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Submitted by John van der Burg, posted on April 12, 2002

Image Description, by John van der Burg

Mystique is a powerful rendering system, which has been designed with modularity and network support in mind. Mystique allows you to easily develop your own custom plugins, render using many computers over the internet and ships with a hybrid Monte Carlo global illumination render plugin. Developers can write render plugins, ray acceleration plugins, and more, all of which will cooperate seamlessly. For example if you write a ray acceleration plugin which is 50% faster than other existing plugins, all other render plugins in Mysique will automatically be around 50% faster. You won't need to worry about ray intersection tests and acceleration schemes, since this is all done by the other plugins. Network rendering is supported, via LAN and the Internet as well. Your computer could go into render slave mode, which would allow people on your network or on the Internet to use your computer power to render. This would allow you (for example) to render one image using 1000 computers connected via the Internet.

Mystique and its SDK will be free. It will be released with plugins for hybrid Monte Carlo global illumination, 3DSMax and Maya exporters, Octree and Uniform-Grid ray acceleration and a GUI for Windows.

You can find some current in-development renders at in the Mystique section. Mystic Game Development is also searching for artists who can provide some cool models to use to test the system. If you are interested in seeing your work rendered using the new system please contact us via our website.

Image of the Day Gallery


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Archive Notice: This thread is old and no longer active. It is here for reference purposes. This thread was created on an older version of the flipcode forums, before the site closed in 2005. Please keep that in mind as you view this thread, as many of the topics and opinions may be outdated.
John van der Burg

April 13, 2002, 06:17 AM

The ray intersection test is virtual.
It will give a slowdown indeed, but it's definitely not the bottleneck, since it's not the amount of calls to the function (I mean not the overhead of the virtual calls) but the calculations inside the ray tests being done. The ray intersection tests (with the world, so not just on ray/tri level) take away most speed.

John van der Burg

April 13, 2002, 06:18 AM

Haha, true true! :)
It's an older image, but I liked it :)
And was not intended to be posted as IOTD at first, but I thought it couldnt hurt :)

John van der Burg

April 13, 2002, 06:21 AM

That's right, it's a Jagdpanther. It's a free model somewhere downloadable online, however I don't have the URL anymore :(
But I can mail you the model if you want.

John van der Burg

April 13, 2002, 06:30 AM

So, should I next time render a box instead of a tank? :)

About the colors. Since the sky is emitting just one constant color in this image it's just in one color.

Eight images, why. Well, why not? :)
This is just a collection of renders I made. I didn't put in 8 just because I wanted to for the image of the day. And certainly not to make it look more impressive. Actually these renders are just for my personal collection. I keep always an history of renders/screenshot from the start of the system till the end. So I can later look back on how it evolved.

btw, you are color blind, since the images are slightly blue tinted and not gray :)

Sorry for making you look bad. But it can get worse :)

John van der Burg

April 13, 2002, 06:59 AM

-1 fps :)

John van der Burg

April 13, 2002, 07:03 AM

At the moment it doesn't support transparent surfaces.
But will implement that soon :)

John van der Burg

April 13, 2002, 07:09 AM

Hi John!

I think it will be available pretty soon as in next month.
Need to finalize the API first.

The terrain shots... Maybe another time :)
The next IOTD I'll post will most likely from Liquid Motion's lipsync and facial expression system.

How's shader studio coming along btw? :)

John van der Burg

April 13, 2002, 07:11 AM

I pretty much solved the noise completely.
But it looks too clean.
So need some noise stuff too :) (optional)


April 13, 2002, 07:14 AM

How do you estimate this? Just by counting the objects/faces in that area or something more sophisticated? Do you transmit the whole scene to the slave computers? Some artist might not like the idea especially if using "unknown" computers out there in the internet. Also the overhead could be reduced if it was possible to not transmit the complete scene but I guess with a raytracer (reflections) this is not possible. Correct?


John van der Burg

April 13, 2002, 07:16 AM

I think this doesn't real because of not good materials and no environment. I mean, when would you see a tank just out of 1 material on a flat plane? :) That's probably the main reason of it not looking real. You certainly can make things look real though, if you use the right materials/textures and light setup.
And yeah, the noise hasn't been eliminated yet in these images. So might look speckled :)

John van der Burg

April 13, 2002, 07:19 AM

Mystique can also be used to generate lightmaps for games, so might be usefull :)

John van der Burg

April 13, 2002, 07:23 AM

Hey Marco! :)

Yikes, I have rendered these images pretty long time ago already.
Memory usage is pretty low I think, around 17mb for the tank.
However the render times I cannot exactly remember anymore.
But I estimate them around an hour for a 640x480 render with anti-aliassing (amd thunderbird 1.2ghz without network render)

- John

John van der Burg

April 13, 2002, 07:27 AM

You will be surprised how accurate I am on this one :)
50% is a bit overkill, probably around 45, but really the ray tests are the thing which takes the time. And I timed and profiled it, and it's really true :)

