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Faster is more exciting!

Umbra Software is a games middleware provider that specialises in solving computationally challenging problems in computer graphics. Compelling game worlds, such as those featured in Guild Wars 2 and Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures, rely on Umbra™ visibility optimisation. Umbra™ technology cuts development time and delivers faster play frame rates.

Umbra Software’s flagship product, Umbra™, is the industry-standard visibility optimisation solution in the games world, and the secret behind the high FPS performance of many of today’s hottest titles. Umbra™ speeds up the production and rendering of some of the world’s most popular and graphically demanding games. Developed since 2000, it is the only commercially available general visibility optimisation software.

Umbra™ has been used in numerous cuttingedge titles, including Turbine’s Lord of the Rings Online; FunCom’s Age of Conan - Hyborian Adventures; ArenaNet’s Guild Wars 2; and Bioware’s Dragon Age: Origins. And it has been integrated into all the major commercial game engines, such as Epic’s Unreal Engine 3, Emergent’s Gamebryo, BigWorld’s BigWorld Technology Suite, and Simutronics’ Hero Engine.

Better for everyone

As cross-platform visibility optimisation middleware for 3D computer games, Umbra™ increases frame rates by determining the objects visible from the camera’s point of view and only rendering these, rather than the entire scene.

Umbra™ is integrated into rendering engines and acts as an online visibility pre-processor. Before a frame is rendered, Umbra™ determines which objects are visible from the current point of view and passes them to the rendering engine.

Umbra™ reduces content creation time by carrying out all visibility optimisation work automatically, eliminating the need to tweak game levels manually, by using portals or splitting game levels to cut the polygon count, for example. As Umbra™ processes everything in run-time mode, there is no need for costly visibility pre-processing, such as calculating PVSs.

Umbra has been designed to handle large, complex, and highly dynamic game worlds, allowing objects to be moved, added, and removed at run-time without a significant performance overhead, which opens up exciting opportunities in terms of game design.

Without Umbra™. The player’s view of the game can be seen on the left and a bird’s eye view of what is actually being drawn on the right. This shows that a significant number of objects that do not contribute to the final output image are being drawn, resulting in poor rendering performance.

With Umbra™. The software determines which objects are visible and only draws these, resulting in much improved rendering performance.

> Marko Nurro
(Published in HighTech Finland 2009)