A nice day indeed. I cleared my inbox in about 15 minutes, and was able to dive right in today. Thanks to new improved LOW LOD meshes from Mark, I was able to get the prototype for Instance Stamping back to a nice smooth fluid 120fps experience, and also discovered the stutter was caused not by the iterations to process the vector transforms to get parent mesh data into the buffers, but the constant creation and deletion of buffers that where found to be too small. By predicting the final size of the buffers, and making them larger initially, such a release/recreate was avoided and everything smoothed out again. Hurray! All these issues are pointers to watch out for when it comes time to integrate and refine within actual game and editing scenarios, but it was necessary to go through it.
I also had the pleasure of being interviewed for a Case Study on the perils and potential of Perceptual Computing development. Had a great call and imparted lots of little coding gems, so hopefully you will get to read that soon. I will post the link when it goes live. It's being commissioned by Intel and professionally authored by people who do this for a living, so I am looking forward to reading it myself.
As you may know Mark's primary mission in the project right now is the creation, rigging and animating of our central character for Reloaded. It's a lot of work, especially as our mandate is to push the envelope. An email dropped in this evening which got me quite excited and shows the potential of the AI system when I finally get around to coding it.
For some reason the Google Blogger is not showing me the YouTube videos associated with my account, so here is the link instead.
As you can see, having these as part of the character behaviours will mean making a successful hit has become much more challenging, and if you don't know they are hiding, having them leap over an obstacle and start firing will come as a real shock. Can't wait to get it into the action..
The Lighting Question
Thanks for the comments so far. I have done some brief research already and it looks like we don't need to choose between deferred and forward rendering as such. A technique called 'Cascade Shadow Mapping' will allow an entire scene to be shadowed from a single spot of light up in the sky. I say spot as that is essentially what the technique uses (spot light) so would not be ideal for a point light source for an interior scene but perhaps the idea of baked lighting and then CSM for outdoor scenes would be the solution. The research and thoughts continue. I am curious what hardware my readers have in terms of graphics card right now. A major factor in whether or not to 'defer' is how many users have the graphics cards required to run the technique. Deferred rendering relies on drawing a large portion of the scene three times over, as opposed to the forward renderer which can do it in one. For this you need monster graphics horsepower and plenty of video memory, so what do you guys have (and what does your end user have)?
The evening is not over for me as I want to put another hour into moving the Instance Stamp stuff over to the map editor to see where we are. It never pays to stay too far away from your engine, and as much fun prototypes are you cannot sell them and they are by there very nature disposable. I might also spend an hour looking at the Bullet physics SDK and seeing what kind of demos and games have been created with the technology.