Archive for the ‘3D ENGINES’ Category

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

On the web based gaming front…

Google looks to be making a gaming site to compete with Facebook only kicking the gaming up a notch? By the comment from Mark DeLoura, head of developer advocate for Google gaming, it appears they/he also favor going 3d or native client with WebGL or Unity wrapped in the native client.

Check the comment by Mark DeLoura on the gamasutra post regarding the rumored Google Me Facebook like gaming/social site:

I think Flash will continue to be a very viable platform. The Flash toolset is pretty frickin’ amazing, and there are a ton of happy Flash developers out there, and great games galore.

I would like to see higher-fidelity 3D content on the web though. It’s been a dream of many people going back to VRML days. WebGL and Native Client are two solutions to this that will be integrated into the Chrome browser. At Google I/O we talked about Unity running inside of Native Client, which combines the hardware acceleration and security of Native Client with the fantastic toolset and runtime from Unity. It’s peanut butter and chocolate (well, for me). This is a platform I’m really excited about for 3D web games.

Indeed peanut butter and chocolate is mighty tasty.

Sunday, July 25th, 2010

Alessandro Pignotti’s project looks to be the start of something good to come. Lightspark Open Source Flash Player [github]has some really nice features that should influence the Flash Player and maybe even draw some interest from Adobe?  Maybe it can be like the Moonlight player for Silverlight only broader.

One such awesome feature is OpenGL GLSL hardware rendered shaders for elements of flash. Flash has Pixel Bender which is pretty nice but having GLSL shaders and the use of OpenGL directly is great.

Features

  • JIT compilation of ActionScript to native x86 bytecode using LLVM
  • Hardware accelerated rendering using OpenGL Shaders (GLSL)
  • Very good and robust support for current-generation ActionScript 3
  • A new, clean, codebase exploiting multithreading and optimized for modern hardware. Designed from scratch after the official Flash documentation was released.
Saturday, July 24th, 2010

A sweet engine for getting started with Android game development is the andengine 2D OpenGL ES engine. This is very simple and compares with cocos2d-iphone for iOS development in 2D with OpenGL ES.  They both support a wide range of 2d techniques with an OpenGL renderer.  Some great videos are posted on the andengine google code page showing a box2D example, multiplayer example and more.

Mobile games are on slower hardware, similar to later 90′s computers so native is a great way to go for 3d and 2d game development because of this limitation at the current time and well into the next few years.  Take this time to learn you some native gamedev. andengine isn’t native directly as it is Java based but compiled with the Dalvik JIT virtual machine. Another way to go native on Android is the Android NDK which allows C and C++.

The engine also has extensions that can be easily added and some great ones exist already.

Friday, July 2nd, 2010

Unity is a great and agile company that responded to the iOS4 changes with something very nice, a C++ option to develop with the Unity engine on the iOS. They will implement this if using Mono is barred which so far hasn’t happened.  I have to say I wish this was an option for the Unity Engine all the time and hope they implement it anyways. For now Joachim Ante on the the Unity blog says this:

We continue to be excited about the iPhone, iPod touch and iPod as platform targets for Unity developers. While we don’t think C++ is the best language to write game code , using C++ as a scripting language has memory and performance advantages on low-end devices. This is a great feature to have for developers who want to squeeze the last ounce of memory & performance out of their games.

We still can’t believe Apple will force developers into choosing a specific language for development. And as mentioned, Apple is still approving every Unity-based game we know of. In case the situation changes, rest assured that we are working this Plan B.

We’ll be ready to talk more about this as well as share some time-line information with you soon, while of course waiting to find out if any of this will actually be necessary.

The Unity Plan B is that the C++ engine code that mimics as closely as it can to the Mono .net C# or Javascript code. From the samples on the blog the C++ and Mono (javascript in this case) samples are really similar.

Many current engines are legacy or have lots of bloat, unless you write your own, or maybe even still then. Though this is looking really clean for C++ game engine code, at least in comparison to current industry leaders for indie engines.

It would be a beautiful C++ library to use even if Apple doesn’t require it. Compared to the other indie game engines out this would be a sweet C++ engine for indies and hope they do this no matter. C++ can be written cleanly and with influence from a simplified C#/Javascript engine and clean API it makes for a killer C++ engine that makes sense. Right now native is really attrctive on embedded for some years to come.

