Torque3D to Offer Web Based Export Similar to Unity3D, Improved Pipeline

It appears Torque3D is going to compete with Unity3D in a browser based 3d plugin front with a Torque3D toolset and pipeline that target the web.

They announced this on gamasutra recently on how instantaction and torque3d technology is similar yet different. InstantAction is an engine wrapper where the web plugin for Torque3D is more tighly coupled with the Torque3D engine. Instantaction.com technology allows you to wrap an existing game engine for the web which is a competitor with the gaimtheory engine that is used on quakelive.com.

I have been a garage games torque developer and member since 2003 and worked/bought with each engine they have put out from the old school Torque Engine, to Torque Engine Advanced for various game development projects and now they are throwing in on what appears to be based on their instantaction.com technology but using the Torque3D engine. This is very interesting, they might even have a channel/appstore to release games on instantaction.com?

Unity3D has recently taken my time in the full immersion 3d for the web space, the mono engine that runs the scripting is a huge feature. Coding in C#, Boo and javascript is great, and the pipeline for Unity3D is unmatched.

A bit of history, I have been interested in this since Director introduced 3d in director 8.5 in 2001 (how was that not a major revision I don’t know) and the killer Havok 3d physics engine within it. Way ahead of its time. But Director 3d was extremely limited with w3d (not even a decent blender exporter) and it literally has not advanced since that time in terms of ability to develop better for it and the IDE. It was trapped in this little IDE and quirky Lingo language. They tried to save it with javascript, a valiant effort but it still withered due to lack of openness of development for the player (a mistake they aren’t making with Flash now at Adobe). So making full immersion 3d games was not really ready for the web, Director was notorious at crashing browsers and took way too many broken plugins to get a basic engine.

So I went to mods in HL (quake 2 engine), Unreal and when I realized there was no way me or my friends could foot the license fees of either engine we went to Torque in 2003. It was great, large terrains and highly compact engine because it had to run Tribes with 64 players years before anyone else approached 64 players and arguably still played better than 64 player fps now. It was affordable. I have been interested in the movements to make torque an active x control in 2005/6 and Think Tanks did just that. It was very nice, I thought soon after it would be everywhere. But it has taken until now and a new engine called Torque3D before this has been realized years later. This is hard stuff to get right creating a plugin that works cross browser and performs well (browsers had to catch up as well). The culmination of that technology progression has happened and 3d on the web for game development appears to be bigtime in 2009.

Unity3D meanwhile since 2005-6 has gotten it nearly all right so far for a few years now, especially the pipeline and the webplayer. Torque has always had an poor pipeline, not as bad as writing your own engine from scratch and all the tools but in the early days pretty close. Proprietary formats like dts for models made finding the right exporter tasking. There were just so many walls in what was supposed to be a pipeline, largely due to support for formats that were small enough for slower networks and machines of the past. Unity3D gets all this right from the start, pipeline is not an issue. Torque3D seems to address this with their new tools, support for Collada, but unfortunately still scripted with TorqueScript. If Torque3D could wire in Mono and the capability to code in Javascript, C#, Boo or other Mono languages this would have been cool, or at least a semi-standard scripting language like Javascript, Python etc that would be great. TorqueScript was a big feature and UnrealScript is very similar in how it interacts with the engine, but these days we want standard languages that have engine features built in. Maybe this will happen down the road, but the format support is very nice.

For 3d, prior to Unity3D, the web was still owned by Director but that has changed in the last few years. It won me over for immersive 3d games that are web capable and able to port to other platforms and markets. Casual is still done with Flash and mobile space is targeting iphone. Unity3D can run on web, iPhone, Wii, desktop. Torque3D can run on web and also has paths to desktop, iPhone, Wii, XBOX360. You see what is happening here? It is very cool indeed. No doubt the competition in this area is getting to a point where some good innovation and happenings are taking place, what are you going to do with it?

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  • http://geekspeak.creatrixgames,com jason

    Torque3d won’t beat out Unity. :) The pipeline and support in Unity is just overwhelmingly better. I’ve bought Torque products in the past (of which, the 2d engine is by far the best and actually works really well) and was consistently disappointed by lack of support, missing documentation, bug count. The 3d engines were either a train wreck internally (TGE) or so incomplete as to be unusable for commercial purposes (TGEA). And I hate TorqueScript passionately.

    But, hey, competition is good! There’s also Shiva for web 3d: http://www.stonetrip.com/

    I have so many plans for Unity… so little time!

  • http://drawlogic.com/ Ryan

    Hey jason,

    I feel the same way I am invested in time and licenses in Unity3D now as they basically won. But just like Flash and Silverlight, having Torque3D and Unity3D is a good thing. Also, maybe it pushes flash and silverlight to have more 3d options native/hardware or something they can buy and make part of their platform.

  • Timbot

    Hey folks, just got back from GDC, and Unity was there looking quite impressive. But so was Torque! And Virtools! Plus there were full books available on Torque, some very impressive game demos, and it was even mentioned in several other presentations for XNA.
    Perhaps even more exciting were announcements by the Khronos organization that the Flash player will be getting access to OpenGL, and a speaker from the Mozilla foundation announced that they were starting an initiative to expose OpenGL to the browser through javascript. Hardware acceleration is definitely on the way. If you’d like to read a bit more you can check the ‘ole Oddblog;
    http://blog.oddlyonward.com/

    -timbot

  • http://drawk.com drawk

    Whoa timbot, awesome news on Khronos and possibily opening up opengl to javacript access. Barely keeping myself contained on this news… Hope it pans out. Lately Khronos is taking longer to do things. OpenGL ES is very awesome but there aren’t lots of ways to get at it yet.

  • lucas

    Hi,

    I don’t know if you’ve seen the web player of blender…
    I think it’s abandoned but anyway, it’s just amazing.

    -lucas

  • http://aras-p.info Aras Pranckevičius

    Bring it on! Competition makes things more interesting.

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