Way back in G-Engine #4, we rendered a triangle, and there was much rejoicing. Since then, the posts in this series have primarily focused on implementing mathematical constructs in code. This point is the final math pre-requisite before we can move on to more interesting things.
Think of a game engine as its own little universe: at first, there is nothing - the void. Concepts such as time, position, and orientation don’t exist yet. Suddenly, the game loop and delta time introduces the concept of time. With vectors, we can convey positions, directions, and distances. Slowly, our universe takes shape and we can convey important concepts in code.
But what about rotations? Vectors can store position, direction, and scale data, but they are not effective structures for 3D rotations. We need some other option to convey rotations in code.
One structure that is very effective for 3D rotations is the Quaternion. Much-maligned for their apparant complexity, Quaternions allow us to efficiently store and use 3D rotation data. In this post, we’ll explore why we use quaternions, what they are, how to perform common operations with them, and finally I’ll provide some tips for writing your own