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Back end rendering

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I''m currently designing a 3D engine and one of the main questions I''m wondering about is the order of drawing. With vid cards, sorting by texture or shader is the way to go. But lets consider the example of a large terrain engine, with several BSP type houses around and some animated characters. Should I draw each object separetly and sort by texture within each or should I maintain a large list of triangles for every type, sort them, and then sent them to the video card. It seems to me that grouping everything together and sorting would eat a lot of cpu memory bandwidth and take more time than just changing textures. For a simple BSP level, I can see sorting by shader, but not for the more general case of levels, terrain and objects. Any thoughts or comments?

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In my own search regarding this same problem, I encountered the Nebula Device. I found it useful to read about how they deal with their own rendering, as it is open source and seems to be reputable.

Apparently they do sort by shader, but actually reading about the details is very informative, particularly with how they avoid the inefficiencies that you think would be attached to such sorting.

"Don''t be afraid to dream, for out of such fragile things come miracles."

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