Sundog Blog

Posted by Frank Kane on 17th September 2014

SilverLining’s 3D Clouds Get Improved Lighting

Improved cumulus shading in the SilverLining Sky & 3D Cloud SDK.The latest version of the SilverLining Sky, 3D Cloud, and Weather SDK (available at our evaluation page) features improved shaders for cumulus clouds – both the legacy and high-resolution variants. Update today for our most realistic-looking clouds yet! Licensed customers with up-to-date maintenance plans also have access to the latest source code.

We added more detail and smoothness to the lighting of individual cloud puffs, which gives them a much more realistic look and sense of depth. The change is subtle, but we think it pushes things just over that mental threshold where the clouds look truly real.

We also added a feature to automatically darken clouds as the cloud coverage gets larger. No more bright white cumulus clouds when you should be seeing overcast conditions!

We also further tweaked the optical properties of all cumuloform cloud types.

Posted by Frank Kane on 15th September 2014

SilverLining Volumetric Clouds for Havok Vision 2014.1

Havok Vision / SilverLining IntegrationOur integration kit for the SilverLining Sky, 3D Cloud, and Weather SDK is now available for the Havok Vision 2014.1 game engine! This is an official partner integration, evaluated by Havok.

If you’re using Havok Vision, just head to our evaluation page. You’ll first need to install an evaluation of the SilverLining SDK, followed by the SilverLining / Havok integration kit.

Our integration with Havok features vForge integration, dynamic skies for any time and location, and 3D volumetric clouds and precipitation for any weather conditions. It supports both forward and deferred rendering modes in Vision.

Our integration for 2014.1 works with both the game and simulation editions of Havok Vision. Integrations for earlier versions of Havok Vision are also available upon request.

Posted by Frank Kane on 4th September 2014

Sundog Named a Top Simulation & Training Company

Sundog Software is a 2014 Top Simulation & Training Company.Sundog Software has been named a Top Simulation and Training Company for 2014 by Military Training Technology magazine. This puts us in some very good company!

This is the sixth year running that Sundog Software has achieved this distinction, as a result of the wide reach our environmental effect technology has in the simulation and training industry. We’re always spotting our Triton Ocean SDK and SilverLining Sky & 3D Cloud SDK in use in unexpected places, and it’s helping make training more realistic and immersive for countless real-world applications.

Posted by Frank Kane on 27th August 2014

New Visual Improvements in Triton’s 3D Ocean

We’ve updated our Triton demo video with our most recent visual tweaks in Triton 2.96 – check it out:

If our simulated ocean looks more realistic now, but you can’t quite put your finger on why – well, that’s what we were going for. There are just a lot of little things that add up to more photorealism with our 3D ocean technology:

  • Improved water color
  • Additional wave detail, both near and far from the camera
  • Improved appearance of foam
  • Denser spray effects
  • A new “double refraction” shader effect that gives the water a bit more depth

We also let you select the level of detail you want in our wave simulation at runtime, so you can choose your own balance between performance and visual quality. You may select from “good”, “better”, and “best” quality settings both when creating your Triton::Ocean object, and you can change this setting at runtime using the new Ocean::SetQuality() API.

All of this comes with a minimal performance cost, so you may update with confidence. Enjoy!

Posted by Frank Kane on 8th August 2014

SkyMaxx Pro 2 for X-Plane Features SilverLining Clouds

We’re proud to announce the release of SkyMaxx Pro 2.0 in partnership with MaxxXP. SkyMaxx Pro is an add-on for the X-Plane flight simulator, which brings 3D clouds, lens flare, cloud shadows, and crepuscular rays effects to X-Plane using our SilverLining 3D Cloud, Sky, and Weather SDK.

Here it is in action:

X-Plane and SkyMaxx Pro 2.0 may both be purchased at X-Aviation. We’re quite happy with how it turned out, and we hope it adds to the realism and enjoyment of X-Plane flight simmers around the world!

Posted by Frank Kane on 16th July 2014

Hi-Res Clouds Look Even Better in SilverLining 3.009

SilverLining's hi-res cumulus congestus clouds in SkyMaxx Pro 2.0 for X-Plane.
The SilverLining Sky, 3D Cloud, and Weather SDK received big visual improvements with version 3.009. Our CUMULUS_CONGESTUS_HI_RES cloud type looks better than ever, and we’ve also made a lot of improvements to the cloud shadow maps returned by Atmosphere::GetShadowMap().

