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Feature: 'Practical Texture Atlases'

Today's main Gamasutra technical feature, from Haemimont Games' Ivan-Assen Ivanov, discusses the workings of real-world system for automatically generating texture atlase...
Today's main Gamasutra technical feature, from Haemimont Games' Ivan-Assen Ivanov, discusses the workings of real-world system for automatically generating texture atlases, from the atlas creation tool to the engine integration issues. In his introduction to the important technical piece, Ivanov notes: "The high cost of drawing thousands of different objects, no matter how simple, is among the greatest problems of PC renderers today. The high cost of individual render calls is compounded by the high cost of render state changes between different objects. One of the worst offenders in this regard is the texture change. In a complex game scene, there might be thousands of objects on the screen, using hundreds of different textures – one or several for each distinct type of objects. Texture atlases are large textures made up of many separate textures. Each object's texture uses only a portion of the atlas texture. The perfect atlases would be ones hand-created by artists, but this approach is very inflexible: it makes adding or removing new texture assets to the game much more expensive in terms of artist time than it is reasonable to be." You can read the full Gamasutra feature on the subject, including plenty more technical information on this smart concept (no registration required, please feel free to link to the article from external websites).

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