Shader Showcase Saturday #7: Billboard Impostors

Some of the readers might have heard of a game called Duke Nukem 3D. Released in 1996, it was one of the first 3D games I had the chance to play. An interesting feature of that game is that most of the interactive elements (including the enemies) were not actually 3D. They were 2D sprites rendered on quads which are always facing the camera (below).

This technique is called billboarding, and early 3D games were using it extensively. Even today it is still used for some background details, such as trees in a forest far away. For instance, one of them is Massive Vegetation, which uses billboarding to render grass blades in a very realistic way.

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Inverse Kinematics in 2D – Part 1

If you have been following this blog for a while, you might have noticed some recurring themes. Inverse Kinematics is definitely one them, and I have dedicated an entire series on how to apply it to robotic arms and tentacles. If you have not read them, do not fear: this new series will be self-contained, as it reviews the problem of Inverse Kinematics from a new perspective.

You can read the rest of this online course here:

A follow-up that focuses on 3D is also available:

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How To Create The Perfect DeepFakes

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Understanding the Technology Behind DeepFakes

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An Introduction to Neural Networks and Autoencoders

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An Introduction to DeepFakes

This tutorial will cover the theory and practice of creating deepfakes: videos in which faces have been swapped using Machine Learning and Deep Neural Networks. If you are interested in learning more about this novel technique, this is the course for you.

After a theoretical introduction, this course will focus on how to make the most out of the popular applications FakeApp and faceswap; most of the deepfakes you will find online (such as the ones featuring Nicolas Cage) have been created using them.

You can read all the posts in this series here:

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Learning Shaders

Making games is hard. Engines like Unity and Unreal have massively lowered the barrier to entry into this industry. And now that making games is easier than it has ever been before, developers are facing a new crisis. More and more people are joining this industry every day, making it harder to succeed in such an overcrowded market.

Many games that were popular and successful five years ago, would go mostly unnoticed today. More skills are needed to make a game stand out from its competitors, and this is why I believe that learning shaders is so important.

Shaders are the paintbrushes developers use to render graphics. The look and aesthetic of many iconic games, such as Journey, Antichamber and No Man’s Sky, was made possible only by the clever use of shaders.

Whether you are a new developer wanting to make games, or a veteran of the industry, learning how to write shaders can make the difference. This unusual tutorial pays homage to some of the best online content creators that you should know if you want to start your journey into shader coding. Continue reading