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Engine for physics and rendering from scratch

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I'm a regular (non games, I work on enterprise operating systems and databases) developer by day, looking into starting a project where I can apply geometry and fast math related algorithms which leads me straight to graphics programming and specifically programming for games (real time, performance critical, very hardware driven).


I honestly am not very concerned about making an actual game quickly or getting an app out there very soon but I do want to implement code that run super fast, renders well and simulates realistically. I have reasonable skills with C/C++, x86 assembly and python plus a fair history of math.


Here's what I have so far:

1. I've done a basic graphics course at uni (long ago) and implemented some of the simpler algorithms while there.

2. I've set up a nice environment where I can draw stuff at a near pixel level using X windows (I know OpenGL does things better but while I'm learning it feels like too much of an abstraction)

3. I've implemented a couple of algorithms to do rendering, basically some simple shading and drawing algorithms. I've been following the math and for game developers videos here although I've implemented far less of those than I'd like to admit.


Here's where I want to go:

1. Proper hardware acceleration for the algorithms that I've written, ideally using a dedicated graphics processor. How do I access these? I'm reading through Michael Abrash's guide but it seems very dated. Is there something similar out there for more modern processors with nicer hardware features?

2. Is there something out there that covers the latest topics in rendering (like an academic type text) and the research that's going on there? 

Ideally good algorithms to use with modern systems.

3. I want to move onto physics too, I was hoping someone could point out some nice references. I've got a few books already and I'm going to start implementing the algorithms but I would like to finish the rendering aspects first.


Finally, if someone here who works within the industry could point out a good area to focus on, that would be super cool.




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If you want to take full advantage of the GPU, you have to use one of those 'abstract' APIs (like OpenGL), because you dont have full control over the GPU (because GPUs are not all the same, and OpenGL and buddies abstracts these differences so you can treat them the same. Thus you need to use an API)


There are also APIs which are directed toward computing and not graphics specifically. That might be somewhat of a compromise between performance and wanting to implement everything from the lowest level. (OpenCL???)


But those APIs make the task more complicated (and it already is complicated if you start from low level rasterization), so you might want to reconsider if you need it to perform well. Its easier to do everything on the CPU, the GPU interface is not really clear and does not really integrate with whatever you use to write the code (since you have to use a different language to execute code on GPU).


You could start by writing all the code on CPU, then restructuring it into easily parallizeable form, then multithreading it/using GPGPU APIs (OpenCL etc.) to run parts of it on GPU.


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