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Australian company showcases engine technology that boasts 100,000 times better graphics

Back in February last year, a video boasting unlimited detail technology was the talk of tech sites and games discussion forums the world over. The intriguing demonstration showed off what games would look like using unlimited point cloud data instead of the standard use of polygons. The narrator in the video claimed that this voxel-based technology was able to boost graphics fidelity by a thousand times. All the objects in the scene were made up of points or "atoms", and the innovation, they claim, was in how the huge amount of data in a scene was rendered via their point cloud search algorithm which searches to find only the points it needs to put on the screen.

Interestingly, the first iteration of their The Unlimited Detail engine first appeared as a proposal during the development of Rome: Total War by The Creative Assembly in 2004, but was ultimately rejected.

The Brisbane-based developers behind the demo went through a quiet spell, only re-emerging now under a new company name, Euclideon. They've also provided a new video demonstration of the technology a year on from the first time they showed it off, claiming this time a graphics boost of a hundred thousand. The new demo goes through the advantages of their unlimited detail tech over polygon rendering as before, although they do reveal that they have multiple shades of shadows (rather than two as seen in the demo), as well as animation capabilities. They're keeping other details quiet, however, for the meantime.

From the video description...

(Bruce Robert Dell, CEO, Euclideon) Hi everyone. We've been working very hard and we hope you like what we've made. This is just our 1 year report, after which we will probably go quiet again while we finish our work. This demo only shows what was ready at the time, we have a lot of really good stuff here but we are keeping it secret for now. (Yes grumpy forum people, we do have animation, but you'll just have to be patient.)

It's been a busy year, and all is going very well; we only have 9 people working here, but will be hiring a few more soon. We also have another piece of technology that isn't graphics, but does something game related that's also pretty clever, but we'll keep that secret for now.

While many comments in the youtube video and various discussion threads on internet forums cast doubt on the claims of the technology, it's worth mentioning that Euclideon has received a substantial amount of funding from the Australian Government to the tune of $1,984,652. In a press release by Euclideon dating from last May, the company expressed their plans to provide The Unlimited Detail engine technology for various platforms, including PC, game consoles, and mobile phones, and for many industries such as gaming, architecture, mining, and science. From the press release...

The Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, Senator Kim Carr said "I am pleased to help talented researchers and entrepreneurs capitalise on their good ideas. Commercialisation Australia helps our most innovative minds take their products to the market, creating opportunities for business and high-tech, high-wage jobs for Australians. I wish all grant recipients success and look forward to seeing their inventions make a difference to the lives of Australians and people around the world.”

Euclideon plans to release a SDK to games developers within the following months...

Submitted by souri on Tue, 02/08/11 - 6:05 PM Permalink

John Carmack has tweeted his thoughts on this tech...

Re Euclideon, no chance of a game on current gen systems, but maybe several years from now. Production issues will be challenging.

Submitted by souri on Wed, 03/08/11 - 6:36 AM Permalink

Esteemed Minecraft creator, Notch, says it's a scam...

They’re hyping this as something new and revolutionary because they want funding. It’s a scam. Don’t get excited.

Or, more correctly, get excited about voxels, but not about the snake oil salesmen.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 03/08/11 - 6:59 AM Permalink

Its rather depressing to know the government granted them so much money already for what is most likely a scam when in the meantime good hardworking aussie game devs who have established talent and huge ambitions have to go through so many hoops and usually don't get any government support. Do they even investigate what they throw their money at?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 03/08/11 - 11:25 AM Permalink

It seems the government is willing to give you money if you promise them the world, but if you go to them realistic goals of what you can achieve you get nowhere.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 03/08/11 - 12:08 PM Permalink

I wonder how the collision on all those "real" grains of sand is gonna make the performance? ;)

Submitted by Sean Edwards (not verified) on Wed, 03/08/11 - 1:34 PM Permalink

They've never claimed anything wrong, there are certainly some issues to be solved but I feel that this is the direction technology is heading and the companies that are involved in R&D now will be the leaders of the future.

Everyone criticized OnLive but it has since proving that the idea does work.

I wish them the very best of luck with the project, I feel they are well deserving of the money to develop technologies for the future.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 03/08/11 - 3:45 PM Permalink

I'm not sure how feasible this is but if you create the static worlds/levels using this technology, then add animations, physics and all moving parts using existing technologies you could have amazing detail in the worlds at least. Another point is hard drives are becoming very fast and cheap so I would dare say games would ship on external hard drives as opposed to blu-ray. If this technology works half as good as they say, give developers 2-3 years, ship titles on hard drive, and then we are talking some serious detail. No idea about consoles though. I see this as more a high end PC based thing at least for some time.

It will be very interesting to see what will be released in a "couple of months". We all know in game dev terms a couple of months means about 6 minim.

Either way I personally wish them all the best and I hope it is a success.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 03/08/11 - 4:25 PM Permalink

Not a scam. While it would be difficult to adapt this tech to current day gaming technology, they clearly aren't just targeting games. They are going after other applications in mining, architecture, etc. The diverse range of potential clients makes good business sense I think it shows that the government isn't quite as silly as some people seem to believe.

Submitted by souri on Fri, 05/08/11 - 11:08 AM Permalink

Ausgamers have an interview with the Euclideon CEO that goes a *tiny* bit further in explaining and responding to the queries about the tech, but it's still pretty vague.

AusGamers: How did you overcome the data storage and computational problems involved in dealing with trillions of points in space? It seems like tracking that much data would be very memory intensive, to say the least!

Euclideon: If we were making our world out of little tiny atoms and had to store x, y, z, colour etc… for each atom, then yes it would certainly use up a lot of memory. But instead we’ve found another way of doing it. I could say were using less memory than what the current polygon system uses, but if I did that I think I’d exceeded my quota of unbelievable claims for the day. So we'll leave that for future demonstrations.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 08/08/11 - 2:03 PM Permalink

Based on the interviews and reports linked here so far, either their claims are a mix of utter tripe and heavily padded marketing spin, or they're suffering from a conundrum of marketing their technology without giving away their trade secrets. It almost seems as though they're worried if they explain it better some other company will swoop in, take their idea and do it better before they've made any money.

If it's the latter, they should hurry and get used to the idea. The minute they release it someone will go poking through it. If developers want to use it they have to understand it.

If it's the former, they'll get exposed quickly enough. I do hope it's the latter, though.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 18/08/11 - 11:29 PM Permalink

doesn't use polygons to render objects would this make 3D programs like Maya and 3DMax redundant in the near future? I mean if the next generation of consoles were to use this technology it would certainly change how things are modelled and animated. Am I right or wrong? Thoughts?