RE: Why Voxels Are the Future of Video Games, VR, and Simulating Reality
Nice article... I've written a few articles on voxels and I've written a few voxel systems.
I wanted to expand upon what you said just a bit.
A Pixel is a single dot on your screen that can have color values. That is it. That is what our images are built out of.
A Voxel is a Volumetric Pixel. It is when we conceptually break a world or and environment into a grid. Each grid cell is like a pixel. The key is since this is a virtual 3D pixel we can put WHATEVER we want into that cell. We can define values that are more than just colors.
One of the most simple representations of this is a cube. It is the easiest to code. This is NOT what all voxels are. In fact, it isn't even the most common form, but it has become more popular after Minecraft became so popular.
The Marching Cubes Algorithm is NOT referring to cube shapes but rather the cubes it is referring to are the grid volumetric areas but it holds many shapes in that area and only one of those is a cube.
You can take this further. If you have a tile based game where the tiles are all the same size then in reality that could almost be viewed as a form of VoXel. You have volumetric pixels with the possible values being the different tile variations.
Voxels (even cubes) are tricky to get performance for procedurally created infinite environments. They are easy to use with static environments created on the fly.
There are some benefits to them and yes I agree they likely are the future. VoxelFarm.com is one of the most advanced voxel engines out there and some amazing stuff has been done with it. (it is Dual Contouring based)
The benefits are procedural generation and HUGE worlds represented with very little memory requirements. With procedural generation you do not need to save all the cubes either. You simply need to save which cubes were changed.
It is great for creation, destruction, and simulating near infinite worlds. (not truly infinite due to mathematical precision limitations... but if done right this is unnoticeable to the players).
Thanks for posting your blog article. This is definitely a strong interest of mine. I am actually working on some Unity based Voxel Systems. I may try to sell them. We shall see. I am building basic tools first, and then will likely build a fancier more optimized version.