Recently I've gotten detoured once more from algorithmic composition by Microsoft XNA, the first 3D engine I've found that I really, really feel comfortable with.  Unlike the previous one, it won't do much of the work for me - no easy bloom/HDR, no easy model management.  But it DOES expose powerful core functionality without having to jump through all the complicated hoops of D3D in c++.

In developing a terrain engine from scratch for my work in algorithmic world synthesis, I've begun testing different continuous level-of-detail (CLOD) systems.  The easiest and most obvious CLOD system that comes to mind is quadtree-based terrain.

My initial quadtree CLOD engine is working pretty well, and can cut polys by 10 to 100 times, making decent framerates possible even with 1024x1024 heightmaps.  Some problems with the quadtree engine:

  • As with most CLOD engines, tiles experience tearing when they are adjacent to tiles of lower or higher detail; many fixes are known, but I have yet to implement one
  • The quadtree structure is pretty huge (considering the recursion), I'm not sure just how much memory it takes up but I'm concerned that it may be too much
  • Lots of overhead because of recursive processing
  • Terrain must be a square with 2^n+1 vertices per side (perfect power of two plus one)

I'm thinking that some of the processing could be done in a shader to speed things up.  If I can wrap my head around a few more HLSL tutorials, I may be able to try such a technique in the near future.

For now, a simple screenshot: