Minecraft mapping - Rotation and flipping

Last time, I discussed ambient occlusion for adding depth to the map. Today I'm going to explain how the fragment shader rotates and flips oriented blocks like minecart tracks.

As you may have noticed, there's only one block ID for regular minecart tracks. The 4-bit data value encodes the orientation of the track, from 10 possibilities - 2 orientations of straight track, 4 orientations of corner track, and 4 orientations of sloped track.

A minecraft texture pack includes only two textures for normal minecart tracks: one curved and one straight. We need to use these to make up all the other orientations. We could either do that in advance - building up a bigger texture atlas with all the orientations we need, or we can do it in the shader. By doing it in the shader we avoid the need for a much expanded texture atlas and some fiddly work to assemble textures, at the cost of extra work in the shader.

To let the shader know what orientation to use, we encode it in the blue channel of our map data texture. We use 2 bits to encode a rotation (0°, 90°, 180° 270°) and 1 bit to encode a possible flip. (I don't think we actually use the flip at the moment, but it might be useful for doors.)

The shader code isn't actually terribly exciting. I should however point out that this version treats the map texture as having normalized float values, rather than integers. For most of the earlier posts I had been updating the code to use integer textures to simplify things a bit, but I haven't gotten around to doing that with this code. That's why we multiply the sample values by 255.0 – as normalized floats they've already been rescaled from 0 to 255 to the range 0.0 to 1.0.

    float flipx = (tiles_sample.b * 255.0) >= 8.0 ? -1.0 : 1.0;
    float rotation = mod(
        tiles_sample.b * 255.0, 8.0) *
        0.5 * 3.141592653589793;
    mat2 transform = mat2(
        flipx * cos(rotation),  flipx * sin(rotation),
        -sin(rotation),         cos(rotation));

We form a rotation matrix with the rotation value of 0, 0.5π, π or 1.5π. The sines and cosines just work out as -1, 0 or +1. There's probably a cheaper way to calculate them.

This will rotate around the origin. Before we transform our texture coordinate we rescale it to the range -1..1, then adjust it back afterwards.

Some mention should be given to how we obtain the rotation values in the first place. There's no trick – there's just a great big table mapping block id and data values to texture coordinates and orientations. The same table is used to pick coloured wool values.

And here's the end result. I think I've talked about most of the things I had originally set out to cover. Next week I might touch on light levels, but there's not a lot to say there. If I find the time I'd like to do some work on cave rendering, but I'm not sure I'll both find the time to work on it and write a blog post, so next week's post may be quite short.

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