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Those screenshots above are straight from the Vista market efforts. Take them with a grain of salt, but they at least give you an idea of what kinds of differences you’ll see. Exactly how DirectX 10 is better can be a very technical topic, but it can be boiled down to a few simple concepts that can get across the general idea:
1) Tighter Hardware Standards
By requiring tighter standards, game developers for PC games gain this same benefit. They no longer have to go through the hoops of writing specific code for all the hardware variations. By only having to write one set of code, games can be more easily developed, and more thoroughly tested.
In addition to loosely defined feature implementation, DirectX 9 also does not require that all features are even implemented at all. This means that game developers are working to program great looking features into their games, knowing that only the minority of people able to afford the most high end hardware will ever see it! When was the last time you ran a game on full video settings? The majority of gamers do not have the hardware to do it. It must be frustrating for game developers to work hard on features that most of us never see!
DirectX 10 addresses this in the same way, with the same tighter standards. Unfortunately, these standards mean that it will be harder for manufacturers to make DirectX 10 cards. It will also mean there will be less models of cards on the market, and they may cost more. This will also mean that it will be a while until we see DX10 support in the low-end. This technology is for the cutting edge only – business office terminals need not apply! While this isn’t something we can all be thrilled about, we can all look forward to the results of what a big help this is to game developers.
2) Unified Architecture
3) Reduced CPU Overhead
Among other things, another feature introduced in DirectX 10 is called “Instancing.” This is a feature that allows the same object to be rendered multiple times without all the overhead. Without it, game developers are limited to roughly 500 objects on the screen before the overhead gets ridiculous. With DirectX 10, you’ll see a new ability to have virtually limitless numbers of objects — the only limit is the speed of the hardware. This means bigger armies, more trees, even individually rendered blades of grass if the game developer chooses! In whatever way it ends up being used, Instancing will be a big part in bringing game detail to the next level.
What is needed to run DX10?
- Windows Vista
- A DirectX 10 video card
- DirectX 10 Games
All high end games today run on DirectX 9, which has been the most recent revision for the last four years (has it really been that long?!). When is DirectX 10 being released? Good news — DirectX 10 is here NOW! It’s one of the new features included with Windows Vista, working ONLY ON Vista. Windows XP will not have DirectX 10. Read it again, it’s important: the next generation of games WILL NOT be played on Windows XP using DirectX 9 hardware and software. While Vista includes a separate DirectX 9 software layer, version 10 is where the graphics industry is headed, which means Vista is where the gaming is headed.
What Video Cards are Available?
What Games are Coming Out?
A new FPS merging magic and technology with some interesting ideas for team multiplayer. Approx release date: June 2007.
Another FPS which has been recently highly acclaimed for its visuals, from the makers of Far Cry. Approx release date: June 2007.
A “psychological action thriller”, from the makers of Max Payne which looks to be shaping up to be a good contender for game of the year. Release date not yet announced.
|Unreal Tournament 3
The next iteration of the classic deathmatch shooter. Approx release date: Q2 2007.
|Flight Simulator X
The culmination of nearly 25 years of the landmark Flight Simulator franchise. Available now, with a future patch to DX10.
Will be patched to support Direct X 10.
A futuristic hack-and-slash with demons, guns, and magic – what else do you need. Approx release date: Q2 2007.
A real-time strategy game, from the makers of Total Annihilation. Available now with DX9 support, and will be patched to DX10 later.
For information, including more screenshot comparisons between DirectX 9 and 10, you can also check out the DirectX 10 Whitepaper on the Windows Vista Team Blog.