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Ludum Dare 23: Tiny World

I'm taking part in Ludum Dare this weekend. The theme is Tiny World. Here's what I've managed so far:

This represents about two hours worth of work so far. Most of that time I've spent brainstorming because I was a bit stumped by the theme, but I've got a few ideas now and I'm forging ahead. Wish me luck.


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Octree node identifiers

Let's say we have an octree and we want to come up with a unique integer that can identify any node in the tree - including interior nodes, not just leaf nodes. Let's also say that the octree has a maximum depth no greater than 9 levels, i.e. the level containing the leaf nodes divides space into 512 parts along each axis.

The encoding The morton encoding of a node's i,j,k coordinates within the tree lets us identify a node uniquely if we already know it's depth. Without knowing the depth, there's no way to differentiate between cells at different depths in the tree. For example, the node at depth 1 with coords 0,0,0 has exactly the same morton encoding as the node at depth 2 with coords 0,0,0.

We can fix this by appending the depth of the node to the morton encoding. If we have an octree of depth 9 then we need up to 27 bits for the morton encoding and 4 bits for the depth, which still fits nicely into a 32-bit integer. We'll shift the morton code up so that i…

How to outperform std::vector in 1 easy step

Everyone who's familiar with C++ knows that you should avoid resizing a std::vector inside a loop wherever possible. The reasoning's pretty obvious: the memory allocated for the vector doubles in size each time it fills up and that doubling is a costly operation. Have you ever wondered why it's so costly though?

It's tempting to assume that because implementations of the STL have been around for so long that they must be pretty efficient. It turns out that's a bad assumption because the problem, in this case, is the standard itself: specifically, the allocator interface.

The allocator interface provides two methods that obtain and release memory:

allocate allocates uninitialized storage
(public member function)deallocate deallocates storage
(public member function)

(taken from this page).

What's missing is away of growing an existing memory allocation in place. In C this is provided by the realloc function, but there's no equivalent in the std::allocator interfa…

Faster morton codes with compiler intrinsics

Today I learned that newer Intel processors have an instruction which is tailor-made for generating morton codes: the PDEP instruction. There's an instruction for the inverse as well, PEXT.

These exist in 32- and 64-bit versions and you can use them directly from C or C++ code via compiler intrinsics: _pdep_u32/u64 and _pext_u32/u64. Miraculously, both the Visual C++ and GCC versions of the intrinsics have the same names. You'll need an Intel Haswell processor or newer to be able to take advantage of them though.

Docs for the instructions:

Intel's docsGCC docsVisual C++ docs
This page has a great write up of older techniques for generating morton codes:

Jeroen Baert's blog ...but the real gold is hidden at the bottom of that page in a comment from Julien Bilalte, which is what clued me in to the existence of these instructions.
Update: there's some useful info on Wikipedia about these intructions too.