Posts Tagged ‘browser’

Sunday, April 5th, 2009

Torque3D seems to have full featured browser surfaces that you can use in the 3d engine seamlessly, see the video below (at :38). This is amazing stuff.

Making games that integrate content from the web is especially required these days.  It is a difficult thing to do within the 3d render because of all the plugins, styling etc that needs to be rendered on a 3d surface.  Well Torque3D has a killer feature in that it supports entirely full features browser render on a 3d surface.  So now you can integrate html content, flash video etc in your game easily.

You can play content in flash player content easily and have stripped down html but it is limited, you can play videos and have content in Unity3d but it is limited, even larger engines like Unreal 3 have difficulty handling flash and html content.  If this is a good implementation Torque3D has a killer feature on their hands! Flash is commonly used as user interface elements and content within games but it can be challenging.  This is pretty exciting if it works as advertised. Think of how cool all the little consoles, mini-games and controls in 3d games could be in flash easily.

See at :38 in the video…


GDC 2009 – Torque 3D Web Demo from GarageGames on Vimeo.

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

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?

Sunday, March 22nd, 2009

Here is a video with more information on Silverlight 3 Beta features that are matches of the latest Flash killer features in pixel shaders, 3d planes (ability to create pseudo-3d engines like papervision3d), local saving, pixel operations/bitmap handling, local messaging (silverlight to silverlight – like localconnection), out of browser desktop running ability of SL3, SEO and search indexing capabilities / deep linking navigation and more.

Video of the features of SL3 Beta, Demos, at a Slow Pace from #mix09
Get Microsoft Silverlight

A few points after the video and taking a tour of the features.

The pixel shaders are written in HLSL (shader 2), however they are compiled to byte code and do not currently use the gpu for rendering. While the pixel shaders are very cool and the language to write them is standard pretty much for shaders in HLSL shader model 2 DirectX-based (the other is GLSL OpenGL based) they have not allowed this byte code to run on the GPU… yet. Here Flash and Pixel Bender actually are ahead there.

Although there are 3d planes which is very exciting, no good pseudo 3d engine exists yet matching the 3 in flash (papervision3d, away3d, sandy). When SL3 comes out I am sure we will see a few emerge or build them ourselves because this iteration of SL3 looks pretty fun.

Pixel based operations will be a huge advancement much like it was in earlier flash versions as it adds some demo scene type abilities and experiments with pixels that are fun.  This also lends to doing cool things like shaders, effects, AR, face recognition, motion detection etc.

Effects like Blur and Drop shadow are good and the ability to add custom ones, great. However currently they are pretty performance intensive.  They are also in Flash but there needs to be some refinement in SL3 effects before launch.

Desktop runnable apps in out of browser will be nice and this is a direct compete with Adobe AIR which was a surprise.

Local Communication supports desktop to browser communication.

Isolated storage (similar to shared objects) supports 1MB in browser, 25MB out of browser defaults.

This version of silverlight is really a 1.0 version as typical with most software.  Version 2 or version 3 is usually what the initial design goals pan out.  Much like the latest unity3d version (2.5) that has windows support and the iPhone SDK 3.0 that both came out this week, even actionscript 3 compared to earlier versions, these toolkits are finally iterated enough that they are really solid platforms for building cool stuff on and become platforms.  The next version of all these could be very, very dangerous.

Huge missing features:

Although there are some great features in SL3 beta, it is still not done and it is still missing some key components that Flash has which make it very attractive in the interactive space.

  • Camera and Microphone support - Macromedia hired one of the smartest dudes around in Jeremy Allaire back in flash 6 days to help add support for Flash Communication Server (Flash Media Server now) Camer and Microphone support.  One of the best R&D periods at Macromedia. SL needs this soon.
  • Printing support – what was long a problem in Flash is so in SL, there is no good printing support
  • No GPU usage for Pixel Effects/Shaders – (neither flash nor silverlight support hardware accelerated shaders in PixelEffects/Pixelbender – Pixel Effects/Shaders need GPU support (see Kevin Goldsmith’s article on GPU mixed with CPU and how this may or may not be good. However processors are speeding up and multi-core helps software rendering, the quality of GPU is well beyond what software rendering can deliver for a few years to come at least while architecture advances, probably more like 5-10 years.
  • No UDP plans yet - Adobe has RTMFP, SL sockets has no public plans for adding UDP that I have seen
  • No Alpha Channel in Video - You can do this with a shader though but not supported by default.

Silverlight 3 Video

Flash has the upperhand in video and probably will still even though SL3 has H.264.  Flash added this at the same time and though they still have FLV which revolutionized web video they are now much broader in support in video than SL3.  Silverlight has H.264 and VC1 support (their own FLV like codec).  Still pretty cool a couple years ago there was no HD on the web now everyone has it in H.264 video support.

