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Game Realism Via NVIDIA Enhanced Effects

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Advanced Soft Shadows

Back in the day, one of the major problems developers had when trying to bring realism into a game were shadows. Algorithms were usually far from optimal, and generating accurate soft shadows from area light sources proved to be very difficult subject. Soft shadows are important, as they the provide the needed cues about the environment and objects which become sharper near the casting object and softer further away.

NVIDIA tackled this issue by introducing Percentage-Closer Soft Shadows which is based on a shadow mapping and percentage-closing filtering (PCF) algorithm. Instead of the traditional depth comparison of ordinary shadow mapping, Percentage Closing Soft Shadows returns a value that indicates the amount of shadowing at each point when shading occurs each frame. PCSS also uses the relation that as the PCF kernel increases the shadows become softer to accurately represent the casting of an object. This method proves to be really efficient as it requires no pre-processing, post-processing, or additional geometry.

Assassins-Creed-Unity-Low-Shadows

Soft Shadows Off

Assassins-Creed-Unity-Soft-Shadows

Soft Shadows On

 

Advanced Soft Shadows provides a lot of eye candy, specially in realistically textured scenes which require user interaction. This technique also provides a simple way for developers to add high quality and, most importantly, efficient shadows to games. Additionally, it gives the ability to render cascaded shadow maps, and multiple spot lights. Fortunately, it is not taxing as compared to previous shadowing methods which never succeeded for this same reason.


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2 comments

  1. sta

    Looks good on paper but, Nvida held back on their top GPU just like with the 600 series was launched. 1600p and 1440p seem to be the new standard ans 4k g-sync mentors have hit the market. Who will get to fully experience all these things in an enjoyable manner? I’ve only owned Nvidia cards since 2007, i’m not trolling and i’m no fanboy. I’m a 40+ enthusiast who is waiting for Nvidia”s true next gen card. The gtx 980 isn’t much of an uprate compared to the 780 ti and the 970 are roundly equal to the regular gtx 780. Is G-sync is aw some but wont help much at 30fps , the 1440p Asus swift has been out of stock since September and the Acer equivalent s due Q2 2015.

    1. Jason

      The Asus monitor that you are talking about is 800 dollars. My thinking is that it won’t be much of a problem for someone who plans to spend 800 on a very specific monitor like the Asus, and they will indeed be going at least 2-way SLi with 970’s or 980’s.

      The GTX 980 and 970 are right about where you said they were in performance, yet are low cost solutions to the 780 Ti, and 780 respectively. All while maintaining the same performance (slightly higher usually) and adding an extra 1 GB of frame buffer, along with the extra features in the Maxwell architecture.

      The games optimized correctly to take advantage of Maxwell are going to see performance gains even more so over the older 780’s that do not include the features Maxwell does.

      Waiting for the ‘better’ Maxwell’s is a personal choice and if you are not in need of a new graphics card, waiting is always going to pay off since new cards are always improving upon previous generations.

      So, to enjoy all these features in an enjoyable manner, it all depends on how much a person is willing to spend, and how well they match their hardware to the task at hand. I don’t think anyone is going to invest in an 800 dollar 1440p monitor and not get the necessary hardware to make it functional and enjoyable.

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