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John Carmack gives graphic cards a going over

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John Carmack, the co-founder of id Software, top code creator and man behind the trail-blazing Doom shoot-em-up game has been talking to Voodooextreme.com and provided some grand info on where 3D gaming is going.

It's pretty techy stuff - do you know your BSP based visibility algorithms from your pre-computed PVS? - but this is a man who knows what he's talking about and if you're caught up in this market or are just an obsessive gamer, this interview series is worth a look.

For us, the most interesting bit about the latest instalment is what John has to say about graphics cards and what they can and can't do with his vision of the next generation Doom game.

Here's a short extract: "The ideal card for Doom hasn't shipped yet, but there are a couple good candidates just over the horizon. The existing cards stack up like this:

Nvidia GeForce[2]: We are using these as our primary development platform. I play some tricks with the register combiners to get a bit better quality than would be possible with a generic dual texture accelerator.

ATI Radeon: All features work properly, but I needed to disable some things in the driver. I will be working with ATI to make sure everything works as well as possible. The third texture unit will allow the general lighting path to operate a bit more efficiently than on a GeForce. Lacking the extra math of the register combiners, the specular highlights don't look as good as on a GeForce.

3DFX Voodoo4/5, S3 Savage4/2000, Matrox G400/450, ATI Rage128, Nvidia TNT[2]: Much of the visual lushness will be missing due to the lack of bump mapping, but the game won't have any gaping holes. Most of these except the V5 probably won't have enough fill-rate to be very enjoyable.

3DFX Voodoo3, S3 Savage3D/MX, Matrox G200, etc: Without a stencil buffer, much of the core capabilities of the renderer are just lost. The game will probably run, but it won't be anything like we intend it to be viewed. Almost certainly not enough fill rate."

If this kind of thing is causing you to salivate, go here for the full piece. The final part of the interview has also just been put up on Voodooextreme's site.

Related Link

Part 2 of John Carmack interview
Voodoo Extreme

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