Here is a quick video I did over the weekend. It shows a new program which connects to a web server and downloads chunks of terrain as you move.
I had posted similar videos in the past, but there is a radical difference. In earlier videos the meshes were loaded from the hard-drive. This baby you could run from your home. I actually plan to put it out for everyone to try it early next year. Since it will be the fist foray of this technology out there, I called it Sputnik.
It is only the first level of the clipmap, but I have expanded it so the load it generates is similar to a full scene spanning several kilometers. I capped the download speed to one megabyte per second to see if the downloading can cope with the camera movement.
The meshes are not textured in this video, but the all the information required for the final rendering is being downloaded. So this is really it. The chunks average 20K. They contain the mesh, normal maps and material information. I tried hard to make them smaller than that, but the loss in quality was not acceptable.
Using HTTP for transfer is a gamble, I'm still not sure about it. So far the results are encouraging, but I'm still weary of the worst case scenario happening too often. With HTTP it is not really about the transfer speed, it is the overhead of starting requests what worries me.
If you have any experience on this field, I would really appreciate your insight.