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23. July 2014

 

In Part One we looked at the basics of working with the Three.js graphics library.  We got as far as creating a camera and a textured 3D object.  Now is the true test of ease of use… getting a 3D model exported from Blender and displayed in our browser.  HTML libraries face an even bigger burden, as their access to the local file system isn’t as seamless as most other games.  Simply opening up an FBX or DAE file isn’t an option.  Let’s take a look at how ThreeJS works around this issues.

 

 

First’s thing first, I needed a Blender Blend file to work with.  This actually lead me down this road, resulting in a post about taking a Blend file from the web and making it game ready.  Anyways, I did.  I started with this file, merged the geometry, UV mapped it, and baked the Blender materials to a single texture map.  I am not entirely sure if I can share the resulting file or not, so you may have to provide your own Blender file or follow the linked tutorial to generate one of your own.

 

Anyways, this is what we are starting with…

image 

 

Let’s see how close we can get with Three.js.

 

The first obvious question is… how the hell do we get this model in to Three.JS from Blender?

Well, the answer is a plugin.  Follow the installation direction, however in my case the path was wrong.  For Blender 2.71, my actual plugin directory is C:\Program Files\Blender Foundation\Blender\2.71\scripts\addons\io_mesh_threejs.

 

There is one very critical thing to be aware of here… when downloading the files from Github, be certain to download the RAW format:

image

 

This particular mistake caused me a bit of pain, don’t make the same mistake!

 

Once you’ve copied each of these three files, configure the plugin in Blender.  If Blender is running, restart it.

Now select File->User Preferences:

image

 

In the resulting dialog select Addons, then in the search box type “three”.  If it installed correctly it will show on the right.  Click the checkbox to enable the plugin.

image

 

Now if you check the File->Export menu, you should see Three.js as an option.

image

 

When exporting you can clearly see there are a ton of options:

image

 

The options I selected above is for just exporting the mesh and materials.  No animation data, lights, cameras, etc… Scaling and Flip YZ all depend on the orientation of your game engine.

 

This exporter creates a JSON js like this one:

 

{

	"metadata" :
	{
		"formatVersion" : 3.1,
		"generatedBy"   : "Blender 2.7 Exporter",
		"vertices"      : 8,
		"faces"         : 6,
		"normals"       : 2,
		"colors"        : 0,
		"uvs"           : [24],
		"materials"     : 1,
		"morphTargets"  : 0,
		"bones"         : 0
	},

	"scale" : 1.000000,

	"materials" : [	{
		"DbgColor" : 15658734,
		"DbgIndex" : 0,
		"DbgName" : "Material",
		"blending" : "NormalBlending",
		"colorAmbient" : [0.6400000190734865, 0.6400000190734865, 0.6400000190734865],
		"colorDiffuse" : [0.6400000190734865, 0.6400000190734865, 0.6400000190734865],
		"colorEmissive" : [0.0, 0.0, 0.0],
		"colorSpecular" : [0.5, 0.5, 0.5],
		"depthTest" : true,
		"depthWrite" : true,
		"mapDiffuse" : "crate.jpg",
		"mapDiffuseWrap" : ["repeat", "repeat"],
		"shading" : "Lambert",
		"specularCoef" : 50,
		"transparency" : 1.0,
		"transparent" : false,
		"vertexColors" : false
	}],

	"vertices" : [1,-1,0,1,0,1,-1,0,0,0,-1,0,1,0,0,0,1,1,-1,1,0,0,0,0],

	"morphTargets" : [],

	"normals" : [0.577349,0.577349,0.577349,0.577349,0.577349,-0.577349],

	"colors" : [],

	"uvs" : [[0.988679,0.99767,0.988677,0.016243,0.007251,0.016244,0.007252,0.
	997671,0.989755,0.017099,0.989755,0.998526,0.008328,0.998526,0.008328,0.017099,
	0.990714,0.989755,0.009287,0.989755,0.009286,0.008328,0.990713,0.008328,0.
	000516,0.993662,0.981943,0.993661,0.981942,0.012235,0.000516,0.012235,0.987766,
	0.997568,0.987766,0.016141,0.006339,0.016141,0.006339,0.997568,0.986807,0.
	986807,0.986807,0.005381,0.00538,0.00538,0.00538,0.986807]],

