Author Topic: Upcoming public alpha  (Read 28142 times)

Offline Matt

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Upcoming public alpha
« on: April 25, 2008, 02:16:29 PM »
Information about the upcoming public alpha

Next week we will release an optional update for licensed pre-purchasers of Terragen 2. It is currently in final testing and when it is available we will make an announcement both here and by email to those who have subscribed to receive email announcements from us.

Please read this article before deciding whether you wish to use this update.

This is an "unstable" build, and updating to this build is optional. The renderer is known to occasionally suffer from errors and may fail to complete successfully. Most of these problems are likely to be caused by the changes we have made for multi-threading or by the renovated ray-tracing engine. There may also be inconsistencies with cloud lighting and possibly global illumination generally. We do not recommend using this build for final production rendering. Instead please use our last stable build: 1.9.04.1.

There are, however a large number of new features and bug fixes which you may find beneficial, so please read on...


Summary


The renderer is now parallelized to take advantage of multiple cores or processors.

There are still some stability issues with multi-threaded rendering. You should not make any changes to a project while a render is in progress as this can have unpredictable results, some causing Terragen to crash. (In previous builds a change to the project might affect the rendered result but was a legitimate way to test changes to some parameters.)

The ray-tracing engine has been renovated to improve accuracy and stability and to make it more efficient at high resolutions.

The Water Shader can now render transparency with depth-based light absorption and volumetric lighting under the surface.

Unified Atmosphere Integration. This fixes rendering problems at the horizon, intersections between multiple cloud layers and intersections between clouds and terrain.

GI cache lookup is now much faster. This improves the speed of the final pass in scenes that use the Enviro Light and have high depth complexity (e.g. with vegetation).

Cloud Layer V2 properly occludes bright background objects such as the sun

3D Previews and shader/node previews can now be opened in separate windows. They can be opened in various ways from different parts of the interface; see the complete changes log below.

New 3D Preview Navigation panel, either embedded in previews or opened in separate window from the View menu. You need to focus a preview to control it with the navigation panel in a separate window.

Added ability to change cameras in previews, including using preset cameras and camera nodes not attached to render nodes.

Many other user interface enhancements and bug fixes. See the complete changes log below.


Complete changes log and multi-threading guidelines


The renderer is now parallelized to take advantage of multiple cores or processors. It determines the number of available logical processors on the host computer and renders that many buckets/tiles synchronously. You can prevent this from happening or limit the number of buckets to be rendered synchronously by changing the "maximum threads" setting in the Render node settings. The default maximum is 16, but the renderer should never try to render more buckets in synch than there are logical processors. If the maximum is set to 0, bucket rendering will take place in the application's main thread rather than a separate thread, which may be useful for debugging purposes, but should render in a similar time as with 1.

If Terragen is failing to detect the correct number of cores on your computer (shown on the About box), you can increase the "minimum threads" parameter in the Render node settings. However, Terragen will never exceed "maximum threads" even if minimum is higher.

The GUI also responds more quickly during multi-threaded rendering.

There are still some stability issues with multi-threaded rendering. You should not make any changes to a project while a render is in progress as this can have unpredictable results, some causing Terragen to crash. (In previous builds a change to the project might affect the rendered result but was a legitimate way to test changes to some parameters.)

The ray-tracing engine has been renovated to improve accuracy and stability and to make it more efficient at high resolutions. This potentially affects ray-traced shadows, reflections, transparency, GI pre-pass and GI surface details. There are some situations where the new renderer is slower, but it should show improved stability and speed at high resolutions/detail levels. Some unwanted rendering artefacts have been reduced or eliminated entirely. There may be room for future optimisations.

The Water Shader can now render transparency with depth-based light absorption and volumetric lighting under the surface, as long as the camera is above the water. The colour and density of the volumetric lighting can be modulated using shaders or functions.

Other ray-tracing bugs have been fixed:
    Scaling and rotation of populated (instanced) objects are now traced correctly.
    Fixed some depth/occlusion problems between non-subdivisible surfaces (e.g. imported objects) and subdivisible surfaces (e.g. planet).
    Reflections and GI rays are now able to see non-shadow-casting objects. Exceptions are the sun's disc and the visible sphere of light sources (their contributions should be handled by specular highlights).
    Disablement of smooth normals now works in ray tracing of non-subdivisible objects (e.g. imported objects).

Fixed a major bug which was responsible for some crashes at the end of the pre pass and possibly elsewhere.

If errors occur in a render thread, TG attempts to display an error and terminate the render safely rather than allow the thread to crash. This may not always work.

Prevented a crash upon deleting a cloud layer or atmosphere (bug 59).

Unified Atmosphere Integration. This fixes rendering problems at the horizon, intersections between multiple cloud layers and intersections between clouds and terrain.
Note: In many scenes this change also has the side effect of reducing the number of atmosphere/cloud samples that are actually rendered, reducing quality but also reducing render times. Therefore you may need to increase settings when rendering old projects.

GI cache lookup is now much faster. This improves the speed of the final pass in scenes that use the Enviro Light and have high depth complexity (e.g. with vegetation).

Some other changes to GI light cache and cloud layer acceleration cache.

Cloud Layer V2 properly occludes bright background objects such as the sun (cloud opacity threshold depends on background luminance).

Improved memory handling in atmospheres and clouds, which may improve stability and speed.

Buckets/tiles are evenly sized throughout a render or cropped render.

Disabled unique variations in populator because it has not been properly implemented yet.

Removed a potential delay of up to one second after the completion of each bucket (tile) in a render.

Fixed a bug which would cause invisible (transparent) parts of surfaces to become visible in dense atmosphere.

The Shader Preview for atmospheres now only shows the individual atmosphere shader without showing all other input atmospheres.

Made some corrections to win_command_line.txt and mac_command_line.txt.