Currently nothing innovative, mainly catchup still, but here are some options

Silverlight 3 beta and the video below the features and highlights will look very similar to flash and flash community advancements over the last couple years.  There is no innovation just yet.

But where that could happen is in socket support with UDP. Flash has moved on this in RTMFP and the beginning of larger scale networking support with UDP with samples like stratus.  This is a huge differentiating feature for what I think will be game changer on the web (it already is on desktop mmos) in real-time or closer to real-time support for larger sets of users in online games like MMOs or virtual communities, even tools to make request based real-time sites like micro-blogging faster and able to handle more users (right now it is very linear if users get many followers, UDP will allow a better distributed framework for messaging).

Local Storage

Silverlight and Unity3D all need this, Flash could use better support for this.  Local saving of a files for cache beyond the internet cache and greater than the 1MB/25MB limits of SL3 IsolatedStorage.  This is an issue when you are making large scale games in that you need to save lots of assets to a client but to make it economical you want ot save more than the default internet cache amount. Flash Shared Object (Local) allow you to do this somewhat but it would be great to have a way to just download files for cache (upon user agreement) to store assets in bulk of allowable types (images, video, models, bundles) to the file system.

Hardware rendering for 3d support and UDP support will put Flash and SL3 on par with the killer Unity3D kit for making online web games and other activex/plugins like instantaction that allow you to do these things already.

The one thing SL has over Flash

Flash and Flex are great. But there is this massive division in the community and marketing of Flash. Silverlight is entirely unified and this has much to do with starting clean at a time that interactive development is heading more into a technology and developers control. Flash and Flex need to bring it together. AS3 has been out long enough that the people with skills have hopped on and taken it to a new level, mainly from programmers. If Adobe created a version of Flash that was a new IDE and consolidated Flex and Flash into just Flash, made the IDE as powerful as FDT or FlashDevelop3 there could be hope to bring the platform together. I understand they had to work it in slowly because it was a designers platform really (even though coders still pushed the limits in games and apps built on it) so they had to tip toe carefully on this to not alienate people. But now I think the division is a serious problem with the platform and must be addressed, noone expected Silverlight to be this quick on at least SL3 features. And even though the initial approach might have been bad as SL1 was a huge letdown, Microsoft does not give up and you can see in the XBOX360 and DirectX that they are very pursuant. DirectX really didn’t become huge until version 7 so these guys won’t relent.

I am not a huge fan of using the proprietary tools. Even in Flash I use as much open source as I can even though the player is locked, but Moonlight is something that trails Silverlight development and is a very unique thing in both open source and cross platform/multiplatform development. It is a clear relationship and aims to make Silverlight run on multiplatform mono including Linux. This could win out in the end who knows.

Futures

Great iterations of software happened this week in the latest unity3d version (2.5) that has windows support and the iPhone SDK 3.0 and now SL3 is quite a surprise in feature set.

I have been really busy this week just delving into all them and hope to start making more cool and useful projects in them.  The best part is right now is great to be an interactive or game developer as all major software companies and markets are focused on retaining good developers.  I don’t’ recall a time other than the beginning the the web virtual land rush that has so many options and markets that skilled developers and designers can choose from.  Good times.

Friday, November 28th, 2008

I am working with lots of content now that is flash and unity3d in game development for the web, and occasionally systems built in flash, javascript or other have to communicate with Unity3D and vice versa.  You can do this from the server side (WWW/WWWForm class or sockets) OR you can also communicate client side for many things such as sending name value pairs or variables into Unity3D, Flash or the javascript in page as needed. There are some great tools like UnityObject that is like swfobject (only you have to update it to work with latest browsers) that make this more simple to send in params and messages. The same can be applied to Silverlight. It is pretty simple all in all but having a sample to start with is good with all these technologies.

Paul Tondeur threw togetother a little sample that shows how you can integrate Unity3D, Flash and javascript in the page fairly simply with lots of great demos.  It really is just about passing parameters around into the objects from javascript, then within Flash calling ExternalInterface to call external javascript or within Unity3D calling Application.ExternalCall.

//Flash adding callback for javascript code
ExternalInterface.addCallback("functionNameInBrowser", functionNameInFlash );
//Unity3D calling javascript code
Application.ExternalCall("javascriptFunction", "Parameter1");

Nothing too tasking but if you want to see samples of this working together from flash, flex, javascript, unity3d then check it out. Zip on over to Paul’s site to grab the files and more demos and samples. All examples are bundled in one download, which includes all the Unity3D, Flash, Flex, Actionscript and Javascript files.

Here’s some demos