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Why you should use OpenGL and not DirectX


Often, when we meet other game developers and say that we use OpenGL for our game Overgrowth, we’re met with stares of disbelief — why would anyone use OpenGL?OpenGL DirectX is the future. When we tell graphics card representatives that we use OpenGL, the temperature of the room drops by ten degrees.

This baffles us. It’s common geek wisdom that standards-based websites, for instance, trounce Silverlight, Flash, or ActiveX. Cross-platform development is laudable and smart. No self-respecting geek enjoys dealing with closed-standard Word documents or Exchange servers. What kind of bizarro world is this where engineers are not only going crazy over Microsoft’s latest proprietary API, but actively denouncing its open-standard competitor?

Here’s John Carmack’s current opinion of OpenGL and Direct3D (quotations from the 21st century, not 1996):

MPC: So, you said Rage is a 60Hz game. Is it an OpenGL or DirectX game? JC: It’s still OpenGL, although we obviously use a D3D-ish API [on the Xbox 360], and CG on the PS3. It’s interesting how little of the technology cares what API you’re using and what generation of the technology you’re on. You’ve got a small handful of files that care about what API they’re on, and millions of lines of code that are agnostic to the platform that they’re on.

The PC version is still OpenGL, but it is possible that could change before release. The actual API code is not very large, and the vertex / fragment code can be easily translated between cg/hlsl/glsl as necessary. I am going to at least consider OpenGL 3.0 as a target, if Nvidia, ATI, and Intel all have decent support. There really won’t be any performance difference between GL 2.0 / GL 3.0 / D3D, so the api decision will be based on secondary factors, of which inertia is one.

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