Alex at SIGGRAPH 2015: "Learning from Failure"


This week I travelled to sunny LA to attend the annual SIGGRAPH conference, a meeting of the film and game graphics meganerds. It's a wonderful conference for someone like me, because you get to see loads of inspiring stuff from outside the realm of games. However one of the fixtures of the conference is the 'Advances in Realtime Rendering' course, where games people share their latest graphics techniques. It's got a pretty amazing pedigree over the last 10 years - it's the place where Crytek first introduced SSAO, for example, or where Epic shared their Temporal Anti-aliasing (TAA) techniques that make Unreal Engine 4 look so creamy; This year, there were brilliant talks from the Frostbite team, Ready at Dawn, Guerrilla Games talking about the clouds of Horizon, Redlynx and many others. Check out for an absolute goldmine of stuff from the last decade.

Alex speaking at SIGGRAPH 2015

Me on stage. Photo courtesy of Natalya Tatarchuk ?@mirror2mask

The course organiser, Natalya Tatarchuk, now an Engineering Architect at Bungie working on Destiny, puts in a tonne of work each year to gently poke and prod her busy industry colleagues to share their stuff. I've been lucky enough to present at the course a few times over the years (thank-you Natalya!), even sneaking in a presentation about LittleBigPlanet before the game was even announced (I had to put a sphere over Sackboy's head to avoid spilling the beans!). This year, I decided to try an experiment: I talked about the journey - including the failures - of 'finding' the Dreams engine. Over the years, we tried lots of things before we settled on the painterly look that you can see in the E3 trailer. It may seem odd if you've never worked in games, but it's actually quite common to have to experiment to find the final technical direction. It leaves a lot of amazing stuff 'on the side', never released or shared. It was great to have a chance to share some of that work.

It's pretty techy, and only covers rendering techniques. But I hope you find it interesting! It was fascinating for me to take a trip down memory lane and remember all the beautiful and technically innovative things that the MM team has produced over the last few years. Enjoy!


Download: Learning from Failure: a Survey of Promising, Unconventional and Mostly Abandoned Renderers for ‘Dreams PS4’, a Geometrically Dense, Painterly UGC Game PDF (240 MB)
A compressed 34MB version is also available here (although you really should feast on the high res renders if you can!).

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