Nova Progress Update - June to September 2018

In June I stopped writing about Nova so I could write Nova… but now I’m writing about Nova again. Sorry for the delay, and for the very…dense nature of this blog. If you’re more into pretty pictures and less into a lot of technical talk, you might want to skip this one.

With that said, let’s get into it!

June

In June, I continued fixing any bugs I could find and continued building out more of the renderer. This included setting up the data for UBOs and handling the Minecraft lightmap properly. I also started on a CPU profiler to get a general idea of how well Nova runs.

Janrupf joined at the beginning of June and started working on moving Nova from raw MCP to Forge. Most of this effort was converting Nova's changes to Minecraft from a source code patch to Forge Mixins.

July

Barteks2x joined at the beginning of July and jumped into helping Janrupf convert Nova to Forge. He also updated Nova to run in Minecraft 1.12.2 instead of 1.10. That brought us into a better position to update to 1.13 when it became available.

Barteks2x also got chunk rendering working. I hadn't quite gotten that feature working, but Barteks2x was able to solve the issues and get the chunks drawing. Unfortunately, this introduced a bug where, on my computer, the GPU would freeze up after a second of rendering a world. Solving that would take me many weeks.

4D Klein Manifold (hereafter referred to as Klein) came in around the middle of July. He began working on getting the main menu panorama working.

We merged the Forge version of Nova into the Vulkan branch - essentially declaring that Nova was completely moved to Forge. During that merge we had to resolve a number of compatibility issues. Barteks2x and Janrupf develop on Linux, while I'm on Windows and Klein switches between the two. Unfortunately they had done a few Linux-specific things that needed to be resolved.

Janrupf then started setting Nova up for Continuous Integration (CI). CI lets us automatically compile Nova whenever the code changes. This ensures that the code changes we make won't horribly break Nova, and removes the need to manually compile Nova. I had wanted to set this up for a while, but it would have been much more difficult before we converted Nova to Forge.

Then came the task of merging the Vulkan branch into the Master branch. This was more tricky than one might expect because back in February, Klein had made some changes that made chunk loading much faster and more like vanilla - but made them when I was having doubts about Vulkan, so we ended up with two branches with different commit histories. Barteks2x took on the task of resolving all those changes, and did so very well.

With CI conquered, Janrupf began working on a standalone shader editor for Nova. Nova is much more complex and more involved than Optifine shaders or Bedrock shaders. Developers coming from those platforms will likely need a lot of help to become proficient with Nova, and a standalone shader editor can go a long way to providing that help. You can see and follow his work at here.

Another developer, Strum, also joined in July. He began working on the shader marketplace. The vision here is that shaderpack developers can upload their shaderpacks to a central location, then the shaderpacks can be browsed and downloaded through Nova, without leaving Minecraft or moving things to different folders. This will provide a lot of discoverability for shaderpacks, especially smaller packs that needs a popularity boost. You can see and follow his work here.

August

To help solve some of the issues that arose when merging Vulkan into Master, Barteks2x created a tool to capture the parameters to native Nova functions, then replay them in a JVM-free environment. The JVM is cool and all, but it does a lot of things that interfere with debugging C++ code. In the first week of its existence, his tool proved to be well worth it, time and time again.

But that prosperity was not to last. While Barteks and Janrupf were making wonderful progress, I did not have any such luck. A crash began rearing its ugly head. On Windows, after Nova was rendering 50+ chunks, it just…died.

I first noticed the problem as a segfault when updating the lightmap. I removed the offending code, and got a crash when updating a different resource. Removed that code, and now the crash happened when reading the GPU time queries for each frame.

The behavior was dumb. Were there multiple crashes? One bad one? I added a new thread that would poll the GPU to find out when each VkFence got signaled. It polled, and… things got weirder. I could see each command buffer be submitted, could see the fence get signaled… then a segfault somewhere inside vkWaitForFences.

This was dumb.

I dug into this for a week. I tried this and that, poked here and there…nothing. The GPU was just like “nah bro I’m out” in the middle of rendering a frame.

Vulkan isn’t the first-party graphics API on Windows 10, DirectX 12 is. On August 14 I made the decision to add in a DirectX 12 rendering backend for Windows 10. This was the first-party API on Windows 10, surely it would work better?

The work began. I would write the DirectX 12 backend for Windows 10, Janrupf would make the Vulkan backend. By this point Barteks was back to focusing on CubicChunks and unfortunately couldn’t give more time to Nova

Janrupf did a lot for the architecture of Nova in the last half of August. He realized that Nova shouldn’t have its own logger or load its own config file, that all should be provided by whatever application Nova was embedded into. Additionally, he pushed for “add a DirectX 12 backend” to become “add a DirectX 12 backend and also rewrite the Nova backend”, which I agreed to. The Vulkan code would have to be mostly replaced anyways; I was trying to get things done quickly and made far too many compromises


 
 

September

During September, I continued working on the DirectX 12 code, and Janrupf continued working on the Vulkan code. At one point I had the bright idea to make a command buffer-based abstraction over both DX12 and Vulkan. That was a horrible idea, because while DX12 and Vulkan are similar, they aren’t similar enough to have a single interface. Bleh.

In mid-September I decided to convert Nova to a job-based threading model built on top of fibers. This meant that Nova could take advantage of all the cores in your CPU, and they it could do so very efficiently. There were a number of growing pains as we adapted to this new style of programming, but ultimately we learned.

We started working on loading shaderpacks in both Vulkan in DirectX 12. We made a good bit of progress, but Janrupf had to go back to school and my girlfriend came to visit for three weeks (one week in October) so not much happened in the second half of September.

October

I added all kinds of validation and debugging information to the shaderpack loading code in October. Shaderpack developers are going to have to re-learn a lot of things to take full advantage of Nova, and the better the error messages I can give them are, the easier the transition will be. I also spent a lot of time fleshing out the shaderpack loading code for both Vulkan and DirectX 12. Janrupf was busy with school, which meant that the Vulkan code fell on me. The work to load shaderpacks and create the API-specific resources that each one needed was straightforward, if a little tedious.

What was not straightforward was transpiling shaders. Nova accepts shaders in GLSL (which is compiled to SPIR-V) or in SPIR-V. DirectX 12 accepts shaders in HLSL (which is compiled to HLSL bytecode), or HLSL bytecode. Additionally, a few concepts that are crucial to Vulkan shaders have no equivalent in DirectX 12 shaders. This meant a pretty significant amount of work on my part to perform the translation.

Additionally, on October 22 I started a new job. This was pretty cool, but meant that I’d have less time for Nova.

Looking Ahead

Rewriting the Vulkan code and adding in DirectX 12 code will take plenty of time, but it’ll be time well spent. Nova will end up with a well-organized code base that can be easily extended as more and more features get added to the code.

