by Richard Russell, November 2018
One would not expect the order in which 3D objects are specified (i.e. the order in which they are listed in the arrays passed to PROC_render) to matter - after all the GPU has to plot them in Z-order anyway to ensure that foreground objects occlude background objects. However there appears to be an important exception when it comes to objects with transparent (or partially transparent) textures.
Ordinarily, 3D objects (whether plain-coloured, texture-mapped or having a material) are opaque and any object(s) 'behind' will not be visible. However it is possible to specify a texture with an alpha-channel, in which case regions of the object can be made see-through (for example one might model a wall as a simple plane object but use the texture-map's alpha channel to create windows). This technique is used in the 'bbcowl.bbc' Rotating World demo in which the land masses on the 'far side' can be seen.
It appears to be necessary to order the objects in the arrays so that the object with the transparent texture is listed after any objects that need to be seen 'through' it. If not, the alpha channel seems to be ignored and the object treated as opaque again. The particular example, which confused me for ages yesterday, was a situation in which there were three objects, the second of which had a transparent 'window'. The first object could be seen through this window, but the third object couldn't!
So if you have any objects with transparent textures, list them last. Note that the texture map's alpha channel is not enabled by default; to enable it one must add the following code after the call to FN_initd3d or FN_initgl:
SYS!(!device%+200), device%, 27, 1 : REM ALPHABLENDENABLE SYS!(!device%+200), device%, 19, 5 : REM SRCBLEND SYS!(!device%+200), device%, 20, 6 : REM DSTBLEND
(where device% is the value returned from FN_initd3d)
GL_BLEND = &0BE2 GL_SRC_ALPHA = &0302 GL_ONE_MINUS_SRC_ALPHA = &0303 SYS "glEnable", GL_BLEND, @memhdc% SYS "glBlendFunc", GL_SRC_ALPHA, GL_ONE_MINUS_SRC_ALPHA, @memhdc%