this week we have 2 major news for you.
Vertex Animation Textures
We already introduced VAT last week: It’s a technique for animating things more efficiently, especially buildings. Basically, instead of the CPU updating the animation each frame, we bake the animation into a texture so that your graphics card can play the animation without any input from the CPU.
Last week we did most of the work in order to get the animation working and this week we integrated it into the game. The results are really nice!
In this picture we render 10,000 animated copper mines:
The CPU is updating every position and rotation of every part of every copper mine every frame. Quite a lot of work! With VATs, the situation is different:
10k mines without LOD optimizations is still a lot of work for the graphics card, but the CPU is free to work on other things now, so we get more than 6x the frames per second in this example.
There is also another hidden benefit: Our optimization allows us to treat each mine as one single game object (as opposed to being made out of multiple parts) and therefore we also have to send less draw calls to the graphics card. This is the batches number highlighted in red.
The programming part of VATs seems to be done, so our artists will start using VATs starting next week and apply it to the buildings!
Terraforming will be the next big update so we already started preparing some art for it. Specifically we looked into tree shaders and we think we got a nice looking solution:
Lasse, our artist working on it, is going to spend the next weeks creating more assets for the terraformed world while we program the system to make the transition work!