	"faces" : [43,0,3,2,1,0,0,1,2,3,0,0,1,1,43,4,7,6,5,0,4,5,6,7,0,0,1,1,43,0,4,5,1,
	0,8,9,10,11,0,0,1,1,43,1,2,6,5,0,12,13,14,15,1,1,1,1,43,2,3,7,6,0,16,17,18,19,1,
	0,0,1,43,3,0,4,7,0,20,21,22,23,0,0,0,0],

	"bones" : [],

	"skinIndices" : [],

	"skinWeights" : [],

  "animations" : []


}

 

In theory things should just work, but since when did gamedev give a damn about theory?  Suffice to say I ran into a bit of a problem fully documented here.  The bug actually had nothing to do with Three.js, it was actually caused by my IDE WebStorm.

 

Anyways… once I figured out the problem, the code to load a model was extremely straightforward:

 

///<reference path="./three.d.ts"/>

class ThreeJSTest {
    renderer:THREE.WebGLRenderer;
    scene:THREE.Scene;
    camera:THREE.Camera;

    constructor() {
        this.renderer = new THREE.WebGLRenderer({ alpha: true });

        this.renderer.setSize(500, 500);
        this.renderer.setClearColor(0xFFFFFF, 1);

        document.getElementById('content').appendChild(this.renderer.domElement);

        this.scene = new THREE.Scene();

        this.camera = new THREE.PerspectiveCamera(75
            , 1
            , 0.1, 1000);

        this.camera.position = new THREE.Vector3(10, 0, 10);
        this.camera.lookAt(new THREE.Vector3(0, 0, 0));


        // New code begins below
        // Create a loader to load in the JSON file
        var modelLoader = new THREE.JSONLoader();

        // Call the load method, passing in the name of our generated JSON file
        // and a callback for when loadign is complete.
        // Not fat arrow typescript call for proper thisification.  AKA, we want 
        this to be this, not that
        // or something else completely
        modelLoader.load("robot.jsm", (geometry,materials) => {
            // create a mesh using the passed in geometry and textures
            var mesh = new THREE.SkinnedMesh(geometry,new THREE.MeshFaceMaterial(
                       materials));
            mesh.position.x = 0; mesh.position.y = mesh.position.z = 0;
            // add it to the scene
            this.scene.add(mesh);
        });

        this.scene.add(new THREE.AmbientLight(new THREE.Color(0.9,0.9,0.9).
                       getHex()));
        this.renderer.render(this.scene, this.camera);
    }

    render() {
        requestAnimationFrame(() => this.render());
        this.renderer.render(this.scene, this.camera);
    }

    start() {
        this.render();
    }
}

window.onload = () => {
    var three = new ThreeJSTest();
    three.start();
};

 

And when you run it:

image

 

Mission accomplished!  The astute reader may notice the file was renamed robot.jsm.  That was to work around the problem I mentioned earlier.

 

 

 

This isn’t actually the only option for loading 3D models into Three.js, there are actually a series of loaders available as a separate download from the Github site.  It is however certainly the easiest one!  The next few steps took me two full days to fight my way through!  Some of the blame is on TypeScript, some is on me and of course, CORS reared it ugly head as well.  Oh, and to add to the fun, a recent change in Three.js introduced an error in the version of ColladaLoader.js I downloaded. This was one of those trials that Google was no help with, so hopefully this guide will help others in the future.  Anyways… on with the adventure!

 

We are actually about to run smack into two different problems with using a Three.js plugin.  The first one is TypeScript related.  You see, the ColladaLoader plugin is not a core part of Three.js.  In JavaScript, this is no big deal.  In TypeScript however, big deal.  You see, until now we have been relying on the generated .d.ts file from StrictlyTyped for defining all of the types in Three.js from JavaScript in their corresponding TypeScript form.  However, since this is a plugin and not a core part of Three.js, this means the d.ts file has no idea how ColladaLoader works.

