Archive for August, 2009

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

Unity 3d iPhone 1.5 is released and has many things that were requested.

A few features really stand out as stuff we need:

  • Automatic batching of meshes to reduce draw calls.
  • Full support for native Objective C and C++ code opens full access to the iPhone 3.x APIs and custom plugins.
  • Introduced thread based main loop – now you can choose between NSTimer, Thread and OS event pump (CFRunLoop) methods. Thread method is set by default now.
  • Added native plugin support (advanced license feature). Just add custom attribute [DllImport("__Internal")] to your native implemented methods in C# and corresponding implementation to the XCode project.
  • Exposed full-screen movie playback support to scripts (iPhoneUtils.PlayMovie/PlayMovieURL).
  • Added support for GPS/location service (iPhoneSettings.StartLocationService / iPhoneInput.lastLocation).
  • Exposed native iPhone keyboard to scripts (iPhoneKeyboard class).
  • Implemented native iPhone keyboard input for TextField/PasswordField/TextArea GUI elements.
  • Exposed all 4 screen orientations as iPhoneSettings.screenOrientation. iPhoneSettings.verticalOrientation is now deprecated.
  • Added support for vibration (iPhoneUtils.Vibrate).
  • Exposed number of properties via Editor Player Settings UI (including bundle version and UI interface orientation).
  • Implemented support for up to 8 texture units in shaders for iPhone 3GS. Added iPhone 3GS emulation in the Editor.
  • Introduced automatic batching for small (less than 300 vertices) dynamic objects if they share same material. Reduces OpenGLES draw-call overhead.
  • Unity respects your XCode project now. It is not overwritten anymore by default. You can safely add new files, modify project itself or file, Unity will append its things as necessary. Note however that some folders like Libraries, Data, root project folder are always overwritten.

Wow!  See the full feature update and the blog announcement.

Saturday, August 8th, 2009

So many cool and useful technologies are unveiled at SIGGRAPH every year, this year at SIGGRAPH 2009 was no different.  Khronos Group, behind the new guidance of OpenGL, OpenGL ES, OpenCL, OpenVG, COLLADA etc, came another big announcement about hardware rendering within the browser.  WebGL is now an official standard being developed at Khronos Group to bring javascript control of OpenGL to browsers… Wow!

Ok so this was officially announced at the GDC in March but limited information, but now it has been slated for an official public standard in early 2010. Shortly after the announcement at the GDC we saw Google o3D appear doing exactly that, controlling OpenGL through Javascript in the browser but it was still largely software/harward hybrid rendered. Google, Mozilla, Opera are part of the companies supporting WebGL which is great for browser support, also NVIDIA, AMD and Ericsson are in on it.

Khronos Details WebGL Initiative to Bring Hardware-Accelerated 3D Graphics to the Internet

JavaScript Binding to OpenGL ES 2.0 for Rich 3D Web Graphics without Browser Plugins;
Wide industry Support from Major Browser Vendors including Google, Mozilla and Opera; Specification will be Available Royalty-free to all Developers

4th August, 2009 – New Orleans, SIGGRAPH 2009 – The Khronos™ Group, today announced more details on its new WebGL™ working group for enabling hardware-accelerated 3D graphics in Web pages without the need for browser plug-ins.  First announced at the Game Developers Conference in March of 2009, the WebGL working group includes many industry leaders such as AMD, Ericsson, Google, Mozilla, NVIDIA and Opera.  The WebGL working group is defining a JavaScript binding to OpenGL® ES 2.0 to enable rich 3D graphics within a browser on any platform supporting the OpenGL or OpenGL ES graphics standards.  The working group is developing the specification to provide content portability across diverse browsers and platforms, including the capability of portable, secure shader programs.  WebGL will be a royalty-free standard developed under the proven Khronos development process, with the target of a first public release in first half of 2010. Khronos warmly welcomes any interested company to become a member and participate in the development of the WebGL specification.

Google released O3D this year and there are great strides in 3d within the browser from game engine wrapper technologies such as instant action technology, gaim theory engine (now owned by id Software and runs Quake  Live, hardware rendered Unity 3D (and Torque 3D coming soon), and Flash software rendered  3d engines Papervision 3D, Away 3D, Sandy (Sandy also released a haXe version that exports a javascript version) and others.  But it looks like the movement is to bring OpenGL to the web as a standard under the name WebGL, this would be great!  There would still be lots of times where plugins are better now and in the near future but the path is a good one. Having a software/hardware rendering hybrid like Google O3D for broad video card support (some of the painful older intel cards), or using a plugin like Unity3D, Torque 3D or wrapper technology for bigger engines is a good idea for the time being. But the future is grand in this area.

I think that Google O3D and OpenGL ES success on iPhone games probably combined to get this in motion.  OpenGL and very basic video cards are now standard in most machines out there.  Unity3D actually published hardware statistics on casual gamers (web-based games) ever so kindly and shows that even though there are some older Intel cards out there, for the most part machines nowadays have a video card capable of supporting at least low-poly 3d and hardware supported 2d rendering in real-time for games, user interfaces and more.

This is exciting news, it appears the movement of the web gaming market is getting much more capable and is accelerating the innovation of hardware accelerating the web.