Archive for the ‘TECHNOLOGY’ Category

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

It just got unreal!  Unreal Engine 3 can export to Flash 11 with Stage3D as an export platform.  This is amazing news for game development and provides a strong competitor to Unity for high end gaming experiences that run in Flash.

The news was announced at MAX by Tim Sweeney:

On Tuesday during the Adobe Max conference in L.A., Epic CEO, founder and technical director Tim Sweeney announced UE3 support for Adobe’s Flash player.

Industry veteran Sweeney showed a live demonstration of UE3 running inside the recently-released Adobe Flash 11 during his keynote at the conference, using the PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 game Unreal Tournament 3 as an example.

UE3 works well thanks to Flash 11′s hardware accelerated, programmable graphics pipeline, Adobe said. Flash is now “capable of running triple-A gaming content authored for high-end platforms using the industry’s latest tools and technologies,” the company said in a statement.

UE3 licensees will be able to access new Flash features, and more information is available at the engine’s official website.

Hopefully this will be included in the UDK soon if not in next months release.

But to calm the hype a bit, the reality is, it costs much more to develop a high end game in Unreal 3 compared to current web games but this will open up a whole new high end market and allow game developers to add another platform to export to. Game sites will become full on consoles.

Next-gen consoles for XBOX and Playstation aren’t being updated until 2013-14, that seems a long way away and they just might not exist as we know them when that time comes.

The next console just might be the web on any device, TV, pad, hardware consoles… Unreal and Epic are preparing for this multi-platform game development world along with Unity, Flash and others.

Saturday, July 2nd, 2011

Interactive on the web is changing at a rapid clip. The path of the next wave of ineractive and gaming on the web is beginning to materialize.

WebGL, Canvas grouped with html5 are final and providing new landscapes to draw on and new ways to make levels to beat. Most browsers and platforms are supporting this technology. Tools like Three.js make that very fun. Mozilla Firefox, Chrome and Safari are including WebGL + canvas and mostly hardware accelerated, making Javascript an even more powerful glue of the web.

Adobe is going low level with Flash ‘Molehill’ 3D and hardware acceleration platform that companies like Unity will be including as an export target.

Microsoft has finally laid out their plans. Silverlight is alive with Silverlight 5 / 3D powered by XNA (any surprise? guess it isn’t dead) and hardware acceleration throughout Internet Explorer, this appears to be Microsoft’s version of the future.

Plugins like Flash, Unity, Silverlight, others will continue to push the bounds cross platform where standards cement the technology behind it for a platform to reach the next innovative step.

Mobile has blown up the scene with native and low-level focus, causing web platforms to also go low level for more performance thanks to Apple and now Android. Native languages like C, C++ and Objective-C came roaring back as the hardware was reset a bit back to late 90s/early 2000s processor and graphics power. However with mobile and cpu cost on platform as service system, native will stay more over the coming years.

Games, interactive and entertainment projects and apps are going to be even more fun. New opportunities all over the place.  Game on!

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

Microsoft has finally laid out their plans. Silverlight is alive with Silverlight 5 / 3D powered by XNA (any surprise? guess it isn’t dead) and hardware acceleration throughout Internet Explorer for canvas/html5 focus apparently aloongside Silverlight for deeper graphical needs or changes. It was originally outlined back in April at MIX 2011, but it shows their path and answer to WebGL/Canvas and standards for interactive and game development on the web (plus I have been busy on two titles, one for iOS and one for both iOS and Android, gotta say it is nice to see how fast your app gets posted to Android store compared to iOS…).

There are some nice examples of toolkits being developed such as Balder 3D and JigLibX pulled from this experiment.

We might have to wait a while for Moonlight to catch up on this one, guess that would take an OpenGL rendering layer like WebGL?…:)

 

Saturday, April 30th, 2011

Making 2D games in Unity is getting better with products like RageSpline for making vector like splines to create objects (texturable or color), by far one of the best additions to the Unity Asset Store.  The Unity Asset store is a great new place for inspiring products that are excellent, RageSpline shows why.