Nova won't be updating to 1.13 until Forge does, and Forge won't work with 1.13 for a while - they want to take some time to improve their code quality. This gives us a lot of time to make Nova amazing before we have to handle all the changes that Minecraft made for 1.13. We're excited to be starting to realize the vision of Nova, and we hope that you're excited, too!


 
 

Continuum Graphics October 2018 Progress Update

Well, it’s October, and that means it’s time for a update blog. So let’s have a chat about what we’ve been up too, shall we?


Continuum 2.1, RT, and Legacy

We have good news, and we have not as good news. I’ll start with the good.

One of our main goals with 2.1 is optimization. When rewriting the base shader code, we managed to get back around 20% more performance, and while that is good, we are aiming for about 100%. Problem is, we couldn’t figure out what was bogging the shader down. Even with all effects removed, it was still running slower than shaders like Ebin.

This is what was holding up any release of even Alpha Builds of 2.1. We didn’t want to push out a update that we weren’t happy with, and we didn’t want to have to go back and redo half the shader again either, especially when the issue was right in front of us, just teasing us. So we continued working. About a week ago we finally figured it out, which while being a great relief, brings me right from the good news, into the not as good news.

Basically, the problem is this: we need the ability to fit more data into a single buffer, but Optifine does not currently allow us to change settings related to that. We have opened the appropriate issues on the Optifine Github and contacted him about this, and are currently just waiting for a response. Hopefully that will happen soon, as the shader base for 2.1 is also the base for Continuum RT and Legacy, and without it, in its fully optimized state, we cannot continue work on those projects. We will share updates on this issue in our Official Discord server and future blogs as the situation progresses.


Continuum 2.0.1

The shader team has not been completely idle while waiting for Optifine’s response, as I am sure some of the Alpha level donators will already know. We have created a incremental update to 2.0 to address some issues that made it past us into 2.0.

Fixes included in Continuum 2.0.1 are as follows:

  • Leaves on trees in distance fading nearly completely out resolved due to TAA applying to them improperly (see screenshots below for a visual comparison of 2.0 and 2.0.1’s leaf TAA)

  • ‘Leave TAA’ toggle removed completely as it is now unnecessary

  • POM issue that was causing lines on the seams of textures fixed

This update is now available to all, and you can download it right now!


Stratum

Work on Stratum has been progressing steadily, with a lot of textures behind the scenes being worked on, and a few making it into the Early Access testers hands already.

Most notably we have a new cobblestone texture, and a new texture for the ends of the oak wood. These are not 100% final however. The cobble may have it’s overall scale tweaked, and the oak wood still needs some polish around the edges of the ends.

Here are a few screenshots of the latest textures, taken in game with Continuum 2.0.1.

Click any image to enlarge and open in gallery view


Nova

Work on Nova has been progressing, albeit at a slower pace than normal. This is because the main developer, Dethraid, has been on Vacation for the last 3 or so weeks. He will be back soon though, and he has a rather large update blog prepared for the last few months of Nova development. We will try to get that out within the next week so we can get you guys up to speed on Nova as well.


That about wraps it up for this monthly update…as usual, thank you for your continued support! We couldn’t do this without you.



PS: there may be a little contest and giveaway on the Discord server soon™…be sure to join if you want to be notified about it. You can join here.


 
 

Stratum Early Access is Live!

Our new resource pack, Stratum, is now available for Early Access purchase. If you would like to be the first to test Stratum, and/or you want to support us and it’s development, you can purchase a Tiered Stratum Package. We have three Tiers available:

  • Tier 1 gives you access to 256x

  • Tier 2 gives you access to 256x and 512x

  • Tier 3 gives you access to 256x, 512x, 1024x and 2048x

They will all be updated regularly as development progresses. Please remember, this is Early Access. Textures may be removed at will, or replaced with other ones as it progresses, for various reasons. There may be occasional bugs as well. But they will be fixed when found as soon as possible. Each Tier also comes with a Donator rank on our Official Discord Server, which you should definitely join to follow Stratums development and even give the developers your ideas and thoughts on it as it develops.

You can purchase a Tier, download the demo, find more in depth info, and look at screenshots of Stratum by clicking the button below.

Thank you for your continued support!


 
 

It's finally here! Continuum 2.0 is released!

We made it!

The day has finally come. After many months, and more than a few delays(sorry!), Continuum 2.0 is officially available to all! It's been a long time coming, and we appreciate all your support along the way... but we aren't done yet. Not by a long shot.

Continuum 2.1

We aren't done with Continuum. Development of 2.1 is already underway, with alpha builds of 2.1 coming to Alpha level donators early next month. 2.1 will be faster, more customizable and even more polished than 2.0. We will likely go over new features, optimizations and general changes coming in 2.1 in a future blog. 

Continuum RT

That's not all that's coming though, we have a few new products in development. The first is something we are currently calling Continuum RT... RT meaning Ray Traced. Yes, you heard that right. It will also be available to Alpha level donators starting next month. It's still in the early stages but we are excited about the possibilities opened up by using Ray Tracing to enhance your Minecraft experience! Here are a few teaser images...

Continuum Legacy

If that wasn't exciting enough, we have more! For those of you that prefer the look and feel of 1.3, but find it to be too buggy, slow or too outdated in general, we hear you. We plan to revisit 1.3 and fix it up a bit; we will be adding a few new effects like TAA and just generally cleaning it up. We will be calling this Continuum Legacy. We will keep you guys updated on it's progress in the coming months!

Stratum

And last, but certainly not least, we are proud to announce our own in house Resource Pack. We call it Stratum. It's being developed to support all of Continuum 2.0's features and will be available in a variety of different resolutions all the way up to 2048x. It is still in a fairly early state, so we don't have a whole lot to share with you right now, but more information will be available soon. In the meantime, here are some in-game screenshots of some of the current 2K textures with Continuum 2.0 for you to enjoy. 

Site updates

We will be making a lot of changes to the site in the upcoming weeks/months. Tutorials will be getting much needed updates, a FAQ will be added, some general system requirements for our different products, and more. We hope these changes will improve your experience using our site. If you have any suggestions for improvements to the site please let us know on one of our social media accounts, our Discord or email us at support@continuum.graphics.


Thank you all for sticking with us. We hope you continue to do so as we go forward with more updates for Continuum and our other projects! - Continuum Graphics Team


 
 

What's been going on...

Hey guys, Seth here... It's been a bit since we have had a proper Continuum update blog, and especially in light of recent events I feel that one is long overdue. 

First thing's first, some answers to a question that is probably on a lot of your minds...

What's going on with Pulchra? 

