It seems fitting to start this with a picture of the conference entrance in the dark, because Milan in winterÂ seems to exist in some kind of perpetual twilight! I only have two memories of being out in sunlight: traveling to my new hotel on the second day (I had an unfortunate case of missing hotel when I initially arrived, which meant a hurried and slightly botched arrangement with a few other hotels at very short notice and great expense), and my taxi ride back to the airport, where I was actually trying to sleep off the night before but kept getting woken up by the charming city center motorists
Still, once inside the dimly lit and slightly tradesman-like entrance, the venue was an immense spectacle of Max banners and video screens, with the main auditorium one of the largest I’d ever seen at a Flash conference (Of course, someone had to point out that the American one was waaaay bigger..)
Truth be told, I didn’t get a huge amount of time to see presentations, as the first day was largely spent sorting out hotel arrangements, the second preparing my talk, and the third socialising with the group of 3d flashers formed after our Birds of a Feather panel on the first day. We had an interesting mix of engines on the panel (Alex and Anton from Alternativa3D, myself from Away3D, and Carlos from Papervision3D), which I have to say turned into a fantastic discussion that continued with an impromptu 3d Flash dinner later that evening, along with a few enthusiastic attendees!
I’d never met the Alternativa guys before, but they were great company and have the same dry sense of humour that Russians seems to share with Brits these days.. although I’m not sure where that comes from – maybe it’s the shared outlook of not taking life too seriously following the history of a failed empire… who knows?
The end of the second day held witness to the obligatory Max par-tay, which had a distinctly average feel to it – a style that only large corporate companies seem to be able to pull off. When the beer ran out I feared the worst, but to their credit the organisers had an ace up their sleeve… give everyone extremely alcoholic cocktails with mysterious flashing ice cubes.
Strangely, a new game started to break out, replacing the previous one of who could go without a wee the longest before having to face the mile long queue for the gents: who could pocket the most flashing cubes? Later on people could be seen comparing hauls, trying to work out who’d won – certainly many participants would never be lost for amusement at their kid’s birthday parties again.
So the final day beckoned, and it was time to get serious. First of the day was the Alternativa talk which was a stunning presentation. Anton the chief flash developer had apparently stayed up all night making sure every detail was in place, and it certainly showed! Alternativa is not just a 3d engine, but an entire game development platform with backend services for multiuser applications, a frontend component framework for application UIs, but truth be told, I was really there for the 3D.
The highlight of the session for me was when Anton wheeled out new demos such as their rigid body physics system, and a new bunker fps which can now be seen in their latest blog posts. Makes me think we have a little catching up to do…
…And then of course, it was my turn. I may have slightly overdone it with the gadgets on this occasion, but in the end most things worked (sadly, my wiimote batteries didn’t!). The impression I wanted to get across with the session was how Away3d can apply itself to many different tasks, and how the framework has matured to offer a lot of useful, time saving features for generating 3d content in the Flash Player.
I’ve managed to upload the entire session for anyone who didn’t make it, which you can access from here. Use left-right cursor keys to advance slides, and up-down keys to reveal points. Unfortunately some of the demos may take a while to load – there was not much time for web-optimising! even so, I hope you find them useful.