3D Materials, Texturing and Mapping in AS3 and the Limits of Flash and Software Rendering

Who’s got the textures and cool chrome shiny 3d objects in Flash? There have been lots of materials work recently from papervision list developers and away3d developers (away3d is a branch of Papervision3D) and recently it is heating up a bit.

Early on on the papervision3D excitement, flash possibilities in 3d with AS3 specifically, much of that was due to 3d in flash but also the ability to texture and have bump mapping, toon rendering/cell shading and other neat effects like baked lighting, faked real-time lighting, video and movieclips on flash 3d objects and animated textures.

But when it comes to environmental mapping and true 3d reflection that might be simply stretching Flash to a limit that might require hardware acceleration but that isn’t stopping some.

I am not sure if environmental mapping will every be possible on a large scale without hardware acceleration. Pushing the limits could help influence Adobe to the market direction. But then again I never thought I would see the level of 3d in flash that we have and maybe in 2-3 years with multi-core processors it will be possible.

Here’s a snapshot of the current materials and environmental mapping (fake and real attempts).

UnitZeroOne first environment mapping /bump mapping:


Some toon renderings from UnitZeroOne

Recent work by mr doob

Wood

Metal

Weird

Weird 2

Recent work by actionscript architect

Perlin noise algorithm to animate texture real-time into water effect

More environmental mapping effects by the away3d materials developer Fabrice. Fabrice and the away3d developers are really taking off with the papervision3d core. I am seeing lots of engine limits tested and some great work at away3d.

Bumpy Meteor

Flat Lighting on bitmapMaterial

Chrome Ball (dont’ zoom in too far :) )

Did your processor melt yet?

I think that for games and flash effects faking it or real environmental mapping will have to be judged by what is needed for your purpose. I think that Flash player on software rendering can only go so far. So if you have real-time environmental reflections and surroundings it doesn’t always make your gameplay better and it won’t make your demo better if it means removing assets in other areas to make up for the performance drain of software rendering and the pressures it puts on the processor or browser plug-in.

You can still make really killer effects with baked animations, fake environmental mapping, faked dynamic real-time lighting and other effects. Flash, nor silverlight, will not be able to match hardware rendered shaders, per pixel lighting and physics anytime soon. But people are making good progress on this. I think it would be great if hardware acceleration were added to both Silverlight and Flash, with that, a brand new massive game market online, and it will be game on!