A very basic comparison from their blog:

Javascript Sample

function Update(){
    //Spin the object around the world origin
    transform.RotateAround(Vector3.zero, Vector3.up, 20 * Time.deltaTime);
}

C# Sample

using System.Collections;
using UnityEngine;
public class Example  : MonoBehaviour {
    void Update(){
        //Spin the object around the world origin
        transform.RotateAround(Vector3.zero, Vector3.up, 20 * Time.deltaTime);
    }
}

C++ Sample

#include "UnityEngine.h"
class Example : public MonoBehaviour {
public:
    void Update() {
        transform.RotateAround(Vector::zero, Vector3::up, 20 * Time::GetDeltaTime());
    }
};

Things I am wondering…

  • Will this help porting to Android versions if they use the NDK?
  • How much smaller will my app be if I use the C++ version (attractive feature since the mono dlls are pretty big – even though I really dig mono)?
  • Wouldn’t a C++ version be a better base with pluggable scripting in C# if you want? Maybe an option for Lua with a similar API signature for all? Ok maybe over-engineering there…
Friday, May 7th, 2010

Google has decided to put weight behind WebGL and stop actively developing O3D as a plugin, rather they will make O3D a Javascript library on top of WebGL. This will focus the 3D plugin development efforts from Google into just WebGL on top of the OpenGL ES 2 spec, which in turn runs in the html5 <canvas> tag.

WebGL is pretty exciting offering browser based OpenGL and hardware rendered graphics. When this becomes mainstream this will change up gaming and interactive on the web immensely. Unity 3D and Flash 3d engines add lots of immersive environments and WebGL will be just as exciting, if all browsers adopt it (canvas/webgl).

At Google, we’re deeply committed to implementing and advancing standards, so as of today, the O3D project is changing direction, evolving from its current plug-in implementation into a JavaScript library that runs on top of WebGL. Users and developers will still be able to download the O3D plug-in and source code for at least one year, but other than a maintenance release, we plan to stop developing O3D as a plug-in and focus on improving WebGL and O3D as a JavaScript library.

About WebGL

WebGL is a cross-platform, royalty-free web standard for a low-level 3D graphics API based on OpenGL ES 2.0, exposed through the HTML5 Canvas element as Document Object Model interfaces. Developers familiar with OpenGL ES 2.0 will recognize WebGL as a Shader-based API using GLSL, with constructs that are semantically similar to those of the underlying OpenGL ES 2.0 API. It stays very close to the OpenGL ES 2.0 specification, with some concessions made for what developers expect out of memory-managed languages such as JavaScript.

WebGL brings plugin-free 3D to the web, implemented right into the browser. Major browser vendors Apple (Safari), Google (Chrome), Mozilla (Firefox), and Opera (Opera) are members of the WebGL Working Group. “It feels like, someone’s missin-ing”

Sunday, April 25th, 2010

A new Javascript 3D Engine that can render to Canvas and SVG has been released by mr. doob.

Mr. doob is a well known Flash developer that has added many great experiments and cool contributions without being stuck to one technology, making some great interactive projects in javascript, chrome experiments and html5 (canvas/svg) in addition to the work in Flash with toolkits like Papervision 3D.  Recently the Harmony html5/javascript sketching project generated lots of interest for an html5 sketching app.

Three.js is great because it is a 3d engine built with renderers in SVG and Canvas makes to a really good base for modular, cross platform 3d engine right now (as soon as IE9 joins the party). For a while a good javascript rendering library will need to support multiple renderers for browser differences in performance and supported dependencies like canvas, svg and webgl. Three.js has that reality as part of the design.

Currently the engine only supports particles and triangles/quads with flat colors. The aim is to keep the code as simple and modular as possible.

At the moment the engine can render using <canvas> and <svg>. WebGL rendering would come at a later stage but feel free to fork the project and have a go.

Although this allows 3D for iPhoneOS and Android platforms the performance on these devices is not too good.

Sample Code:

var camera, scene, renderer;

    init();
    setInterval(loop, 1000 / 60);

    function init()
    {
        camera = new Camera(0, 0, 1000);

        scene = new Scene();

        renderer = new CanvasRenderer();
        renderer.setSize(window.innerWidth, window.innerHeight);

        for (var i = 0; i < 1000; i++)
        {
            var particle = new Particle( new ColorMaterial(Math.random() * 0x808008 + 0x808080, 1) );
            particle.size = Math.random() * 10 + 5;
            particle.position.x = Math.random() * 2000 - 1000;
            particle.position.y = Math.random() * 2000 - 1000;
            particle.position.z = Math.random() * 2000 - 1000;
            particle.updateMatrix();
            scene.add( particle );
        }

        document.body.appendChild(renderer.viewport);
    }

    function loop()
    {
        renderer.render(scene, camera);
    }

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

Unity is showing no signs of slowing down in making a consolidated, easy pipeline for game developers and creators to bring their wares to the masses on the top platforms. Already Unity 3D is the best 3d web browser plugin at the current time with export paths to web, desktop (mac and PC), iPhone/touch and Wii. But now we will see support for PS3, iPad (obvious as it is a iPhone/touch) and Android (most likely with the help of the C++ NDK rather than the Java SDK).  XBOX 360 support was announced last year.

This is pretty huge even for such a small and innovative company. I guess it means it will be time to buy an upgrade soon. Unity so far has been giving feature after feature for free for current license holders, this one seems big enough to justify a major version increase.

