[MUD-Dev] Re: How to represent a 3d object...

Oliver Jowett oliver at jowett.manawatu.planet.co.nz
Sat Apr 25 18:20:42 New Zealand Standard Time 1998

On Fri, 24 Apr 1998, Ben Greear wrote:

> I am thinking about how to represent a 3d object in a 3d world.


> I envision the object as a collections of intersections (nodes) and faces. 

> The two big questions are:  what kind of data structure should I use for
> in-memory storage, and how to encode this for storage in a persistant
> storage mechanism.

> There must be some standard way of representing this on disk, does anyone
> have any pointers??

A few comments on in-memory formats (be warned, I last looked at this
about 3 years ago):

You can represent the object as a list of vertex locations (nodes), with
the faces being defined as a list of vertex references in some particular
order around the face (so the normal is well-defined). Normally (no pun
intended) you'd precompute the normals of each face to speed things up.
Having the normal ready can help with hidden-face removal, and also speeds
up various shading models if you feel so inclined. 

Store the object untransformed, with location/orientation/scale/etc info
separate. It's likely that you'll be changing these parameters frequently
(otherwise: why not just use a static bitmap?) and roundoff errors are a
real killer, unless you really want the Incredible Shrinking Object. This
also makes having multiple instances of a model in different locations

You'll probably want some sort of bounding box information if the object
is part of a larger world - x/y/z extent information may well be enough if
you don't have obscurely-shaped objects. Very useful for optimizing
display, and for collision detection etc.

There's a large amount of information available on ways to display 3d
objects, which affects how you want to store the data internally -
IIRC the comp.graphics (.algorithms?) FAQ has good references to this
type of thing.

A search dug up <URL:http://www.dcs.ed.ac.uk/~mxr/gfx/3d-hi.html> which
has quite a list of 3d storage formats. You may want to look at one of the
binary object formats for DB storage - OFF seems promising from a quick
glance through. 3d formats tend to like representing complete scenes made
up of lots of objects with huge piles of surface information, so your main
problem may be finding a simple format :)

Question: what environment is this aimed at? Some way to visualise a
particular object (and/or manipulate it) - ie. you're only displaying the
object itself? Hm, this could be a relatively cheap addon to an otherwise
non-3d system - a nice way to visualise and interact with objects carried,

"Interesting, a strange metallic sphere with three buttons in a triangle
on the top. I wonder what happens if I push the red one. <click> .. I
don't think the way it started flashing is a good thi--"


Or are you aiming at displaying an object within a larger 3d world also
containing other objects / walls / avatars / etc?


MUD-Dev: Advancing an unrealised future.

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