 

Ultimately this means you have to had roll your own Typescript definition file. I had to struggle a bit to find the exact TypeScript syntax to map ColladaLoader so it will run in TypeScript within the THREE namespace with proper callback syntax.  First off, create a file called ColladaLoader.d.ts   Now enter the following code:

 

///<reference path="./three.d.ts"/>

declare module THREE {
    export class ColladaLoader{
        options:any;
        load(
            name:string,
            readyCallback:(result:any)=> void,
            progressCallback:( total:number,loaded:number)=> void);
    }
}

 

 

I should probably point out, I only implemented the barest minimum of what I required.  In your case you may have to implement more of the interface.  Also note I also took the lazy approach to defining options.  By returning any, my code will compile in TypeScript, but I do lose some of the type checking.  The alternative would have been to define the Options type and I am way too lazy for that.  The above definition enable me to call the load() method and set options, which is all I actually needed.  I don’t even want to talk about how long it took me to puzzle out those 10 lines of code so that the generated code actually matched THREE.js!

 

OK, we now have ColladaLoader.d.ts defined let’s look at code to use ColladaLoader to load a DAE (COLLADA) file:

 

///<reference path="./three.d.ts"/>
///<reference path="./ColladaLoader.d.ts"/>


class ThreeJSTest {
    renderer:THREE.WebGLRenderer;
    scene:THREE.Scene;
    camera:THREE.Camera;
    loader:THREE.ColladaLoader;
    light:THREE.PointLight;

    constructor() {
        this.renderer = new THREE.WebGLRenderer({ alpha: true });

        this.renderer.setSize(500, 500);
        this.renderer.setClearColor(0xFFFFFF, 1);

        document.getElementById('content').appendChild(this.renderer.domElement);

        this.scene = new THREE.Scene();;

        this.camera = new THREE.PerspectiveCamera(75
            , 1
            , 0.1, 1000);

        this.camera.position = new THREE.Vector3(5, 0, 5);
        this.camera.lookAt(new THREE.Vector3(0, 0, 0));

        // Create a loader
        this.loader = new THREE.ColladaLoader();

        // Add a point light to the scene to light up our model
        this.light = new THREE.PointLight();
        this.light.position.set(100,100,100);
        this.light.intensity = 0.8;
        this.scene.add(this.light);

        this.renderer.render(this.scene, this.camera);

        // Blender COLLADA models have a different up vector than Three.js, set 
        this option to flip them
        this.loader.options.convertUpAxis = true;

        // Now load the model, passing the callback finishedLoading() when done.
        this.loader.load("robot.dae",
            (result) => this.finishedLoading(result),
            (length,curLength)=>{
                // called as file is loading, if you want a progress bar
            }
        );
    }

    finishedLoading(result){
        // Model file is loaded, add it to the scene
        this.scene.add(result.scene);
    }
    render() {
        requestAnimationFrame(() => this.render());
        this.renderer.render(this.scene, this.camera);
    }

    start() {
        this.render();
    }
}

window.onload = () => {
    var three = new ThreeJSTest();
    three.start();
};

 

 

Finally of course we need to export our COLLADA model.  Using Blender, you can export using File->Export->Collada menu option.  These are the settings I used:

image

 

And when you run it:

image

 

That said, there is a really good chance this isn’t what is going to happen to you when you run your project.  Instead you are going to probably receive a 404 error that your dae file is not found.  This is because, unlike before with the JSON file being added directly to your project, this time you are loading the model using an XML HTTP Request.  This causes a number of problems.  The first and most likely problem you are going to encounter is if you are running your application locally from your file system instead of a server.  By default XHR requests do not work this way ( no idea why, seems kinda stupid to me ).  There is a switch that allows chrome to run XHR local requests ( link here ) using --allow-file-access-from-files.

 

In my case the problem was a little bit different.  I use WebStorm, which includes a built in web server to make this kind of stuff easier.  This however raises a completely different set of problems…  CORS  Cross Origin Resource Sharing.  In a very simple description, CORS is a security method for making XML HTTP Requests across different servers.  That said, how the heck do you set it when you are working with a built in stripped down development server?  Fortunately WebStorm have thought about that.

