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I saw it mentioned on this question, but no one explained what it is.

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up vote 11 down vote accepted

ROAM stands for "Real-time Optimally Adapting Meshes." It is a level of detail algorithm for rendering large terrains. It's somewhat complicated so I'll link to some more in depth explanations:

Here is the paper: https://graphics.llnl.gov/ROAM/roam.pdf

The following is a slightly less academic explanation: http://www.yaldex.com/game-programming/0131020099_ch14lev1sec4.html

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+1 Gamasutra also has a very nice and easy to understand explanation of ROAM: gamasutra.com/view/feature/3188/… –  Dave O. Jul 18 '10 at 23:42
    
It should be noted that many developers are now shying away from complicated LOD systems because of their tendency to hog CPU. GPU's are at the point where often just throwing a bit more geometry is preferable to stealing valuable CPU. –  Ron Warholic Jul 19 '10 at 22:21
    
Move along to other algorithms, ROAM was relevant when the fill cost of triangles on screen was high, and it was worth the CPU time to cut them down as much as possible. –  Vincent Scheib Jul 20 '10 at 4:21
    
Have a look at gamedev.stackexchange.com/questions/9/…. Never use ROAM, there are better alternatives available. –  Jonathan Dickinson Aug 16 '10 at 10:15

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