“But Notch, it’s NOT a scam!”

I’ve been getting a bunch of feedback that my last blog post is wrong for various reasons, and I’d just like to say that I would absolutely LOVE to be proven wrong. Being wrong is awesome, that’s how you learn.

If you want to read my reasoning behind various assumptions, click “read more”.

Why I assume it’s voxels and not point clouds:

* Voxels store only the information about each point, and their positions are implicit in the location of where the voxel is stored. Point cloud data stores both the information about each point and the position of each point.
* They mention “64 atoms per cubic millimeter”, which is 4*4*4 points per mm^2. While it’s possible they only refer to the sampling frequency for turning polygonal structures into point data, the numbers are just too round for me to ignore as a programmer.
* All repeated structures in the world are all facing the same direction. To me, that means they aren’t able to easily rotate them arbitrarily.

About the size calculation:

* I was trying to show that there was no way there was that much UNIQUE data in the world, and that everything had to be made up of repeated chunks.
* One byte per voxel is way lower than the raw data you’d need. In reality, you’d probably want to track at least 24 bits of color and eight bits of normal vector data per voxel. That’s four times as much data. It’s quite possible you’d want to track even more data.
* If the data compresses down to 1%, it would still be 1 700 three-terrabyte hard drives of data at one byte of raw data per voxel.

Animated voxels:

* Holy crap, people sent me videos of this actually being done!
* I was wrong! :D
* http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tkn6ubbp1SE
* (But please note that just that single animated character runs at 36 fps)

Why it’s a scam:

* They pretend like they’re doing something new and unique, but in reality a lot of people are researching this. There are a lot of known draw-backs to doing this.
* They refuse to address the known flaws. They don’t show non-repeated architecture, they don’t show animation, they don’t show rotated geometry, and they don’t show dynamic lighting.
* They invent new terminology and use superlatives and plenty of unverifiable claims.
* They say it’s a “search algorithm”. That’s just semantics to confuse the issue. Sparse voxel octrees is a search algorithm to do very fast ray casting in a voxel space.
* They seem to be doing some very impressive voxel rendering stuff, which could absolutely be used to make very interesting games, but it’s not as great as they claim it is. The only reason I can see for them misrepresenting it this bad is that I assume they’re looking for funding and/or to get bought up.

If these guys were being honest with the drawbacks and weaknesses of their system, I’d be their biggest fan. As it is now, it’s almost like they’re trying NOT to be trustworthy.

All this said, voxels are amazing. So is raytracing and raycasting. As computers get more powerful, and storage gets faster and cheaper, we will see amazing things happen.

And a final word to the engineers who worked on this: Great job, I am impressed! But please tell your marketing department to stop lying. ;)

posted 12 years ago