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Ray tracing is easier to implement than rasterization...

It really depends on how much functionality you want for both methods.

Rasterization really doesn't require that much work, but you need to be able to do a world/view-transform, clip triangles/quads, and do perspective correct texturing. The most sophisticated bit of that is a clipping algorithm, which is really easy to implement.

Ray tracing requires you to generate a ray per pixel (essentially the opposite world/view-transform), determine ray/box intersections, and based on the intersection coordinate of ray and box determine a texture coordinate.

As someone who has done both, I would say the two procedures are pretty the same level of complexity (if you stay away from bilinear texture interpolation), but I admit that raytracing feels easier to implement as you avoid the clipping and perspective correct texturing.

However, The Minecraft world is a uniform grid of "boxes", so it contains a lot of quads leading to potentially huge amounts of overdraw which quickly becomes infeasible for a software-rasterizer. So if you wish to rasterize in software, you'll need to do a bit of additional work to avoid drawing a lot of hidden box-sides (ignore shared sides), and you'll never get overdraw down to 0 unless you use additional screen-based data-structures.

On the other hand, the author had to implement a raycasting algorithm on the uniform grid for the raytracer to be efficient. This is actually also a little bit painful.

So for that reason, the ray-tracer is definitely the right decision here.

On a related note, I tried to implement raycasting on a uniform 3D grid on a 486/66 Mhz in 1996... Got around 2-5 FPS in 320x200. So it was completely infeasible back then.

I've done both and ray tracing techniques are much more complicated and heterogeneous.

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