Shaders are the fundamental building blocks of all things graphical in game engines. shaders can range from simple things like creating lighting or modifying images to more complex processes like ray-tracing, collision detection, physics simulations, and artificial intelligence.
Advancement in technology has boosted the quality of graphics, enabling the game makers to include better visuals in their games even with the limitations of the hardware. With better visuals, the gaming environment is more realistic and it helps in evoking a response from an emotional perspective.
Shaders are everywhere in modern game development, used heavily in both 2D and 3D games, they are the final piece of the puzzle for making games look realistic or artistic, they are used for post-processing effects, they are also used to help us get the most performance possible out of our graphics hardware.
Shaders are programmed using a fixed function language called HLSL which is designed to be translated into an assembly language for the GPU to run. the language was originally created at Microsoft by Andrew Watt, Kenneth Bowles, and Graham Sellers however it is now owned by Microsoft.
Shaders allow you to alter the way objects are rendered in real-time. Using shaders you can achieve effects not normally possible with just plain old pixels. Shaders are often used by game developers to give their games that professional touch that makes them look more realistic.
3D games are becoming more and more realistic. One of the main reasons for that is shaders. Shaders are programs written by graphic programmers that are executed on the graphic cards by a graphics processor. Programs are written in high-level languages GLSL ES, Cg, HLSL.
What can Shaders do?
Shaders transform plain and dull game animations that may lack a cohesive look into tremendously beautiful works of art. Shaders apply the final layers of polish, making graphics pop and truly come alive. They can be used to enhance texture, reflections, and shadows.
Shaders replace an old graphics engine. They make games look super polished and really cool. Even a retro-style platformer can become a masterpiece with shaders at their disposal. Adding shaders to your game is simple too. Just add the shader file to your project, then link it from the materials in your editor of choice.
Shaders can be used to apply a reflective sheen on a car, add a pool of water with a mirror-like effect, or make a character look like he has a shiny metallic surface. Shaders are powerful programs that manipulate lighting in games. They can be used to transform graphics from boring to breathtaking!
Game shaders can also provide special effects far beyond the capabilities of graphics hardware that directly draws what you see on the screen. Motion blur and depth of field, and lighting and shadows, and these effects work seamlessly across all platforms, including consoles.
If you’re a game developer having low-spec hardware who wishes to add details in 3D games rendered in real-time at even half or a quarter of their current visual fidelity, shaders are your best friend. Shaders smooth out rough edges and provide your 3D models with stunning detail previously reserved for high-end computers.
2D: Pixel Shaders
Pixel Shader is a procedural texture generation technique, you can use to create heat map effects or realistic landscapes. Pixel Shaders are a self-contained program that gets "run" on each pixel on a 3D object. Pixel Shaders are used to apply various effects to an image or surface. These effects can be time-dependent or even state-dependent.
Pixel shaders are programs that apply textures on the surfaces of 3D models instead of simply giving them colors. Depending on their complexity, pixel shaders can be very powerful but also require a great amount of knowledge to create. Pixel Shaders are the backbone of almost all photorealistic rendering games.
Pixel shaders can be found in most common graphic editors. Unlike textures, shaders set up a way to make your images more realistic. They are made in a programming language called GLSL and consist of a couple of parameters, which must be defined for them to work properly.
Pixel Shaders map to each individual pixel on the screen. Meaning that if you want a system like this to work, the world (and the objects in it) will need to be pre-calculated and stored in memory already, otherwise, it would be impossible to render graphics quickly enough for this system to actually be viable.
3D: Vertex Shaders
Vertex Shaders require 3D scenes in a game to work perfectly and reconstruct, modify objects and scenes. Vertex shaders are used to turn 2D objects into 3D objects by adding vertices, thus creating a geometry that can then be modified by various color properties.
Vertex shaders are an essential component in most 3D video games that are made today. Vertex shaders are generally used in all kinds of 3D video games. This means that they are very useful for programmers and programmers use vertex shaders to manipulate different colors, textures, and forms of geometry.
Vertex shaders are responsible for taking a polygonal face from a model and breaking it out into triangles. Those triangles feed into a shader, which in turn manipulates them further. These manipulations create detail in a scene and smooth shadows in a way that wouldn't be possible with fixed processing.
Vertex shaders never render but only manipulates the final output which is later turned into pixels with another pixel shader. A vertex shader will typically modify pixels with the rasterizing process, which occurs in the pixel shader. Shaders are responsible for creating lighting, reflections, materials, and almost everything else you see in your games.
Vertex shaders work with 2D and 3D models and video games to alter different aspects of the plane's surface, such as position, color, and texture. They're used everywhere from Microsoft Windows to web browsers to help build smooth, shiny objects that appear three-dimensional on your screen.