UCT CS Research Document Archive

A GPU-Based Level of Detail System for the Real-Time Simulation and Rendering of Large-Scale Granular Terrain

Leach, Craig (2014) A GPU-Based Level of Detail System for the Real-Time Simulation and Rendering of Large-Scale Granular Terrain. MSc, Department of Computer Science, University of Cape Town.

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Real-time computer games and simulations often contain large virtual outdoor environments. Terrain forms an important part of these environments. This terrain may consist of various granular materials, such as sand, rubble and rocks. Previous approaches to rendering such terrains rely on simple textured geometry, with little to no support for dynamic interactions.

Recently, particle-based granular terrain simulations have emerged as an alternative method for rendering granular terrain. These systems simulate granular materials by using particles to represent the individual granules, and exhibit realistic, physically correct interactions with dynamic objects. However, they are extremely computationally expensive, and thus may only feasibly be used to simulate small areas of terrain.

In order to overcome this limitation, this thesis builds upon a previously created particle-based granular terrain simulation, by integrating it with a heightfield-based terrain system. In this way, we create a level of detail system for simulating large-scale granular terrain. The particle-based terrain system is used to represent areas of terrain around dynamic objects, whereas the heightfield-based terrain is used elsewhere. This allows large-scale granular terrain to be simulated in real-time, with physically correct dynamic interactions. This is made possible by a novel system, which allows for terrain to be converted from one representation to the other in real-time, while maintaining changes made to the particle-based system in the heightfield-based system. The system also allows for updates to particle-systems to be paused, creating the illusion that more particle systems are active than actually are.

We show that the system is capable of simulating and rendering multiple particle-based simulations across a large-scale terrain, whilst maintaining real-time performance. However, the number of particles used, and thus the number of particle-based simulations which may be used, is limited by the computational resources of the GPU.

EPrint Type:Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
Keywords:terrain simulation, grabilar material, GPU simulation, level of detail
Subjects:I Computing Methodologies: I.3 COMPUTER GRAPHICS
J Computer Applications: J.8 MISCELLANEOUS
ID Code:939
Deposited By:Marais, Patrick
Deposited On:26 June 2014