables (SHADER_VARIABLE_TYPE_MUTABLE) define resources that are expected to change on a per-material frequency. Examples may include diffuse textures, normal maps etc. Dynamic variables (SHADER_VARIABLE_TYPE_DYNAMIC) are expected to change frequently and randomly. Shader variable type must be specified during shader creation by populating an array of ShaderVariableDesc structures and initializing ShaderCreationAttribs::Desc::VariableDesc and ShaderCreationAttribs::Desc::NumVariables members (see example of shader creation above).
      Static variables cannot be changed once a resource is bound to the variable. They are bound directly to the shader object. For instance, a shadow map texture is not expected to change after it is created, so it can be bound directly to the shader:
      PixelShader->GetShaderVariable( "g_tex2DShadowMap" )->Set( pShadowMapSRV ); Mutable and dynamic variables are bound via a new Shader Resource Binding object (SRB) that is created by the pipeline state (IPipelineState::CreateShaderResourceBinding()):
      m_pPSO->CreateShaderResourceBinding(&m_pSRB); Note that an SRB is only compatible with the pipeline state it was created from. SRB object inherits all static bindings from shaders in the pipeline, but is not allowed to change them.
      Mutable resources can only be set once for every instance of a shader resource binding. Such resources are intended to define specific material properties. For instance, a diffuse texture for a specific material is not expected to change once the material is defined and can be set right after the SRB object has been created:
      m_pSRB->GetVariable(SHADER_TYPE_PIXEL, "tex2DDiffuse")->Set(pDiffuseTexSRV); In some cases it is necessary to bind a new resource to a variable every time a draw command is invoked. Such variables should be labeled as dynamic, which will allow setting them multiple times through the same SRB object:
      m_pSRB->GetVariable(SHADER_TYPE_VERTEX, "cbRandomAttribs")->Set(pRandomAttrsCB); Under the hood, the engine pre-allocates descriptor tables for static and mutable resources when an SRB objcet is created. Space for dynamic resources is dynamically allocated at run time. Static and mutable resources are thus more efficient and should be used whenever possible.
      As you can see, Diligent Engine does not expose low-level details of how resources are bound to shader variables. One reason for this is that these details are very different for various APIs. The other reason is that using low-level binding methods is extremely error-prone: it is very easy to forget to bind some resource, or bind incorrect resource such as bind a buffer to the variable that is in fact a texture, especially during shader development when everything changes fast. Diligent Engine instead relies on shader reflection system to automatically query the list of all shader variables. Grouping variables based on three types mentioned above allows the engine to create optimized layout and take heavy lifting of matching resources to API-specific resource location, register or descriptor in the table.
      This post gives more details about the resource binding model in Diligent Engine.
      Setting the Pipeline State and Committing Shader Resources
      Before any draw or compute command can be invoked, the pipeline state needs to be bound to the context:
      m_pContext->SetPipelineState(m_pPSO); Under the hood, the engine sets the internal PSO object in the command list or calls all the required native API functions to properly configure all pipeline stages.
      The next step is to bind all required shader resources to the GPU pipeline, which is accomplished by IDeviceContext::CommitShaderResources() method:
      m_pContext->CommitShaderResources(m_pSRB, COMMIT_SHADER_RESOURCES_FLAG_TRANSITION_RESOURCES); The method takes a pointer to the shader resource binding object and makes all resources the object holds available for the shaders. In the case of D3D12, this only requires setting appropriate descriptor tables in the command list. For older APIs, this typically requires setting all resources individually.
      Next-generation APIs require the application to track the state of every resource and explicitly inform the system about all state transitions. For instance, if a texture was used as render target before, while the next draw command is going to use it as shader resource, a transition barrier needs to be executed. Diligent Engine does the heavy lifting of state tracking.  When CommitShaderResources() method is called with COMMIT_SHADER_RESOURCES_FLAG_TRANSITION_RESOURCES flag, the engine commits and transitions resources to correct states at the same time. Note that transitioning resources does introduce some overhead. The engine tracks state of every resource and it will not issue the barrier if the state is already correct. But checking resource state is an overhead that can sometimes be avoided. The engine provides IDeviceContext::TransitionShaderResources() method that only transitions resources:
      m_pContext->TransitionShaderResources(m_pPSO, m_pSRB); In some scenarios it is more efficient to transition resources once and then only commit them.
      Invoking Draw Command
      The final step is to set states that are not part of the PSO, such as render targets, vertex and index buffers. Diligent Engine uses Direct3D11-syle API that is translated to other native API calls under the hood:
      ITextureView *pRTVs[] = {m_pRTV}; m_pContext->SetRenderTargets(_countof( pRTVs ), pRTVs, m_pDSV); // Clear render target and depth buffer const float zero[4] = {0, 0, 0, 0}; m_pContext->ClearRenderTarget(nullptr, zero); m_pContext->ClearDepthStencil(nullptr, CLEAR_DEPTH_FLAG, 1.f); // Set vertex and index buffers IBuffer *buffer[] = {m_pVertexBuffer}; Uint32 offsets[] = {0}; Uint32 strides[] = {sizeof(MyVertex)}; m_pContext->SetVertexBuffers(0, 1, buffer, strides, offsets, SET_VERTEX_BUFFERS_FLAG_RESET); m_pContext->SetIndexBuffer(m_pIndexBuffer, 0); Different native APIs use various set of function to execute draw commands depending on command details (if the command is indexed, instanced or both, what offsets in the source buffers are used etc.). For instance, there are 5 draw commands in Direct3D11 and more than 9 commands in OpenGL with something like glDrawElementsInstancedBaseVertexBaseInstance not uncommon. Diligent Engine hides all details with single IDeviceContext::Draw() method that takes takes DrawAttribs structure as an argument. The structure members define all attributes required to perform the command (primitive topology, number of vertices or indices, if draw call is indexed or not, if draw call is instanced or not, if draw call is indirect or not, etc.). For example:
      DrawAttribs attrs; attrs.IsIndexed = true; attrs.IndexType = VT_UINT16; attrs.NumIndices = 36; attrs.Topology = PRIMITIVE_TOPOLOGY_TRIANGLE_LIST; pContext->Draw(attrs); For compute commands, there is IDeviceContext::DispatchCompute() method that takes DispatchComputeAttribs structure that defines compute grid dimension.
      Source Code
      Full engine source code is available on GitHub and is free to use. The repository contains tutorials, sample applications, asteroids performance benchmark and an example Unity project that uses Diligent Engine in native plugin.
      Atmospheric scattering sample demonstrates how Diligent Engine can be used to implement various rendering tasks: loading textures from files, using complex shaders, rendering to multiple render targets, using compute shaders and unordered access views, etc.

      Asteroids performance benchmark is based on this demo developed by Intel. It renders 50,000 unique textured asteroids and allows comparing performance of Direct3D11 and Direct3D12 implementations. Every asteroid is a combination of one of 1000 unique meshes and one of 10 unique textures.

      Finally, there is an example project that shows how Diligent Engine can be integrated with Unity.

      Future Work
      The engine is under active development. It currently supports Windows desktop, Universal Windows, Linux, Android, MacOS, and iOS platforms. Direct3D11, Direct3D12, OpenGL/GLES backends are now feature complete. Vulkan backend is coming next, and Metal backend is in the plan.
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