Long story short, a few months ago, Blockstate, the primary developer of Pulchra, decided to start his own company; Atlas Graphics. The whole team here at Continuum Graphics would like to wish him and his team the best going forward. This does however mean that Pulchra will now be sold exclusively on his site, not ours, and that support will be handled through either his site, or his companies official Discord server. Existing customers will still have access through the Atlas Graphics GitLab. Your Continuum Graphics credentials should work on their GitLab as well, but if they don't, contact Atlas Graphics support via their site or their Discord, and they will help you get logged in. All the links you should need have been included above.


How is Continuum 2.0 doing?

Image credit to karrasko#0548 on Discord

As most of you probably know, we released a Public Preview of Continuum 2.0 back in July; you can read more about that in the accompanying blog hereWe did this because we felt it was close but wanted to knock out as many bugs as you guys could find, and dotModded, the lead developer, wasn't quite happy with the overall polish level. Still, release was only supposed to be a few weeks out at most...but we obviously didn't get there. Between recovering from kidney stones, starting a new job, moving, and some license renewals for the business coming up, dotModded just couldn't get it all done at the quality level he wanted. We could have released it, but he just couldn't okay it's release in its state at the time. We are truly sorry for the delays, but we really do hope they will be worth it in the end. 

Image credit to karrasko#0548 on Discord

With that said, with any luck work on 2.0 will finish in the next week, and then work on 2.1 and some other, yet to be announced projects will begin. You'll want to stay tuned for more info on those in the coming weeks. 

Also, our YouTube channel will be getting some more focus. We currently do livestreams and the occasional tutorial but we will be ramping things up starting in September. So if you want to see the content we plan to post there, please subscribe here, and click the bell to be notified about our latest videos as soon as they drop. Since we are talking about the YouTube channel and new content, if you want to see some eye candy, since this blog is a bit lacking in that, here is a shader cinematic of the Continuum 2.0 Public Preview we uploaded there recently...made by yours truly(shameless plug). Be sure to watch in the highest resolution your internet and computer can handle for the best quality.


Also, Nova is still a thing

Nova is still being developed, and has been making a good deal of progress, which has been in part due to the new team members that have recently joined to help with development. There will be a Nova Blog soon™ that will go into more details about recent developments, new team members, and everything else that has been going on with Nova over the last 3 months, so look out for that. 


Thank you all for your continued support.


 
 

Nova Update: May 2018

Note: I apparently forgot to publish this blog post until now. It was all written up by the end of May, I promise!

May was a busy month for my person life - I took almost two weeks off in the middle of May to visit my girlfriend, so not as much happened in May as has happened in other months. Some interesting stuff did happen, though!

Swapchain

One of the major differences between OpenGL and Vulkan is that in OpenGL you don't have to worry about the swapchain, but in Vulkan you do.

What's the swapchain? It's a list of images that are presented to the screen. When Nova renders a frame, it renders to one swapchain image. While that is being drawn to the screen, Nova uses the next swapchain image. While that's being drawn, Nova renders to the next swapchain image...

There's a lot of complexities here that OpenGL hides from you, whereas Vulkan lays the swapchain bare and makes you handle it. Figuring out how to deal with that took up a lot of time in April, and it took up about a week in March - but I've finally got it.

Descriptor Sets

Oh descriptor sets... they're a lot of fun. They're roughly equivalent to uniforms in OpenGL, but they're a lot more involved and I was not prepared at all. It's taken most of the time I've worked on Nova in May to figure them out. Because of how Vulkan works it makes the most sense to have each material manage its descriptor sets, which is something that took me far too long to realize. There's a few bugs left in the descriptor set code, but the actual architecture for how I update and bind descriptor sets is in place

Conclusion

As I said in the intro, I didn't have a ton of time for Nova in May - but I had some time, and I made some good progress. Work on Nova continues...


 
 

Continuum 2.0 Public Preview is Released!

2.0 isn't quite ready for prime time, but we have decided to give you guys a little teaser before we go live. A public preview version of Continuum 2.0 is available for download on our GitLab HERE.

If you find any bugs please let us know, as the whole point of this preview is to find as many bugs as possible to squash before we launch 2.0. Please open an issue on GitLab, let us know in the comments, or on our Discord server.

If your screen is black unzip the shader; the folder structure should be as follows: shaderpacks/continuum-shaders-master/shaders

 


Continuum 2.0 Update: It's June 1st...

Hey guys, Seth here. As the title says...it's June 1st...and I'm sorry to have to be the bearer of bad news, but we have decided to push Continuum 2.0's official launch back a bit...by one month to be exact. Our goal is now July 1st. Some stuff came up that slowed work down a bit, and with the amount of things left to finish polishing up, we feel that taking the extra time to do it right is a good idea, and we think it will be well worth the wait!

With that said, I do have some good news. Those of you with Tier 1 (or above) will now be able to download the first RC (Release Candidate) build! These will be updated throughout the month as we close in on the release of 2.0. Those that don't have a package will now be able to purchase RC access by itself if they want a sneak peak of the full release. 

Continuum Tier 1
7.50
Add To Cart

 

As always, we all appreciate your support. Thank you.


New Purchasing Options and Continuum News

The New Purchasing Options

Continuum Early Access and Pulchra Revisited can now be purchased separately at a discounted price!

You can now choose from Continuum or Pulchra packages for $7.50, $15.00, and $30.00. This is for people that only want one or the other, and would like to save a bit of money while getting only what they want. For those of you that still want both, you can still purchase them together at their original prices; $10.00, $25.00, and $50.00.

We have faith that these added options will provide more value and satisfaction to you guys, but these new options are still a bit of a test. If it goes well, they will stay. If not, we will revert back to the old combined Tiers as the only option, but rest assured, anyone that purchases the new options will still continue to receive support and have access to their purchased files if we do revert back to the old system.


Continuum 2.0 is almost here!

We made it folks! We are entering the Release Candidate stage this week. There will be a few more beta updates and probably many more alpha updates before it's all said and done, but Continuum 2.0 is set to release June 1st, 2018!

We know it's a little late, however we think the project needed a little extra time. Thank you all for putting up with our shenanigans. It has been an absolute treat developing this project for you and we are glad it will finally be released to the masses.


Continuum Settings Documentation

Continuum 2.0 has a lot of settings, some of them quite advanced, but we want to make sure everyone can get Continuum to look how they want on their own. So we have built a docs section to our website going over every feature, with pictures for reference. The more advanced settings like LUT's and some of the custom programming in our UserLib will get video explanations along with the written explanation. These videos are not ready yet however Subscribe to us on YouTube, or follow us on Twitter and/or facebook and we will make posts when they're released.

ContinuumDocs

Continuum 2.1 and the future

With Continuum 2.0 launching soon, we are looking towards the future; Continuum 2.1.

