Developing AAA games with the PowerVR POD format

About the PowerVR POD format

POD (the PowerVR Object Data format) is a light-weight deployment format for scene data such as meshes, animations, lights and cameras. The format was created by the PowerVR Graphics Developer Technology team to enable artists to export their assets into a container that programmers can quickly and easily import into their applications. Some of the notable features include:

  • Skinned meshes
  • Bone batching based on matrix palette size
  • Data format choice (store data as float, byte, uint etc.)
  • Interleaving of vertex data if desired
  • Mesh instancing
  • Multiple texture co-ordinate sets
  • Parented nodes
  • Polygon stripping
  • Polygon/vertex sorting
  • Tangent space generation
  • Custom user data (Plugins Only)

The PowerVR Graphics SDK includes exporters (Autodesk 3DS Max, Autodesk Maya & Blender), standalone conversion tools (GUI and command-line variants – currently import COLLADA files) and free-to-use resource loading code so that applications can easily import POD files and upload their data to the graphics driver.

To ensure the data stored in the container is as efficient and PowerVR-friendly as possible, the exporter/converter tools also include options to remove unnecessary properties (e.g. redundant texture coordinates), choose how the data will be uploaded to the graphics driver (e.g. interleaved indexed triangle lists) and sort the triangle data (as shown in the figure below).

The PowerVR SDK PVRGeoPOD GUIThe PVRGeoPOD GUI

PVRGeoPOD post-export options

PVRGeoPOD post-export options

The GUI tools also provide post-export options to further simplify integration into an asset pipeline, such as running custom command-line tools or opening the file in PVRShaman (the PowerVR shader development environment) to render meshes and validate the exported data

PowerVR SDK PVRShaman

PVRShaman

The SDK also includes a specification document to ensure the format is as transparent as possible. This specification has already enabled numerous developers to write custom POD handling tools to streamline their development process.

How the PowerVR POD is designed to save you time and money

The POD file format is simple and optimised for rendering. It’s proven and already used by a wide range of developers, including well-known companies that have sold games in the millions. It also comes with a suite of tools and boilerplate code so that it can be quickly and easily integrated into any developer’s workflow. Mountain Sheep’s Technical Director, Petri Kero, had the following to say about the POD format:

“We have been very pleased with the ease of use of the POD file format and associated tools. It saved us significant effort in bringing our assets from the modelling software into our games compared to alternatives. We have also been positively surprised how far it really scales in terms of content and features for mobile production. Unless you’re willing to spend time creating your own content pipeline, you should give the POD format a serious consideration.”

Mountain Sheep have used the POD format and tools as the core of their asset pipeline for years, shipping well known titles such as Bike Baron and the recently released Minigore 2: Zombies, the sequel to their hugely popular iOS hit Minigore.

BikeBaron designed with the PowerVR POD format

Bike Baron (Mountain Sheep, Oct 2011)

Minigore 2: Zombies designed with the PowerVR POD format

Minigore 2: Zombies (Mountain Sheep, Dec 2012)

Minigore 2: Zombies designed with the PowerVR POD format

Minigore 2: Zombies (Mountain Sheep, Dec 2012)

Minigore 2: Zombies designed with the PowerVR POD format

Minigore 2: Zombies (Mountain Sheep, Dec 2012)

The free-to-use POD format, tools and source code are just one aspect of the PowerVR Graphics SDK (now at v3.0 r2) that make it indispensable to graphics developers targeting current and next-generation mobile platforms. With a suite of development, debugging and performance analysis tools, texture and material definition formats (PVR and PFX) and optimized example applications (with source code), the PowerVR Graphics SDK is designed to support and streamline the entire graphics development process.

To find out more about POD and the PowerVR Graphics SDK, visit the PVRGeoPOD dedicated micro-website and download the PowerVR Graphics SDK. Make sure you also follow us on Twitter (@ImaginationPR and @PowerVRInsider) and subscribe to our blog for more articles and announcements related to our PowerVR Graphics SDK.

 

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