The Perfect Voxel Engine

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2021-09-25 21:30:07

What is it about voxels that makes people go crazy? Throughout the past decade, there have been SO many developers obsessed with shrinking them down to have as many as possible (1, 2, 3, 4, 5), admittedly including myself. It’s exciting both as a developer and to the gaming community to see amazing algorithms produce so much detail and think about the possibilities it brings to virtual worlds.

And yet, there’s no commercially available, general-purpose, widely-used voxel engines which games are built on. The term “(micro) voxel engine” is basically synonymous with vaporware. We see jaw-dropping showcases that are sometimes accompanied by hyperbolic claims (“UNLIMITED DETAIL”) and then radio silence. But why?

A lot of voxel developers base their algorithms on their rendering capabilities. If you can rasterize (dual contouring), ray cast (Voxlap), splat/frustum trace (Euclideon), sphere march (SDFs/isosurfaces), ray trace (sparse voxel octrees), or somehow get billions of voxels from memory to pixels on your screen, then the most important part is done, right?

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