Continuum Spir-V/Vulkan addition will be developed in 2.1 in conjunction with the Optifine version. Continuum 2.1 will focus heavily on immersion, performance, configuration, and playability while still being fully PBR and boasting all of the currently available options and more. Continuum 2.1 should mesh into the background and feel natural for every scene with wind simulation* and heavy emphasis on indoor lighting. Random events will happen constantly from lighting strikes arking through the clouds lighting the volume from within. Our goal isn't just to make it look natural, it's also to make it beautiful. All owners of Continuum 2.0 will receive 2.1 following the official public release of the shader.

We hope you are as excited for 2.0's release, and our future plans as we are!

Nova Update: April 2018

Oops, this one was a little late. We're all going to have to find a way to deal with that.

What happened in April? Fun things! The render graph, which I've been working on for a couple months, is coming together. Get hype!


Materials

As the render graph became more complete, it became obvious that Nova needed a material system of some sort. It needed a way to specify which resources (textures and other data) were bound to each shader.

I ended up going with a simple dictionary-like thing. You use the uniform names from your shader and assign the name of a resource to each uniform. I wrote up a wiki page that gives you an overview of this system.


Putting it all together

With the render graph in place, and the material system in place, Nova should finally run!

Except there were a number of bugs and errors, which is to be expected when one writes a large block of code without running it. A few days of bug-fixing, and we finally have some images, including one very nice image of the GUI!

That tweet was also retweeted by the offical Vulkan Twitter acount, which isn't a huge achievement but it did give us some nice publicity.


Textures

The GUI is pink! Oh no! I hadn't made the code to get textures working yet - so that's what I worked on next. It was kinda painful; since the way that Vulkan handles textures is very different from how OpenGL handles them, but after a couple days I got them sorted. Behold!

That's cool. The render graph is now mostly working!

You'll notice that there's no text on the GUI. Nova is issuing the draw call for the text, but nothing renders because the font is using the GUI texture atlas, not the font texture atlas. This issue will be solved when I get virtual textures in, but for now I have to make a new material for GUI text. I was hoping I wouldn't have to do that, but here we are.


Swapchain Management

In OpenGL, everything relating to the swapchain is handled by the driver. You write to framebuffer 0 from a shader, tell the windowing system to swap the backbuffer with the frontbuffer, and there you go. In Vulkan, however...

If you want to write directly to the swapchain, you have to create a framebuffer for each swapchain image. A framebuffer needs to be created with a reference to the renderpass that uses it, so I would have had to create (and manage) one framebuffer per swapchain image per renderpass that outputs to the swapchain directly.

That doesn't appeal to me. Instead, I'm adding a step after rendering is completed to copy the data from the texture named "Backbuffer (which is created by the render graph) into the current swapchain image. No more need to deal with a ton of framebuffers! Yay!

Unfortunately, I had originally set up the code to assume that there was only one swapchain image...which is in no way correct. Changing to the way I want to do this has proved less than trivial, as a quick glance at Nova's commit log will tell you. Still, it's happening.


The Future

Where does Nova go from here?

The render graph still needs more testing. I've only seen the GUI rendered with it - will it handle chunks? It better! There's definitely more work to be done with the render graph to ensure that it's robust enough for usage by shader devs at large. I know a few Minecraft shader devs - they will take whatever system I give them and push it far past any reasonable limits. It's my job to make sure pushing it that far doesn't break it.

As part of that, I need to get the scripting system set up. The scripting will tie in with the render graph - you'll be able to write Lua scripts that are executed before, during, and after each render pass. This will let shader devs perform work on the CPU, such as calculating custom uniform values or only running certain passes every few ticks. The scripting system will be what really pushes Nova past other Minecraft shader implementations.

I'm not going to stop there, however. After scripting comes virtual textures, which is essentially a way to load a texture in at runtime in a memory-efficient way. This technology was originally developed by id Software for Rage, then improved for Wolfenstein: The New Order and DOOM 2016. It's also shown up in Far Cry 4, Battlefield 3, and associated sequels. This will vastly change how textures work in Minecraft. Rather than loading all textures into a single atlas texture, they'll be loaded as needed. If you only have one type of block on screen, only one block texture will be loaded. This will vastly decrease memory usage, allowing for larger resource packs than are currently feasible. Combined with texture compression, this may make 2k resource packs usable by consumer graphics cards

This is all great, but Nova will still be running on a single core. Sometime around virtual textures, I'll be implementing a task-based threading system. This will allow Nova to scale with the available CPU - buying a processor with more cores will make Nova faster. It should also vastly reduce frame time, further improving what will already be a very solid renderer.

I haven't forgotten about Forge either. The plan is still that, once Forge for Minecraft: Java Edition 1.13 becomes available, Nova will move from modifying the Minecraft client directly to injecting through Forge. I fully expect that to be absolute hell, given how many changes Forge makes to Minecraft. There's a possibility it won't be worth the effort - although, considering the immense value the Forge provides to Minecraft modding, that's pretty unlikely.

And that's just what's on my plate! In the last couple of weeks Nova has had a couple people start working on setting Nova up for CI/CD (Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery). There's a number of benefits to CI/CD, including that Nova could be compiled on a server somewhere and not on an end-user's computer like it is now. Licensing with the Minecraft client prevents us from distributing more than the C++ part of Nova in a per-compiled format, but once Nova moves to Forge we should be able to distribute the whole thing as a compiled Forge mod, which Forge will then inject into the Minecraft client. That's where the fun begins.


In closing...

That's where Nova is now, and that's the next few major tasks for Nova. As always everything is subject to how much time I have and how many other developers are working on Nova at any given point in time - you'll notice that I haven't given any estimates for when things might be done - but all those big tasks are probably a few months of work each for a single developer. If you're willing to help, we could deliver features much faster!

Nova Update: March 2018

What happened in March? The better question would be: what didn't happen in March?

Render Graph Initial Revision

In February I announced that Nova would be adopting a data-driven render graph system. This system would give shader developers a lot of flexibility in how they set up their shaders and would make Nova a data-driven renderer with practically nothing hardcoded. Forward, deferred, tiled deferred, hybrid forward+ - all these will be possible by simply changing some data.

On March 9th I got the initial revision of this system working. I could build a rendering pipeline in data and it would Just Work. This was exciting. There were a few bugs, but the basic tech was working. 

However, I realized that the existing material system wouldn't handle all I needed it to handle. Specifically, there's currently no way for objects for one material to have different textures - which has led to text not working very well. Nova currently mixes two concepts - a material and material instance in Unreal Engine 4 terms - that really should be separate. Future work will separate these concepts and lead to something much, much better.

Vacation and GDC

From March 10th - 18th my girlfriend was in town visiting. We had a lot of fun, but naturally, I didn't make any progress on Nova during that time.

GDC was March 19th - 23rd. I attended many sessions, including a number of talks about Vulkan. The result of all those talks was....

I'm Making Nova Vulkan Again

Yes, I'm switching back to Vulkan.

