February 2020 – WinStars 3

Tessellation in WinStars

With version 3.0.118, WinStars uses tessellation to improve the rendering of planetary surfaces. This technique, introduced with the OpenGL 4.0 standard, adds a large number of triangles to an object to make its 3D appearance more complex.
Previously, WinStars simulated the relief of a planet by playing with shadows and illusory perspectives. The textures modified by occlusion mapping were then applied on simple geometrical shapes (typically about ten triangles).

Occlusion mapping technique that plays on shadows and lights to simulate roughness on the surface of an object.

Here, wireframe rendering has been activated.  In reality, the surface remains very simple geometrically..

With tessellation, the number of polygons used to represent the details of an object becomes massive. Depressions and bumps are now represented in three dimensions and are no longer simulated.

The significantly more complex surface mesh is visible in wire mode. Triangles are counted here by thousands

The advantage of tessellation lies in the fact that the addition of these new triangles is done internally by the graphics processor during the rendering phase.
Therefore, there is no bandwidth reduction problem between CPU and GPU during this geometric complexification phase. This technique being very optimized, the impact on the fluidity of the software is limited…

This video from Gamers Nexus explains very well the interest of this technique in the video game industry:

Tessellation is enabled for Mars and the Moon and currently only works with desktop versions (Linux, MacOS and Windows). The rendering of the surface of Mars is not as good as for the Moon, the textures quality being much inferior. I’m looking for better textures to offer a comparable rendering.