$50 in the Unity Asset Store but worth it, I hope it is expanded to import many vector formats.

The author is Juha Kiili is the author of this awesome piece of tech and it is seemingly doing well. This could be a full fledged 2d toolkit easily with many import/export capabilities.

Features of RageSpline

  • Creating 2D meshes and lines with bézier-based splines.
  • Outlining with single color, variable width per control point + natural/sharp switch per point.
  • Solid one color fills.
  • Linear gradient fills with two colors and GUI-adjustable scale, offset position and rotation.
  • Emboss styling with two colors and GUI-adjustable adjustable scale, rotation and smoothness variable.
  • Texturing support with GUI-adjustable scale, offset and rotation.
  • Automatic physics generator.
  • Adjustable vertex count for outline, fill, emboss and physics.
  • Example game included: RageCar.

Other Asset Store must haves like EZ-GUI and Sprite Manager make the 2D game creation experience in Unity very focused on the game development and design with performance handled.

 

 

 

Friday, March 4th, 2011

Khronos announced today that WebGL, the great OpenGL web hope, is now officially final for the 1.0 version. Khronos announced this today via the GDC and their website, it was also mentioned at Gamasutra.

WebGL already sees great support in numerous engines including my favorite Three.js from the infamous mr. doob.

There is already a thriving middleware ecosystem around WebGL to provide a wide diversity of Web developers the ability to easily create compelling 3D content for WebGL-enabled browsers.  These tools include: C3DL, CopperLicht , EnergizeGL, GammaJS, GLGE, GTW, O3D, OSG.JS, SceneJS, SpiderGL, TDL, Three.js and X3DOM.  Links to these authoring tools and WebGL demos can be found at www.khronos.org/webgl/wiki/Main_Page.

It will take some time for WebGL to propagate.  It is ready and on in Chrome and Firefox by default in betas. Safari it can be enabled via app parameter.  IE and MIcrosoft have yet to chime in, will we see DirectX for the web or adoption of WebGL.  Time will tell…  Until then Unity and Flash with the 3d api Molehill are forging ahead.  I am sure we will see an export to WebGL for Unity down the line but there are still some interesting script execution speed issues that compiled code in Flash and Unity Web Player will still be faster on.

So Khronos isn’t stopping at WebGL, they are now tackling WebCL or OpenCL for the web just like WebGL is OpenGL for the web (currently at the OpenGL ES 2.0 level which is nice because that is big on mobile — mobile and web games are at about the same level).

Khronos is also today announcing the formation of the WebCL™ working group to explore defining a JavaScript binding to the Khronos OpenCL™ standard for heterogeneous parallel computing.  WebCL creates the potential to harness GPU and multi-core CPU parallel processing from a Web browser, enabling significant acceleration of applications such as image and video processing and advanced physics for WebGL games.

Sunday, February 27th, 2011

At the Flash Games Summit today there was good news from Unity and Adobe about the Flash 3D API called Molehill.  Adobe’s Flash 3D API Molehill public preview was released and Unity announced they will be adding export support for it.

New features available in the current Incubator build include:

  • “Molehill” 3D APIs for Flash Player and AIR — A new set of low-level, GPU-accelerated 3D APIs that enable advanced 3D experiences across devices through the Adobe Flash Platform runtimes.
  • Cubic Bezier Curves — Using the cubicCurveTo drawing API, developers can easily create cubic Beziers without requiring custom ActionScript code.

This is really a new era of browser based game development support that is going to be very exciting. It was announced at the Flash Games Summit by Thibault Imbert (Adobe Product Manager) and Lee Brimelow (Adobe Platform Evangelist) after they explained and showed examples to the audience of what “Molehill” could do for flash games.

Thibault has a list of available Molehill enabled 3D engines already:

Also a test of hardware accelerated molehill vs software rendered flash:

 

Sunday, February 27th, 2011

Flash Molehill is coming and Unity will be targeting it for export.  Unity states that they will allow it as an export option just like there are mobile options for iOS and Android.

