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Real-time Terrain Deformation with Isosurface Algorithms
Blekinge Institute of Technology, Faculty of Computing, Department of Computer Science.
Blekinge Institute of Technology, Faculty of Computing, Department of Computer Science.
2019 (English)Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Background. Being able to modify virtual environments can create immersive experiences for video-game players. Storing data as volumetric scalar fields allows for highly modifiable 3D environments that can be converted into GPU-friendly triangles with isosurface algorithms. Using scalar fields and isosurface algorithms can be more computationally expensive and require more data than the more commonly used polygonal models.

Objectives. The aim of this thesis is to explore solutions to modifying real-time 3D environments with isosurface algorithms. This will be done in two parts. First in terms of observing how modern games deal with storing scalar fields, researching which isosurface algorithms are being used and how they are being used in games. The second part is to create an application and limit the data storage required while still running at a real-time speed.

Methods. There are two methods to achieve the aim. The first is to research and see which data structures and isosurface algorithms are being used in modern games and how they are utilized. The second method will be done by implementation. The implementation will use the GPU through compute shaders and use marching cubes as isosurface algorithm. It will utilize Christopher Dyken’s Histogram Pyramids for stream compaction. Two different versions will be implemented that differ in terms of what data types will be used for storage. The first using the data type char and the second int. Between these two versions, the runtime speed will be measured and compared on two different hardware configurations.

Results. Finding good data on what algorithms games use is difficult. Modern games are using scalar fields in many different ways: Some allow almost complete modification of terrain, others only use it for a 3D environment. For data storage, octrees and chunks are two common ways to store the fields. Dual Contouring appears to be the primary isosurface algorithm being used based on the researched games. The results of the implementation were very fast and usable in real time environments for destruction of terrain on a large scale. The less storage intensive variation of this implementation(char) gave faster results on modern hardware but the opposite(int) was true on older hardware.

Conclusions. Modifying scalar field terrain is done at a very large scale in modern games. The choice of using Dual Contouring or Marching Cubes depends on the use-case. For areas where sharp features can be important Dual Contouring is the preferred choice. Likely for these reasons Dual Contouring was found to be a popular choice in the studied games. For other areas, like many types of terrain, Marching Cubes is very fast, as can be seen in the implementation. By using the char version of the implementation, interacting with the environment in real-time is possible at high frame-rates.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019.
Keywords [en]
Isosurface, Marching Cubes, Terrain Deformation, OpenGL, Compute Shader
National Category
Computer Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:bth-18323OAI: oai:DiVA.org:bth-18323DiVA, id: diva2:1333567
Subject / course
DV1478 Bachelor Thesis in Computer Science
Educational program
DVGSP Game Programming
Supervisors
Examiners
Available from: 2019-07-25 Created: 2019-07-01 Last updated: 2019-07-25Bibliographically approved

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