Archive for the ‘AS3’ Category

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

Yogurt3D flash based 3d engine appeared recently and is another flash based 3d engine which is based on OpenGL called SwiftGL and is stated as open source.

The site mentions that OpenGL source can be converted to run in the engine.  You can do this now with Alchemy although it is in very early stages.  It is not clear if it is an automatic conversion or if it simply means it is similar in syntax and method signatures, objects etc.

I definitely will be watching and see how it progresses, there isn’t much other than a single post about the engine so far and no info on the api or sample code.  Looking forward to seeing more, the z-sorting is quite nice.  Doesn’t appear like collisions are there yet but it has a nice look.

Sometimes excellent toolkits come out of the blue like this such as Ffilmation (isometric flash engine) or Alternativa (flash 3d engine flash 10 focused) so you never know.

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

@bartek from everydayflash.com is an amazing 3d flash designer and developer.  The latest from everydayflash is a sample using MouseConstraint in JiglibFlash the 3d physics engine for all major flash 3d engines.

It is easy to see how the latest version of JiglibFlash with MouseConstraint will be heavily influencing flash games and applications very soon. This is a very smooth and quick demo that feels very responsive on the controls.  There are so many possible uses for JiglibFlash now that the MouseConstraint is available.  It will evolve further but this version seems ready to start integrating into many flash game and interactive ideas and projects. Even though it is still alpha it has been heavily cleaned up and a plugin system added by bartek for pluggable 3d render engines.  That is a huge step for 3d pipelines in flash.

Great work JiglibFlash team!

Tuesday, April 14th, 2009

JiglibFlash has been updated on a few fronts

Recently added include, you can now use RADIANS or DEGREES to manipulate objects in the engine, also adding standard yaw, pitch and roll methods.  

There is a mouse interaction now available with a MouseConstraint class to allow the user to drag a 3d element with the mouse which is great for gaming and interactive 3d physics scenes.

New class: MouseConstraint

There has been a new class to the Papervision3D plug-in called MouseConstraint and a new example to the Papervision3D examples folder. The class basically allows you to attach a world constraint to an object and simulate dragging.

The best update though is you can now use any of the major open source flash 3d engines as the renderer: Papervision 3D, Away3D or Sandy.

AS3 Flash 3D Physics Engines

Thursday, April 9th, 2009

Well it appears ES4 path is dead officially and a new standard has been published replacing it, the ECMAScript Fifth Edition announced in Geneva, Switzerland and will be in place as fully tested and approved by all involved by the end of 2009. ES5 was previously known as ECMAScript 3.1 or an iteration of the ES3 standard that is what most JavaScript is based on in all browsers, and was previously competing with the ES4 newer standard that changed Javascript quite a bit but in many areas much better, in some areas it was bloated.

This revision of ECMA-262 will be known as ECMAScript, Fifth Edition. It was previously developed under the working name ECMAScript 3.1, which will no longer be used. ECMAScript is the scripting language that is used to create web pages with dynamic behavior. ECMAScript, which is more commonly known by the name JavaScript™, is an essential component of every web browser and the ECMAScript standard is one of the core standards that enable the existence of interoperable web applications on the World Wide Web.

ECMAScript Fifth Edition (ES5) was strongly guided by Crockford and Microsoft, which is different than the push for ES4 which is what ActionScript 3 is based on and was supported by Adobe and Mozilla.

However it seems everyone is happy and everyone is supporting this version to get things moving if you go by the ECMA Org quotes:

Industry Reaction

Brendan Eich, Mozilla CTO and creator of the JavaScript language, said “The Fifth Edition of ECMAScript makes real improvements based on browser innovation and collaboration in Ecma, which provides a solid foundation for further work in future editions.” Microsoft’s ECMAScript architect, Allen Wirfs-Brock, commented “We expect the Fifth Edition to benefit all web developers by helping improve browser interoperability and making enhanced scripting features broadly available.”

Peace.

I still have to read further into the ECMAScript 5 specification which was published, but there are some new interesting things.

