Unlimited Detail Graphics: Unlimited Power?

What would happen if I told you that video games were about to become 100,000 times more powerful? If you haven’t already heard of Euclideon, then you’re about to hear that exact statement.

It all began in 2003 when a very smart Bruce Dell, who looked more like a Swiss banker than a graphics developer, announced at the 2003 Australian Game Developers Conference that he could produce 3D models in unlimited detail. 

In 2010, he banded together with eight others and announced to the world that not only had he been able to create 3D models without the traditional polygon system in place, but he could also produce these models in unlimited quantity.

The claim was far-fetched and many people in the industry cried foul. Euclideon then went dark, refused all further interviews and contact, and were not seen again for a year until a video popped up (below) showing their improvement of the technology.

For those not willing to go through a long presentation, you may be asking how his technology is different from what we have now. How do we go from our current graphical capabilities, which are still pretty impressive, to something that is apparently 100,000 times better WITH THE SAME HARDWARE?!

To explain, let me briefly describe how polygons work. Polygons are flat shapes that when joined up in mass quantity can create a 3D image. The most basic is a cube. To make a cube in real life out of flat shapes, you would get six exactly square shapes and glue them together. This is precisely what a current 3D modelling program does: the more rounded or detailed things become, the more tiny polygons are needed to create them. This means that to make things look all silky smooth and detailed, you’d need a whole lot of these polygon thingies, making the game more expensive as a result.

Point Cloud Rendering is something that has been used by the medical and science industries for a long time. It uses various points as geometrical data which the computer translates into a 3D image on the screen. The more points there are the more detail. Think of them as very large atoms that make up a solid object.

The trouble is that traditional point cloud rendering requires vast quantities of memory for the computer to remember. Compare this to the traditional polygons which are flat shapes joined together to make 3D images, and you can see how much more detail you can get using the PCR system:

A Polygon Palm tree from Crysis 2

A Point Cloud Rendered palm tree

Traditionally this would have taken up a LOT of memory. However, Dell claims that he has come up with a system that lowers the memory storage of each point or ‘atom,’ allowing the ‘polygon count’ of current game technology to be raised by 100,000 times. He’s also thrown in a polygon conversion tool that works with all the popular 3D rendering programs.

So what happened after this announcement? Well, yet again the unique voice, CEO and creator of the system came under intense scrutiny, with many people doing their best Scotty impressions and claiming it couldn’t be done. One of them was Minecraft developer Markus Persson, who claimed it was a scam. You can read the article here. Many YouTubers and people in the industry stated that they needed to see these objects in animated form. Which, I must admit, is very important if this technology is to be implemented into a video game.

However, before disappearing again, Dell endured a long interview which can be seen below, where he is quick to debunk people’s criticisms of the demo. WARNING: This is a butt-numbing 41-minutes.

Bruce, along with Euclideon, has since disappeared into the darkness and will only surface “when it’s done.” Hopefully he’s not echoing the famous words of 3DRealms when developing Duke Nukem Forever.

So will we be seeing unlimited detail in our video games soon? $2 million of the Australian government’s money says yes we will.

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About Andrew Cooper

Andrew is a screenwriter an freelance journalist. His favourite films range from 'Citizen Kane' all the way to 'Jaws: The Revenge' depending on mood and alcohol consumption. He is a great fan of the video game industry with a wide range of favourites. He also moonlights a s a ninja for hire.
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