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