What with all the other stuff going on at the moment, a visit to the Hackney Community College on Friday for this year’s Digital Summer Camp should be a welcome change. I’ll be working with groups of 12-18 year old throughout out the day, introducing them to the wonderful world of paper prototyping for digital games… with a small incentive that the best idea of the day will be turned into an open source game by The Away Foundation and published online! Should be an interesting day.
As part of the Digital Shoreditch festival this year, I will be attending the Make & Do event on the 15th and 16th of May as a presenter for Away3D. The idea with Make & Do is to create something in less than two days, based on a series of challenges set by the organisers. The “thing” can be an idea, demo, interactive game, mobile application… really anything so long as it resides in the digital domain.
I’ll of course be working with the teams who want to create something using 3D, and we’ll be using Away Builder, Away3D 4.1 and Away Physics to help us on our way. You can read more about the event (and find details of how to sign up) by visiting http://digitalshoreditch.com/make-it-do-it-create-it-hack-it/
A week later, I’ll be heading up to Cambridge to present at the Cambridge Game Creators meeting. This is a regular community event that recently became an official “Adobe Community” for Cambridge and the east of England. I’ll be presenting a session titled Cross-platform Gaming with Away3D, and will have time to go through some of the aspects of Away3D’s integration with the Adobe game Framework SDK, and how we are evolving with new updates and tools in the future. More details will be available on the CGC meetup page in the next few days
Some of you may remember the bundled Away3D game that came with the first Adobe Gaming SDK download towards the end of last year. Called Invawayders (already regretting that title…), it demonstrated a simple Away3D interaction with pixelated 3D space invaders, and had compilation options for both mobile (phone/tablet) and web applications.
The game has recently had a bit of a spring clean, and in order to give it a more permenant home, we’ve uploaded to a new source repository in github. The source is arranged in three libraries, a core lib containing all shared assets and logic, and two FB projects for mobile and web publishing respectively. Instructions for installation can be found in the README.md file.
The game itself plays very similar to the existing Invawayders demo bundled in the Gaming SDK, however this version has a couple of significant updates to it’s code architecture:
- The game loop is now managed by the Ash framework, an extremely clean and flexible entity framework for AS3
- The required Away3D version is has been updated to 4.1 Alpha, taking advantage of some of the new particle APIs
The live versions of the game have also been updated, these can be found in the following locations for each respective platform:
- Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=air.invawayders&hl=en
- Apple iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/invawayders/id566559602?mt=8
- Facebook: http://apps.facebook.com/invawayders
I am only just getting to grips with Facebook’s new App Center, so it may take a while for me to work out how to link the mobile games from the app page, but according to FB developers, the experience should be “seamless”. At least i finally worked out how to get that “play” button working again on the community page. Info about the game will appear here from now on now when there are any more updates etc, and if we’re really lucky we should be able to get the username shortcut for the page after 25 likes
Would be interested to hear what people thought of the re-architecture. I’m actually quite liking the approach that Ash places on game development, the conversion took a while to get my head around but after a bit of code wrestling, everything seemed to fall neatly into place. Hopefully I’ll be getting a chance to apply Ash to some more Gaming SDK examples in future.
Earlier this week, around the same time that Adobe was getting all amendy with their Flash whitepaper, we published our updated roadmap for Away3D & The Away Foundation. If you’ve not yet read it and are interested in what 3D shenanigans to expect from us, nows the time to have a look!
With a schedule beginning to form, my attention is drawn back to the some of the upcoming events we’ll be attending over the next few months, and in some cases, speaking. The first in line looks to be Casual Connect Europe, a games conference hosted in Hamburg from 12th-14th Feb. I’ll be presenting a short talk in the Indie track on Wednesday called Cross-platform 3D to the Max, which will look into some of the savings we can make when balancing performance and quality on the GPU – something applicable to many of today’s games published on tablets and phones.
The 2 days following Casual Connect will be spent joining in with the Adobe Game Jam group in Hamburg, where I will be teaming up with Chris Benjaminsen of PlayerIO and seeing how far we can get creating a multiplayer 3D social game. The event promises to be a lot of fun, so if you’re around in Hamburg for the 15th & 16th and are interested in joining in or just coming along to observe, sign up for free attendance here.
Something to look out for almost directly after FITC, and especially if your a little less mobile, is the online Stage3D conference on Feb 22nd. check the website for details as things get closer, there’s already a strong lineup covering a very wide range of libraries. I’ll be talking about the cross-platform potential of Away3D & other Away Foundation projects, and there will also be a chance for Q&A on where we see things headed in the longer term.
Jumping forward a few weeks, I’ll be attending the Flash Gaming Summit event in San Francisco for some shiny gaming nuggets, and this will be closely followed by the obscenely gargantuan GDC conference. The latter will be an interesting opportunity to showcase some new Away3D games to a wider gaming audience at the Adobe expo booth – for those who’ve not yet seen, we are taking submissions for any Away3D game developer interested in being part of the showcase content on the Away3D user forums, so if you’ve got something great in development that will have some sort of public release (or even promo video / site launch) on or before GDC, reply to the forum thread and let us know!
Finally, at the beginning of May, I’ll be returning to the West coast along with Richard to attend the “better late than never” revamped Adobe Max conference in LA. We will be presenting a new session titled Cross platform gaming with Away3D, and will be taking a look at some of the recent developments in 3D-land as well as some practical examples of Away3D workflows and optimisations. We will also be attending an Actionscript Gaming Frameworks panel along with other members of the SDK development teams for Starling and Feathers. Should be an interesting discussion about the current gaming landscape and where the various SDK libraries are headed.
