Stanford has a rendering competition in the Spring, as the final project of a rendering class (CS348b). I'm taking the class this quarter, so I'll be part of the competition. Why not start preparing early?
I'll be posting my progress in this blog. I don't want to post everything here since this is really for my own personal endeavors that are unrelated to class, and I'd rather not flood this space with half-baked ideas and images.
At any rate, I certainly don't anticipate winning (let's face it, I'm a real-time graphics guy, not an offline rendering guy...), but there's no harm in giving it a good go, right? At the end of it all, I'd just like to have a nice sci-fi image that I can be proud of.
Oh, and, of course, I want all of the scene content to be procedural...
(no surprises there, right?)
No, in fact, I haven't fallen out of love with graphics and stopped working on all of my ideas. On the contrary, I've been spending the past month or so working hard on writing an OpenGL engine from the ground up. I have several reasons for doing so, among the them, a purely-curiosity-driven desire to learn the world of GL, as well as the fact that school uses GL in all coding assignments. It's been a good experience and I'm progressing rapidly, but I must say, I've confirmed for myself once-and-for-all that DirectX is the better API, a least from an API standpoint (that is, considering only the interface, not necessarily the performance or functionality). Surely anyone out there who's written a deferred pipeline in both APIs would have to agree...
At any rate, I'm revisiting SSAO, since my HLSL implementation was rather lacking (although good enough to produce some cool screenshots). I've come up with a fairly nice algorithm that uses only a linear depth buffer and screen-space (no unprojecting/reprojecting), but does a little bit of work to approximate the tangent plane at a given point, making it more accurate than a naive screen-space algorithm. I'm sure there are still lots of artifacts and places for improvement, but I'm please with the look of it so far.
Of course, the occlusion there is dramatically exaggerated; I wouldn't dare turn it up that high in a serious game.