Lately I have been really enjoying a game called Minecraft. It’s an indie game made by one guy, I highly recommend it!
I have ported the heightmap generation code in one of my earlier posts to C# and using XNA I have been creating a minecraft style rendering for fun. My first approach was a brute force, render everything test. As you might have guessed, that didn’t turn out so well when rendering a decent sized terrain. The method I am using now is hardware instancing without any kind of occlusion culling at the moment. I am getting a decent frame rate (about 80fps for 20000 models) for the moment and I am going to continue on improving this method. The example that is linked at the bottom of this article shows how to perform hardware, and shader instancing.
Here’s a video of it in action: