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View Full Version : the role of pixel shaders...


penner
09-13-03, 02:01 PM
this may be a dumb question but im an amateur so bear with me...

does pixel shading have any role other than making water effects look better? in most comparison shots ive seen between dx8 & dx9 PS the only difference i notice is in the water.

Skuzzy
09-13-03, 02:15 PM
Pixel/Vertex Shaders can be used for anything. It all depends on what you want to accomplish. They are ideal for generating psuedo-random effects, which can add a more life like appearance without using enormous amounts of static data.

Shaders are present in every DX game today. Every drawprim has to have one of each. The default pixel shader just combine alpha, diffuse, and a specular component to generate the color you see on the screen.

Pafet
09-13-03, 06:44 PM
And to this day, no ingame PS effect was impressive enough :o

Bumpmaps are the best usage i've seen and it's not that new, there are bumps in Tomb-Raider 3 (the non-PS kind)

people seem to care more for the pixel-sized quality differences than original and gameplay-enhancing new features. The potential in PS effects is hugh... and it's still in potential mode ;)

Edge
09-13-03, 06:50 PM
Pixel shaders CAN be used for many different types of effects, it's just that it's primarilly used for water effects in most games. But for example, Splinter Cell and Doom 3 use them for the shadows, and HL2 uses them for a large variety of surface shaders (which includes water).

DX9 is basicly an extension of DX8. You can do the same general type of effects in DX8 that you can do in DX9, but the DX9 stuff will look much better if done right. For example, in HL2 DX9 effects can make a character with reflection and diffusion maps, but in DX8 it can only make a reflection map. And of course, the water effects look better because they can use diffusion maps with DX9 (I might be wrong about that though, correct me if I am).

However, there are still many games that don't use pixel shader effects. In fact HL2 and TR:AOD are the first to use ANY DX9 effects ever since DX9 was released (over a year ago). Now games that use them will be more common, but there's always bound to be many that don't take advantage of shaders, just like there were many games that didn't use bumpmapping.

Dazz
09-13-03, 06:55 PM
Bump mapping has been around for years, since the TNT day when Matrox brought out their G400 range.

TheTaz
09-13-03, 07:04 PM
Besides water... the best Pixel shading effect I've seen is SpeedTree.

No more cardboard prop "flats" with "leaf textures"painted on them.

Very realistic trees.. almost 3DMark2001 Nature test quality.... and uses LESS resources.

http://www.idvinc.com/

Can't wait for Dark Age of Camelot Trials of Atlantis, which will incorporate SpeedTree.

The Elder Scrolls 4 (Next game after Morrowind) will use SpeedTree as well. (You didn't hear that from me) ;)

Skuzzy
09-13-03, 07:21 PM
There are many reasons why shaders have not been used much in the past. The primary reasons are performance and compatibility.

The hardware was not really fast enough to run any type of complex shaders without choking and then none of the video card manufacturers ever had the same level of shader support, until DX9 forced PS/VS2 down their throats.

Then the HLSL has made it much easier to create shaders as well. Shaders can be used to render an entire scene today. They are primarily used for effects and lighting, but there really is no limit to what you can do.

StealthHawk
09-13-03, 08:24 PM
Originally posted by Edge
However, there are still many games that don't use pixel shader effects. In fact HL2 and TR:AOD are the first to use ANY DX9 effects ever since DX9 was released (over a year ago). Now games that use them will be more common, but there's always bound to be many that don't take advantage of shaders, just like there were many games that didn't use bumpmapping.

DX9 has not been out for a year. It was released late December 2002.

Danik
09-13-03, 08:52 PM
Speed Tree looks incredible. I hope more games utilize this technology in upcoming games/updates/expansions.

Smashed
09-14-03, 01:30 AM
Originally posted by Dazz
Bump mapping has been around for years, since the TNT day when Matrox brought out their G400 range.

Poor Matrox. They've incorporated plenty of interesting and innovative ideas into their cards, but don't provide enough horsepower to make those features usable. I'm starting to think of them as the Apple of the video world.

Edge
09-14-03, 02:10 AM
Originally posted by StealthHawk
DX9 has not been out for a year. It was released late December 2002.

OK, ALMOST a year then. But the betas for it were out long before that, so theoreticly developers could have been adding DX9 effects into their games (well, if they had the API tools from MS, that is). The only limitation was the lack of DX9 enabled cards. When did they 9700 come out again? I forgot which month it came out.

And yeah, Matrox has had some pretty innovational features. The Parhelia (sp?) had some very interesting abilities, like true multi-monitor support and Fragment Anti-aliasing were very nice. Unfortunatly, it was "only" GF3 speed (which I personally don't think is too bad), but worse yet no company is willing to truely support the multi-monitor support the way it was intended. Imperium Galactica 3 (which was renamed to Galaxy Andromeda) was supposed to support full multi-monitor setups with the card, so you'd have the tactical map on one screen, ship information and such on another, etc. Unfortunatly, the game was recently canceled, which was not only a blow to fans of the demo, but also to Parhelia users who were looking forward to a game that used the extended features of the Parhelia. Now of course, multi-monitor support wasn't a new thing, but it was never implimented as successfully as the Parhelia did.

This whole video card issue reminds me of Aureal. They had a superior product, but because their PR wasn't as good, they were overlooked. Just think, if Aureal had not been killed by Creative (who are now an insult to their own name), we could have had REAL, FULL environment sound reflections, volumetric sound, and a host of other amazing features that could have GREATLY improved audio quality over what we have today. I was recently playing C&C: Renegade, and I was amazed at how much better the sound possitioning was then any other recent game I've played and I couldn't understand why, until I looked in the options and noticed it supported and enabled A3D by default.

Dazz
09-14-03, 05:39 AM
Yeah well if you think you can bring out a decent game with the latest DX support when it comes out then be my guess :D