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Unity To make a voxel engine?

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Hello!

I am wanting to program a voxel engine, but I do not know where to start. I am familiar with C# and C, and I have also learned very little Javascript. I am wanting the end result to produce something within the graphical range of this:
https://picroma.com/images/screenshots/jun2013/04.jpg
I've read that some have used the XNA framework, along with Visual Studio, however I don't know where to proceed beyond that. I want my engine to incorporate DirectX 11 features such as ambient occlusion and bokeh DOF.

Of course, by now I know you're thinking something along the lines of 'just use something like Unity to create your game', and that is where my situation is a little different. My end result is to create a game engine, and not an actual game. Of course, I want to be able to use my engine to create a game, however that is not the purpose behind my ambition. I'm not foolish enough to expect this task to be accomplished over a weekend; I'm actually ready to devote several years of my life to this project. It is very ambitious, and that is exactly why I want to pursue it. I've tried my hand at coding scripts for games using C# for Unity, and I enjoyed every minute of it.

The main problem is that I have literally no idea where to start. I'm not sure if I need to make use of my C# background, or if it would be more advantageous to learn C++ (which would not be a problem for me at all, as I love learning new languages) or something else entirely. I don't know if I need to use XNA or something else entirely. From what I'm aware of, the set of tools is preferential, but I'm as lost as a man writing code on a napkin. Most resources that I've read have talked about the "general idea", but I don't know how to even put that information to any kind of use.

I know I'm asking for something quite specific, and I know that many have ambitions that are equally as large as mine, and they never finish them. I know it's easy to look at someone on the internet and group them into piles, simply because of the general behavior that said people possess. I don't want my dream to die, but I need the communities' help to get it started.

Thank you for any and every resource, tip, and assistance that you can provide. I greatly appreciate it!!

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Probably a good start would be to look at: http://www.youtube.com/user/AlwaysGeeky?feature=watch

Its a youtube series of somebody making a voxel engine/ game .

 

Then there is : https://sites.google.com/site/letsmakeavoxelengine/home/basic-block-rendering

Its a series of articles with a bit of code.

 

It seems that you can:

 

- use C# with a graphics wrapper like SlimDX. No new language to learn so hopefully it would be faster to write code and see progress.

 

- use C++ with DirectX 11/OpenGL/Some graphics wrapper. Probably the performance could be better (if you know what you are doing) but it would initially be quite frustrating. Plus more things to learn at the same time =  more frustrating / easier to give up.

 

To start a voxel engine, just render a 3D cube. Then render more of them. Figure out how to store them and build it up from there.

 

A good idea would be to have some kind of game in mind while you build the voxel engine. This gives a couple of benefits:

- No bloated code. You would know exactly the minimum requirements of the engine and what it should do. Faster developement time.

- Gives you something to work towards. Easier to see the progress you are making = more motivation to continue.

- You will be making progress on the game simultaneously  which makes the engine applicable. Extra motivation. Hopefully speeds up development.

 

(In my opinion just start making the game. The engine will be the reusable parts of the game. Just making an engine with no real purpuse can lead to long development with messy code. When you actually try to use it to make something, you would probably have build too complex of a solution.)

 

The most important thing is to start. Just get coding. When you get to a specific problem, try to see if you can figure it out. If not working after a while, THEN look for resources how to fix it.

 

Good luck

Edited by ZeroBeat

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I cannot say thank you enough! I've decided to learn C++ and use DirectX 11 as the graphics wrapper. From what I can tell, C++ is a more versatile language than C#, even if the code isn't as slim in like-for-like code. I also picked up a DirectX 11 book by Frank Luna, which solidified my ambition for myself, since I won't quit a project if I've invested my cash in it!

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I would compress the whole 3D world into an octree in a giant texture and then write a raytracer in a pixel shader that make a line intersection with each object that the line pass by. Dynamic items can be refered to from a dynamic index octree in another texture that is dynamic and updated every render. Then it will be trivial to make sharp shadows and reflections.

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