Monday, May 28, 2012

Summertime, Clustered Shading, and Blogging

It's summertime! Now is the time to be roasting hot dogs and marshmallows around a fire (just did that myself this evening back on my parents farm)! I graduated with my Bachelors diploma a few weeks ago from Michigan State University, which actually feels substantially weirder than when I graduated from High School. Perhaps a big part of it is going away from working with some great people over the past 4 years, namely Brian Winn and the GEL Lab as well as the crew over at Adventure Club Games. Adventure Club may not have left East Lansing after they graduated from the University a year ago, but that doesn't mean they haven't been doing a lot of great game dev projects (and more in the pipeline to my understanding).

Speaking of East Lansing game dev people of interest, the awesome Dan Sosnowski has stepped up to the task of President of Spartasoft, the MSU game development club and has recently started as my replacement as the Iron Galaxy Studios intern in Chicago for the summer. I'll be moving back to Chicago myself this coming Friday, where I'll be moving into a full-time graphics engineering position at Iron Galaxy. Whoah. Growing up I guess. I'm hoping to possibly make it back to East Lansing for the Meaningful Play Conference that's coming up again this fall, if you are interested in games in a capacity beyond entertainment, such as art or education, consider attending! or submitting a talk or a paper or a game to the showcase!

On the note of conferences, I've been tossing around the possibility of trying to make it to SIGGRAPH this fall in Los Angeles, especially because I do enjoy nerding out to computer graphics. Especially after reading the pre-print for Clustered Shading from the HPG conference that has been going on recently. The idea is to take the tiled rendering used to optimize many deferred renderers, and extend upon it. The "Forward+" renderer used in the AMD Leo Demo got a lot of buzz at GDC this year for combining tiling with forward rendering by utilizing DX11 features. The idea presented by Clustered Shading is to improve tiling by have it operate in 3D instead of just slicing in the screen into 2D tiles to cull lights. This is really interesting to me because binning in 3D matches the load of a designer or artist much better when spacing out a large number of lights in a scene, whereas a tiled renderer will have hot spots pop up more due to a particular camera angle where many lights align. I expect for more flavors of core rendering pipeline to pop up if next-gen consoles mostly support the more flexible possibilities of compute shaders on the minimum spec for multi-platform games. Hopefully I'll start playing around with more of my own DX11/CUDA type stuff this summer, as I'm planning to start putting together a new computer that runs DX 11.1 code to keep myself relevant with the future.

Obviously, I won't be pushing this meandering pile of thoughts up to AltDev, but I do hope to push some more technical articles out to both this blog and AltDev. I'm uncertain if I will actually rejoin the two week schedule though, because I'm uncertain if my current side projects and learning will either fit well into a two week turnaround or be all that interesting. I'm also going to try to do more personal-ish posts up on here because I've realized that I've become a little more spread out across the nation/world from many friends and acquaintances, so maybe I should be making better use of this newfangled internet technology. Hopefully I didn't say anything too stupid in this post, because I don't entirely feel like going through my normal revision/proofreading process that helps me be a coherent writer.

Finally, I had an awesome experience hanging out with some manatees at the Columbus Zoo and my awesome girlfriend Kelsey in my free time between graduation and moving. AREN'T MANATEES THE COOLEST?

(You should go hang out with them too, and then adopt a manatee from Save the Manatee Club)