 

Assuming you are using Chrome and have the Webstorm plugin install, in the Chrome address bar, go to chrome://extensions.

image

 

Click the Options button.

image

Now simply add 127.0.0.1 to the allow list and press Apply. 

 

Now if you run from Webstorm, no more 404 errors.

 

A moment about TypeScript

 

I’ve been using TypeScript a fair bit lately and this is the first time I’ve run into major problems with it.  But the experience is enough that I can safely say…

 

TypeScript is not appropriate for new developers to use!

 

Simply put, unless you have a decent amount of experience with JavaScript, you really shouldn’t use TypeScript.  You will have to read the generated code at some point in time, and if you don’t full understand the code it generates, you are doomed.  The minute definition files arent available to you the experience becomes a hell of a lot less fun.  The process of mapping TypeScript types to existing JavaScript libraries is not trivial and requires you to have a pretty good understanding of both languages.  Especially when the library you are trying to define uses a number of clever JavaScript tricks, which basically… is all of them.  The fact there isnt a reliable tool out there for generating at least boilerplate .d.ts files from .js files is a bit of a puzzle to me.

 

Next, I also have to say TypeScript’s handling of this is just as mind bogglingly stupid as JavaScript’s.  That fat arrow ( => ) functions are used to capture local context, until used as an anonymous method, at which point they capture global (window) context, forcing you to resort to function() is downright perplexing.  I simply couldn’t get anonymous callback functions to have the proper this context no matter what syntax combination I tried.  Infuriatingly, the _this value Typescript automatically contains was set to the right value.

 

One other major downside I noticed about the language with my recent struggles is the newness of the language is very much an annoyance.  When researching bugs or workarounds you quite often find things that are reported as bugs, reported as changed,  or reported and never responded to.  This isn’t a bash on the language as it’s really only a problem that time can solve.  However, for a new developer, dealing with a language where a great deal of the material out there is potentially wrong because of language changes, that is certainly a challenge.  All languages change over time of course, but young languages change more and more dramatically.

 

Don’t get me wrong, I am not off Typescript, even though it spent a good part of the last two days pissing me off.  At least until ECMAScript 6 is the norm I can see a great deal of value in using TypeScript for large projects.

 

For beginners though, with little JavaScript experience… forget about it.  It’s going to cause more headaches than it’s worth.

Programming


18. July 2014

I just received the following email from Unreal:

 

TranslusentFogDemo

Unreal Engine 4.3 Released!

 

More than 500 updates ship in this release! Unreal Engine 4.3 includes greatly improved mobile support, awesome new rendering features, improved Blueprint workflows, and strides toward an excellent experience on Mac and laptops.

 

Check out the new World Composition tools, spline features, and the preview of Paper2D, our 2D toolset! You also get SpeedTree 7 support, our work on Metal API for iOS 8 to date, and new Oculus Rift features such as time warping.

 

There’s no limit to what you can do with Unreal Engine 4 for only $19 per month.

 

Paper2D Side Scroller Template

Have fun with the new side-scroller template game as you become acquainted with Paper2D.

Read More

 

VR Couch Knights

We love VR, and Unreal Engine 4.3 supports the new Oculus DK2 out of the box! Dive into Epic’s popular “Couch Knights” demo which has been making the rounds at GDC and other shows.

Read More

SpeedTree 7

SpeedTree 7 support is here, and UE4 trees are 33% off in the SpeedTree store throughJuly 26!

Read More

Rendering Goodies

Rendering goodies include distance field ambient occlusion, skylight global illumination and shadowed translucency.

Read More

Behavior Trees

Better AI tools! Switch to the new Blackboard mode inside the Behavior Tree Editor to edit and debug Blackboard entries.

Read More

Large World Support!

Large world support! Check out the new World Composition tools. Create sub-levels and position them anywhere.

Read More

Customize Your Static Mesh Collision!

Customize your static mesh collision!

Read More

Spline Editing

Edit splines directly within your levels!

Read More

 

Build games and apps for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Linux, SteamOS, HTML5 and VR platforms.

Get Unreal for $19/Month

Mobile Developers!

