UT2003 Software Renderer

The Unreal Technology Website (thanks Frans) now offers a zip file with the integration of RAD's Pixomatic software renderer into UT2003. They also suggest lowering screen resolution for software rendering should you have a slower CPU (which is probably most likely, since this is also targeted at users without adequate hardware 3D acceleration). This thread on the UT2003 is where to post questions or bug reports about this.
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1.
 
aahahaha
May 20, 2003, 10:42
1.
aahahaha May 20, 2003, 10:42
May 20, 2003, 10:42
 
If you need software rendering, you should consider a new hobby.

Yes, I am a techno-snob.

--
He cut the possum's face off then cut around the eye socket. In the center of the belt buckle, where the possum's eye would be, he has placed a small piece of wood from his old '52 Ford's home made railroad tie bumper. Damn, he misses that truck.
2.
 
Remember When
May 20, 2003, 10:55
2.
Remember When May 20, 2003, 10:55
May 20, 2003, 10:55
 
Remember when Tim Sweeney made a statement a few years ago about how 3d acceleration wasn't here to stay? How once processors got up to the speed of 3-5Ghz everything would be done with software rendering because the processors would be so fast. Heh, it seems more likely that the GPU will absorb the functions CPU.

I think I'll d/l this for a laugh.

3.
 
Re: Remember When
May 20, 2003, 11:10
3.
Re: Remember When May 20, 2003, 11:10
May 20, 2003, 11:10
 
If I remember the statement in detail, what he said was that the fixed-function "hardware T&L and a couple of register combiners" graphics pipeline would go away and everything would move towards a more CPU-like form of operation using compiled code from a high-level language and some sort of dynamic resource-allocation. Which is exactly what's happened.

Of course, I could be entirely mistaken - I seem to remember that the orignal statement was lost, and it was only ever summarised.

4.
 
Re: aahahaha
May 20, 2003, 11:15
4.
Re: aahahaha May 20, 2003, 11:15
May 20, 2003, 11:15
 
If you need software rendering, you should consider a new hobby.

If you don't own a 3D card in this day and age, odds are your computer won't even run UT. The only people I could see benefiting from this might be some laptop owners.
---
Chris.
5.
 
Re: aahahaha
May 20, 2003, 11:29
nin
5.
Re: aahahaha May 20, 2003, 11:29
May 20, 2003, 11:29
nin
 
Somebody benchmark it with the software render! And tell us how ugly it is!

Like it or not, you gotta give 'em props for support...


Supporter of the "A happy fredster is a muted fredster" fanclub.

http://www.originaltrilogy.com/
6.
 
Re: Remember When
May 20, 2003, 11:38
6.
Re: Remember When May 20, 2003, 11:38
May 20, 2003, 11:38
 
I stand corrected, that is entirely what happened. I guess I read to many summaries on Slashpot.

I'm still curious about this software renderer though. Software rendering always added such a raw, gritty quality. Sometimes I can't stand the over filtered, texture-mapped images in today's games.

7.
 
Re: Remember When
May 20, 2003, 11:53
7.
Re: Remember When May 20, 2003, 11:53
May 20, 2003, 11:53
 
I remember playing quake with no 3d ACCL against a 3D ACCl friend. the weird thing was that i always beat him when i played with the software version. Then we he turned it off, it leveled the playing field.

Thought it would be the same in Quake 2, but i was sold on 3d after from a distance he was litterally 3-5 pixels on my monitor and on his i could see myself clearly.

Which is kinda why i cant understand adding software support in todays games? i mean, my comp has trouble with UT2003 and its using the graphics card. If people have slower comps and want to play it in software, wont it just bomb out?

http://www.poorintern.com
- The Voices In My Fruit Loops Tell Me I'm Special -
------
Diablo & Diablo 2 for the DS, it makes sense Blizzard!
8.
 
Re: Remember When
May 20, 2003, 12:13
8.
Re: Remember When May 20, 2003, 12:13
May 20, 2003, 12:13
 
Why? Because it's l33t. Seriously, this'll be fun to run when I get home. And there are so many people out there that SOMEONE has to find a use for it. In the end I guess Daniel Vogel decided to implement it because he can. And attitudes like that have resulted in some pretty cool (if often pointless) software in the past.

Anyone got any screenshots of this yet?

9.
 
Re: Remember When
May 20, 2003, 12:21
Rigs
 
9.
Re: Remember When May 20, 2003, 12:21
May 20, 2003, 12:21
 Rigs
 
Indeed, Tenebrae Quake comes immeadiately to mind...

=-Rigs-=

"Now, we gave you a promise and we are bound by that promise and damn you for asking for it! And damn me for agreeing to it! And damn all of us to hell, because that is exactly where we're going! We talked about peace. You didn't want peace. We talked about cooperation. You didn't want cooperation. You want war! Is that it? You want a war? Well you've got a WAR!"
- John Sheridan, Babylon 5
'Sorry, we thought you were dead.'
'I was. I'm better now.'
Avatar 14292
10.
 