Seeing is believing – click the image above showing SilverLining 3.009 integrated into the SkyMaxx Pro 2.0 add-on for the X-Plane flight simulator. Note the crisp cloud shadows on the terrain, and the high level of detail of the clouds. We’ve invented a hybrid cloud rendering technique that combines the photorealism of large billboard-based clouds with the 3D volumetric feel of SilverLining’s cloud engine.

You can appreciate the 3D nature of the clouds better when you fly through them, which this video (courtesy of Dave Roberts) shows nicely:

Posted by Frank Kane on 16th July 2014

Underwater God Rays in Triton 2.89

Underwater god rays, or shafts of light, in the Triton Ocean SDK 2.89Version 2.89 of the Triton Ocean SDK is out, featuring underwater “god rays” effects (AKA shafts of light, or crepuscular rays.)

Just call Ocean::EnableGodRays(true), and animated light shafts will be visible when you’re below the water surface and looking toward the refracted sunlight direction. Our god ray effect is tied to the actual 3D wave motion on the water surface, so its animation will match the wave conditions being simulated. It also honors the underwater visibility being simulated, which will control how deep you can see the rays from. The effect is fast, and highly configurable using settings in the resources/Triton.config file. We used realistic values for underwater light scattering by default.

It’s just an extra touch of realism, as we focus more on underwater views. We also improved the specular lighting effect from the sun on the water surface when viewed from below in Triton 2.89.

Here’s a short video of it in action!

Posted by Frank Kane on 16th July 2014

Triton Oceans for Unity Pro Documentation

About 90% of the support questions we receive for Triton Oceans for Unity Pro are answered in our documentation – but not everyone knows where to find it. We’re copying it here so Google will be able to find it, at least!
Continue Reading

Posted by Frank Kane on 1st July 2014

Triton makes Develop’s “Top 100 Tech in Games”

The Develop 100 Top Tech in GamesDevelop, a UK-based game developer publication, has published its “Develop 100: The Top 100 Tech in Games” list – and included for the first time is our own Triton Ocean SDK!

According to Develop, “The Develop 100 Tech List features profiles on the top 100 game development tech, as voted for by CTOs at the biggest studios, indies and other industry experts.”

We’re thrilled to be listed among the biggest names in game development. More and more game developers have been discovering Triton’s fast, realistic water, 3D waves, and wakes. It’s realistic enough for training with the US Navy, and fast and extensible enough for games. Triton integrates with Unity, Havok Vision, Torque3D, and any OpenGL or DirectX based engine you have source code for.

Posted by Frank Kane on 28th June 2014

Triton Now Uses CUDA 6 – Why This Matters

Designed for CUDAVersion 2.88 of the Triton Ocean SDK is available now, with lots of improvements. One big change is that we are now building Triton against NVidia’s CUDA Toolkit version 6.0 instead of version 4.2. This fixes a bug in 4.2 that was affecting our customers who were using more than one Triton::Ocean object at once.

CUDA is NVidia’s framework for general purpose GPU computing – it’s what lets us compute tens of thousands of waves at hundreds of frames per second on NVidia-based systems. (If you’re on an AMD, Intel, or other system – don’t worry; Triton has fallbacks on those platforms that don’t require CUDA.)

However, this change has a few implications for our customers:

  • CUDA acceleration requires a NVidia graphics driver that includes CUDA 6.0 support – that means at least driver version 331.62 needs to be installed on your system, and your end users’ systems, in order for CUDA to be used.
  • If you are debugging with Visual Studio and have it set up to break on exceptions, you’ll end up breaking in the debugger three times at startup. This is because NVidia’s CUFFT library throws a “first chance exception” in Visual Studio when it is initialized, and we set it up three times. First chance exceptions are special Microsoft-specific exceptions that cannot be caught, so all you can do is hit “continue” each time or disable breaking on exceptions in your Visual Studio settings. NVidia has said this exception is safe to ignore.
  • If you are building Triton from source code, you will need to un-install the CUDA 4.2 Toolkit and install the CUDA 6 Toolkit instead.
  • CUDA 6 no longer supports Visual Studio 2005. If you’re stuck on this version of Visual Studio, CUDA acceleration won’t be available.

We haven’t measured any performance impact – positive or negative – going from CUDA 4.2 to CUDA 6.0, but it’s something we had to do in order to make Triton as stable as it can be.

If you encounter problems, please let us know. We are keeping copies of the 2.87 Triton SDK’s built with CUDA 4.2, available on request, just in case people need them.