These are exciting times. Today, at the Flash Gaming Summit in San Francisco (of which we’re proud Gold Sponsors), Adobe has announced the public availability of a beta version of the Flash Player, codenamed Molehill, that has a very interesting new feature: hardware accelerated 3D support.

Molehill exposes a very low-level shader-based interface to the graphics hardware. Adobe has decided to focus on that low-level part, and do that really well. The molehill pre-release will not be shipping with a 3D engine, scene building tools, model and animation importers / exporters, physics, lighting or lightmap creation tools, etc.

The article states that Unity will be keeping the Unity Player and the developer will decide when to target Flash or Unity Players or other platforms like desktop, mobile that are currently available and use the rendering platforms that work best with each (DirectX/OpenGL/OpenGL ES/Molehill… maybe WebGL in the future).

There is no announcement of a date but Unity is pretty fast to add updates and new platform versions so if they take this on they will ship. Currently they mention using Unity and coding with AS3 within Unity script or using Mono.NET C#/Javascript/Boo as currently used. An intersting option is using Unity to create content and code in C#/Javascript over AS3.

Unity addresses these issues here:

Q. Is this the end of the Unity’s own Web Player?

Absolutely not. The Flash and Unity Web Players both have their strengths.  We’re excited by the opportunity to target the Flash Player and all of its features with Unity, but there will be plenty of experiences that the Unity plugin is better suited for. It will be up to developers in the end, to decide whether they want to target only the Flash Player, only the Unity Web Player, or some combination of the two (now things are getting interesting!)

Q. What programming language will I use?

You’ll have two options:

  1. For people with a Flash background:
    Target our ActionScript API directly from Flash. Think:
    var go:GameObject = new GameObject(“Just normal ActionScript 3 code”);
  2. For people with a Unity background:
    Script your content in C# / JavaScript / Boo, like you’re used to, and have Unity automatically translate it to ActionScript when you hit publish.

Adobe is good to move to a model where hardware acceleration is part of the platform.  Since Molehill is low level and competing products like Unity, WebGL, and others would take that in time, opening it so others can build tools on their platform will attract interesting new developments like this.

Sunday, January 16th, 2011

Cocos2D has been ported to run in javascript and called cocos2d-javascript by Ryan Williams.

Cocos2D is a game engine similar to Flash in that it is a 2d engine but it natively renders to OpenGL ES.  Cocos2D-iphone was originally a port of Cocos2D, a python game engine.  But the similarities to Flash and DisplayObjects = Nodes, Sprites, Scenes, Layers etc. This helps to port games over fairly quickly or start in productive in cocos2D.

Having this in javascript is a great thing! It runs on html5/canvas/javascript.

What is cocos2d-javascript?

Cocos2d-javascript is a 2D game/graphics engine based on cocos2d-iphone but designed to run in the web browser. It uses the latest features available in HTML 5 allowing real-time rendering of 2D graphics without the need for plug-ins such as Adobe Flash.

While HTML 5 is still new and not fully supported across all browsers it won’t be long before the vast majority of web users are able to enjoy all that it offers. When this time comes cocos2d-javascript will be an excellent way to develop games and applications.

To see a small sample of what is on offer, please check out the demo section.

cocos2d engines are now available on almost all platforms, so if you are building a 2d game and need a 2d engine typically with Box2D physics, cocos2d offers lots of ways to get the game out there with some porting work.

Saturday, January 15th, 2011

Firefox 4 with WebGLFirefox 4 in beta to be released soon, also joins the WebGL ranks with Chrome 9.  Safari has it in nightlies and IE hasn’t even mentioned it.

There really is too much to list as this release is feature packed! Of course the most exciting being WebGL and hardware acceleration from our perspective.

Firefox 4 now has WebGL enabled by default. Based on the original 3-D Canvas work by Vladimir Vukićević, this is being

widely implemented in browsers. The WebGL spec is on the short path to a 1.0 release and we’re very excited to see this be used in the wild.

Hardware acceleration has finally arrived even though it should have been in nearly all platforms for web last decade, but we’ll take it.