John van der Burg

April 13, 2002, 07:33 AM

The background. Well, there isn't a background :)
The tank is on a finite plane indeed. There are no emitting polygons in this scene. The sky is emitting light, however not using polygons or any form of shape. Well yeah, you could say that there is an emitting sphere around the scene, but that's not completely true.
Skylight is pretty easy. Especially when it's just a constant color which it emits. I also have some tests with fake sunlight. Looks pretty nice too.
(however, not on the site yet)


April 13, 2002, 08:19 AM

:) If I would look at this pic 10 hours without break It could get even worse ;)
Also about impression ... Im not so serious here as somebody may think :) So take it easy ;p


April 13, 2002, 08:23 AM


looks great (as always) :) i'm still wondering how you got your mc estimates to be so noise-free...

anyway, keep up the good work mate! :)

John van der Burg

April 13, 2002, 08:41 AM

Haha yeah, but that would even make me feel sick if I would watch it 10 hours :)
And ofcourse I know it's mainly making fun. No prob :)


April 13, 2002, 10:30 AM

2) it depends on what is "basic" "

Basic is a programming language.

Well I thought u mean very basic (or smth) programs ... as opposed to advanced if it could clear situation a bit

I do not like basic, remember all those goto's. Now it is different, but I still dont need it.

Global illumination used in games is usually implemented using shadow maps. They are supposed to represent shadows and unless you live is some strange magical land shadows donít have colour (which is caused by different spectrums of light mixing) but a lack there of any light.

That's a question

I know u will say its ambient etc etc but no shadows without light is possible, simply because shadow means "less light"

P.S. Itís good to ask questions, thatís how you learn and what the IOTD is for in part. But you might try writing in a slightly less condescending tone in future to avoid get labelled a troll.

Stupid ... Im not asking questions... I state something this way. Also it depends on situation.
If you can't understand dont give your suggestions


April 13, 2002, 10:57 AM

Wow... looks very good!

I was wondering... how long did it take to render this image? What is the hardware you used? Could you give some stats from the scene (like model-polycount)?



April 13, 2002, 03:19 PM

Why not implement photon mapping for global illumination? It takes care of the noise and is faster than plain Monte Carlo. And there's plenty of code on the net.


April 13, 2002, 03:51 PM

photon mapping (apart from being a hack) doesn't scale well with scene complexity, is biased (consistent, but nevertheless biased), and produces artifacts which are (imo) uglier than those of mc-based methods.

mc-based methods, given a suitable number of enhancements, can easily nail photon mapping in most regards.


April 13, 2002, 04:18 PM

already found it :)


April 13, 2002, 04:29 PM

Actually, there are some incredible 3d artists out there.
(for example) has a huge gallery including some of the best.

I would recommend (if you're interested in the stuff) to check out the "Art Gallery" then "Charts" and browse through some of them.

In similar style to the image link you posted is "The Maxer", check out Willi Hames's work at here:

or elsewhere here:


ps. It (the message) was longer, but I mistyped my pw, and lost my entire message, sorry!


April 13, 2002, 05:22 PM

W3r3 r d4 n3kk1d ch1ckz ?/??


April 13, 2002, 07:19 PM

Your noise is well-done.
I think that as-is, you could send it to Mattel for modelling purposes.
However, in a normal enviroment it will need colored surfaces.
As you know. :)
I think you need shinieness.
Transparency you are working on.

John van der Burg

April 13, 2002, 08:27 PM

You can get a rough estimate by timing the areas around the area to render, to see how long these took. You can also mix that with the polycount in that area indeed.

The protocol ofcourse is secured with encryption. And you can setup private internet render networks. So that not everyone can participate in the rendering.

And yeah, the whole scene is transmitted.
Actually the computer who needs to render uploads the scene data to an mystique server, and then the clients download this data from the server. But since all data encrypted etc you cannot really use it.

- John

John van der Burg

April 13, 2002, 08:34 PM

Indeed. Photonmapping isn't that cool.
It reduces the noise, into blurry noise.
And it indeed only works well with smaller scenes. You need super much photonsamples if you have large scenes and just a few lights.

For caustics and participating media however they are great.

Des Browne

April 13, 2002, 10:12 PM

I agree about basic.

But the images are to show the shadow not the light, lighting effects/colours would detract from the visualization of shadow.

" Stupid ... Im not asking questions... I state something this way. Also it depends on situation.
If you can't understand dont give your suggestions "

Maybe you'd like to try using more constructive criticism, or do like being the ďMost hated person of the year ;pĒ

zed zeek

April 14, 2002, 01:26 AM

totally awesome, itll be a few years before we see this images of this quality in a game.

Ron Bakker

April 14, 2002, 03:42 AM

Hi John,

Nice images. They've really progressed.
You write on your site, that we can contribute as developers to Mystique. Is this done soly by the SDK?
Are you going to write some articles on how you implemented this thing? I'm not a raytracing guru (yet :~), but I would want to know more about the lighting techniques you used? Maybe you could put up some references to related materials on the site.

- Ron

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