One nice feature is the JSON object.  Right now you have to eval to use JSON in javascript in a browser but they now have JSON.parse(object) and JSON.stringify(object) which is standard and conveniently already wired into IE8 this way. This is based on the JSON2.js library by Douglas Crockford of Yahoo.

var jsObjString = "{\"memberNull\" : null, \"memberNum\" : 3, \"memberStr\" : \"StringJSON\", \"memberBool\" : true , \"memberObj\" : { \"mnum\" : 1, \"mbool\" : false}, \"memberX\" : {}, \"memberArray\" : [33, \"StringTst\",null,{}]";
var jsObjStringParsed = JSON.parse(jsObjString);
var jsObjStringBack = JSON.stringify(jsObjStringParsed);

Another feature is DOM prototypes which are useful and cool, which allow you to extend dom objects.

If you use javascript or are an actionscripter, not sure if Adobe will have ActionScript 4 go this way or if Alchemy has changed the flash player into a multi language VM now.  It will be fun to watch things progress but also if you are into javascript it seems this standard, ES5, will be it by the end of the year.  And probably since IE8 already supports it, in all new browser by then as well.  It will probably take 1-2 years before browser saturation makes this usable but if you are using standards that mimic this then there will be no change then, such as the JSON2.js library.

Saturday, March 28th, 2009

Away3D was updated to Flash 10 earlier this month.  Flooded with final semester, massive workload and all the conferences #swsx, #gdc, #mix09 etc I missed the announcement.  

It is looking pretty sweet with this mustang demo showing off the update.  Pixel bender has provided a performance update for effects that shows nicely here.

The above demo shows some of what is possible with the update: normalmapping with ambient, diffuse and correctly normalised specular shading, without the need for layers. As if that’s not enough, a further Pixel Bender shader is applied to the view to create a HDR (High Dynamic Range) effect on the highlights, something usually seen in much more 3d-rich console games. Special thanx go to Eddie Carbinfor donating an excellent normalmapped mustang model, and David Lenaerts for writing the HDR filter.

Airtight Interactive did a comparison a while back where FP10 rendering was faster against the olde version of Away3D, this update may change that will have to take a look.  All away3d needs is a designer :)

Monday, March 16th, 2009

Libspark from Japan is a treasure trove of great flash advancements, they seem to realize the great things that can come from porting in existing solid libraries from C/C++ etc into flash and have been scoring lately including augmented reality in flash porting the ARToolkit to FLARToolkit.  Recently a port of openCV for as3 called Marilena was found and it is for object detection and decent facial recognition (it is a computer vision library from intel) considering the processing power needed to do this.

Face Detection: Here is the sample included with Marilena showing facial detection on an image.

marilena1

Lots of recent action has blown up on this front from Mr doob, quasimondo (optimizing the Marilena classes for better performance) and Boffwswana. Also there is a kit called deface by sshipman that is the first foray into this a year ago doing similar things but it was just a bit before it’s time and a bit slow in previous versions of flash, it performs decent now in this sample. Flash 10 performance of the AVM2 and future directions with Alchemy will lead to more interesting stuff just like this.

Mr. doob head tracking sample, be sure to check lots of other examples there

mrdoob_facedriven3d

Boffswana example of head tracking Johnny Lee Wii style with only a webcam and flash, no wiimote needed since it uses facial detection to check where you are and how close you are in the screen and then moves accordingly.

bofswana

This is stemming from the recent explosion of the FLARToolkit and augmented reality in flash as well as the gimmicks used by Nintendo with the wii and Johnny Lee’s great head tracking advancements. Porting great libraries to flash seems to be the phase we are entering now judging by the recent excitement around Adobe Alchemy and the LLVM along with the lead from the libspark.org contributors. We have also seen this heavily last year in ports of Box2D for 2d physics and other toolkits using established working code and porting that to flash now that is is mostly capable of handling the performance.

