4D Graphics: A Reality Only For PlayStation 3

  • Posted August 24th, 2007 at 06:14 EDT by

We all know what 3D graphics are - length, width & depth, but how many know what 4D graphics are? If you are one of the millions of people thinking 'What the %&$* are 4D graphics?', don't be alarmed. You've already seen them. Shocking isn't it?  We all remember Kutaragi proclaiming not too long ago that PS3 would utilize 4D graphics, but what exactly did he mean?

4D, from a developer’s point of view, is is the progression of Life in time. It is where every tangible object in your game is living and constantly changing. As a result, change becomes an integral part of 4D graphics.

But how does all of this become possible? The answer is the dynamic rendering of procedural textures.  Sounds complicated, but it's not.  Let me explain; Procedural textures are textures which are linked to an algorithm. Instead of the texture being drawn pixel by pixel, you define the way these pixels have to be lit to produce the texture you want.

When the procedural texture is placed somewhere, you utilize an engine for actually generating these bitmap textures. They have life. They can change in a way you define them, especially through time. In a lot of the current games,  the randomized textures method is used. Developers use one bitmap and just map it on randomly in the environment to create the design for that specific area. Every texture is not defined or unique. So, the method to create procedural textures allows for more control.

Allegorithmic is a utility set which allows an extensive realization of procedural textures. With it you define the procedures way using MaPZone, and then use ProFX to rasterize the images, producing the final result to be displayed by a renderer or a game engine.

Observe the following example: 

HD Version (Right Click-Save As)

If you look closely at the calm boat dock scene above, the docks are being splattered by rain. The wood is literally degrading with every drop that hits it. The light poles are rusting with every second. The light bulbs are degrading with every photon of light they are emitting. The wooden cabin is degrading, while the grassland outside is rotting slowly. These all fit into the core realization of 4D graphics.

Now, let’s fix a common misconception.  These 4D renders can be processed on the Xbox 360 with an average mean time of 10-12 seconds. Yes. The renders are possible, but the dynamic realization of procedural texture streaming is not. The dynamic renders with characters in the scene, with progression of life through the time continuum, are not possible with the 360 system. It would take days to produce dynamic renders on the 360 in the fullest definition of 4D graphics--this with the software already optimized for it.

All the videos on this page can be run perfectly and efficiently, without taking days to render, currently only on two specific platforms. Upscale PC’s and the PlayStation 3. Procedural techniques are demanding in terms of power, so the more power you get: the easier it is to render these 4D graphics dynamically. Programming for the PS3's eight Synergistic Processing Units (SPUs) can be a challenge sometimes, but there is definitely a lot to gain from the architecture, and the dynamic renders can be processed on the fly with the PlayStation 3.

HD Version (Right Click-Save As)

The 4D graphics above, centralizing on the dynamic renders of procedural textures, show a distinguished change of the bathroom scene as time progresses. The scene starts with a very nice bath tub. Probably one that we would love to take a bubble bath in.  But, as time progresses, the bathroom rusts. The tiles shatter, the mold grows, and Mr.Clean won’t work here anymore.


The scene then changes to that of an overhead of a bathroom sink next to a metal core. The metal rusts, the sink degrades in texture, and the mirror shatters. The scene quickly changes to normal, all to show a mirror in the next one.

Now, this mirror is a prime example of 4D graphics made from a core factor of dynamically rendered procedural textures. The mirror ... (continued on next page)

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