Develop delves into the middleware firm's water rendering tech Triton Ocean SDK

Tools Spotlight: Sundog Software

Founded in 2006, Orlando-based middleware maker Sundog Software specialises in real-time outdoor simulation and rendering technology.

Initially, it started as a side project for founder Frank Kane, who was working as a development manager at the time.

“I wanted to keep my skills up, and at the time, realistic skies with 3D volumetric clouds weren’t on the market – and it was a fun thing to work on,” he says.

With Sundog, Kane wants to bring a “new level of realism to massive virtual environments”.

His first product, SilverLining Sky, Cloud, and Weather SDK, did just that, and Sundog has since grown into a real business and has Kane’s full attention.

Sundog’s latest project aims to solve the ever-present problem of getting sea water to look and behave like the real thing. Triton Ocean SDK, released in late 2011, provides realistic bodies of water for any desired wave conditions with 3D waves, spray effects, and wakes at fast framerates.

The software works by taking advantage of whatever parallel computing resources it can find on the client system – compute shaders, CUDA, OpenCL or multi-core CPUs.

Kane says Triton’s “speed, realism and wide support for different systems” is what separates it from other water rendering technologies on the market.

It runs a real wave simulation using Fast Fourier and transforms in real-time without relying on a single GPGPU technology.

It is also able to render boat wakes, reflections, spray and foam in a single pass. The software runs on Windows and, more recently, Linux and MacOS supports DirectX9, DirectX11 and OpenGL.

As Triton is relatively new, the titles that have licensed it are still pre-release. However, Kane says most of its sales have been in the MMO space and for a hydro racing game which is in development.

Triton is also popular in the serious games space, most notably with the US Navy, which has licensed Triton for use in its training simulators.

The newest feature that Sundog has introduced to the software is a simple API for fast rendering of 3D ship wakes.

Mobile and tablet devices are likely to be the next step for the technology, since Kane says mobile technology is approaching the point where it can run Triton. He also expects to have an OpenGL ES version of Triton out later this year.

“We’ll always be expanding the list of game engines and platforms we offer tight integrations with,” says Kane.

For more information visit the official website.

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