OpenCV (Open Computer Vision Library by Intel) is quite a powerful platform that allows you to do all this and now it is available in flash. There are other great libraries for nearly all platforms now. I have done some previous work with Aforge which is also a port of OpenCV mainly for motion detection. This was always around but not until the recent performance updates and the innovation that has come with Alchemy and the thinking that goes along with that (porting in libraries to flash from C/C++ etc), has allowed this to flourish in flash and thus the web.

The amazing new things we can do with flash by porting in existing libraries is only going to get more intense as alchemy and flash 10 are even more mainstream.  It is almost as if Flash will eventually just become a web renderer and simplified front end to many great toolkits that exist in more native environments like C/C++ but with the speed and distribution access of the web with Flash.  Exciting times ahead.

Friday, March 13th, 2009

Polygonal labs, maker of some of the best demos, information and tools for AS3 since inception updated the killer AS3 Data Structures for Game Developers and ported it to haXe.

Of course along the way making many improvements and showing great information on how and why the haXe version is faster which mainly boils down to a more strict virtual machine but flexible still with generics.

haXe is fast because it is a very highly optimized virtual machine language with compiler (and could be called a virtual machine to target other VMs similar to LLVM with the ability to target the Neko VM, AVM2 or Javascript, it is more than just a language) by Nicolas Cannasse that may one day overtake directly coding for the AVM2 or maybe we will even see haXe have more influence on flash soon for performance gains.  Some of the Alchemy LLVM virtual machine work is similar in nature to what haXe does and helps the language become an abstraction and translates into highly optimized code from very powerful and productive language syntax.

Anyways, I ramble, be sure to check out Data Structures for Game Developers by Polygonal Labs now ported for haXe as hx3ds if you are doing any sort of work in AS3 or haXe for AS3 it will be worth your while and provide a very common and useful data structures capabilities into your production that is highly optimized from one of the best AS3 developers.

As the name suggests, hx3ds is a port of as3ds for haXe and is now available at lib.haxe.org. hx3ds only supports the flash player 10 target, as it makes extensive use of the Vector class. If you need data structures that compile across all platforms, take a look at colhx instead.

Here’s a list of new features:

  • orders of magnitude faster
  • collections now support clone() and shuffle() operations
  • object pooling framework
  • revised graph, tree and linked list classes
  • memory manager for the virtual memory API (more on this soon)

The Structures Included

Multi-Dimensional Arrays

The library contains a two-dimensional and three-dimensional array. They are both implemented by a single linear array rather than nested arrays. This is the fastest method in flash to simulate multi-dimensional arrays and outperforms the nested array method because multiple array lookups are slower compared to one lookup combined with a simple arithmetic expression (which you can also often precompute in the outer loop). The most obvious application would be a tilemap in 2d or a layered tilemap in 3d.

Queue

This is also called a FIFO structure (First In – First Out). The queue comes in two variations, which have the same methods, but differ in their implementations: There is the arrayed queue, which obviously uses an array internally, and the linked queue, which is build upon a linked list. They are both very similar, except that the arrayed version has a fixed size and is faster.
A common application would be a command queue – imagine you have a unit in a strategy game and apply many commands which the unit should follow. All commands are enqueued and afterwards dequeued and processed in order.

Stack

Also commonly know as a FILO structure (First In – Last Out). Like the queue, this comes in two flavors: arrayed and linked. A stack is often not used directly, but a very important concept in programming. Please note, that a queue and a stack are not real structures, because they just define how data is accessed rather then stored.

Tree

A node-based structure. Every tree starts from a single node, called the root node. The root node can contain any number of child nodes, and every child node can again contain children. A tree node with no children is called a leaf node. In fact if you draw the nodes of a tree it looking like a real tree with branches. The AS3 display architecture is also a tree structure, so you could use this to manage your display objects and update them by traversing through the tree. Also, this is useful for decision trees, BVHs, storing a plot line or storing data recursively by applying the composite pattern.

Binary Tree

This is just a specialized kind of tree where each node is only allowed to have up to two children, called the left and right node. Binary trees are very often used for parsing input data, for example arithmetic expressions or when building a scripting system.

