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Thursday, January 17, 2002
Graphic Breakdown of Master of Orion III
9:32 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

The Orion Sector, a fan site devoted to the Master of Orion series, recently published an article that breaks down the choices made for the graphical engines of Master of Orion III. Titled "Voxel Graphics in MOO3" and written mostly by Executive Producer Bill Fisher, the article is quite in-depth and contains a huge amount of tech speak.

The main gist of the article is that MOO3 will be using mainly a software rendering engine, rather than skewing towards hardware acceleration like most games tend to do these days. Part of the reason is that they want MOO3 to be able to run on three-year-old hardware, which could mean 233 MHz machines with no hardware acceleration. They also note that they expect half their audience to be European, and that the European market tends to upgrade more slowly than the U.S. market due to higher overall costs.

In this excerpt, Fisher describes some more of the thinking behind this decision:

We spent a long internally time discussing the technology for this game. Hardware acceleration would allow us to do some very fancy 3D combat graphics, but wouldn't do anything for the turn-based user interface that we couldn't do in software. It would also restrict the number of machines that could play our game. But it would be a cool bullet-point on the box—"optimized for 3D accelerators" or some such. We could, of course, write a software renderer as well, but that would take a lot of time that would be better spent on the gameplay, in our opinion.
The MOO3 team still wants to achieve a 3D look, particularly during the combat scenes, so they're turning towards the use of voxel objects. For those unfamiliar with voxels, they can be loosely described as pixels with volume, allowing a software engine to generate a 3D-polygon-like effect.

The rest of the article covers a huge amount of graphical territory in regards to MOO3. Though it's heavy in the tech lingo, it's a worthy read for anyone interested in MOO3's development or in graphic development in general. Those interested can find it at The Orion Sector.

Quicksilver Software
The Orion Sector: Voxel Graphics in MOO3
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