Gamasutra comments on other great features:

This third iteration will also incorporate Umbra Software’s occlusion culling product, which is designed help performance for games with large, open scenes and complex geometry. The platform’s top-end version, Unity Pro, will include both Umbra and Beast at no additional cost.

Unity Technologies updated its Unity iPhone for version 3.0 to include streaming audio support for smaller build size, Bluetooth multiplayer support, faster in-game GUIs”, and a 2D sprite engine. Furthermore, the company’s iPhone product will offer performance improvements that promise to provide faster frame rates.

The company says that with its new platform support for PlayStation 3, iPad, and Android, it offers developers an opportunity to target a larger install base than any other game engine. Unity’s game engine currently can produce games for Windows, Mac, iPhone, and Wii, with support for Xbox 360 announced last October.

Friday, February 12th, 2010

Balder was one of the first 3d prototype engines in Silverlight and it has evolved quite nicely.  Balder by Einar Ingebrigtsen is described as a “Managed GameEngine with both 2D and 3D support targetting Silverlight, Xna and OpenGL.”

The sample browser will show you what Balder is capable of and it has come pretty far since the first version showing a wireframe teapot.

You know you’ve made it as a 3D engine when there are Augmented Reality apps for it.

Here’s a glance at what some of the C# source looks like for a feel of the engine code from the Silverlight4 TestApp:

using Balder.Core.Execution;
using Balder.Core.Objects.Geometries;
using System;
using Balder.Core.Lighting;
using Balder.Core;
using Colors=System.Windows.Media.Colors;
 
namespace Balder.Silverlight4.TestApp
{
    public class MyGame : Game
    {
        public override void OnInitialize()
        {
 
            Camera.Position.X = 0;
            Camera.Position.Y = 0;
            Camera.Position.Z = -80;
 
            var light = new OmniLight();
            light.Diffuse = Color.FromSystemColor(Colors.Green);
            light.Ambient = Color.FromSystemColor(Colors.Green);
            light.Specular = Color.FromSystemColor(Colors.White);
            light.Position.X = 0;
            light.Position.Y = 0;
            light.Position.Z = -130;
 
            Scene.AddNode(light);
 
            base.OnInitialize();
        }
 
 
        public override void OnLoadContent()
        {
            var teapot = ContentManager.Load("teapot.ase");
            Scene.AddNode(teapot);
            base.OnLoadContent();
        }
 
 
        private double _sin;
 
        public override void OnUpdate()
        {
 
            Camera.Position.X = (float)(Math.Sin(_sin)*80);
            Camera.Position.Y = 0;
            Camera.Position.Z = (float)(Math.Cos(_sin) * 80);
 
            _sin += 0.05;
            base.OnUpdate();
        }
 
    }
}
Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

If the question is if Unity can do interactives as smooth and stylish as Flash I think you may soon find out.  Carlos Ulloa of Papervision 3D fame has kicked it up a notch in Unity 3D with this interactive very reminiscent of the Ford Focus demo that helped bring in Papervision 3D for flash in style. Gotta say though a mini is much better than a Ford Focus.

Flash is still the leader in web interactives and even marketing interactive 3d, Unity largely replaced Director and tools like it and high-end hardware rendered required interactives and games. This interactive by HelloEnjoy has loads of polygons, unity physics system, lighting, environment mapping, showroom cameras, reflection, skid decals, highly detailed mesh and more.  Just take a peek inside the vehicle and at the rims for the detail that is impossible with the 2000 poly limit of Flash 3D software rendered engines.

Web interactives this heavy aren’t doable in a non hardware rendered player like Flash.  Unity is looking to pretty much own this level of quality in a browser.  I don’t think I have seen another interactive looking this good with Unity 3D.

Unity still is lacking many features that Flash has in support of making interactives for the web such as webcam support, mic support, better video support, better gui system, html support (although flash barely) and a larger install base but Unity could easily take the high-end advertising market in addition to owning highly immersive games that need hardware rendering which it is already doing for web gaming.  It is 2010 soon, most computers have a decent video card.  Put them to use!

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

Unity 3D Indie is now free for all developers and just called Unity now.  The Unity 3D Pro license is still $1500 and worth every penny.  But this news is great for indies and moreso the pro users that want the Unity Web Player to have more penetration and installs in the market.

Companies like EA, Cartoon Network and Lego are using Unity 3D and just about every game developer I know including myself has been excited about the possibility of an engine that allows creation of hardware rendered web based games and desktop games, which are multi-platform and paths into the mobile market (iPhone/Touch) and console like Wii and XBOX in development (for additional licenses).

When Unity 3D released support for Windows as a development environment in addition to Mac it  literally blew up as predicted this year. Also, Unity 2.6 is out which is big because it finally supports third party source control such as Subversion and Perforce. Many of the barriers that were keeping it from integration into gaming pipelines are gone:  the price, the single platform and the source code integration issues.  Unity 3D has addressed all those issues.

What are you waiting for? Get your Unity3D on!