Binary Search Tree (BST) and Hash Table

Both structures store data that can be retrieved quickly by using a key. The method however differers greatly: The BST uses a recursive approach to split up large amounts of data into smaller sets. A hash table stores sparse key-based data using a hash-key in a small amount of space.

Linked Lists

A linked list is similar to an array. The main difference is that in an array, each cell contains just the data and is accessed by an index. A linked list consists of several node objects, which in addition to storing the data, manage a reference to the next node (singly linked) or to the next and previous node (doubly linked) in the list. Think of it as a more natural approach to work with sequential data.
Other benefits are that you can insert and remove data quickly by just calling the appropriate method on the node itself – you don’t have to manage array indexes. Also in AS3 object access is faster than array access, so it competes very well in terms of performance when iterating over the list.

Heap and Priority Queue

A Heap is a special kind of binary tree in which every node is bigger than its child nodes. Whatever you throw into a heap, it’s automatically sorted so the item with the ‘most significant’ value (depending on the comparison function) is always the front item. A priority queue is build upon the heap structure, and can manage prioritized data – which can be used in limitless ways.

Graph

A graph is a loose node-based structure. Nodes are connected with arcs, and every node can point to any other node. They can also point to each other creating a bi-directional connection. It is essential for path finding, AI, soft-body dynamics with mass-springs systems and a lot more.

Bit Vector

A bit vector is some kind of array in which you can store boolean values (true/false – 1/0) as close as possible without wasting memory. I currently can’t think of a reasonable application, because usually you should have enough memory – but it’s nice to have because it shows basic bit masking operations.

Saturday, February 28th, 2009

Alchemy is going to shake things up a bit.  As witnessed before from Quake running in flash and now ODE compiled to run in flash using Alchemy (LLVM based). It is an early test but shows what could be possible.

Mihai Pricope has a post with sources on how he got the ODE (Open Dynamics Engine) a great open source physics engine for 3D, running on the AVM2 Flash Player virtual machine.

I’ve took Alchemy for a test and decided to compile ODE (Open Dynamic Engine). Just to add yet another physics engine to the Flash World. It was a hell of a ride but I finally got to produce some bouncing balls :). For a still unknown reason some as 3d libraries have been very slow to render 6 translucent walls and 2 balls. Papervision3D seems to move quite decent.

You can download the ode sources from here. To recompile them do (you need to have the Alchemy environment turned on):

Flash 10 will become mainstream shortly and with that the possibilities of using Alchemy in your projects is becoming a reality for production.  But what specifically can you do with Alchemy, a project that helps to compile C/C++ code into AVM2 capable files?

Alchemy described from Adobe:

With Alchemy, Web application developers can now reuse hundreds of millions of lines of existing open source C and C++ client or server-side code on the Flash Platform.  Alchemy brings the power of high performance C and C++ libraries to Web applications with minimal degradation on AVM2.  The C/C++ code is compiled to ActionScript 3.0 as a SWF or SWC that runs on Adobe Flash Player 10 or Adobe AIR 1.5.

Alchemy is based on the LLVM Low Level Virtual Machine that allows new levels of code translation.  Maybe this can lead to more effective and performing code to run on the iPhone with flash player 10. Or some type of system that allows flash developers to code in AS3 or take projects and get them ready to run on the iPhone much like some of the Java to Cocoa compilation systems and Unity3D using mono to compile down to iPhone capable code.

Thursday, February 5th, 2009

Recently two compact tweening engines have been released. Grant Skinner’s GTweeny and laborat’s ByteTween. This adds to the two that focus on micro-tween kit sizes in TweenLite and TweensyZero

Basically these engines look to be micro and provide pretty nice features while being so small. Micro tweening engines like GTweeny (3k), ByteTween (1.7k), TweenLite (2.7k), TweensyZero (2.9k) and Tweener (9k) have varying levels of support of features (Tweener being the most loaded with color and filter support without other kits just init, also TweenLite with a nice configurator to include only what you need).  Micro kits have benefits when used for banners, animated assets (where you have many assets and the per asset savings is worthwhile) and other places you just want really small output.

