DX 10.1 enables better performance

Exclusive interview about Stormrise DX 10.1 support

PCGH interviewed Sega's Artem Kulakov, the Lead Designer of Stormrise, about the support of DirectX 10.1 in the strategy game. He told us that the integration of DX10.1 enables them to receive a better visual quality.
Artem Kulakov is the Lead Designer of Stormrise
Artem Kulakov is the Lead Designer of Stormrise [Source: view picture gallery]
PCGH: Although still quite unusual, especially for the strategy genre, you announced support for DX10.1 in Stormrise. Why did you decide to integrate the new API into the engine?
Artem Kulakov: Stormrise has been designed for DirectX 10 and Vista right from the start. Integrating DX10.1 was an opportunity to increase performance and improve visual quality even further.

Stormrise [Source: view picture gallery]
PCGH: What were the technical advantages of DX10.1's extended feature set? In what way does DX10.1 in particular optimize or simplify the rendering process of Stormrise?
Artem Kulakov: We are currently working with AMDs engineers to implement the following DX10.1 features:
• DX10.1 allows you to read back from a Multi-Sampled Anti-Aliased (MSAA) depth buffer, which means it is no longer necessary to render depth out separately. This means that the current Multiple Render Target (MRT) setup can be bypassed for DX10.1 capable HW, and therefore yielding a performance gain.
• DX10.1 introduced fixed sample patterns for MSAA modes, and also allows the Pixel Shader (PS) to output the MSAA Coverage Mask. This enables us to gain full MSAA Alpha Tested geometry, leading to higher visual quality.
• DX10.1 adds a new instruction called Gather, which can gather 4 texture samples at once, at a much lower cost than issuing 4 separate Sample instructions. Consequently we are able to optimize our shadow map technique, and even shoot for higher quality.
• The Gather instruction will also allow us to optimize our Screen Space Ambient Occlusion (SSAO) algorithm - again producing a higher image quality.

Author: Kristoffer Keipp (Sep 18, 2008)

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