Continuum Graphics May 2019 Progress Update

We’ve certainly been busy this month, as those of you that follow us on social media may know…but for those that don’t, let’s get into it.


Continuum 2.1

2.1 has been a long time coming, and a lot happened this month in regards to it, so I’ve decided that it’s going to get it’s own full section, as we have lots to talk about…

As many of you likely already know, we finally got all the big technical hurdles with 2.1 figured out, and we were able to push our first Alpha release. It’s long overdue, but we are very happy it’s finally here. With that said, it is far from done. This is an Alpha release after all. It is quite far from the polished, optimized, and complete shader we aim to provide you all with upon 2.1’s full release. But the journey to release has begun.

For those of you not familiar with 2.1, it is the next evolution of our namesake shader. It’s been completely rewritten from the ground up with a heavy focus on keeping it as performant as possible, while not sacrificing the features the community has come to love, and even adding a few more. Here’s a list of some of the features you can expect to see in 2.1:

  • Enhanced performance over previous 1.X and 2.X releases

  • PBR Material Support (POM, PBR Specular, PBR Diffuse)

  • PBR Photometric Lighting System (PBR HDR Lighting)

  • PBR Camera System (Exposure, Grain, Motion Blur, DoF)

  • ACES Color Grading with configurable LMT

  • PBR Volumetrics (VL, Clouds, Water Fog)

  • Stochastic Screen Space Reflections

  • Global Illumination (RSM)

  • GTAO (Screen Space Ground Truth AO)

  • HRT Shadows (Hybrid Ray Traced Shadows)

  • Dynamic Weather and Wind Systems

  • And more!

    Here are a few screenshots of 2.1 vs 2.0 (click to enlarge)

Performance is up significantly over 2.0, and although quite a few effects are still missing from the current Alpha, a few optimizations are as well. We expect to be able to get 2.1 to effect parity with 2.0 in scenes like this, but without significantly affecting it’s current framerate. This will take time, but we are quite excited about 2.1’s possible performance.

As mentioned lot of features are still being added, but the basic framework is in and updates are rolling out quite frequently. Some notable ones have already rolled out since the initial launch, including:

  • The first implementation of POM (Parallax Occlusion Mapping)

  • A more performant and plain easier to deal with fix for POM bugs on foliage textures

  • And my personal favorite, Robo’s implementation of Contact Shadows

    Here are a few screenshots showing off some of these updates (click for a closer look)

    2.1 is on the left, 2.0 on the right

Notice how much closer to the object casting shadows 2.1 gets vs 2.0. This may be improved even more in the future, but it is already quite the improvement over 2.0.

These screenshots also show off the fix for the POM glitches on foliage, which you can see around the top and the sides of the grass in 2.0, but not in 2.1.

Continuum Tier 3
30.00

Continuum Shader RCs, Beta & Alpha

Add To Cart

Updates will continue coming to the Alpha branch as soon as they are ready. If testing the newest builds of our latest shader as soon as they are available sounds like something you might want to do and/or you just want to support the continued development of Continuum 2.1, grab yourself Tier 3 Continuum Early Access:

If you already have a Continuum Early Access package, but only Tier 1 or Tier 2, and thus not access to Alpha versions, and you wish to upgrade to get immediate access to the Continuum 2.1 Alpha, you can grab one of our upgrade packages; just make sure you grab the right one for your current package:

 
 

If you would prefer to wait for Beta, RC, or even the final release, that’s fine as well. Just choose the appropriate package for you.


Legacy and RT

We have some good news for fans of 1.3’s look and feel, but not of its performance and general outdated-ness…Robo and Jake have begun work on Legacy! It’s still early, but we will hopefully have some teasers and info to share with you all in the coming weeks.

As for Continuum RT…well, we are one step closer to having something new to show you, but as we have said before, 2.1 is going to take precedence over RT for the time being. Once 2.1 is in a more feature complete state and the devs have the free time to allocate to it, work on RT should speed up considerably. Just be patient with us here. We know a lot of you are excited for RT, and we are too. But we don’t want to rush into this, and we have a lot on our plate at the moment as well.

Soon™.


Stratum

The Stratum developers have not been sitting idly by while the Continuum developers have all the fun though…they have pushed quite a few updates to Stratum this month. I’ll be going over most of the additions, tweaks and fixes here.

Added

  • Birch, Acacia, Jungle, Dark Oak, & Spruce Planks

  • These textures also apply to the remaining wooden fences, stairs, and slabs, buttons, etc.

  • Birch Leaves

  • Double Tall Grass

  • Grass Paths

Tweaked/Fixed

  • Fixed issues with Bedrock blockstates

  • Fixed issues with Birch Leaf specular

As usual, you can view the more detailed commit history here.

Some screenshots of this months additions (click to enlarge)


Community

The community, especially on YouTube, has been busy this month as well. Here are just a few of the videos made by our wonderful community members this month:

FernFox created the two videos you see above this month, they’re definitely worth a watch :)

YouTuber Willzy created this nice little showcase using Stratum and Continuum

If you have created your own videos of Continuum/Stratum and would like to share them with us, we would love to see them! You can do so via any of our social media accounts or our Discord server.


That about wraps up this month’s Progress Report. We will be back next month with more 2.1, Legacy, RT, and Stratum news. If you want to keep up with us in the meantime, consider following us on Facebook or Twitter, or even joining our Discord community!

Thank you all for your continued support.