Having taken the temperature of fresh votes from the last week, it was a pretty rapid and clear victory for the Rendering Engine Overhaul scoring over 7000 to the next nearest with 2078 for Terrain Import Maker. What you will probably not know is that I have been concerning myself with both performance and visuals R&D for the last month, and have been researching the practical migration of the engine from DirectX 9 to DirectX 11. I had originally guessed that this process would take up to 6 months, but thanks to our recent conversion to C++ and some internal support from the team, I think now is the right time to upgrade the graphics engine. To this end, I have moved the top voted feature to 'in development' to sit alongside Volumetric Particles, which means your particle effects are going to be supercharged with some DirectX 11 GPU power!
The ramifications of switching to DirectX 11 are pretty awesome. Here are some of the highlights:
* Improved performance thanks to a multi-core dispatch system (i.e. faster games, possibly +20%)
* Substantially faster loading times (all shaders can be precompiled - up to 40 seconds saved on startup of IDE & EXE)
* Prepares foundation for modern visual effects (PBR, HDR, Better Lighting, and Shadows)
* Throws off the shackles and stigma associated with an old DirectX 9 engine
Now some calming words for those in a state of PANIC. Don't Panic! The upgrade will not affect your projects (except to speed them up), and the new shaders will be upgraded to match the current ones so your games will look almost identical to how the old engine rendered it. All your assets you own, those from the DLC and the Asset Stores will continue to work normally now, and in the future, no worries. You WILL require a DirectX 11 graphics card, but these have been sold since 2009 so it's highly likely you already have one, just type your graphic card into PassMark to find out. Here is a link to the first ever DX11 card sold which came out just prior to Windows 7 if I recall correctly:
Combined with the engine overhaul will be full support for rigged and animated FBX models, giving you access to a larger marketplace for game making content and support for PBR rendered models for a higher level of quality. I am already in talks with content creators familiar with FBX and PBR to ensure the GameGuru import process is smooth and works 'out of the box' for most of the files you might download from the popular asset sites. You will still be able to use the Classic assets in the new PBR rendering mode, but naturally, they will not be designed for that purpose and may require some tweaking if you are using them alongside PBR content. As part of the PBR work, some extra techniques will be employed such as light probes to gather the required colors from the scene for indirect lighting, and perhaps some planar reflection rendering for realistic puddles, mirrors and other surfaces that would require high-resolution reflectivity from some flat PBR material choices (i.e. metal / chrome).
Once the upgrade is complete, I will add a number of visual effects to the voting board so you can continue to choose from a menu of cool DirectX 11 techniques, but the crux of THIS update is to upgrade the foundation and achieve a much higher level of visual quality for those users who want to use FBX and PBR content as opposed to X and DNS content from the Classic stock media.
Once more. Don't Panic! You can continue to develop your projects, create and use the content you are using now, enjoy full backward support with the previous build, no feature or format is discontinued. You only need to PANIC if you or your users presently own a DirectX 9 only graphics card. I checked the Steam stats and only 0.5% of users have a DX9 only card, and 9% have DX10 only cards (http://store.steampowered.com/hwsurvey/videocard/). This means 87.5% of users should have no worries.
Now that 9% is of concern to me, and I want you to post here if you fall into this gap where you card does not support DirectX 11. Ideally, I do not want to support two versions of DirectX (small team) so let me know your story if you are DX9 or DX10 bound. I can of course support both, perhaps for a spell, but this, of course, means developing slows as any 'graphical' features would be duplicated across two different shader and engine paths.
One of the recurring criticisms leveled at GameGuru on Steam has been the poor graphics and the lackluster performance. Reversing this perception will likely be the hardest task in 2017, but upgrading to DirectX 11 is a mighty step in the right direction and bring with it the ability to import AAA content. As usual, I will post my progress in the main forum sticky and keep you informed of the latest developments. I have already done quite a bit of prep work so expect a good read when I post the juicy details on Monday. For now, thanks for reading this far, and enjoy the May update which goes out later today.
PC SPECS: Windows 8.1 Pro 64-bit, Intel Core i7-5930K (PASSMARK:13645), NVIDIA Geforce GTX 980 GPU (PASSMARK:9762) , 32GB RAM