Continuum Graphics June 2019 Progress Update

Hey guys, little late with this one, but between some recent projects behind the scenes, the 4th of July and some personal stuff, this update had to be pushed back a bit. Better late than never though right?


Continuum 2.1

We’ve been working on the sky this month, and have made some good, albeit slow progress with that. You see, the current sky is the slowest part of Continuum 2.1, as slow as all the rest of the shader components put together. So we are switching to a prebaked sky LUT. This is a common modern standard that engines like Frostbite implement, and have good documentation on, and ours takes some new info from some recent papers into account as well. Currently we have the sky code ready to go, but we need to generate the LUT itself. We are in the process of creating an electron based application that will do this for us, as well as act as a Continuum setting manager, which will allow you to configure settings, create profiles, and maybe more down the road.

This application is currently in development, but isn’t a terribly easy task, as we have to create the application, create the generation code, loading code, and game code. We need this application now because the generation code needs to simulate a near perfect atmosphere. This is nearly impossible to do in real time. Generating it outside of the game using multisample spectral tracing enables us to create lifelike skies, at every time of day, every altitude, and every angle. We can generate all this info and pack it down into data that can be quickly extracted for later use in game. This should bring our sky down from the current ~2.5ms it takes to render at 1080p now (which is around half of the current render time for a frame in 2.1), to a mere .05ms on modern hardware. That is a very significant performance difference.

We are making good progress on all of this, but we have another small roadblock at the moment with it. We will need 3D textures to make this work, as the 2D ones we planned to use don’t have enough bit depth and that makes the current implementation impossible. Sadly, Optifine currently does not support them. We have written the code needed to add support and sent it along, but we don’t know if Optilad will use it, implement his own, or how long any of that will take. Hopefully it will be soon though.


Legacy and RT

The main focus this month has been the sky and Continuum settings manager for that, mostly because 2.1 is still the main focus, but also because Legacy and RT will likely be using aspects of the sky code we are working on for 2.1. One of our shader devs was also on a much deserved vacation for the latter half of this month. More updates on these shaders will be coming soon.


Stratum

Stratum has been progressing steadily as usual. Before we get into the usual updates, I want to take a moment to talk about the labPBR Specular Format that we hope to transition Stratum to soon, as I don’t think we have touched upon it in a blog yet and we think it is a fairly important step the shader community needs to take.

You see, the Minecraft shader and resourcepack community has a bit of a problem: no one can agree on a standard specular format. We use our own in Continuum, and support a alternative older method for support for some older resource packs, but shaders like SEUS use another, and this kinda thing can, and does lead to major or minor incompatibilities between shaders and resource packs.

Many of you have seen this with Pulchra and Continuum 2.0 if used without the Continuum Addon. That Addon contains Specular textures in Continuum’s format to fix the incompatibility. We have recently released a Addon for Stratum that does the same thing, but for SEUS PTGI and Renewed, due to their recent popularity. You can find it on the GitLab, in the same dropdown box as the 1.12.2 branch. It is currently only compatible with MC 1.13 and up, and needs to be loaded above the base resourcepack to function.

Anyway, back on topic…the reason we need these addons is simple. We lack a single, standardized Specular format for shaders and resourcepacks to use. Many in the community have the desire to rectify this, and make both users and creators lives easier. Thus, labPBR was born. You can find more info about it in it’s channel on the ShaderLabs server, here, or on the GitHub here. We encourage shader and resourcepack creators to go check it out, maybe give them some feedback if you see something you don’t like, and consider switching to it. Normal users might also want to let their favorite creators know about the new format if they don’t already know of it, but don’t spam them please :)

We plan to switch Stratum and Continuum to labPBR as soon as we feel it is ready, and we hope many others will do the same.

Anyway, onto the Stratum Updates for the month:

Tweaked/Fixed

  • Grass Normal fixes

  • Leaf Model Lighting fix for SEUS

  • Diorite Normal fix

Added

  • Birch Log Tops

  • Endstone

  • Oak Leaf Specular maps

  • Endstone Bricks

  • Dark Oak Log

  • Granite

  • Double Ferns

  • Diorite

  • Higher Performance/slightly lower quality Leaf model branch

  • SEUS Specular Addon for MC 1.13+ Branch

Screenshots of these additions/fixes below, taken with 2.0.2, as usual (click to enlarge):


Automation & Site Updates

We also finally got around to building out a new order bot. There have already been a few minor growing pains associated with this, but most have been resolved quickly. The bot has already been a huge help and is very quick…usually processing orders within seconds of them arriving. We will continue testing in the coming weeks and expanding its functionality, as it still doesn’t handle things like upgrade orders or Discord roles.

The extra time this will afford me personally will be partly going into some site updates. I plan to finally implement a FAQ to the site, update the tutorials and maybe clean up a few things here and there. Look out for those updates in the coming month.


Community

Our community has been quite active this month as well. The Discord has grown to over 4300 members, and we were featured in a video from Hodilton, which I’m sure quite a few of you have seen. For those that haven’t though, I’ll embed it below. We will probably have another little screenshot contest on the Discord server at 5K members, so watch out for that as well.


That about wraps it up for last months update. Some exciting things ahead. Thanks for sticking with us and supporting us. It allows us to continue doing what we love!

See you again next month :)