After listening to the talks at GDC, I can't not use Vulkan any longer. It's become overwhelmingly clear that Vulkan is the future and OpenGL will not deliver the performance that Vulkan can. So, it's time to get the Vulkan branch working.

When I last left off, RenderDoc didn't give any useful information - it reported everything as 0. However, there was a new RenderDoc version since I last tried using it, so I ran Nova with the new RenderDoc to see if there was still that problem...and Nova crashed. So I tried running Nova normally, and it didn't crash. It would appear RenderDoc is crashing Nova.

I have filed an issue on the RenderDoc GitHub, but I can't wait for RenderDoc to update. So I have begun digging into the RenderDoc code myself to try and see what is crashing Nova. A few hours of hardcore debugging later and I noticed that I was destroying a buffer, but then trying to use it. This made Vulkan crash, since Vulkan doesn't handle errors so that it can deliver maximum speed. I'm not sure why Nova was crashing in RenderDoc, but not when run normally, but I noticed slightly different behavior when it was running with RenderDoc before.

After that there were a number of smaller bugs. Vulkan requires thinking a little differently than OpenGL, and that takes some time to get used to. Still, I persevered, and got the Vulkan branch to draw things on screen. At that point the rest was details.

Render Graph 2: Hydroelectric Boogaloo

With the render graph code written, and the Vulkan code getting written, it's now time to put the two together. March ended with starting to merge the render graph into the Vulkan code, adapting it where needed and rethinking some of the Vulkan code to better fir the the render graph. Many challenges remain, but Nova is set up to be a very powerful shader development environment.

Nova Update: February 2018

segfault at vkResetFences

That's the error message that's greeted me for the last few weeks. There was a segfault, which is a portmanteau of segmentation fault - a program has tried to access a segment of memory that it shouldn't have. Usually your debugger can take you to the line where the segfault happens and you'll see what you did wrong - Are you accessing an array element that doesn't exist? Did you forget to initialize something? Segfaults are annoying, but usually they can be squashed in development.

Except for now.

The debugger gave me a location where the error was happening - deep within the Vulkan loader. It said that the error happened in the function vkResetFences, but I didn't call that from anywhere within Nova. Something strange was happening.

I tried a lot of things to learn more about this error. I tried compiling the Vulkan loader myself, tried compiling Nova with Visual Studio, tried commenting out large swaths of code until the error went away so isolate the offending line - many hours were spent cursing at my compiler. I learned a few interesting things, such as that the Vulkan loader doesn't support being compiled with MinGW, and that Nova doesn't like being compiled with Visual Studio, and that the error wasn't necessarily happening in the function vkResetFences, but since I had a release build of the Vulkan loader then gdb wasn't reporting the offending stack frame accurately. This was all rather interesting and would probably be useful, but was not useful now.

I cast a wide net online, reaching out for any help I could get. Some people suggested I was smashing my stack, but that didn't seem likely - stack smashing seems to be super rare and difficult to actually do. I looked into debugging a Vulkan application, and realized that I had never gotten a Vulkan debug callback working.

I'm using vulkan.hpp, a C++ wrapper around Vulkan. It's a thin wrapper around the Vulkan API - sometimes too thin. Vulkan debug callbacks, in which you give Vulkan a callback to call when it has something to say about how badly you're misusing the API, is a Vulkan extension, and it isn't loaded very well by vulkan.hpp. Google gave some example code to load the debug callback extension, I gave Vulkan a callback to print errors, and... the callback printed out many errors. Whoops.

In OpenGL, I never had to clean up objects when my program shut down - that was all handled by the API. In Vulkan, however, you do have to clean up after yourself. This information had slipped by me. I went through all my code and added the statements to destroy things I wasn't using, and Nova stopped crashing. When you use the API correctly, your program won't break. Who knew?

...but now it's time for OpenGL

I spent four months working on converting Nova to Vulkan. I got probably 2/3 of the way there, but I kept running into more and more problems. The tale above is just one of them: turns out learning a new graphics API all at once is pretty challenging. I took a step back and decided that I couldn't justify spending another four months getting Vulkan Nova working, not with Bedrock shaders right around the corner and not with all the features Optifine keeps adding. If I had any hope of being competitive, I needed to get a working renderer together as soon as possible... and I already had a working renderer, one that used OpenGL.

The first task was bringing in all the improvements made in the conversion to Vulkan. I made a number of tweaks to the build scripts and wrote a loader for Bedrock materials, and those changes had to be brought in.

Data-Driven Render Passes

During the time I spent working on Vulkan, I came across an article titled Render Graphs and Vulkan: A Deep Dive. The article talked about a data-driven renderer that gives a great deal of flexibility with regards to how a renderer processes a scene, and I realized that it was exactly what I wanted. The author of that article had solved a number of problems I was struggling with, so why not use their solutions?

I decided to upgrade Bedrock's material system to use render passes while bringing in the Bedrock material file loader. The render passes would form the backbone of Nova's data processing algorithms, so I definitely wanted to have that system in place as early as possible.

Bugfixes and Improvements

We haven't only been developing new tech, however. Coler706 has been working on bugfixes and improvements to the existing tech. He discovered that the place I had initially hooked into Minecraft for chunk updates wasn't very good, and found a better place so that Nova was able to handle the removal of block and loaded chunks from the player outward, like in vanilla. He's also been expanding the set of GUI screens that Nova can handle, paying special attention to the in-game GUI. The work he's doing has fixed many issues that I would have taken much longer to get to, so I very much appreciate his help.

Thi brings us to today. We have a strong modern OpenGL base to work off of. We're moving ahead strong with implementing the render pass system, constantly improving the data format to be more expressive and easier to use. We're fixing bugs and making improvements that are highly visible to the end user. Nova development in 2018 is moving along very well!

February Blog: Show me the Updates!

Continuum

The Alpha branch of the Continuum Shader has been relatively inactive as of late, but we have big things happening in the background. A lot of work has been put into the brand new "Rebase" branch, a new branch meant to restructure the base of the code which will hopefully allow for easier editing, as well as much better handling of data. Once we have all of that out of the way, we will begin to migrate and optimize functions from the Alpha branch with our ultimate goal being, do everything that the Alpha branch does now, but at a much better frame rate. Because of this new milestone, we will soon be pushing Beta 3 out to all Tier 2 supporters so that everyone remains as up to date as possible while we continue working on the rebase in the background. As Continuum gets closer and closer to the Release Candidate testing stage, We will continue to work hard and implement several new PBR techniques and features, as well as optimize to surpass the performance of Continuum 1.3  

 Continuum 2.0 Alpha   

Continuum 2.0 Alpha

 

 Continuum 2.0 Rebase:  Not much to see, we have some basic shading done, POM implemented, and our sky function implemented   

Continuum 2.0 Rebase:

Not much to see, we have some basic shading done, POM implemented, and our sky function implemented

 

Hey, where'd the section on Pulchra and Nova go?

