It includes SunBurn's new engine-centric design, component system, new and more streamlined editor, terrain system, volume lights, 2D rendering, avatar rendering, and much, much more.
And like all SunBurn updates, it's completely free for SunBurn Engine developers!
To avoid flat ambient lighting the initial SunBurn release introduced material-level ambient occlusion, which adds a significant amount of depth even to ambient lit scenes.
Beyond Ambient Lighting
SunBurn's material-level ambient occlusion has the added benefit of being very lightweight and compatible with both forward and deferred rendering. In fact it's so lightweight the effect is always on, there's practically no performance benefit to turning it off.
For over a year this technique made a considerable impact on SunBurn games, demos, and visualizations. But this time around we wanted even more awesomeness. :)
Indirect Ambient Lighting
To further enhance SunBurn Engine's existing ambient lighting we've added another SunBurn unique feature: material-level indirect lighting. Once again the effect is very lightweight, always enabled in deferred rendering, and is absolutely stunning.
SunBurn's material-level indirect lighting adds considerable lighting depth, and at detail levels ambient occlusion cannot achieve. The depth is also controlled by the scene's ambient light object, making it easy to tune in-game for the best possible visuals.
Probably the most exciting new SunBurn Engine feature is full 2D rendering. This was certainly one of our favorite R&D projects over the past year, and one we couldn't wait to get started on (we started immediately after the initial SunBurn launch)!
Full 2D Rendering
This is not just a 2D renderer. It's full 2D support for all SunBurn features: lighting, shadows, materials, your existing custom effects, post processing, forward rendering, deferred rendering, the new component / manager system, scene interface, …, EVERYTHING. :)
SunBurn also supports rendering 2D scenes to texture for display in 3D scenes, and vice-versa.
This latest SunBurn Engine release includes two 2D starter kits, one for Windows and one for Xbox 360 – both featuring the cool 2D demo we've been showing off:
SunBurn's 2D rendering uses a very lightweight and familiar interface based largely on XNA's SpriteBatch. However SunBurn also supports submitting static sprites once and re-rendering them many times, making the interface much faster than SpriteBatch (which requires all sprites to be submitted / drawn every frame).
Even before its launch we considered including some type of terrain system in SunBurn, and in fact the Tiling Terrain example was one of our first SunBurn examples. Unfortunately many terrain systems are either very dynamic but cpu heavy, or very lightweight but static – neither of these options were acceptable in our opinion.
So instead of rushing a terrain system out, we spent the past year researching tech and (more importantly) getting a feel for how we and the SunBurn community ideally would want to use the system. Interestingly our initial assessment was fairly accurate – the ideal system should be lightweight on both the cpu and gpu, as well as highly dynamic (so imported or content pipeline generated meshes were out).
Based on this we developed a height map based terrain, with configurable tessellation and lod transition, blend mapping with several material layers, normal and specular mapping, and entirely gpu driven. The terrain also has a constant and very reasonable poly count regardless of the height map size or detail, which means the terrain can be tuned to a specific polygon budget.
And because the terrain height map is processed on the gpu, the terrain is entirely dynamic. Meaning you can write shaders to procedurally morph, edit, and erode the terrain, as well as the blend map.
This release also includes the new SunBurn editor; the streamlined, cleaner, and better looking front-end we demoed at GameFest. While the new editor is feature-wise similar, the ui provides a larger 3D viewport, shows more controls on-screen, and allows stacking and organizing object browsers.
Probably the best new feature are real-time assets – textures are automatically updated in-game when they change on disk. This adds a whole new dimension to game workflow, you can edit textures in Photoshop, Gimp, ... and see the changes in SunBurn without toggling back and forth.
Originally we planned to release the new editor shortly after GameFest, however while working on it we had the opportunity develop an even better workflow. Now instead of being a separate application, the new editor is integrated into SunBurn – hitting F11 opens the editor without tabbing over to the Windows Start menu, and the editor hotkey is customizable. In addition we've added detailed tooltips throughout the editor.
And we're still not done talking about all of SunBurn 1.3's new features. Check out our latest dev blogs below for more information!
More to Come!
Countdown to SunBurn 1.3.2 (SunBurn's engine-centric design, component system, and new editor)
SunBurn 1.3.2: The New Editor (a look at the new editor from its lead developer)