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slicer4ever

seperating shaders and materials, what do you do?

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hey people of gamedev, i'm working on some ideas, and don't like what i've come up with, so i'd like to hear some other ideas how to approach the problem:

firstly, what i have:
I have a renderobject class, this class stores the type of way to draw an object(triangle, lines, etc), and the vertices that make up the object, as well as a single material which is used to draw the object.

I have a mesh class that can contain multiple renderobjects, and draw's them.

I have a material class, this class can store a color value, and upto 4 textures in 4 "slots", it also can store the shader which should be used to draw the object with this material.

then i have my shader class, which has three callbacks, a set callback, used when a material in the video driver is changed, or the shader is first set, this initialized the shader uniforms, and setups the shader to recieve renderobjects.. a render callback, which takes a renderobject, and appropiatly draws it. and finally, an disable callback, for when the shader is removed from being active.

now then, when i load a model(and let's say it's loaded from a simply .obj file, so it only contains basic material/vertice information). lets say it has a uv texture, and a color for it's material, basically I have to setup the model with a shader, and I have to do this with every object loaded, it can get tedious, and i don't really like the overall design, this method also limits me pretty severly with what i can do with shaders, and it also means that everything has to be a renderobject to be submitted to the shader for drawing.

in short, this system is a pretty big burden on how much i can do with building games, and i'd like a better idea for a simple, and easier implementable system.
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In my system Material is the most "intelligent" class. I have the following hierarchy:[list=1]
[*][b]Vertexbuffer[/b], [b]Indexbuffer[/b] - contain all vertices and indices of certain geometry. VB has flexible system of vertex attributes - i.e. there are slots for "normal" attributes like 3D coordinates, normals and UV, but one can add as many extra attributes as needed.
[*][b]Mesh[/b] - binds together VB, IB and Material(s), also has 3D transformation and bbox assigned to it. Mesh has list of fragments, each fragment can be rendered with different material. ::display() method of mesh submits a [b]renderdata[/b] to list for later processing (renderdata has link to VB, IB, transformation and material).
Multiple meshes may share materials and vertex/index buffers.
[*][b]Shader[/b], [b]Program[/b] - these are just frontends of OpenGL shader and program objects. ::bind() method of program sets it as active OpneGL program but does not set up uniforms - the latter is left for material.
[*][b]Material[/b] - the heavy duty class. Material has one or more programs (i.e. shader frontends) (depending on render pass, the same mesh fragment - having same material - may be rendered with different shader). In ::render() method of material the [b]renderdata[/b] is parsed, uniforms set up, relevant attributes of associated VB bound and glDrawElements... called.
Multiple materials may share programs.
[/list]
The idea behind my design is, that all geometry objects have pretty similar structure while the materials vary a lot. Materials have also access to global rendering data (like GBuffer textures etc.). Material also "knows" which attributes associated shader needs and may only bind subset of all attributes in VB - for example in depth pass it can use separate depth shader and ignore normals/uv/colors...
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