The Labs R&D team was presented with the challenge of creating a believable ocean water surface for IO’s Hitman game. Water rendering in real-time is notoriously difficult, and solutions usually comprise of several subsystems (and compromises) to complete the effect. Ocean rendering for Hitman presented several interesting challenges, most notably in the Sapienza level which featured transparent water, an arbitrary coastline including a beach the player could walk onto and an unrestricted view to the horizon in several directions. This implied a seamless transition of surface detail from close up to kilometers away. The solution also had to support some physics interactions (ragdolls, floating objects, etc) along with achieving a good visual benchmark while maintaining a relatively low performance footprint.
Supporting physics became the initial focus, as it could have design implications for the whole system. We also desired a lightweight solution that “just works”, meaning minimal requirements for code specific to water rendering, minimal setup work and art assets. We set forth to produce a practical, easy to use solution using adaptive hardware tessellation. The implementation offers believable surface deformation, a camera-to-horizon visibility distance and intrinsic geometry degradation (level of detail).
Introduction In order to be able to satisfy growing demands on visual fidelity and runtime performance, we investigated a new culling and rendering system for future use in the Dawn Engine. This was part of many researches done by our internal R&D team, LABS, for the Deus Ex Universe, but is not used in the upcoming game Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. A major aspect of this investigation was to develop a system that is compatible with the existing asset pipeline and allow for fast iteration times during game production. Our culling system combines the low latency and low overhead of a hierarchical depth buffer based approach [Hill and Collin 11] with the pixel accuracy of conventional GPU hardware occlusion queries. It efficiently culls highly dynamic, complex environments while maintaining compatibility with standard mesh assets. Our rendering system uses a practical approach to the idea of deferred texturing [Reed 14] and efficiently supports highly diverse and complex materials while using conventional texture assets. The culling as well as the rendering system makes use of new graphics capabilities available with DirectX 12, most notably enhanced indirect rendering and the new shader resource binding model.
Culling Our culling system is partially based on the ideas presented by [Haar and Aaltonen 15] where the depth buffer from the previous frame is used to acquire an initial visibility and potential false negatives are retested with the updated depth buffer from the current frame. In this way we avoid rendering dedicated occlusion geometry which may be difficult to generate e.g. for natural environments. However, instead of using a hierarchical depth buffer based approach and subdividing meshes into small clusters, a concept is used in the spirit of [Kubisch and Tavenrath 14] that relies on the early depth-stencil testing capabilities of modern consumer graphics hardware. For this, the oriented bounding boxes of the occludees are rendered using the reprojected depth buffer from the previous frame and the associated pixel-shader is forced to use early depth-stencil testing. In this way only visible fragments mark in a common GPU buffer at a location, unique for each mesh instance, that the corresponding instance is visible. A subsequent compute shader generates, from the acquired visibility information, the data which is used for indirect rendering. As proposed by [Haar and Aaltonen 15], occluded objects are retested with the updated depth buffer from the current frame to avoid missing false negatives. Figure 1 gives an overview of the involved steps and resources.
The studio has been hard at work, and we’re proud to announce today Dawn Engine™, our game engine designed exclusively for PCs and the new generation of consoles.
In the past, we’ve relied on existing engines for our games. But in the end, we found that our creative vision was somehow limited. So we decided it was time for us to invest in creating an engine tailored for our needs.
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We've partnered with the fine folks at Treehouse Brand Stores to bring you brand new lines of clothing, accessories and artwork. The Eidos-Montréal Store is your one-stop shop for all officially licensed merchandise, including not only swag but art books, official soundtracks, strategy guides... Every kind of good from the worlds of Thief and Deus Ex.
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