The difference between Minecraft’s rendering technique and true voxel-rendering.

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The difference between Minecraft’s rendering technique and true voxel-rendering.

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Minecraft is actually using traditional textured polygon rendering, exactly like any other 3d game, it just happens to have a map layout based around giant cubes, which gives it sort of the same visual aesthetic as true voxel rendering.

“Voxel” is a contraction of “volumetric pixel”, which as the same might suggest, means building a scene out of individual points that have their own 3d coordinates, so in contrast to polygons which, can use a single element to draw a large flat surface, every object in the world must be constructed using thousands of individual points.

While this has some cool technical advantages over polygon rendering, it is not very efficient. Imagine you have a game world where the entire map is one giant jpeg image, only this jpeg doesn’t just have a single layer, but many, many layers stacked on top of each other.

This means that every square inch of your game world can be unique, and have true volume, but you need a supercomputer to approach anything near as realistic looking as what can be drawn traditionally using polygons, which are only used to describe the elements in a scene that you can actually see.

It also doesn’t help much that every modern GPU is designed specifically to push polygons, not voxels…

Basically, Voxels are good if you are having your brain scanned, but don’t offer enough advantages when you’re wanting to make real-time 3d engines