Ask Renaud

October 11th, 2007 by fish

Trixels, voxels, pixels and texels.trixels!


Renaud explains how Fez is being built.

Alright, here’s a couple of explainations about the rendering technology behind Fez, what we call trixels.

Some people on deviantART and the TIGS blog post have pointed out how these are pretty much just voxels, but with a trendy name. As the lead programmer, I beg to differ… a bit.

First, everything is rendered 3D, at all times. The 2D views are just orthographic (a.k.a. isometric) views of the world from a direction or another. Since the Z component disappears, the character considers the whole world as 2D and can go from very far objects to very close objects without distinction.

Each visible pixel-art tile that you see while playing the game in 2D view is part of a 3D cube, which we call a trile. Each trile is a 16×16×16 volume which is formed of 4096 potential trixels. Obviously, not all trixels are rendered, else it would be incredibly slow… so only the border trixels are considered. But in the data storage, it’s basically a 3D presence array which tells the renderer if a trixel is present/on, or absent/off.

Up to now, I could’ve called them voxels and it wouldn’t have made any difference… but when it comes to rendering, we want every 2D side of the trile to look like believable pixel art, so it needs to be made of smaller cubes. Standard voxel triangulation is complicated because it wants to look as close to the initial (curved, organic) shape as possible… but we don’t! We want that pixelated, 8-bit look.

So we make assumptions. And that allows very intuitive polygon reduction and culling algorithms, allowing pretty good detail on these triles.

As for the texturing, cubemaps are used, which links trixels to pixels even more. Each pixel of the cubemap (so each visible 2D pixel) ends up as trixel of the trile.

So there you have it. Trixels are voxels, but with some special properties, a special (simpler) triangulation algorithm, and in a pretty special game. :)

This entry was posted on Thursday, October 11th, 2007 at 10:43 am and is filed under Fez, Tech. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Comments 17

  1. Zaphos wrote:

    Forget the wheel! Let’s re-invent the cuberille ;)

    I’ll always think of a trixel as a single fruit-flavored, sweetened, ground corn piece, though …

    Posted 12 Oct 2007 at 12:43 am
  2. Dean wrote:

    I learned about this game from 4 color rebellion. It looks awesome. Long live pixel art!

    Posted 12 Oct 2007 at 8:34 am
  3. olo wrote:

    wow, this looks really good, it scares me a bit when you explain the 3d presence on/off way of saving your levels. You should look into octrees ;) they would be a bit more efficient, and they would support less data for less dense part of your world.

    keep it up…!

    Posted 12 Oct 2007 at 1:34 pm
  4. Renaud wrote:

    Just a note, not the entire level is a presence array, just the trile.
    The level is a map/dictionary that associates triles from a trile-set to integer 3D postions inside the world… so there is little useless data.
    I don’t think I’ll need octrees, but it’s an idea. :)

    Posted 12 Oct 2007 at 9:27 pm
  5. ChrisSketch wrote:

    Neat! I can’t help but think of those I.Q. test puzzlers: All Trixels are Voxels but only some Voxels are Trixels.

    Posted 13 Oct 2007 at 5:31 pm
  6. TimS wrote:

    mmm… Voxels.

    Or Trixels.

    Whatever, this game looks damn sexy and I want to play it badly.

    You’re my hero of the day… (which is really saying something, because I just played Team Fortress 2 for the first time today).


    Posted 14 Oct 2007 at 9:52 pm
  7. Stunt wrote:

    Try to get this on the PLAYSTATION Network, really nice.

    Posted 15 Oct 2007 at 4:50 pm
  8. Newkid wrote:

    This looks like something that would be on the NDS handheld. It’s so proffesional…
    I can’t wait for a playable version.

    Posted 15 Oct 2007 at 7:19 pm
  9. Echidna wrote:

    1. that looks very nice. as a gamer i’m looking forward it.

    2. safe the respect i owe you guys, you are not first on the field. Sega did that before, The team behind “exochrome” for sony PSP uses this interpretation of 3D computing. so it’s nothing like Trixels or whatever other fancy name you can give to it. Nice try, though.

    PS: by the way: hyping up may have you fly higher but also crash harder.

    Posted 16 Oct 2007 at 3:39 am
  10. jph wacheski wrote:

    Wow neat-o! Can I play with the level editor? Building puzzles for this would be great fun indeed! I got one of my designes onto the XBL ver of N;

    well, have fun building it!

    Posted 16 Oct 2007 at 9:00 am
  11. Martin Wisniowski wrote:

    Hi there. Very lovely stuff in here. Unfortunatelly I don’t have trackback, but I wrote an article. So see this as a handmade trackback. ;)

    Thanks and keep up cool stuff.

    Posted 24 Oct 2007 at 10:16 am
  12. hObbE wrote:

    The game looks really neat :)

    I have made a similar technology experiment in a game called AWorld. Where the game world is built with voxels triangulated as cubes. It is more of an indoors/fps type thingy with focus on lighting though.

    Feel free to check it out and keep up the good work!

    Posted 28 Dec 2007 at 2:37 pm
  13. Cole wrote:

    You all should use the XNA and put it on the xbox.

    Posted 24 Feb 2008 at 8:31 am
  14. Roras wrote:

    Amazing work. The teaser looks so clean & refined, it’s almost as if the game already came out(I thought it did!) I can tell that the next generation of games will contain many more 2d-like games. I am a major fan of these kinds of games because i grew up with them & adding algorithms into the mix makes them even better!
    I believe trixels are like pixels that gained one more dimension (or basically cubes) & all of these cubes are organized on your map to create what Fez is. But what you did is removed all of that scribble that comes up every time the perspective of the trixels is changed & made it clean. Right?

    Posted 30 Apr 2008 at 7:47 pm
  15. Pierre-Philippe Gagn wrote:

    I would love to get a job in your game industry, but I haven’t found any place to contact you guys at Kokoromi.
    I live in montreal and I’d love to see your job site.
    Thanks Pierre-Philippe(Pops02)

    Posted 24 Jul 2008 at 5:23 am
  16. ChesterM wrote:

    So basically Trixels are voxels that are good for looking pixel-y? Many people would find the special name you give it to be gimmicky and just a bit of marketing to catch attention. Nothing is truly wrong with that, it’s just that people nowdays are so bombarded with marketing, we tend to have a negative reaction when we notice it. That would explain a great many comments I have seen around.

    That said, it’s looks to be a beautiful game, and I look forward to it coming out. I’ve never been a big fan of 3-d games, and have always missed good pixel art in any form. The masses are starving for creativity and beauty.

    Posted 07 Sep 2008 at 12:23 pm
  17. Foemovok-online wrote:

    Tres intiresno, gracias

    Posted 10 Mar 2010 at 11:44 am

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