What is Texture Streaming?

If you’ve been playing games from before 2010, you may be struck by how better they keep getting. As computer processing technology and hardware improves, game studios work even harder on creating visually stunning and sophisticated games. Of course, better graphics, larger maps, bigger storylines, complex characters, all mean larger games, with a huge appetite for RAM and GPU processing. That means PCs got slower, games got bigger, and prices rose higher for both. There were memes about having access to the best internet like Spectrum offers and the best games on Steam, but the hardware just couldn’t keep up with the load. Until modern texture streaming came around.

What Is Texture Streaming?

Texture streaming is not a very commonly used word. So don’t be surprised if you haven’t heard of it, despite being a gamer on any level. Texture streaming is a new way to speed up game loading by downloading information in real-time when the video game is running. Older games had tortuously slow loading times that impacted the overall game experience. However, with more recent game releases, these loading times have drastically cut down. This directly correlates to when texture streaming first started being used in video games. 

Older games would load texture data after every checkpoint. Or in some cases, as the player progressed along to different levels. The result was flat and lifeless backgrounds that would often glitch and appear incomplete. However, with texture streaming, games don’t have to go through as many loading screens. It simply downloads or streams the texture data it needs as the game proceeds. This isn’t a visible process and is usually taking place in most major game titles these days.  

How Is It Different From Texture Loading?

Texture streaming is a huge part of most gaming experiences these days. But an alternative called texture loading also exists. As opposed to downloading data from the internet during gameplay, it stores all texture data inside your device memory. It only accesses specific bits of texture data only when it needs them. However, this means they take up a lot of space and will load new texture data after every checkpoint or level. This will include a moderate wait in the form of a loading screen as the data loads at the best of times. But if you have a slower PC or hard disk problems, your gaming experience could quickly turn into torture. 

The Advantages and Limitations of Texture Streaming:

The biggest advantage of streaming texture data is quite obvious. You get an uninterrupted gaming experience without dealing with pesky loading screens at the start of each new stage, level, or checkpoint. This means that you keep on playing while all development keeps happening in the background. 

Texture streaming offers better results and a seamless game experience, both of which we have come to expect as a given. The comprehensive gaming experience created with this method means you can explore the full depth and richness of your video game. Down to the last blade of grass or strand of hair. 

Of course, texture streaming needs to download and save large chunks of texture data at once. This is essential for the process to work in any measurable way. Depending on how much space is available on your device, you may get limited resolution and detail. 

Texture Streaming In Action:

Despite its drawbacks, texture streaming is present everywhere in the gaming industry. The most popular RPGs and VR games rely heavily on streaming texture data as the game progresses. This allows for a heavily immersive and interactive experience, one that is opening many new doors for the future of gaming entertainment, as well as professional gaming circuits.

Texture streaming currently has no other application except video games. It is designed specifically to work with the graphics processing units used to render amazing gameplays on screen. But at the same time, it can apply to almost all types of videogames. It helps create some of the best video results in the gaming business. The impact trickles down into even the most mundane features of textures, such as backgrounds, walls, sand, grass, and much more. In terms of application, texture gaming is already the go-to method for most games. How it evolves in the future will be interesting to see.

That’s all about Texture streaming. Thanks for reading. Do let us know if you have any queries. Drop a comment below and I will be happy to assist you. Don’t forget to join our Telegram Channel for getting the latest tech updates.

Nirmal Sarkar

Nirmal Sarkar is a Biotechnologist from the city of Joy, Kolkata. He is the founder of this blog and covers a wide range of topics from Gadgets to Software to Latest Offers. You can get in touch with him via nirmal@hitricks.com

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