Key Release: SilverLining

Key Release: SilverLining
Will Freeman

By Will Freeman

March 25th 2011 at 8:00AM

Develop continues its profiles of emerging and leading technology

[To read all of Develop's Key Release technology profiles, go here]

What is it?:
  A C++ library for real-time sky
and cloud rendering
Company: Sundog Software
Price: $2,500 single app royalty free license

For those unfamiliar with Sundog Software’s SilverLining software, the clue is in the name. It is a renderer of the sky, clouds, and just about everything else that makes up a planet’s atmosphere.

Conceived – of course – to deliver photorealistic results, SilverLining has just undergone a maintenance overhaul in the form of its new 2.11 update, and according to its creators, the benefits for the technology’s users will be numerous.

As well as ironing out some bugs and providing improved support for round-earth coordinate systems, SilverLining 2.11 also updates to latest DirectX SDK, and changes the way custom random number generators are handled.

REACH FOR THE SKY

Where SilverLining is really gaining ground, however, is with its increasing number of integrations with high-profile game engines.

“We’re always looking at providing integrations and support for new game engines that are gaining in popularity and are extensible,” says Sundog founder Frank Kane. “A new integration is in the works right now – but I can’t say with who yet. Already we integrate with Ogre3D, OpenSceneGraph, and Gamebryo Lightspeed – which remains popular in the Far East – and we’ve built SilverLining in such a way that it can drop in easily to
any engine built on top of DirectX or OpenGL.”

Recognising many studios will continue
to want to use their own proprietary rendering technologies, Sundog has also endeavoured to expose all the hooks to its low-level rendering calls so they can be wired into any new engines as they emerge.

“We’re also taking advantage of emerging capabilities on modern graphics hardware,” reveals Kane.

“Our 2.0 release featured a new type of cloud based on GPU ray-casting, which allows us to render really thick, dense cloud layers that look great and render fast on modern hardware. We’ve also got support built in for DirectX 11 and high dynamic range rendering.”

And for Kane, it doesn’t end with the 2.11 update, as Sundog prepares a host of new features. “We still have a few tricks up our sleeves for making further improvements to the quality and performance of the clouds we render with GPU ray-casting that will be rolling out later in the year,” reveals Kane.

“We’ll continue to stay on top of supporting new technologies, compilers, and rendering engines as they emerge.”

For Sundog’s customers, it really does seem that the sky’s the limit.