What's been going on?

Lots of necessary, but not very picturesque busy work was done this month, so this blog might be a bit light on the pretty pictures. It should be fairly exciting for fans of Continuum 2.1 though…

Focal Engine

Most work this month has gone into porting Continuum 2.1 to Focal, so Focal itself hasn’t gotten a ton of attention. Nevertheless, the work that has been done on Focal has been essential. There has been a good bit of planning for the Optifine split, the move to Vulkan, as well as a lot of small features added/fleshed out as they were needed to get 2.1 functioning on Focal Engine.

This work will continue till 2.1 is fully ported (which should be soon), and then focus will shift back to the Optifine split and the move to Vulkan. For those of you more interested in RT and that whole side of Focal, we understand this might not be the most exciting news, but Focal isn’t just for RT/PT shaders, so this work is just as essential for the future of Focal.

Continuum RT

With Continuum 2.1’s Focal port and the additions/changes being made to Focal to facilitate that, RT hasn’t been worked on all that much this month. Once the Focal port of 2.1 is finished however, RT users should expect the new sky model being added to 2.1 to make it’s way over to RT. This sky model is much more accurate, user configurable, and in our opinion, visually pleasing, so keep an eye out for news about that!

Continuum 2.1

As we’ve mentioned in both previous sections, the Focal port of 2.1 is still well underway, and actually nearing completion. We are very excited to get it out to you guys! Performance should be a good bit better even in the initial version simply because Focal Engine allows us to push advanced effects at a lower cost to performance. It also allows us to sit down and analyze the performance of every single effect in the shader, giving us valuable insight into how the hardware is working, and nail down where the most impactful improvements can be made,

This update won’t be all about performance though, it will also improve the quality of various effects in the shader, lining 2.1 up with with some of the advanced effects/features of RT, such as the toning/post processing features, improved auto exposure, higher color precision, improved TAA and higher quality/faster bloom! Not only that though, but the initial Focal Build of 2.1 will debut the new sky model we have mentioned a few times before. This might not sound that important, especially compared to all the effects we just mentioned, but the atmosphere is what dictates the entire lighting setup on the ground. It dictates sunlight color and the shadow color; It heavily impacts the clouds lighting, the fog on the ground, and it’s the primary source of light for reflections. It’s the most important aspect of a PBR shader.

The old sky method had some extreme drawbacks, such as lack of configurability, and extremely low precision. An effect called Aerial Perspective was simply not possible with the old sky. This effect simulates the environmental effect that fades the natural colors of objects and blends them to the environmental light color the farther away they are. This method also combines with the morning/rolling fog, giving huge performance gains and much higher quality lighting for them.

All this makes for, in our opinion at least, a very exciting update, one we cannot wait to share with you all!


Stratum Build 12 was released earlier this month, and brought with it a few highly anticipated textures, such as glass and glowstone. We hope you guys enjoyed that update, and we are happy to inform you that we have continued on the same path we started with Build 12, where our focus (for the time being), is on tackling some of the most common blocks, instead of texturing the easiest blocks to find materials for first.

As we mentioned last month, this will slow down progress a touch, simply because it is more expedient for us to look for a nice material and match it to an untextured block, versus picking a block/item and finding a suitable material specifically for it. Because of this, and the weird release schedule we found ourselves on with Stratum after the holidays (releasing our monthly update early in the following month vs towards the end of the current), we have decided to hold back the planned Stratum update for February (which would have otherwise launched a few days after this blog, in early March), and both get our release schedule back in line, and provide a slightly bigger update than usual towards the end of March.

As we mentioned it might in last months update, this upcoming build of Stratum will already be including many of the flowers found in Minecraft as of version 1.16, such as Poppies, Sunflowers, and Daisies. This might not seem all that exciting to some of you, but Stratum currently covers most naturally spawning blocks in most of the overworld biomes…except flowers. They are quite common and are a huge eyesore that we wanted to take care of. These, plus a few other types of flower, and maybe a few bonus blocks will be included in Stratum Build 13 later in March. Look out for teasers of these new textures on our Social Media, and check out some screenshots of the finished ones below!

(Click to enlarge)

Screenshot Contest Results

Before we end this monthly update, we wanted to mention the winners and runner ups in the screenshot contest we recently hosted on our Discord community server. We had some truly great shots and want to show off the winning entries, and thank everyone that participated. We can’t wait till the next one! Remember to click to enlarge and show these shots in all their glory!

1st Place - Naughtius Maximus

2nd place - ArachidicAcid243

3rd place - Yark

4th place - PeinTech

5th place - Hobbit

6th place - Xeome

That about wraps it up….we hope to see you all back here again next month!