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Game Test 3: Canyon Flight

A Jules Verne type airship flies through a canyon guarded by a dangerous sea monster. The airmen defend their ship using heavy cannons, but these seem to have no effect on the huge sea monster. Finally the crew manages a narrow escape using the ‘last resort’ afterburners of the airship. The game test only shows a part of this adventure. Please watch the demo for the whole story.

This test gives an example of a large scale outdoor scene. The scene is fairly complex with large areas of water reflecting the high canyon walls. The water actually is one of the key points of interest in this scene.

The water not only does realistic looking reflections and refractions, it has a depth fog, making the sea monster swimming under the airship actually look deep down in the water. The air in this scene also uses a volumetric fog, making distant cliffs of the canyon really look far away.

  • The rock surface of the canyon is one of the heavier materials in 3DMark05, filling up a PS2.0 shader almost to the last instruction when combined with the dynamic shadow rendering. The canyon material has two color maps, two normal maps and Lambertian diffuse shading. The water is also very complex, but is not just a surface material. The scene is rendered six times to get correct reflections and refractions, and shadows to those. The water is a further developed version of the water shader in 3DMark03, doing multiple reads from a normal map; reflection and refraction maps, plus per-pixel Fresnel. In 3DMark05 there is also a depth fog for making objects deeper look more blurred and darker. A R32F depth map is used for the depth fog.
  • Since it is a sunny day, there is only one single directional light source – the sun. This scene is very challenging for dynamic shadows, because of the large area and the round shapes of the canyon walls. It is hard to get the 2048x2048 resolution depth map to be enough for this scene, even though it is used twice. It is used once for objects near the camera and another time for the rest of the scene. But the lighting and shadows all are dynamic, so a fast forward in time would show the light and shadows turning
Pure Mode

In the “Canyon Flight” test of the 3DMark05 benchmark NVIDIA’s GeForce 6800- and ATI’s RADEON X800-series show basically comparable results, even though ATI’s RADEON X800 XT manages to lead in 1024x768, while NVIDIA’s 6800 Ultra part succeeds in leaving the rival behind in 1600x1200.

Naturally, the RADEON 9800-/9600-/9500-series showcase higher results compared to the GeForce FX graphics cards because of much more efficient pixel shaders execution.

The GeForce 6600 GT brought us a great surprise by performing in line with a $399 GeForce 6800 GT and leaving another $399 offering – RADEON X800 PRO behind.

Eye Candy Mode

The situation with “Pure Mode” continues in “eye candy mode” – ATI’s RADEON X800 and NVIDIA’s GeForce 6800 families of graphics processors fight for the top spots, while the much less expensive GeForce 6600 GT manages to bite its higher-end brethren, but only in 1024x768 resolution. Even though the RADEON 9000-series of chips show lead over the GeForce FX-series, the results of both are very low.

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