Light Transition ByteTween

(1.7k)

This kit has a c# version as well as a small as3 bytetween version.

The ByteTween static class eats only 1.7K of compiled clip! With this size it supports:

  • Creation of tweens of any numeric property (not color/uint properties).
  • Pause,Unpause,Cancel operations based on the tween target and property.
  • Overlap system that cancel tweens of same property in order to avoid erroneous behavior
  • Alpha tween with negative alpha support (negative alpha sets the MovieClip visibility to false)
  • ’scale’ tween of both ’scaleX’ and ’scaleY’ properties.
  • OnComplete callback with any number of parameters
  • Easy interface for creating new tweens!

Download light_transition_CS_0.5a.zip.zip (c# version)

Download thelab_ByteTween.zip

TweenLite

(2.7k) base

  • SPEED – I’m not aware of any popular tweening engine with a similar feature set that’s as fast as TweenLite. See the speed comparisons yourself.
  • Feature set – In addition to tweening ANY numeric property of ANY object, TweenLite can tween filters, hex colors, volume, tint, saturation, contrast, frames, and even do bezier tweening, plus LOTS more. TweenMax extends TweenLite and adds even more capabilities like pause/resume, rounding, event listeners, timeScale, and more. Overwrite management is an important consideration for a tweening engine as well which is another area where the GreenSock tweening platform shines. You have options for AUTO overwriting or you can manually define how each tween will handle overlapping tweens of the same object.
  • Expandability – With its new plugin architecture, you can activate as many (or as few) features as your project requires. Or write your own plugin if you need a feature that’s unavailable. Minimize bloat, and maximize performance.
  • Management featuresTweenGroup makes it surprisingly simple to create complex sequences and groups of TweenLite/Max tweens that you can pause(), resume(), restart(), or reverse(). You can even tween a TweenGroup’s “progress” property to fastforward or rewind the entire group/sequence.
  • Ease of use – Designers and Developers alike rave about how intuitive the GreenSock tweening platform is.
  • Updates – Frequent updates and feature additions make the GreenSock tweening platform reliable and robust.
  • AS2 and AS3 – Most other engines are only developed for AS2 or AS3 but not both.

Download TweenLite

TweensyZero

(2.9k) base

Here are some simple steps to help you get started with creating your first animations with TweensyZero. TweensyZero is a light weight version of Tweensy most core features found in Tweensy are available to TweensyZero. Documentation for TweensyZero can be found under the folder ‘documentation/zero’ or online

Download TweensyZero

gTweeny

(3k)

gTweeny is gTween‘s lightweight younger sibling. It strips a lot of the secondary features of GTween (proxy, timing modes, etc) in favour of smaller file size. It is currently under 3kb…

Download gTweeny

Here is a list of all open AS3 “Micro” Tweening engines < 5k

Here is a list of all open AS3 Tweening engines and base kits

The decision on which to use can be affected be features you want, how it feels (many use the same object syntax so it is dynamic), what performance do they have (all are orders of magnitude faster than the built in tween (flash) or transitions (mx/flex)), which size is ok, author/community support needed (some are more active than others adding features or simplifying and tweaking performance methodically), and many other factors.  There are definitely plenty to choose from.

Speed Tests for many Tween Engines

For more on each features see their sites or these previous lists on tweening engines:

Monday, February 2nd, 2009

Don’t know how I missed this but just this last month a new site has launched called wonderfl that allows quick as3 compilation side by side that is encouraged by community and similar to a demo scene.

This could be great for generating new ideas much like machima and demo scenes have done in the past.  This stype of stuff goes down with the flash community anyways but being able to do it on a site and fork and evolve scripts and game it is a great idea.

Effects with filters, bitmaps, pixel manipulation, pixel bender and papervision would benefit greatly from the type of innovation that could happen here quickly in small doses. See what you can throw down, maybe some fireworks.