Learning Random Things

I sometimes find potentially useful video game knowledge in the strangest places. After reading Joel Spolsky’s post on the difference between Microsoft’s implementation of font rendering and Apple’s implementation, I followed the link to Texts Rasterization Exposures which goes into great detail on the topic.

The article is about font rendering. What does it have to do with games?

Maybe nothing too much, but I already learned one thing I didn’t already know.

The visual response is approximately proportional to the square root of the physical luminosity. In other words, if there are two white pixels on black, and one of them emits exactly two times more photons per second, it won’t look two times brighter. It will be about 1.4 times brighter.

The accompanying picture shows two white dots on a black background. In order to make something look two times brighter, you would need to add more than two times as many pixels. 4 pixels == 2x as bright as 1 pixel.

The article discusses anti-aliasing techniques, gamma correction, and the problems of font rendering on a Linux-based system. Still, I now know how to make lights appear brighter as well as why it works. If I need a lighthouse to rotate, or a car to turn a corner towards the camera, I have a better idea about what I need to accomplish the effect.

Sometimes I wonder about people who don’t expose themselves to multiple ideas. I occasionally like to read about the history of a place or an idea. I enjoy researching many different topics. Once again, I am glad that my university didn’t have a game development degree available when I started. I would have cut myself off from a lot of information if I had focused so much of my efforts on a degree in a specific field.

Will Wright came up with Spore while thinking about astronomy and education. Shigeru Miyamoto created the universe of Zelda after exploring the fields of Kyoto. What can you create if you only know about existing video games? I think that exposing yourself to multiple thoughts and a wide variety of topics can only help to spur creativity. People invent life-changing things and ideas by finding connections between one field and another. Velcro is a famous example.

Have you ever come across a random piece of information in a seemingly irrelevant piece of text? Has a talk on economics inspired your FPS?

1 comment to Learning Random Things

  • My approach has always been that nothing is irrelevant and everything contains a spark to set the imagination on fire.