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  • Falling Down the Rabbit Math Hole

    Like most of my personal projects, I fell into this math hole with a few (not so) simple items on my agenda. They eventually looked something like this:

    • Learn OpenGL.
    • Make a VR sculpting application.
    • Write this using only C++ and small helper libraries. No big frameworks.
    • Implement a signed distance renderer.

    But I’m getting ahead of myself a bit. In the beginning, I discovered signed distance fields while doing research for a shader I was trying to write in Unreal Engine. I saw a bunch of cool examples, and wanted to dive right in and figure out how all this stuff worked! Unfortunately, all the examples I was looking at were written in GLSL. Learning a new complex subject and trying to translate that into Unreal’s shader system was more than I wanted to chew off. So, I opened up Unity for the first time, and started coding (that’s simpler, right?).

    As it turns out, this WAS simpler. After learning the basics of how modern game engines were organized in Unreal, picking up a little Unity was a breeze. Coming from python/c++ background, C# was very straight forward as well, especially with the great IDE integration with Visual Studio Code. I really enjoyed learning C#. I wish this language had more adoption in the fields I normally work in.

    To get started, I read a few signed distance field ray marching tutorials specifically for Unity. For more information, I inspected a number of shadertoy shaders. Then I dug in deeper, and got the whole thing to render in VR. My backwards approach to learning unity gave me a good laugh at the time. I started with learning the shader system, then how to integrate my shaders with C#/SteamVR, and only at that point did I learn how to spawn an object.


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