Firefox 4 supports full hardware acceleration on Windows 7 and Windows Vista via a combination of D2D, DX9 and DX10. This allows us to accelerate everything from Canvas drawing to video rendering. Windows XP users will also enjoy hardware acceleration for many operations because we’re using our new Layers infrastructure along with DX9. And, of course, OSX users have excellent OpenGL support, so we’ve got that covered as well.

The javascript engine JaegerMonkey is comparably fast to SunSpider and V-8 javascript benchmarks and has support for EC5 javascript.

And you might have noticed that it’s really fast. This is the world’s first third-generation JavaScript engine, using Baseline JIT technology similar to engines found in other browsers and kicked up a level with the Tracing engine found in Firefox 3.6. As such, we’re competitive on benchmarks such as Sunspider and V8, but we’re also fast at a whole mess of things that we expect to see in the set of next-generation web applications, hence Kraken.

WebConsole looks like they are joining Chrome and Safari with built in inspection tools similar to Firebug, however Firebug still available.

Firefox 4 will include the Web Console. This is a new tool that will let you inspect a web page as it’s running, see network activity, see messages logged with console.log, see warnings for a page’s CSS, and a number of other things.

Note this that is something that we’ll be including with Firefox 4 directly. It’s not an add-on.

(Also Firebug will be ready for the final Firefox 4 release.)

Firefox 4 has other improvements like layering (in-memory retained layers), caching/scheduling improvements and lots of other performance enhancements.

2011 is looking like the year all this is coming together, at least for Chrome, Firefox, possibly Safari (need WebGL in main release) and IE is still the biggest problem to getting WebGL. At this point WebGL looks like it is still over a year out as it may not come to IE until IE10 or possibly never, the WebGL 1.0 spec is on the fast track though (don’t we all love Khronos? They have been amazing with OpenGL since they took over).  html5 is looking like it will be close to mainstream by the end of this year depending on the install rate of IE9 when released.

The world is waiting to see if Microsoft implements WebGL or tries the old DirectX/D2D only ways.  Nevertheless, getting a push for hardware acceleration and fast renders in 2d/3d is a very sweet direction.

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

There is an article at gamasutra about Flash vs. Unity for the future of web 3d games.  But it really is the future of true, hardware accelerated gaming, applications and interactives, not just 3d but massive, immersive 2d+3d works/projects on the web and available via browser.

Adobe, or Macromedia previously, owned 3d games with Director (8.5 with Shockwave3d) for a time, but that was really before mainstream was ready (2000-2001-ish).  There was a lack of computers with dedicated video cards and GPUs.  Today, even the bottom line computers have a decent video card. Also, the surge in mobile and the need for native level access to graphics hardware has spawned this new battle (Thanks Apple!).

Unity has the pipeline, 3d and has been doing that well since 2005/6. They emerged from Director and even have some members of the Director team working at Unity.  Adobe is just getting back into this, they dropped Director (or left it wavering) and are now going to attack on the Flash level not just against Unity but to hardware accelerate it for mobile and better video playback hopefully (they currently hardware accelerate scaled video to full screen).

Like the Silverlight vs. Flash product competition, Unity vs. Flash is actually a good thing for developers and both platforms.  With Torque3d wavering, html5 and WebGL more than a year out (and WebGL maybe 2-3) for broad mainstream support (I am looking at you IE), this is the time for Flash to move on this and Unity to keep going they way they have.  Hardware acceleration makes these plugins relevant and ahead of the current standards emerging in html5 and WebGL.

I love using both tools and they have come a long way since painful Director lingo/w3d/plugin hell for hardware accelerated gaming, apps and interactives. The gaming industry and web are merging, these two products should get a good portion of that projected $87-billion total game market’s annual revenue in five years, as investment advisor Digi-Capital predicts.

It is also a great time to be a developer having these companies vie for developer support.  It is exciting that hardware acceleration, 3d games, and widening game industry are all emerging and will be a big thing for the next few years at a minimum.

It is finally time to kick it up a notch. Game on!