Re: Remember When
May 20, 2003, 12:24
10.
Re: Remember When May 20, 2003, 12:24
May 20, 2003, 12:24
 
Software renderers don't look bad by necessity - hell, 3d Studio Max and Maya use software renderers! Of course, if this is meant to run fast it'll probably look crappy compared to hardware output, but it'd be kind of cool to see a really high-end, non-realtime (or 1 fps) renderer implemented into UT, just to see how good looking images you can squeeze out of the models, textures and maps just by throwing a lot of power at it.

11.
 
Re: aahahaha
May 20, 2003, 12:32
11.
Re: aahahaha May 20, 2003, 12:32
May 20, 2003, 12:32
 
<i>The only people I could see benefiting from this might be some laptop owners.</i>

Thank god for the Radeon 9000 in MY laptop!

Bob James
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12.
 
3D Accelerators Overfiltered?
May 20, 2003, 13:31
Zar
12.
3D Accelerators Overfiltered? May 20, 2003, 13:31
May 20, 2003, 13:31
Zar
 
#6 made an interesting observation about how 3D accelerators create an over-filtered look...

"Software rendering always added such a raw, gritty quality. Sometimes I can't stand the over filtered, texture-mapped images in today's games."

Although there are many obvious benefits to using 3D acceleration and I wouldn't trade it for anything, I do agree that there is a visual problem and a blandness prevalent in all 3D accelerated games up until now.

The problem has been that until HL2, DOOM 3 and games that will follow, all objects suffered from what I call the "kiln dried" syndrome. Since every single surface was matte with painted on light and shadows, everything DID have a boring sameness, blandness and flatness to it. The over-smooth everything was a drawback. Also, the same light calculations made everything dim and dark almost all the time.

But this is not true anymore. The power is now such that developers and artists should once again be able to differentiate themselves from each other. There is no reason one game company has to make things look the same as another. We had to pass through an era of sameness to gain other benefits, but now we can again blossom into diversity.

I tend to think a multi-processor system like a CPU/GPU will always be better than just a CPU alone. The workload for a realtime 3D application like a game is too serendipitously and perfectly split between the two. I think we ought to use the CPU for increasingly incredible physics, particles and AI while we continue to use the GPU for drawing. Its a nice match. But either way, I don't think we will be confined to the sameness of the past anymore. We don't need, and probably don't want, software rendering to help us gain this freedom.

Oh, and doesn't Tim Sweeney's comment depend on what level of graphics fidelity he was talking about? If he only meant Unreal level graphics, and not photoreal, then I think he was just being short-sighted.
This comment was edited on May 20, 13:44.
13.
 
Re: 3D Accelerators Overfiltered?
May 20, 2003, 14:15
13.
Re: 3D Accelerators Overfiltered? May 20, 2003, 14:15
May 20, 2003, 14:15
 
I think Tim sweenys comments are anti-christian.

14.
 
Re: 3D Accelerators Overfiltered?
May 20, 2003, 15:00
14.
Re: 3D Accelerators Overfiltered? May 20, 2003, 15:00
May 20, 2003, 15:00
 
Zar,

I'll take your word for what you said, since I'm not a graphics guru, but :

The problem has been that until HL2, DOOM 3 and games that will follow, all objects suffered from what I call the "kiln dried" syndrome. Since every single surface was matte with painted on light and shadows, everything DID have a boring sameness, blandness and flatness to it. The over-smooth everything was a drawback. Also, the same light calculations made everything dim and dark almost all the time.

Why is that indicative of a 3d card? Wouldn't software renderers that might have been made over the past xx years just suffered from the same problem? Only with fewer fps? Or are there some things that can actually be done using software rendering that you can't do with a 3d card? Ie, in this case, not having flat surfaces and such?

Just curious.

Creston


Avatar 15604
15.
 
Re: 3D Accelerators Overfiltered?
May 20, 2003, 15:21
15.
Re: 3D Accelerators Overfiltered? May 20, 2003, 15:21
May 20, 2003, 15:21
 
TBH, I think it's only indicative of a 3D card because you need a dedicated processor to be able to create that look. Software looks different not because it can create less "bland" graphics but rather because it's not fast enough to create this "blandness", which is actually something people prefer over the software side.
It's conceivable that the CPU could render stuff to look better than a "GPU" could - at least or especially with older graphics hardware - but it hasn't been done in a game and can not really be done at acceptable frame rates.

A related article popped up on Slashdot (and perhabs here, not sure) yesterday, based on a presentation by Nvidia head scientist David Kirk: http://www.extremetech.com/article2/0,3973,1091392,00.asp

16.
 
