The Voxel-inator

Okay, let’s get into some game design for Grindcraftia finally.  I’m making a voxel-inator.  It’s a voxel modeling tool, but it doesn’t have (or need) all the functionality of say Magica Voxel.  But what it does need, is to be inside the game.  The tool will eventually be used by players to mod their game, in game.

Grindcraftia will be an isometric voxel game, so I’m making up a system of rendering isometric voxels.  One of the things I liked about Minecraft was their design integrity.  They would take a simple idea and see how many things they could do with it in the game.  Lego, Ikea and Minecraft all have that same design philosophy.  All three of those innovations come from Scandinavia.  Maybe its the long land-locked winters that inspire people to stay indoors and invent cuby things.

So I’m inspired to see how far my design for Grindcraftia can scale.  We have to be able to build time machines and go into the quantum realm, and alternate universes.  So the isometric voxels have to be craftable on the atomic scale, up, and buildable.

So you know, a voxel is kind of like a pixel, except it is in 3d space.  A pixel is “The basic unit of the composition of an image on a television screen, computer monitor, or similar display.”  Everybody knows what a pixel is.  But when talking about voxels, there’s no tangible “3d screen” in people’s living rooms.  A true voxel would be like a grain of sand in the vibranium communication devices from the movie Black Panther.

But right now, you can’t look directly at a voxel like you can look at a pixel on a screen.  Pixels represent voxels, but they are not voxels.  So a voxel is more “concept” than “thing you can point to”.  But (googling), it seems a voxel is not so abstract as to just be pure data.  The connotation is that it is visual, usually represented by a cube projected onto 2d space.  Whew, we’re out of that rabbit trail.  What I really wanted to show you was a voxel I made for Grindcraftia.
Here it is:

It’s there, believe me.  If we were to double the amount of voxels in the x, y, and z directions, you’d think it would be “about twice as big”.

But you’d be very wrong.

See, placing a voxel in 3d space means that it has to go through a matrix transformation, and lots of tan cos sin,
and then orthogonal projection from an overhead camera tilted at a certain angle.  All this before it can ever be rendered on screen.  After all that very amazing math, the end result is that you scooch it down 1 and over 2 and put a pixel there.  It ends up being about twice as big:

There.  Now you can see it better.  You can continue doubling the size of the cluster of voxels, and with each doubling, the number of voxels grows by a factor of 8.  Their collective length, width, and height grow by 2, so 1, 2, 4, 8, etc.  Interestingly, that happens to be the exact size of the png.  1×1, 2×2, 4×4, 8×8, etc.  Design integrity.  Love it.

In Grindcraftia, the voxel is the equivalent of a sub-atomic particle, like an electron, proton, or neutron.  From there, cuby atoms are built, then molecules, materials, bricks, and blocks.  The subatomic level is not invisible in Grindcraftia.  Instead, its just as small as a pixel.