I’m always open to meeting up with local Away3D groups or companies/developers using our libraries, so if you happen to be in the area at any of the events above and are keen for a chat, please let me know!
As one of the cornerstone concerns of the recent 4.1 Alpha release of Away3D, GPU optimisation is something we will all have to start paying more attention to in future. The discipline used to be reserved for the hardcore console elite, but these days the application of GPU technology is literally everywhere, and the consumer has wised-up to the importance of smoothly performing and battery-efficient software.
As a reaction to this, I have been busy preparing a new presentation that takes a look at what GPU optimisation means for the web & mobile industry in general, as well as in the specific case of Flash based products. The talk is called A Million Little Triangles, and I’ll be giving a preview of the session at the
newly reformed LFPUG this Thusday, as well as the upcoming FlashGamm conference in Kiev, Ukraine in a couple of weeks time. We will take a look at some of the history of accelerated graphics, and some of the general principals that today’s hardware adhere to – principals that make steering round the pitfalls all the easier. Hope you can make it to either one!
Sadly, there had been a change of plan on the LFPUG front, now looks like this will be delayed until January.
Its frankly a relief to get back into a more regular release pattern, and this one in particular should hopefully not disappoint. Away3D 4.1 Alpha is one of those things beloved of open source developers everywhere – a feature update.
Full details of all features in this release can be found over in our blog at Away3D.com, but the highlights include GPU accelerated particles, multipass materials, ATF texture support, realtime reflections, tools and geometry refactors, view volume partitioning, stereoscopic renderers… the list goes on.
However, all good fun must come to an end, and as this is an Alpha version, we are turning to you the community for help on the next stage of 4.1 development – fixing stuff. Any issues with the API, runtime errrors, performance problems etc, we want to hear about it. Use the ultra simple issues tracker in Github to get your message across, and while you’re there, perhaps even have a go at fixing a few!
My main contribution in this release has been around the new particles feature, and I have to make sure I give a shout out to the person who made most of that possible – the utterly awesome Liao Cheng. For now the team will be powering towards a stable beta, which we will hopefully be revealing more on in the coming weeks.
The animation system in Away3D has had a fair amount of refactoring in recent times, and as yet, less examples actually demonstrating performance and features. The demo above is intended as a first step to rectify this, in this case for the vertex animation system.
Animation data in this demo is imported via the MD2 format using one of the more well known examples from Quake days, the Perelith Knight. One of the great things about MD2 is its small size – the entire swf comes in at a smidge over 700k – an impressive feat considering the variety of animation and textures included.
Another advantage of vertex animation over other forms such as bones is its playback efficiency. Here we have 400 independently animating avatars with normal maps, specular maps and dynamic shadows, all running at a smooth 30fps on an average machine.
Full source is available for the demo – just select “View Source” from the right-click menu or use the direct link here to view and download. The demo uses the bleeding-edge build in the dev branch of Away3D’s github, so be sure you have updated your source if you are interested in compiling the code.
Being the uneducated heathen that I am, I’ll freely admit to being unfamiliar with the work of at least half the billing this year. But judging by past choices, I don’t doubt it will contain plenty of inspiring and interesting nuggets, the paydirt of any creative conference and the thinking behind why you must absolutely, definitely, without question or worry for your liver, be in attendance.
With the recent upheavals in Away-land, I’m pleased to say there will be plenty of Away3D team members and supporters at the conference, bringing together the very latest on library development and the work of The Away Foundation, something that I will be speaking about in my session Forward the Foundation on Monday.
Another of our team David Lenaerts will also be presenting on some of the magic he conjures up with the work for dynamic lighting in Away3D, as well as more general principals used in computer graphics in his session A Trick of Light on Wednesday.
Tickets are still up for grabs, with reduced pricing available for another 3 days until August 10th, after which the full ticket price is required.
A new training course has been announced for all London-based Away3D’ers! Hosted by the LFPUG, Stepping into the 3rd Dimension is a two day workshop which will focus on Away3D 4.0 features and should be suitable for anyone looking to dive into the world of Stage3D-accelerated Flash content. I’ll be taking on my usual role of tutor, with Tink providing backup in the form of lunch arrangements and good vibes
The course is due to be held on the 23rd & 24th of August, priced at a very reasonable £230 + VAT (£276). A full description of topics can be found on the lfpug training page, highlights include:
- Library and examples step-by-step setup
- Animation systems walkthrough
- Prefab3D installation and use
- Publishing on mobile devices
With a maximum class size of 14, seating is limited so be sure to register on the LFPUG page above asap to guarantee yourself a place, or send a mail direct to the organisers at training AT lfpug.com.
Hope to see you there!
Recently it was announced that Adobe will act as a funding partner to the Away3D engine, after an agreement was made between Adobe and newly formed non-profit organisation The Away Foundation.
With Away3D, Adobe are hoping to expand their Flash gaming credentials further into 3D-accelerated graphics, alongside the popular 2D-accelerated graphics API Starling.
You can read more about the Away Foundation and its ties to Adobe and Away3D in a Q&A given to Adobe’s digital media blog by yours truly:
And of course, Away3D has its own description of how this will affect activities in the following post:
Of course, The Away Foundation is something that has been in preparation for a few months now, and the primary aim is to create an accessible way for companies to support the work we do, via advertising, development resources and / or sponsorship. You can read more about the various tiers of membership available, as well as latest updates, releases, training and more at the official Away Foundation website: http://www.theawayfoundation.org