Re: Remember When
May 20, 2003, 15:46
16.
Re: Remember When May 20, 2003, 15:46
May 20, 2003, 15:46
 
FWIW, Mike Abrash wrote Pixomatic and Mike Sartain (both now at RAD) did all the integration work into UT2003. I just polished some of it and changed our high level rendering code a bit to better facilitate software rendering.

Most people seem to forget that cheap new PCs (e.g. BestBuy/ DELL) come with horrible integrated graphics and no AGP slot though have a really powerful CPU which is a prime candidate for software rendering. Instead of having to return the game customers can now at least see that it's worth upgrading... our at least we hope so

We recently rented three "tricked out" machines for E3 and imagine our surprise when we realized that they didn't come with an AGP slot to put our shiny new graphics cards in

-- Daniel, Epic Games Inc.

17.
 
Re: Remember When
May 20, 2003, 16:21
17.
Re: Remember When May 20, 2003, 16:21
May 20, 2003, 16:21
 
Last time I looked at software rendering must've been Quake 2. It looked really gritty and detailed, but ran super-chopola. Might try it again and see what a really high res looks like.
I can definitely see Daniel's point about average Joes buying really meaty machines with ropey onboard graphics. Its an example of pulling the wool over the eyes of the buyer imo. '...but its got a 120 gig hard drive, sir...'

For the victims of this, its good to see there is support from game developers. Jolly good show!


18.
 
Re: Remember When
May 20, 2003, 16:30
18.
Re: Remember When May 20, 2003, 16:30
May 20, 2003, 16:30
 
Software will never compete with the high end graphics cards. And that wasn’t our goal. We wrote the Pixomatic software renderer for three reasons:

1. Driver issues / bugs / whatever. Basically a fallback for high end 3D games such as Unreal.
2. As Daniel mentions, cheap new PCs with 2 gig plus processors and no real 3D card.
3. For lower end games which don't push graphics nearly as hard as Epic, Id, etc. Of which there are several. A majority of the top selling games, actually.

I'm guessing that none of the folks here care about anything other than possibly #1 and even then they're savvy enough to fix that.

As far as how it looks, we support full bilinear blending so we can run Dungeon Siege or UT2003 without any of the washed out effects. At GDC people couldn’t tell the difference between software and hardware. Other than the framerate, of course. And obviously turning on bilinear at full res means you'd better have a decently fast cpu. (See #2)

-Mike

19.
 
No subject
May 20, 2003, 16:46
19.
No subject May 20, 2003, 16:46
May 20, 2003, 16:46
 
Sound cards, graphics cards, I wonder whats next for the gamers budget plans.

Physics card? AI card?

Hhmm...

20.
 
Re: 3D Accelerators Overfiltered?
May 20, 2003, 16:54
Zar
20.
Re: 3D Accelerators Overfiltered? May 20, 2003, 16:54
May 20, 2003, 16:54
Zar
 
Creston,

The reason 3D acceleration tended to create "sameness" is that much of the graphics work was handed over to the chipmakers, not the programmers.

For some time the technological understanding of 3D acceleration made it necessary for everyone to do things pretty much the same way, from art to scene rendering. There wasn't much room to deviate from standard, simplistic multi-texturing because that was the only thing that benefitted from acceleration. Doing much more than that would cause an unacceptably slow framerate or would simply not be accelerated. So, for some time, people were forced to try to wrangle the most distinction they could by using the same old techniques.

Now, with the power to do more than simple multitexturing, to do more complex calculations, and to add dynamic elements to a scene on a pixel and vertex level, developers are not constrained to do everything the same anymore. The artistic vision can be more fully realized with fewer constraints. This power is the result of finally having enough power to do as many passes on a pixlel in a scene as need for the effect, plus special features like DOT3 blending and cube maps becoming a viable real-time capability.

But still, as great as the results obviously are because of these few key advances, this only lifts us half-way out of the old school mire. The engines that come after DOOM 3 and HL2 will probably make use of the full programmable pipeline in modern 3D cards. There is really no practical limit to the types of calculations you can do. We will see a full range of surface effects that make leather look like leather, aluminum look like aluminum and skin look like skin.

Already the DOOM 3 engine, for instance, goes a long way toward this with its specular maps. Talented artists can use the DOOM 3 engine to "mimick" a number of materials by carefully calibrating and mixing texture data with specular and bump data. But although this is very effective and flexible, I think the next generation engines will even BLOW DOOM 3 OUT OF THE WATER. Instead of having the capability to "mimick" leather, rubber, milk, blood or brushed metal indirectly with talented artistic "fiddling", you can have a precise calculation that actually mimicks the physical properties of the material with light equations designed for that material. Then its more a matter of turning some knobs and pushing some buttons and letting the engine depict the material, rather than carefully manipulating it artistically.

The possibilities will be endless, and it will again come down to the richness or poverty of artistic imagination and production design, not the limitations of technology.

This comment was edited on May 20, 17:03.
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