Zen Gardens

Google recently demonstrated the graphics power of L, the upcoming release of Android, using Epic's Rivalry demo running on Tegra K1 at Google I/O. Mobile is a huge focus for UE4, and we hope you’ll enjoy all the latest improvements!

Read More

 

 

The UE4 Roadmap continues to evolve, and we encourage you to vote for features that want to use.

 

To ask questions and share feedback, please visit the forums or join our live broadcasts at Twitch.tv every Thursday at 2pm ET, which you can always go back and view atYouTube.com.

 

Hats off to the developers who contributed to this great release! These who helped are forever immortalized in the Credits section under the editor’s Help menu.

 

Thank you for being a part of this adventure. We can’t wait to see what you build next.

 

We are one step closer to Paper2D support, which is their support for 2D engines. Occulus Rift support is no doubt cool for those developing for the Rift. Not quite as impressive as the last release, but still a good amount of progress from Unreal.

News


16. July 2014

 

Or…

How to take a Blender model you downloaded from the web and make it actually usable in your game in 28 easy steps!

 

… granted, the second title doesn’t have the same flow to it, does it?

 

I just had to run through this process and I figured I would share it as it is something that occurs fairly often.  When working with Blender, there are dozens of behavioral textures available that can make for some very nice results quickly.  The only problem is, when you get your asset out of Blender and into your game engine, things suddenly go horribly wrong.  The problem is, those textures only make sense inside of Blender.  Fortunately through the magic of baking, you can easily convert them into a texture map usable in any game engine.

 

Let’s take a look how.

 

First we need a model.  I am using a beautiful new model that was recently added to Blend-Swap.  It’s a free download but you need to register.  Don’t worry, you can use a real email address, they don’t spam, or at least haven't so far.  The model in question looks like this:

 

image

 

Unfortunately when we load it in Blender we quickly learn this model is in no way game ready.  Let’s take a look:

image

 

Ick.  So instead of a single Mesh, we have a dozen individual meshes.  Problem is, we need to unwrap them as a single object, so let’s join them all together.  First let’s get the camera out of the default layer.

 

If you look at the way this particular Blend is setup, there are currently two layers, the second contains the armature, the first contains everything else.

image

 

Lets get the camera out of there.  Select the camera object then hit the M key.  Then select the layer you want to move the camera to, like so:

image

 

Now click the first layer ( bottom left box ) and it should now only contain geometry.

 

We want to join everything together.  Press ‘A’ to select everything in the layer, then hit “Ctrl + J” to join everything into a single set of geometry.  Now it should look something like this:

image

 

Perfect, now we can unwrap our model.  Switch in to EDIT mode

image

 

Press ‘A’ again, until all faces are selected, like so:

image

 

Now we unwrap our model.  Select Mesh->UV Unwrap-> Unwrap ( or Smart UV Project ).

 

Switch your view to UV/Image Editor

image

 

It should look something like this:

image

 

Now create a New Image:

image

 

This image is where we are going to render our texture to.  Here are the settings I used.  Remember, games like Power of 2 textures.

image

 

Ok, now let’s look at the actual render to texture part.  Take a quick look at how the model is currently shaded:

image

 

Frankly none of those are really game engine friendly.  So let’s render all of those materials out to a single texture.  Go to the render tab

image

 

Scroll down and locate Bake.

In the UV Editor window, make sure everything is selected ( using ‘A’.  They should be highlighted in yellow ).  At this point, with your generated image and all the UV’s selected, it should look like:

image

 

 

Now under bake, set the following settings:

image

The key values being Bake Mode = Full Render and Selected to Active checked.  Now click the Bake button.

 

Up in your top part of Blender, you should see a progress bar like so:

image

 

 

Now if you go back to the UV/Image viewer, and select your image RenderedTexture, you should see:

image

 

Cool!

 

Let’s save the result to an external ( game engine friendly ) texture.  Select Image->Save as Image.  Save the image somewhere.  Remember where.

image

 

 

Now lets modify the textures on our model to use only our newly generated texture map.  First in 3D View, switch back to Object Mode from Edit mode.