This section is going to replace the Pulchra and Nova section as Nova is going to be dedicated to its own blog, and Pulchra is currently undergoing developments not directly related to the resource pack. The Nova blog is a quick recap of all that has happened over the past year of development, as well as a rough roadmap as to where David wants to go next with Nova. This includes the inclusion of Bedrock shading support, Forge mod injection, light-map rework, and many more plans for the future as the renderer begins to take shape. For more details on what's happening, please visit this link to view the latest Nova blog. As for Pulchra, our texture artist is creating a new module to add specular support and conform to the PBR standards of SEUS: Renewed, but this is currently a task that is being put on the backburner as he is working with developers to integrate Pulchra download's into our dedicated GitLab server. This will enable us to take another step in making your purchasing experience easier, eliminating the need to manually send invites to buyers and eliminating the extra steps of switching between file hosting services to download both products. Until this has finished, there have been about 1 or 2 textures added, which should give a general idea as to what's next for the next major Pulchra update.

 Rain texture, pretty self explanatory change.

Rain texture, pretty self explanatory change.

 Just a test to see how light disperses across a material, may be used for ores.

Just a test to see how light disperses across a material, may be used for ores.

 

Conclusion

Some of you may have noticed that recently, Continuum has been very quiet even a month after the holiday season. We've slowly been migrating back into working on our mainstream projects with our primary focus as of now being quality of life tweaks to make everything faster such as our new GitLab automation system specified above. We hope to have these fixes out soon, so we can begin to dedicate all of our time to prepare for consumer release.

Until then, that's all we have for next month, thanks for stopping by and we hope to have much more to share with you all in the near future.

-James

 

Nova Update: January 2018

Wow. It’s been a full year since the last Nova development blog post. That’s... a long time. I want to get these out more often than that. We’ll see what happens.

A lot has happened with Nova in the last year.

When the year began we were hard at work implementing GUI rendering for the main menu. We finished the framework for that, and added all the pages that were needed to load into a world. There’s still a lot of GUI pages that we haven’t explicitly touched, and probably a few crashes hiding in there, but we have enough to load into the game.

The people who had joined to make the GUI got busy with real life, so I also developed the chunk rendering code. Nova is able to render chunks like Minecraft with Smooth Lighting turned off (getting smooth lighting working would have been hard). There was actually a lot of difficulty here. Minecraft groups the faces in a model by the face of a cube that they would be up against, and it provides an enum for each face of the cube. This would be fine, except that it uses the value `null` (which is never a member of an enum) for all the faces that are not directly against the side of a cube. That is, if you iterate over all the enum values and get each of their faces, you still have to ask for the faces with `null` instead of an actual enum value. This is incredibly silly and caused me a lot of grief

E3 2017 happened. During it, Microsoft announced the Super Duper Graphics Pack for Minecraft. Minecraft: Windows 10, Pocket Edition, Switch, and XBox were moving to a new engine, Bedrock, and Minecraft 1.3 would add support for user-defined shaders - and the Super Duper Graphics Pack would be built using that support.

This changed many things. One of Nova’s main goals was compatibility with existing shaderpacks. At the time I started Nova this meant compatibility with shadersmod shaders, which soon become Optifine shaders when Karyonix gave the shadersmod code to sp614x. While watching E3, I decided to support Bedrock shaders as well. Users will be able to use many existing shaderpacks from all versions of Minecraft with Nova.

Support for Bedrock Shaderpacks was added to the backlog, but there was more work to be done for chunk rendering. Adding the code to support Bedrock Shaderpacks would have to wait.

In September, another revelation dropped - The Windows 10 (and probably XBox) versions of Minecraft were moving to DirectX 12. This would allow Minecraft greater performance on many systems, but it had an affect on Nova. Using Vulkan for Nova had been the original plan, and it’s something I had put on the backburner while I was learning how to work with Minecraft: Java Edition’s code. This new revelation was a challenge: surely I could make Minecraft: Java Edition render as well as Windows 10.

Conversion to Vulkan began mid-October. I first had to learn Vulkan, or at least get a grasp of the basics. I decided that, since I had been spurned to convert Nova to Vulkan by Bedrock, I should add in support for Bedrock Shaderpacks while I was converting to Vulkan. That decision has caused me a lot of pain, since supporting Bedrock shaderpacks, Optifine shaderpacks, and Nova’s extensions to both added a lot of complexity to what Nova had to do. I moved across the USA, started a new job, and travelled a lot for the winter holidays - all things that have taken away from Nova.

That brings us to today. Nova continues to plod steadily on. Nova can load Bedrock material files, and is reasonably good at initializing its Vulkan context. Nova can load textures and shaders without too much difficulty.

The immediate roadmap sees rendering commands added to Nova. This will allow Nova to render the GUI and chunks, like the OpenGL version of Nova.

Once that feature parity is achieved, I’ll take a step back and look at the progress of Minecraft: Java Edition. MC:JE is making significant changes to its renderer for 1.13, and I want to move Nova to Forge instead of raw MCP. Adapting to 1.13 and to Forge are both significant changes, and I want to do them at the same time. If Forge for 1.13 releases before Vulkan Nova has feature parity with OpenGL Nova, we’ll be able to jump right in to the Forge conversion without any delay.

However, if I have to wait for Forge, there’s numerous other tasks I can do. These will all be focused on optimizing Nova so we can render the maximum number of pixels per second. Some items on this list are:

  • Multithreaded command buffer generation and submission
  • Indirect chunk rendering

Once the Forge conversion is complete, I’ll likely spend a bit of time working through making GUI and chunk rendering really nice. We’ll dive into Minecraft’s GUI, making sure each page renders properly through Nova. I’ll work on making chunk rendering respond to the rendering options in the options GUI, such as the setting for fancy leaves or the render distance. When I'm satisfied with that, we’ll begin conquering entities. They’ll have a good bit of complexity with tracking their position, rotation, and animation state, but it’s nothing we can’t handle.

The future of Nova is bright. This project has taken a long time already, and I expect there’s still a lot of time before it’s anywhere close to done, but I promise all this work will be worth it.

January Blog: A few updates, and reflection.

Happy new year!

Happy new year! Hope you guys had a great holiday season. It's actually been relatively quiet development wise here at Continuum, but we still have a bit of news to share with you guys today.


Continuum

Visually, there hasn't been many changes to Continuum since the beginning of December, but most of the time has been spent micro-optimizing and organizing internally. This period of reorganization has allowed for a new Ambient Occlusion system, less present shadow acne, re-done sky shading, etc. All of these features will contribute to the upcoming water update which will introduce projected caustics, better volumetrics, better parralax, etc.


