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What is Atomontage Engine?

AE is a hybrid 3D engine. It features a data model that allows for a very efficient definition of volumetric geometry. It recognizes voxels, points, particles and polygons. It's generators can create and modify voxel-based geometry using procedural and CSG-based methods. AE also features a hybrid renderer and a physics simulator.

Why voxels?

The voxel-based representation is an extremely efficient volumetric representation. Voxel-based geometry is easy to process and compress. It can also be modified easily. Other volumetric representations either take much more space or cannot be used easily for representing destructible geometry.

Voxels take too much space. Scenes you show in videos would take terabytes or more, right? And less than one bit per voxel is bullshit!

Nope. Unique hi-res fully volumetric geometry takes a lot of space. But most usually not all information has to be stored uniformly. Also most of the real-world information that is encoded in the voxel geometry is redundant and can be compressed using lossless and lossy compression methods. In other words, while we can't store any unique information in less then a bit, any information can be compressed further using a suitable lossy compression method. This allows us to achieve a much more efficient storage of the relevant part of the information.

Voxels cannot be animated because octrees cannot be updated efficiently. How can be animations done in a voxel engine?

Octrees can be updated quite efficiently but I wouldn't do that on a per-frame basis. While real-time resampling of some geometry can be useful in few specific cases I guess that on the current hardware no sane developer would do that in a video-game with a high-resolution model.

Thankfully, animations don't really require updating of the graph used. There are already few documented methods for voxel object animation (you can google them) and these are working in real-time.

Btw AE is not strictly octree-based.

Current polygon engines are so good that there's no chance that voxel engines will replace them. Why would anyone waste his time developing a voxel engine?

A similar claim could have been made about 20 years ago. In that time the performance and picture quality of ray-casting engines was way superior to that of polygon engines. Now look at the current top 3D engines and find a ray-casting based one.

Current polygon engines often feature a voxel model of some of the scene geometry. That model cannot be replaced with a polygon model without crippling the functionality of the engine. With time more and more features will require fully volumetric geometry. For example polygons are not suitable for complex physics simulation. They're flat and cannot be used for modeling real-world objects effectively. That's the reason why polygon engines have their days counted.

Is AE similar to UDT?

If the following is true
  • UDT was designed and implemented as a (CPU-based) renderer
  • a "search algorithm" in UDT is important to achieve decent rendering performance
  • instancing is an important feature of UDT
  • UDT compresses data to 5-20% of the original (scan) data size
then AE is very different from UDT most notably because
  • AE was designed as a physics simulator (that might be the key difference)
  • AE can access almost any data present in memory quickly with no or very little searching required and doesn't rely on any optimized search-friendly structure (extremely important in a massive physics simulation)
  • AE is designed to work with unique geometry because instancing is almost useless in a physics-based virtual world
  • AE compresses data to anywhere between 0 and 100% (or more) of the original scan, hand-made or generated data size; all can be done on the fly.

It's not possible to render so many voxels in real-time on the current hardware and all of your videos are fake!

What sense would it make to release fake videos? What you see in the videos from 2010 was AE performing in real-time, all recorded using a camcorder. Currently you can google at least 4 renderers (not game engines) capable to render atom-based geometry at high detail in real-time (but I'd bet there are up to 10 such or even more).

Rendering hi-res atom-based geometry isn't difficult anymore. It wasn't actually a big problem to achieve real-time performance with such geometry some 7 years ago. But a renderer and a game engine are two different things. I don't know of any other engine that would be capable to provide all of the required functionality to make a video-game actually work on a home computer. AE might be the first such technology that can provide the key functionality to a complex product (but there's also the Voxelstein game powered by the Voxlap engine it's rather old but very interesting).

How many people are developing AE?


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