Then, open the materials tab:

image

 

Select each material and hit the – ( or killswitch engage! ) button.  So it should ultimately look like this:

image

 

Now hit the + button and create a new Material.  Then click the New button.

image

 

The default values for the material should be OK, but depending on your game engine, you may have to enable Face Textures:

image

 

Now click over to the Texture tab.  Click New.

image

 

Drop down the Type box and select Image or Movie.

image

 

Scroll down to the Image section and select Open.  Pick the image you saved earlier.

image

 

Now scroll down to Mapping, drop down Coordinates and select UV.

image

 

Under Map select UVMap.

image

 

Now if you go to the 3D View and set the view mode to Texture:

image

 

TADA!  A game ready model.

 

One word of caution though, if you render this scene in Blender you will get the following result:

image

 

Don’t worry.  That’s just a biproduct of going from Blender materials to texture mapping.  If you want the texture to be seen, you need to add some lights to the scene.  Or change the material so it has an Emit value > 0, so it will provide it’s own light source.

 

With Emit set to .92, here is the result if you render it:

 

image

 

Now, what about it game?

 

Let’s create a simple LibGDX project that loads and displays our exported model:

 

package com.gamefromscratch;

import com.badlogic.gdx.ApplicationListener;
import com.badlogic.gdx.Files.FileType;
import com.badlogic.gdx.Gdx;
import com.badlogic.gdx.graphics.GL20;
import com.badlogic.gdx.graphics.PerspectiveCamera;
import com.badlogic.gdx.graphics.g3d.Environment;
import com.badlogic.gdx.graphics.g3d.Model;
import com.badlogic.gdx.graphics.g3d.ModelBatch;
import com.badlogic.gdx.graphics.g3d.ModelInstance;
import com.badlogic.gdx.graphics.g3d.attributes.ColorAttribute;
import com.badlogic.gdx.graphics.g3d.loader.G3dModelLoader;
import com.badlogic.gdx.utils.UBJsonReader;


public class ModelTest implements ApplicationListener {
    private PerspectiveCamera camera;
    private ModelBatch modelBatch;
    private Model model;
    private ModelInstance modelInstance;
    private Environment environment;

    @Override
    public void create() {
        camera = new PerspectiveCamera(
                75,
                Gdx.graphics.getWidth(),
                Gdx.graphics.getHeight());

        camera.position.set(3f,0f,6f);
        camera.lookAt(0f,1f,0f);

        // Near and Far (plane) represent the minimum and maximum ranges of the camera in, um, units
        camera.near = 0.1f;
        camera.far = 300.0f;

        modelBatch = new ModelBatch();

        UBJsonReader jsonReader = new UBJsonReader();
        G3dModelLoader modelLoader = new G3dModelLoader(jsonReader);
        model = modelLoader.loadModel(Gdx.files.getFileHandle("robot.g3db", FileType.Internal));
        modelInstance = new ModelInstance(model);

        environment = new Environment();
        environment.set(new ColorAttribute(ColorAttribute.AmbientLight, 0.8f, 0.8f, 0.8f, 1.0f));
    }

    @Override
    public void dispose() {
        modelBatch.dispose();
        model.dispose();
    }

    @Override
    public void render() {
        Gdx.gl.glViewport(0, 0, Gdx.graphics.getWidth(), Gdx.graphics.getHeight());
        Gdx.gl.glClearColor(1, 1, 1, 1);
        Gdx.gl.glClear(GL20.GL_COLOR_BUFFER_BIT | GL20.GL_DEPTH_BUFFER_BIT);

        camera.update();

        modelBatch.begin(camera);
        modelBatch.render(modelInstance, environment);
        modelBatch.end();
    }

    @Override
    public void resize(int width, int height) {
    }

    @Override
    public void pause() {
    }

    @Override
    public void resume() {
    }
}

 

And we run it and:

image

 

Wow, a model downloaded randomly from the Internet actually working in the game engine!  How often does that actually happen? ;)

Programming Art


15. July 2014

 

There was recently a flood of Three.js books on Safari lately including Essential Three.js and Game Development with Three.jsThree.js is a JavaScript based 3D library using WebGL ( and not, if not available ).  More importantly, it’s just really fun to play with!  Something about working in full 3D in a scripting language is just really satisfying.  I’ve only just been playing and really don’t have a clue what I’m doing, but I figured I would share my results.  As I have been on a TypeScript kick lately, I’ve been writing in TypeScript instead of plain JavaScript, but frankly the differences are fairly minimal.  You can get the TypeScript definitions on DefinatelyTyped.

