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An Artist's Real-Time 3D Glossary

Voxel Examples

Comanche Gold

Comanche Gold, developed by NovaLogic, uses the latest incarnation of the company's "Voxel Space" technology, which made its debut in 1992 with the game Comanche Maximum Overkill. While all vehicles in the original game were made with billboards, it was the first game to use voxels, which allowed it to showcase detailed rolling terrain. In their latest title, shown above, billboards have been replaced with polygonal models, and they've been able to greatly increase the number of voxels, thereby reducing the jaggedness of the landscape surface.

NovaLogic: I'd like to add a little explanation here about how the cool little bits of vegetation were made, and the basic procedures for building landscapes.


Outcast, developed by Appeal, uses a voxel-based technology for the terrain and buildings, while polygonal technology is used for characters and other dynamic objects. The following is my summary of the excellent presentation they gave at the 1999 Game Developers Conference:

A standard 3D package is used to model the environment, which is rendered from above. This height map determines the height of each voxel. For texturing the environment, each voxel has its own color value, so the more vertical the slope is, the more spread the color will be. To texture vertical walls, they use a voxel mapping technique where certain color values are reserved as codes for textures that are applied during rendering. A custom tool allows the artist to choose interactively these textures and adjust U and V offsets.

You won't see those jagged edges that you normally see between voxels-- they use an interpolated rendering technique to smooth the landscape. The expansive environments are created using tiles, each of which is 128x128 voxels, or about 10 meters square, with each voxel as small as 16 centimeters. Memory constraints limit each voxel to a maximum height of 20 meters, but they've solved this by arranging tiles of different heights next to one another.

Delta Force 2

Delta Force 2 is being developed by NovaLogic.

NovaLogic: I'd like to do another explanation here about how the grass is made, and the basic procedures for building landscapes-- and how they might differ from Comanche's.

Medical Imaging

4D Angio, developed by Picker International, uses CTA scanning and 3D volumetric processing to create this animation of the aortic arch of the human heart. Voxels are used with varying opacities to show the differences between bony, vascular and soft tissues. Although I'm not sure of the resolution of this scan, medical scans are usually 1 mm per voxel. [click on the image to see the 1MB MPEG animation]

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