Nova

As you all know, we are currently putting all of our time and focus into the conversion of Nova from OpenGL 4.6 to Vulkan, and into making Nova use the Bedrock material format which is used by versions of Minecraft that run on the Bedrock engine (Windows 10, XBox One, Switch, and Mobile). We've completed replacing all the OpenGL code with Vulkan code, and now comes the process of testing the new Vulkan code and removing any bugs that will hinder development.

One major recent bug was loading Bedrock materials. Because Nova is a highly data-driven renderer, we didn't want to predefine materials that you have to use. This meant that Nova had to scan the materials directory in a shaderpack to see what materials the shaderpack developer wanted to use. We used the new standard filesystem library to scan the directory for materials, but unfortunately the standard filesystem library has a number of warts which made the library difficult to integrate. Performing that integration took a few weeks (since we're also busy with the holidays), but the integration is now complete.

The next step is continued testing of loading Bedrock materials and the exiting rendering code, finding bugs and places where our understanding of Vulkan is lacking, and fixing those issues as they occur. The material loading code is very complex, mostly because that code contains the shader loading code which has to handle a file format that's evolved organically over the last few years. We expect that the majority of the bugs will be related to material loading.

Once the Vulkan conversion is complete, we'll be converting Nova from a pure MCP mod to a Forge mod, which will enable a much more user-friendly approach of injection. As you may know, we've tried a number of things to make Nova easier to compile for non-developers, with each approach being too unreliable for satisfactory results. By converting Nova to a Forge mod we'll be able to distribute the precompiled code, eliminating any compilation issues. Converting to a Forge mod is something that needs to happen anyways, to ensure greater mod compatibility.


Pulchra

The Continuum support add-on for the latest Pulchra update is now complete! This add-on should add proper specular map support for the new SEUS Renewed and Continuum 2.0, and you can find a comparison below showcasing what specular maps can do in your average Minecraft house

You can see on the bottom, specular adds a whole new depth to textures both lighting and reflection wise (looking at the floor and walls).

I am also pleased to announce that we will soon be migrating away from Google drive towards our own download servers, which will enable for direct access to Pulchra and Continuum immediately after purchase. This should help with future purchases as it will no longer require a g-mail account, and it should prevent any mishaps about not recieving invites for either product.


In Conclusion...

Let's take a step back for a moment, to the very beginning of the development of Continuum 2.0.

Initial Commit: July 31st

Optimization of Ambient Occlusion: December 28th

We've made great progress over these last few months, and with a lot more happening behind the scenes, we hope to improve our shaders, resource pack, and renderer even further with more consistent updates as we march towards release. We here at Continuum Graphics look forward to an exciting 2018, and would like to thank all of you for supporting us through out all of 2017.

Here's to another year,

-James

 

Winter Sale is Live!

Hey guys, Luca here (You might know me as Hox from the Discord server).

The winter sale is now live,all tiers are 50% off!
The sale is live until the 31st of December.

Not much has happened since the last blog post but here's a small update.
Pulchra's 2.0 modules are now being worked on,Robin(aka Robobo) has made a new shadow bias function which greatly improves how shadows look at a distance and Joey (aka Dotmodded) is still cleaning up and organizing the code.
More on this in the next blog coming early 2018™
We wish you a merry Christmas and happy new year.

December Blog 2.0; An apology, a giveaway and updates on all the things

General updates on the Blog

Hey guys, Seth here (You might know me as Soulshot96 from the Discord server). I'll be writing this month's blog in James's place, as he has some personal stuff to take care of. 

So, to start, I'd like to apologize for our last blog being late (multiple times), and then having to be taken down so soon after being published because of errors. Hopefully moving forward, we can get them up more regularly, and with fewer errors!


The New Twitter

We have also launched a Continuum Twitter account, to go alongside our Facebook, Instagram, and Discord (feel free to follow us on all of those as well, if you'd like). So to celebrate, and get into the Holiday spirit, we are running a giveaway all month long. You can enter here: 

Even if you already have a package, you can follow the Twitter for general updates about Continuum and our other projects.

Anyway, on to the Blog. It has been almost two months since our last blog, so I'm sure you're wondering; what have we been up to? 


Continuum

Work on Continuum has been slowly pressing onward, with PBR Wave Generation implemented, as well as Volumetric Caustics. They are both in fairly early stages but the work on Volumetric Caustics should be finished in about two weeks time. If there are no surprises of course. We do not currently have an ETA for the wave generation, but soon™.

Here are a few teasers for both of these new effects (both of which are now available to test for users with access to the alpha);

First pass of PBR Wave Generation for Continuum 2.0

Continuum 2.0's new Volumetric Caustic tech in its first iterations...

Another addition to Continuum is the new Tone Mapper. It allows basic image adjustments of saturation, contrast, contrast midpoint, gain and lift, as well as color tint options for gain and lift. You can adjust the main settings via the shader settings. That can be found under Camera > Camera Effects > Post Processing.

Basic Tone Mapping options in shader settings > Camera > Camera Effects > Post Processing

Advanced users can also adjust the Tint of gain and lift via the final.fsh(lines 261 and 262; edit the RGB values after vec3). Users with Alpha access can start playing with these new options right now, and more might be added in the future.

Configurable Tone Mapping and Tint options in final.fsh (recommended only for advanced users)

Joey (DotModded) is also researching new methods for rendering clouds and water, as well as taking a week to clean up Continuum 2.0's code, as it has apparently gotten a bit disorganized. 

Continuum 2.0 is still on track for a Q1 2018 release. With a new Beta release soon™.


Pulchra

Josh (Blockstate), recently released a fairly large update that he has been working on for quite some time. Update notes are as follows: 

  • New custom models module -Added 10 custom models
  • New moon module -Added moon
  • New misc module -Added 2 textures
  • New Loading Screen Small and Large module -Added loading screen
  • New GUI module -Added background texture -Added background panorama
  • New Sounds module -Added menu3.ogg
  • Updated optifine textures module -Replaced 12 old textures -Added 38 textures
  • Updated block textures module -Replaced 115 old textures -Added 64 new textures
  • Updated font module -Replaced old font with a new and much better font
  • Updated better foliage module -Added 57 new textures -Replaced all old textures

Modules that add support for Continuum 2.0 are still being worked on but all other modules are uploaded on the google drive. ETA should be sometime this week for 2.0 support.

Here are a bunch of screenshots of the new textures for your veiwing pleasure. 


Nova

Dethraid has made some decent progress on translating Nova to Vulkan. Though progress has been slow, because in Vulkan you have to do a lot of things manually, versus things being done automatically in OpenGL. 

His current, and shorter term goal is to get the translated Vulkan version of Nova to the same level of the OpenGL version when the screenshot above was taken. He is about one-third of the way there. 

