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Where to find graphics research

Add Comment! By David Rosen on April 4th, 2010

Since you guys seem to enjoy the technical posts I write about the visuals in Overgrowth, I would like to show you where I go to find out about graphics research for games. There are three main sources -- game developer presentations, tech blogs, and academic papers.

Game Developer Presentations

Presentations by game developers are useful because they demonstrate techniques that work in released, high-profile games. This means that they are reasonably efficient and well-supported by user hardware. However, it also means that gamers have already seen these techniques before -- you won't impress anyone by using them again. Here are the tech presentation pages for some major developers:

Naughty Dog

ATI and NVIDIA also create their own technical presentations about how to use their latest hardware features. These effects are often more detailed and advanced than those used in current games, but they also require hardware that the average gaming computer won't have for five years -- an important factor to take into account. You can find ATI and NVIDIA presentations here:


NVIDIA has also released the "GPU Gems" books online for free, which are a series of presentations of specific graphics techniques. You can find them here:

GPU Gems
GPU Gems 2
GPU Gems 3

Game Technology Blogs

There are several blogs that regularly post about new real-time graphics techniques. Two of my favorites are:

Level of detail
Real-time Rendering Morgan McGuire's ╬╝Blog

There are also some game development blogs that post about their own technology, but the only one I've seen recently is The Witness blog in which Jon Blow and Ignacio Castano have been posting about their lighting technology.

Academic Papers

The final source for technical research for games is academia, most notably SIGGRAPH (the Special Interest Group for Graphics). Academic papers often use really dense language and assume that the reader is an expert graphics engineer. However, it can be really interesting to see research from outside of the game industry -- for example, there are a lot of presentations by film special effects pioneers like Pixar, Dreamworks, ILM, and Disney.

The official ACM SIGGRAPH library is here, though it requires an annual membership. If you're not a member, you can find "author preprints" of most of the papers at Ke-Sen Huang's index page. Author preprints are free because the authors upload them to their personal websites -- they aren't owned by the ACM.

Do you know of any other useful resources for graphics research that I've missed, or have any questions about the ones I listed? Please let me know in the comments!