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10 May 2014

Notes from Digital Dragons 2014 Day 2

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Please see my notes from the second day at Digital Dragons 2014 Conference from Cracow.

Presentations started a bit earlier than the day before - at 9:00. Although a lot of people had been at the official DD afterparty and Gala awards, at the morning sessions there were some decent number of survivors :)

See also the day one notes


This time I've been at less presentations than the day before.

  • Ivan Beily, Marmalade - "Cross-platform, the only way to develop for mobile"
    • Marmelade is quite new to me, but it is actually "old" framework: started in 1998. Basically it is C++ middle layer that enables you to create multiplatform solution with only one code base.
    • The unique thing is that they do not provide their own set of APIs but implement CRT and Posix layer. That way you can use "fopen" in all the supported platforms! Of course including support for third-party libraries.
    • Another point is that you need to compile to different hardware (arm, x86), but you can use the same binary on different platforms! Marmelade can embed your binary into a Launcher layer. That way user can for instance deploy from Windows to iOS.
    • Marmelade opens for Indie world. It is good to have more such solutions on the market.
    • After the talk there was a discussion about what advantage you get over QT5. Obviously when you start using QT you are bound to their crossplatform API. But with Marmelade you can use existing CRT code only... quite curious.
  • Tomasz Gop, CI Games - "SELL OUT: How to present a game."
    • Wonderful presentation about making presentations :)
    • Tomasz gave some valuable tips on how to present your game (interactively). How to focus on the main part of the game, how to help people connecting the dots... All assuming you believe you have the best game :)
    • He has already make something like 500 to 1000 similar talks. A lot can be learnt from him, I think.
    • In the end, after solving some problems with PC, there was a presentation of Lords of the Fallen.

I waited especially for three programming talks - of course related to graphics dev:

  • Philip Hammer, Deck13 Interactive - "The rendering technology of Lords of the Fallen"
    • Another presentation about Lords of the Fallen. This game got quite a huge promotion.
    • In the first day there was a talk about volumetric light system for the game. This time we could hear about general solution in the engine.
    • The company has their own engine called `Fledge'. Bases on Deferred renderer (they test Tile based deferred techniques at the moment).
    • Currently the engine is capable of all the basic things plus + volumetric lights, deferred particles, transparent shadows. All looks very impressive.
    • PBR will not be implemented in the game because of dev pipeline cost (for the upcoming game only).
    • Interesting thing is that it appears they have more problems with XBoxOne than Ps4. XBox is a bit slower, especially when we consider memory bandwidth. I thought, since the hardware vendor is the same for both consoles (AMD), development will be much easier. Apparently some differences are inevitable.
  • Bartłomiej Wroński, Ubisoft Montreal - "Rendering of Assasin's Creed 4-lightening, materials and atmosphere effects"
    • presentation here at his site
    • Bartek talked about problems and solutions in AC4: game that runs on the current and the next generation of consoles. Basically they needed to push the limits with the current gen and do not use full power of next gen. Game contains sparse areas: large outdoor scenes plus dense cities and lots of water around.
    • The team managed to run their GI solution in around 1ms and use only 1MB of mem on the GPU.
    • Both the offline code (used in tools) and realtime (in game) is totally GPU driven. Additionally when used in tools it needs only several minutes to recalculate the whole GI for the scene.
    • New method used (and invented): Deferred Normalized Irradiance Probes
    • They have amazing SuperSampling SSAO solution.
    • Another effects like: dynamic ripples on the water pools, wet materials, GPU rain drops with screen space collision.
    • All described very well and with lots of demos, videos.
  • Michał Drobot, Ubisoft Montreal - "Low level optimization for AMD GCN GPU architecture"
    • Crazy talk about internals of the GCN architecture!
    • I am waiting for slides from Michal to at least try to understand basic parts on my own :)
    • Slides here:
    • GCN is a very important platform for the developers. It is available on PC, XBoxOne and Ps4. That mean it will stay for a long time with us. If you make a simple 2D game it will not matter. Although when you want to push the limits the knowledge will be the key factor here.
    • The architecture gives a lot of new possibilities that was possible on x86: full Integer support (playing with bits), IEEE non safe mode for floating point (VOP3). Plus new one: VSkip, unified code for image sampling.
    • Michal showed some amazing tricks that boosted performance in various aspects of the engine.
    • How to remove Geometry Shader and use triangle information in a pixel shader.
    • How to boost your software rasterization code
    • Help with transcendential functions.
    • There was even an advanced version of Carmack Inverse Square Root!.


I am definitely thinking about coming to the conference next year! I hope there will be even more people and more amazing talks.

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