January 30, 2010

Floating Point Preformance

Whenever I do intensive performance testing on delicate math operations, the results almost always surprise me. Today I have learned that if a program preforms a divide-by-zero on a floating point operation (which does not blow up the program), the resulting performance hit is almost equivalent to taking a square root.

January 16, 2010

Volumetric Rendering in Realtime

1. Do a depth render with additive blending, counterclockwise polygon culling
2. Do a depth render with additive blending, clockwise polygon culling.
3. Subtract 1 from 2 (or 2 from 1, whichever works), and you get precisely how much that pixel is "inside" the volumetric in question.

January 7, 2010

Watch This Now

The following movie was made, in its entirety, by a single person. It is entirely CGI, and if you don't believe me, check out the compositing breakdown.

The Third & The Seventh from Alex Roman on Vimeo.

January 2, 2010


Today I woke up after having the most amazing dream ever. What I've tried to do here is extract the essence of the dream's plot ideas and work them into a concrete story. Note that the story would be used in a playable game that functions a lot like Myst, although with real-time interactions and time-based events. I've so far recognized elements that have been subconsciously influenced from: Terminator 4, Myst, Myst 3, Jump Start 3rd Grade (I'm not kidding), Aeon Flux, Watchmen, The Westing Game, and others. I have used several other previous dreams as jumping off points for ideas as well. The song I'm currently listening to also sounds like the theme song.

by Erik McClure

- Prologue -
ex·traor·di·nar·y (k-strôrdn-r, kstr-ôr-)
1. very unusual, remarkable, or surprising
2. not in an established manner, course, or order
3. employed for particular events or purposes

The House On Top Of The World. That was it's name. A magnificent mansion perched on the cliff-side of a mountain overlooking the sea. With windows of glass, over 20 levels, and technology more advanced then most people thought possible, it was a king's paradise. Five people currently lived there, the most advanced scientific minds of the 22nd Century. A sixth was to join them soon.

Brianna Vexhearth - Genome Splicer, Botanist and mechanical engineer.
Jack Nolung - Physicist, Architect, Mathematician and structural engineer.
Zachary Nchateul - Organic technology expert and Computer Programmer.
Vidyal Mistral - Quantum theorist, Mathematician, and Game Theorist.
Natasha Sabisten - Physicist, Quantum Gravity Theorist, Electrical Engineer, and Audio Engineer.

And the sixth; an AI/human Interaction Specialist and Interface Designer. They say they're building something up there. Something big. Perhaps Nick McCrath is the missing link.

The player is carried to a mansion on top of a mountain, inside which the entirety of the game exists. The entry level has a welcoming area and the guest services, the floor below that, along with the basement and sub-basement house the inner workings of the house (like a miniature fusion reactor). The floor above the entry level is reserved for entertainment, the second floor is designed for meetings and collaborative research efforts, then there's a garden and every 2 floors above that are dedicated to each member of The Five, with Brianna Vexhearth on the bottom and Jack Nolung (the designer of the house) on top. The floors above that are unknown.

Sub-basement - Fusion Maintenance and supporting infrastructure.
Basement - Fusion reactor, heating, boiler, electrical management, Supercomputer, etc.
Floor 0 - Self-sufficient cleaning apparatus (air scrubbers, water purifiers, etc.)
1st Floor - Entertainment
2nd Floor - Collaborative Research
3rd Floor - Garden
4th Floor - Brianna Vexhearth Labs
5th Floor - Brianna Vexhearth Living Quarters
6th Floor - Zachary Nchateul Labs
7th Floor - Zachary Nchateul Living Quarters
8th Floor - Vidyal Mistral Labs
9th Floor - Vidyal Mistral Living Quarters
10th Floor - Natasha Sabisten Labs
11th Floor - Natasha Sabisten Living Quarters
12th Floor - Jack Nolung Labs
13th Floor - Jack Nolung Living Quarters
14th Floor - Classified
15th Floor - Classified
16th Floor - Classified
17th Floor - Classified
18th Floor - Classified
19th Floor - Classified
20th Floor - Classified

The fact that the house is on the side of a giant cliff makes for some interesting visuals. On several levels there are glass enclosures outside the main structure, and multiple catwalks which are, shall we say, interesting to walk across. There are obviously several elevators and various staircases. While the initial appearance of the house seems relatively normal, if quite nice looking, it has subtle instances of incredible technology. Holograms are common place, 3D interfaces, a supercomputer running the house, and automated systems all over the place. The house is capable of repairing itself and cleaning itself without human interference, and with the fusion reactor it is estimated that it could keep itself running perfectly fine for over 5 centuries if need be.

The player is the sixth member that is permitted to enter the house. As per protocol, they are given two weeks to explore the house and get acquainted with everything and everyone before moving in permanently. Of course, that's when things start to go wrong. Experiments start exploding (or rather, start exploding at a higher rate then normal), robots start to misbehave, and things escalate until one of The Five goes missing entirely. Naturally, the player is immediately under suspicion, but the player knows it couldn't be him, because he's trying to find whoever is sabotaging the systems. It becomes obvious that the player isn't the saboteur when they are almost killed and catch a glimpse of a shadowing figure wandering around the outside of the house.

The remaining scientists are convinced that someone must have caught a ride with the player and broke into the house. Sleeping is dangerous. Experiments could go wrong at any time. Tensions are high and fights are common. Then, Jack does the unthinkable - he blames the player. He says that he knows it's the player, even after he has saved numerous scientists from their own experiments gone haywire. Then, he explains what has happened.

The player is an expert in Human/AI interactions. Human interactions. What has in fact occurred is a conspiracy so ingenious that the player isn't even aware of it. He has set out a series of notes to himself such that he engineered almost all of the experiment failures except the ones he saved several scientists from. When he told that one scientist where to go, it was the wrong way that he remembered from his _notes_. Everything he did according to his notes in fact worked against them. He was an unknowing agent of destruction, perpetrated by himself, and then somehow forgotten using some kind of memory modification technique. This is suddenly proven true when the player realizes that the path he was taking was not, in fact, a shortcut like his notes claimed, but a path that would have kept him and only him out of harms way while leaving the rest of them to die.

The problem is that the player doesn't want to kill them, and now he has already set in motion a series of events that will overload the fusion reactor and now they must escape. The front door gets jammed shut and several pathways out are blocked to the point that they can't get far enough away from the blast radius. Then Jack says something about the restricted area. This is a bit confusing because the player had been given access to all the classified levels shortly after arriving and had helped in some of them.

"There's a 23rd floor."

And then the player gets to see something totally amazing and I haven't entirely decided what it is, but its at least 3 stories tall, since the floor numbers go from 19, to 20, to 23.

Hur Hur Hur

Music: Emit [Remix]

It never ends.