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3D object structure and Minimizing state changes

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Take as example the famous Halo and it''s objects with min 4 pass render. How to construct an object that take complicated texturing? What structure to use? More important, how to render it ?... or mainly, how to render several objects ? My main problem is to minimize the state changes (like changing texture). The simplest way to render, is to process every object individually. Render object -> render children -> change textures, materials, render using multipass and/or several single pass multi texturing Render next object ..... But that way, we don''t use the GFX card optimally. But how we do ? If objects had only one texture (diffuse), it could be easy (was easy). But now, objects have a detail texture, light map, reflection map ... How to sort objects like this ? by first stage , second ...? Does it really worth to do a sort like this ? or only sort by Object Type is enough (sort and render characters , then cars ,then trees ...)? What object structure to use for optimal rendering/sorting ? Here is my solution to the structure , but i don''t like it. class TTextureMaterial { TTextureHandle cg_Diffuse; TTextureHandle cg_Lightmap; TTextureHandle cg_Detail; TTextureHandle cg_Reflection; ...................... }; class TMaterial { TColor cg_Diffuse,cg_Ambient,cg_Specular,cg_Emissive; }; class TObject { TGeometryHandle cg_Geometry; TTextureMaterial cg_TexMaterial; TMaterial cg_Material; TObject* cg_pChildren; }; On render, i simply sort the Geometry using the main texture(diffuse). I don''t take in to account the rest of the texture, or the material either . Some people suggested to sort by shader. But, what do you understand by shader? And what KEYs do you consider for the sorting ? Thank you for showing me the light .
The Aero Section : http://fly.to/TheAeroSection/
The Aero Section is a large military aircraft photo gallery.

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