Published on May 29th, 2012 | by Kamran Draeger16
Euclideon “still alive” with new Footage
It has been almost a year since the public got their first look at Euclideon, a graphics engine created by a man named Bruce Dell, who promised “Unlimited Detail Real-Time Rendering”. Seeing how this was coming from a man nobody had really heard of before, with no background in game development, the initial reaction was skeptical. The entire idea seemed too good to be true and many believed the new technology was a scam. However, in the months that followed, Dell granted a deeper insight into how the engine actually functioned, gaining him credibility from journalists and industry experts.
Months later, with no updates from the Australian company, I reached out to Euclideon CEO Bruce Dell, who filled us in on the current status of their project and the team behind it.
For those who are not familiar with Euclideon, it is “a new way to run unlimited amounts of point cloud data in real time”. Dell explained, “Normally 3D graphics are made out of flat shapes called polygons. Point cloud data is where you make everything out of little atoms. Other systems have been made that can run 3D objects made from atoms, but our system is many times faster and can run atom based graphics in unlimited quantities. We have been using 64 atoms per cubic millimetre so our graphics are of a much higher detail, than what most people are used to.”
Even though the numbers are staggering at first, running the engine is a fascinating concept in itself, as it does not require the 3D functions of a GPU. The trick behind this technology is that although there are countless atoms within an object, there are only so many pixels on a screen we can look at. By displaying only one atom per pixel Euclideon becomes highly efficient and therefore simple to run. Though, Dell went on to claim, “I have noticed our stubborn self-independence is starting to crack and I think we settled for a GPU sky box last week. I’m sure in time we will make more use of the GPU in many ways.”
At the moment the team working on Euclideon consists of 23 people, amongst which there are mostly “refugees from the game industry”. “What I mean is, over the last 2 years all major games companies in Australia closed down, and so we managed to pick up the best talent in the country. It’s a really nice team and we are all good friends. Our work place is a bit different from most; it has lots of plants waterfalls and glass columns filled with water and bubbles,” the CEO said.
In the 2011 “Island” demo we were shown a vast landscape with models created either from scratch or by scanning-in objects from the real world. What many criticised was the lack of actual animations found in the video. According to Dell, the problem with creating several features, such as physics, deformable environments, animation etc. is that current middleware is simply not built to function with the atomic structure of the engine’s models. “Our animation efforts have been focused on the ability to convert animated polygon objects into unlimited detail objects with no lost information,” he elaborated. “Its quite difficult but I’m sure it will work in the end. As for physics, these are atoms not polygons so a lot of physics and deform-ability has to be recreated. We would prefer not to talk about things until we are happy enough to show them. The truth is we are working with converting movie quality animation and lighting from polygons to deformable point cloud.”
Another concern by the general public during the first reveal was the overall repetition of objects in the demo. Dell explained, “I suppose our big problem for a while was that we had so much power, but no content. Perhaps you noticed that Euclideon Island had to repeat the same objects over and over because one artist can’t make everything different. That problem has been fixed now because we have been doing a lot more work with laser scanners. You can make a lot more content when you start importing real environments from the real world.”
One of the highlights in the 2011 video, was a stone that was fully scanned and included as a 3D model. Dell shared one of their latest scans with us, to demonstrate how far their “unlimited detail rendering” has come. Needless to say, even he admitted, “If you look closely you can see a few problems, but I’m glad that their are problems, it shows that the area really is computer generated. If it was perfect I am quite sure we would be accused of filming a box of toys with a video camera.” You can check out a short clip taken from the engine at the bottom of the article.
As mentioned when Euclideon was first revealed, this technology is something they plan to utilise not only for video games but also scientific research. Supposedly there will be “some Euclideon products released in non-games related industries over the next few months”. “There turned out to be a lot of demand for our capabilities across quite a few industries, so we have tried to put that demand in order and address each area one at a time. As soon as we have revenue coming in, we can expand our team into different departments to deal with each industry,” Dell told us.
“I think it’s fair to say that people are starting to accept that the future of 3D graphics is atomic,” he finally pointed out. “Polygons will still be around a bit longer as an editing tool, but I don’t know how much longer they will remain for visualisation. So many games today have polygons that are so small that they are only a few pixels in size. When polygons become smaller than the 3 corner points that make them, there is no point in treating them like triangles anymore and it makes sense to use atoms instead.”
On the question, when we will get our next look at Euclideon powered gaming, all Dell responds is, “Well there is soooooo much I’d love to say about that, but I’m afraid that I’m sworn to silence at this point in time. My apologies, but I think you’ll find it worth the wait.”