Friday, May 16, 2008

Could OpenGL 3.0 make significant leaps over DirectX 10?

So, two of the big selling points for Windows Vista is security and DirectX 10. Well the whole security thing is just that it has a real firewall that is enabled from the beginning and not just half of a firewall like they used in Windows XP. The Windows XP firewall would only block outgoing stuff, it would do nothing about incoming stuff. This is easily remedied by using another firewall....TADA!!! your safe.

Now, the whole DirectX 10 thing is that you can't get DirectX 10 on Windows XP. What a great ploy at their disposal? A way to make people upgrade to get that when so many other things have been backported to XP. Brilliant!

Oh wait, this could backfire too. Vista has been released for over a year now but how many licenses have been sold? As of the mark of one year of availability, the number of new computers sold was about 250 million. How many of those were Windows Vista PC's you say? About 100 Million. So about 2/5ths of new PC's sold during that time were Windows Vista PCs. Those people will not be looking to buy Vista anytime soon considering they just purchased their PC.

Also, its pretty simple that a game developer wants to get to the widest audience possible. The widest possible audience is people running DirectX 9. But they also want to provide the best experience possible. Here is where OpenGL 3.0 can come in and try to sweep the rug out from underneath M$.

OpenGL 3 will be completely backwards compatible with OpenGL 2.1, 2.0, 1.5, 1.4, 1.3, 1.2, 1.1 and 1.0 just like always. But it will also push the OpenGL 3.0 API into the next generation and will finally be able to compete with Direct3D 10. Plus, this same functionality will be available on video cards that support OpenGL 2 and DirectX 9. Thus no requirement to get a new video card (unless you want more performance for the bleeding edgers).

So the short of it is that you could get the same functionality as Direct3D 10, in an open standard, and it would be available on Windows XP machines as well as Windows Vista machines.

But, like with everything else, there is a down side. DirectX is more than just graphics. It has DirectInput, DirectPlay for communication, and some less significant things. While OpenGL is just a graphics library API. It doesn't have input or sound, to get those you pretty much have to do it yourself.

OpenGL has a chance to make a big mark but it is at somewhat of an disadvantage too. Do you use DirectX 10 and make it Windows Vista only? Or do you go OpenGL to get the same functionality but on more platforms with the need to write your own input, sound etc?

I will be pulling for OpenGL since I like open standards and most of my favorite games use OpenGL.

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