Ashes of the Singularity makes gaming history with DirectX 12
Back in April, we described Multiadapter, a DirectX 12 feature which gives game developers the power to light up every GPU on a user’s system. Prior to this feature, developers had to rely on help from hardware vendors to use multiple GPUs, with the restriction that the GPUs be homogeneous.
DirectX 12 removes all such limitations. In our April post, we showed that an integrated and discrete GPU could be used together to obtain a performance boost over 10%. This was early prototype code and was meant as a call to action for developers to explore the new possibilities.
Fast-forward six months, and we’re happy to report that Oxide, in their new Ashes of the Singularity game, has risen to make gaming history by being the first DirectX 12 game to render on both an AMD and an NVIDIA card at the same time. Anandtech has the details.
If you are a lifelong gamer like I am, I don’t need to tell you how exciting this is, with even greater benefits to come. Now that Oxide has proved that heterogeneous adapters can work together to accelerate rendering, it isn’t too far-fetched to imagine a game making use of all graphics cards: integrated, high end discrete, and low end discrete. With DirectX 12’s extremely rapid adoption, we can imagine a world in the not-too-distant future where upgrading your discrete graphics card doesn’t require you to throw away or ebay your old card. Instead, you just put your new graphics card in and instantly benefit from both cards.
Realizing this future will require significant work from game developers- but Oxide has taken the first step down this path, and we couldn’t be happier. You can learn more about Ashes of the Singularity and Oxide’s experience using DirectX 12 in our guest post below, by Brad Wardell of Oxide Games. You can learn more technical details about DirectX 12 features by subscribing to our YouTube channel. If your game is making history with DirectX 12, send us a note – we’d love to share more developer stories and experiences!
DirectX 12 reinvents the game
By Brad Wardell
Co-Founder, Oxide Games
CEO, Stardock Corp.
A tribute to DirectX 10
A lot has changed in the nine years since DirectX 10 was released. At the time, DirectX 10 was a pretty big deal. With it, games could use multiple threads to construct scenes in their games delivering substantial visual benefits.
With the release of Windows 10, Microsoft has unleashed the power of your modern PC with the debut of DirectX 12. Microsoft’s new platform is nothing short of a revolution for game developers. Now, every core on your modern, multi-core CPU can directly access your ever increasing GPU simultaneously. This translates to a quantum leap in what games can do.
The effect of single core gaming on your games
If you’ve thought that gaming innovation had slowed over the past decade, you were right. It was. It was unavoidable in fact. That’s because prior to DirectX 12, only one of your CPU cores could talk to the GPU at a time. And as savvy PC gamers can tell you, the actual speed of an individual core hasn’t dramatically changed over the past decade.
In response to the limitation in hardware access, the game industry has had to make games that are simpler in order to deliver a steady rate of visual improvements. This has been particularly noticeable in strategy and role playing games where the number of objects a player interacts with has decreased even as the visual fidelity has increased. Hence, the rise of first person role playing games and strategy games in which the player only controls a single unit.
The heart of DirectX 12
By allowing developers to talk to graphics cards from every core, at the same time, we can now have hundreds or even thousands of objects on-screen with the same level of fidelity that you previously would have had in a game with only a handful of units.
DirectX 12 also opens the door for real-time CGI quality game visuals. Consider for a moment some of the scenes from the Star Wars prequels. Many of those scenes could be rendered today, in real-time on a modern PC. Just think how much faster PCs are today than they were in 1997 (Phantom Menace). How about the battles in Lord of the Rings. Even as I write this, AMD and NVIDIA are both working on GPUs that could potentially render these scenes in real-time provided that the OS allows the software to communicate with them from every CPU core – which DirectX 12 does.
Ashes of the Singularity
Our upcoming, epic-scale, real-time strategy game, Ashes of the Singularity, leverages the power of DirectX 12 to deliver thousands of high-fidelity units on-screen at once while maintaining a high frame rate.
Ashes also uses a new type of 3D engine that is based on the hardware capabilities of modern PCs. For example, it doesn’t use deferred rendering but rather uses Object Space Rendering (OSR) which is similar to how CGI in movies have been rendered except we’re able to do it in real-time. While we are able to present this on DirectX 11, with DirectX 12, we can support rendering vastly more objects on screen at the same time.
One of the reasons why games seem to always look like games and not CGI is due to the way a given scene is composited. That’s why our new engine uses OSR. That’s why even the relatively simple 3D models in Ashes look so distinctive. They look more like something you’d see in a CGI-style visual rather than a game.
The visuals in Ashes is only possible because every element of the scene is able to be blended together with light and materials as it’s being composited together. There is no such thing as full-screen antialiasing in such a system. There’s no, well, aliasing to anti-alias. And thanks to DirectX 12, we show potentially tens of thousands of units on-screen at once.
Over the next couple of years, we will see a fundamental reinvention of digital entertainment driven by DirectX 12. DirectX 12 makes augmented reality practical (you need 90fps to not get dizzy imo, you’re not doing that with high fidelity on anything less than DirectX 12). It will change the way we design our games (we can make games with a lot more interactive objects). And it will change the way our games look (goodbye deferred rendering, hello object space rendering).
About Ashes of the Singularity
Developed by Oxide Games and Published by Stardock Entertainment, Ashes of the Singularity is a new real-time strategy game set in the future in which humanity has expanded to the stars and is in conflict with a deadly enemy across many different worlds.
Learn more about Ashes of the Singularity at ashesgame.com
About Oxide Games
Founded by engineers Dan Baker, Tim Kipp, Brian Wade, Marc Meyer and Brad Wardell, Oxide Games is developing a next-generation 3D engine called Nitrous. This engine uses similar techniques to what CGI in movies use to create scenes of unrivaled complexity and fidelity – in real time.
Learn more about the Nitrous Engine at oxidegames.com
About Stardock Corp.
Founded in 1993, Stardock has been a leader in technology innovation since its inception developing the first commercial 32-bit PC game (Galactic Civilizations) as well as develop and publish highly acclaimed games including Sins of a Solar Empire, Demigod and more. Stardock is also a leader in PC desktop software with products including Fences, ObjectDock, WindowBlinds, Start8, Start10 and more.
Learn more about Stardock at stardock.com