It can now load textures/shaders and uses the same format for shaders that the Bedrock Engine uses. If you don't know the Bedrock Engine is, it is the new unified engine for every version of Minecraft except the Java version. So, everything from the Pocket Edition to the Xbox One X version. This means that Nova will be able to load shaders and textures from those versions of Minecraft. Which may not be useful at the moment, but should be when Bedrock becomes more established and more shaders and textures are purpose-built for it. 

Be sure to follow Dethraids Nova Twitter (above), or check the update channel on the Nova Discord to keep up to date with Nova. 


In closing...

We are going to try to cut down the delays on Blogs as much as possible going forward, and release them more consistently. There should now be a new one about once a month.

Before I close this out, I'd like to remind you guys to not forget to enter the giveaway, and more importantly, at least if you're from the US, don't forget about the fight for Net Neutrality. I can't stress it's importance enough. We can't give up on this. I'm going to link a few sites below that will help you contact your representatives about this. Please take a minute and do so if you're able. 

Thanks for reading, and supporting us. See you in the next Blog. 

-Seth

 

 

Bi-Weekly Blog 10/14/17: Instagram page and other things

Guess what? Blog 4 actually went up on schedule! And with the release of the Beta branch for Continuum as well as a brand new Instagram page, we have a lot more things to talk about. For now, lets start off with whats been happening with Nova.

 Nova Renderer: Now with lightmaps and water geometry, and different block-states (debug)

Nova Renderer: Now with lightmaps and water geometry, and different block-states (debug)

So as you can tell from above, Nova Renderer is getting somewhere, now with proper transparent glass, water geometry, and being able to show different block-states properly like open and closed doors, cornered stairs, etc. David is also planning on switching back to a Vulkan renderer vs OpenGL 4.6, hoping to bring more benefits to multi-core processors.

That's all for now on Nova, lets move on to Pulchra.

 

2017-10-11_16.08.59.png
2017-10-12_11.04.30.png

The progress of Pulchra has been pretty odd so to speak. although many textures are complete, Josh wants to re-do or enhance a lot of them, as well as work on all of them at the same time instead of focusing on 1 texture, then moving to the next. The next update is anticipated to launch some time next month.

 

 Continuum 2.0 Beta 1

Continuum 2.0 Beta 1

 Continuum 2.0 Beta 2

Continuum 2.0 Beta 2

Beta 2 is due for launch tomorrow, with several optimizations to volumetric light and volumetric clouds as a whole. Although not as big as promised, I guarantee that we have something big in store coming soon.

ssd.PNG

We have an Instagram account! Now you may be wondering, what would we ever do with an Instagram account? We have decided to host screenshot contests! In which you send us screenshots through any possible means such as Facebook, Discord, Instagram, etc. and we feature a winner every month!

 

The winner chosen will either receive

Tier 1 of Pulchra + some unannounced extra perks (which will also come to Tier 2 and 3)

An upgrade from Tier 1 to Tier 2,

Or an upgrade from Tier 2 to Tier 3,

anyone with Tier 3 will win a $25 gift card to use on whatever they please.

The main rules are:

The screenshot must be using Continuum Shader 1.3 or 2.0,

 You can submit as many entries as you want,

You can only win once,

Any image editing will result in immediate disqualification, meaning that all mods and resource packs are fair game. 

 

That's just about all we have for this week, Check in on Halloween for a special update with Continuum.

-James

Bi-Weekly Blog 9/26/17: Secrets

Hey guys, welcome to blog post 3. Unlike Half-Life 3, this blog post actually managed to be finalized (in valve time). No worries, this was only a hiccup in our schedule due to other unforeseen circumstances. Anyways, Now with all that out of the way, we can discuss the current status of Nova Renderer, Pulchra, and Continuum.

David has been hard at work continuing the development of Nova Renderer, and with so much behind the scenes, you guys haven't actually seen anything yet. However, today marks the day in which Nova Renderer has reached a playable stage!

As you can see, Nova clearly renders blocks now, and chunks load a little bit slower than Minecraft right now, which is impressive considering that most of the development time right now is grabbing assets from the Minecraft client, and actually rendering blocks was done in a relatively small amount of time, so expect greater chunk loading times soon!

 

Now onto Pulchra,

21731730_1915181775402090_704721087247774590_o.jpg

More on that later...

 

Finally, onto Continuum

The performance of Continuum as of now has been significantly impacted by about 40-50 fps,

 This is the FPS of latest build of Continuum at default settings

This is the FPS of latest build of Continuum at default settings

 This is the FPS at which volumetric clouds are disabled

This is the FPS at which volumetric clouds are disabled

 This is the FPS at which the Volumetric Renderer found in blog post 1 is disabled

This is the FPS at which the Volumetric Renderer found in blog post 1 is disabled

Performance is not doing so well right now, The shader is rendering air, moisture in the air, earth shadow, and the biggest culprit here is the Volumetric light being rendered from clouds, as well as the cloud shadows being cast. This will all be fixed in due time but for now, it is best that you disable Volumetric Renderer as well as Global Illumination.

 

That's all for now, you may have noticed that this blog seemed a lot more anti climactic then anticipated... The plan was to talk about 3 more topics that happen to be a lot more secretive than I thought, so maybe in the next blog, I could possibly cover some of these vague details. But for now, This is the end of blog post 3, tune on October 13th to find out some details about whats next for this company ;)

 

-James

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Bi-Weekly Blog 8/18/17: Status updates on Continuum, and the new blog standard.

Hey guys, Welcome to Blog Post 2. This weeks post is going to be shorter than last time and future blog posts will likely stay this particular length because the first blog was actually meant to be split into two parts

The new standard of blogs will go over updates on Continuum products, with other topics such as company stuff being separate blogs, meaning you could possibly get 2 blogs in 2 weeks!

With that out of the way, lets discuss the status of Continuum's updates...

 As you can see, there has been a significant drop in Continuum alpha build updates. With Continuum Graphics finally being registered as a company, there is still lots of legal work to be finished before we can get back on track with the frequency of updates. Rest assured, this legal work will likely be completed sometime next week so be on the look out for a flood of updates.

As you can see, there has been a significant drop in Continuum alpha build updates. With Continuum Graphics finally being registered as a company, there is still lots of legal work to be finished before we can get back on track with the frequency of updates. Rest assured, this legal work will likely be completed sometime next week so be on the look out for a flood of updates.

You can see that there is mention of optimization in these past few weeks, therefore, I would like to show you some of the progress the team has made over the past 2 weeks with the build at launch versus the most recent one.

 This was the build available for download at launch.

This was the build available for download at launch.

 This is the new build found today, much better...

This is the new build found today, much better...

 Note that the FPS on the most recent build with Pulchra at 512x resolution gives about the same FPS as the first build

Note that the FPS on the most recent build with Pulchra at 512x resolution gives about the same FPS as the first build

Some more screenshots if you needed those.

Well that's all we have for this week, check in on the next 2 weeks to discuss the current status Nova Renderer.

-James