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I don’t really look into other engines since most of them are proprietary anyways. Mostly I read the docs since they show how those engines are structured from an API perspective. I mostly read the original Maratis source code since no real docs exist and the code is the only hint on what’s going on in there.
Thanks, but you don’t have to send me those books 😀
If I need a book I usually buy it 🙂
About your 20 characters: I found that the bottleneck is not the rendering pipeline but more the physics engine. I can render about 120 animated karts in my game at 100+ FPS without problems. What slows things down are all the physics calculations. Then again, I do have quite a beefy rig so you could have different problems than I have.
Another thing: Don’t optimize if the user experience is not harmed by not optimizing your game. Premature optimizations kill your game before it is even playable. Write your game and see how it runs. If it is too slow look where possible problems are and then optimize just those bottlenecks. Nothing more and nothing less.