Added new 3D Preview Navigation panel. Open from the the View menu. You need to focus a preview to control it with the navigation panel. You can set the movement step sizes used for the slowest navigation speed in the Navigation Panel preferences.

The Navigation Panel is also available "embedded" in previews that support navigation. You can toggle it on or off. You can choose whether it is shown or not in the Navigation Panel preferences.

Library and Content preferences panel now responds to the Reset Panel button.

New custom list implementation on Windows. It shouldn't suffer from the previous drawing problems, such as flicker or disappearing items. Drag and drop is not yet supported. As this is the first release with the new lists, please report any problems you come across.

Reduced the frequency of crashes when opening projects. It may still happen, but it should happen much less often.

Objects in the 3D Preview now show their name and node type in tooltips when you mouse over them.

Added ability to change cameras in previews, including using preset cameras and camera nodes not attached to render nodes.

Windows only: Improved drawing of text only lists.

3D Preview Location window now also displays camera position.

Fixed a problem where the 3D Preview would appear stretched or be shown too large and have the top and bottom clipped by the edges of the view. This was particularly apparent on the Mac when using 3D Previews in separate windows, but was also occasionally a problem on Windows.

You can now group nodes by selecting them and using Group from the Edit menu (see menu for key shortcut).

3D Previews and shader/node previews can now be opened in separate windows. To open the shader/node preview, right click on the small shader/node preview on the left side of the main window. There is also a button on the parameter views for shaders and heightfields which opens a new shader preview window.

Shader/node previews in separate windows now have much the same controls as 3D Previews.

Added a Focus Point button to the preview controls.

Changed Set Camera button to have an icon rather than text.

Added Reset Camera button to the preview controls.

Previews in separate windows display which camera they're using on their tab.

Render window now shows finished renders at full size on completion.

Added a context menu to the Render window which has zoom related items on it.

Tooltips in network view display name and type on nodes under the mouse on all Windows versions except Vista (still bugs to be fixed there).

Many menus, for example the node selection menus, are now sorted in alphabetical order, to make it easier to find what you're looking for.

Mouse wheel zooming now works in 3D Preview and heightfield/shader previews.

Parameters with "color" in their names are renamed to use "colour" in most, if not all, non-deprecated nodes. Old projects and clip files will load without problems.

Improved navigation speed when camera is less than 500 metres above the terrain: when very close to the terrain the speed is no longer reduced as much as in previous versions.

Drag-and-drop rearrangement of items in the node lists for terrain and shaders. Currently there is the risk of making circular links and causing a crash (as with the Move Up/Down buttons). It may also be slow when you have a lot of nodes.

The crop region is now drag resizable in the 3D Preview.

Various new items added to various old and new context menus.

You can use drag/marquee selection to select nodes in the network view.

View windows have new tabstrip controls. You can tab between panels in View windows, much as you would in a browser. See the Mouse and Key Settings dialog for the keys.

The content path preferences are now hooked into the back end in some cases.

Addition of Window menu, which allows you select any currently open non-floating window and bring it forward.

Added new Rendering preferences panel. This allows you to choose a notification method on rendering completion, as well as to suppress the screen saver or system sleep during rendering.

Mac only: When you open a TGD file from the Finder you are now prompted to save changes to the currently opened project if need be. In reality, you will probably get prompted to do this every time you open a file, until TG2's change tracking gets a bit better.

Mac only: Fixed a problem where clicking on the minimise/restore button of the network view when it was maximised would show the 3D preview again, but the 3D preview would then be maximised and hide the network view. This should now work as expected.

The 3D Preview and the Network View have close, maximize and minimize buttons.

Fixed a problem where grouped nodes were no longer part of their groups when a new network window was opened (bug 58).

Fixed a problem with menus being leaked. This very probably has been causing the problems on Windows with the UI locking up, and odd flashing etc. The same leak was occurring on OS X, but it does not cause the same sorts of problems.

Fixed a bug that was causing problems with the "check for updates" dialog, which could potentially effect both Windows and Mac versions (bug 55).

Mac only: Change the way text renders on the Mac in the OpenGL previews to use the lower quality but quicker method, which should improve interaction speeds particularly with complex networks.

New functions:
    Bias Scalar, Gain Scalar, Smooth Step Scalar, Hard Step Scalar (replaces Step Scalar).
    Degrees to Radians and Radians to Degrees

Step Scalar is removed from the functions menu because its parameterisation and behaviour are inconsistent with other functions. Hard Step Scalar should be used instead. Existing projects that use Step Scalar will continue to work.

Errors and Warnings notification area at bottom right of main window now dynamically resizes.

Windows only: Improved Errors & Warnings window layout.

Windows only: Fixed a problem with text measurement in message boxes which caused them to sometimes be too wide with a lot of extra space between the right extreme of the text and the right window border.

If application is quit or the main window is closed quit during rendering, Terragen asks before stopping the render.

Command line -ox flag now works

The notification that a license key file has been copied for safekeeping is not displayed if the -hide or -exit flags are used on the command line.

Windows only: Made some improvements to the command line parsing in tgd.exe (tgdcli.exe was OK).

Corrected problems relating to objects' heading/elevation/distance parameters when loading from projects or clips. They no longer introduce unwanted non-integer position values (eg. very small non-zero values were seen on the planet position).

Default project:
    Background no longer casts shadows (used to be needed for correct ray tracing).
    Cleaned up the planet's position values.
    default.xml does not specify output filename or extra output filename, allowing platform-specific filenames to be chosen at runtime.
    Reduced default haze density to 1.5 (was 4) and increased default haze exp height to 3000 (was 2000).

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« Last Edit: April 25, 2008, 02:19:26 PM by Matt »
Just because milk is white doesn't mean that clouds are made of milk.