 

I think I should make something perfectly clear… I have NO idea what I am doing, I am simply playing around.  This isn’t a WebGL tutorial by any definition of the word, just me having skim read a couple of books and played around with a new technology, nothing more.  So if you look at some code and thing “damn that looks hacky” or “isn’t that a really stupid thing to do?” the answer is probably yes! :)

 

So, disclaimer given, let’s jump right in. 

 

Since this is a web app, we need a host HTML page.  So, here is ours:

<!DOCTYPE html>

<html lang="en">
<head>
    <meta charset="utf-8" />
    <title>ThreeJS Test</title>
    <script src="http://cdnjs.cloudflare.com/ajax/libs/three.js/r67/three.js"></script>
    <script src="app.js"></script>
</head>
<body>
<h1>ThreeJS Test</h1>

<div id="content" style="width:500px;height:500px"></div>
</body>
</html>

 

Nothing really shocking here.  We include three.js using the cloudflare content delivery network.  If you wanted of course you could download the library locally and deploy it from your own servers.  I assume you don’t have servers situated around the world, so a CDN will generally thrash your own servers performance.  Next we include app.js, the generated output from our typescript application.  In the actual HTML we create a 500x500 DIV named content, for predictably enough, our content!

 

Now lets take a look at a super simple example app, app.ts:

///<reference path="./three.d.ts"/>

class ThreeJSTest {
    renderer: THREE.WebGLRenderer;
    constructor(){
        this.renderer = new THREE.WebGLRenderer({ alpha: true });
        this.renderer.setSize(500,500);
        this.renderer.setClearColor(0xFF0000,1);
        document.getElementById('content').appendChild(this.renderer.domElement);
    }

    start() {
        this.renderer.clear();
    }
}

window.onload = () => {
    var three = new ThreeJSTest();
    three.start();
};

 

Here in the constructor we create a WebGLRenderer, size it, set the background color to red ( using HTML format hex color coding ) then wire the renderer to the content div.

 

When you run it you should see:

image

 

Cool, our first Three.js application.  Now let’s do something 3D!  Let’s start by creating a camera and rendering a built in 3D object in wireframe. It's commented heavily, so I wont be explaining what is going on. If you are curious why I did something, leave a comment.

///<reference path="./three.d.ts"/>

class ThreeJSTest {
    renderer: THREE.WebGLRenderer;
    scene: THREE.Scene;
    camera: THREE.Camera;

    constructor(){
        // Create the renderer, in this case using WebGL, we want an alpha channel
        this.renderer = new THREE.WebGLRenderer({ alpha: true });

        // Set dimensions to 500x500 and background color to white
        this.renderer.setSize(500,500);
        this.renderer.setClearColor(0xFFFFFF,1);

        // Bind the renderer to the HTML, parenting it to our 'content' DIV
        document.getElementById('content').appendChild(this.renderer.domElement);

        // Create a Scene
        this.scene = new THREE.Scene();

        // And a camera.  Set Field of View, Near and Far clipping planes
        this.camera = new THREE.PerspectiveCamera(45
            , 1
            , 0.1, 1000);

        // Position is -20 along the Z axis and look at the origin
        this.camera.position = new THREE.Vector3(0,0,-20);
        this.camera.lookAt(new THREE.Vector3(0,0,0));

        // Createa the geometry for a sphere with a radius of 5
        var sphereGeometry = new THREE.SphereGeometry(5);

        // Create a wireframe material that's blueish
        var sphereMaterial = new THREE.MeshBasicMaterial(
            {color: 0x7777ff, wireframe: true});

        // Now make a THREE.Mesh using the geometry and a shader
        var sphere = new THREE.Mesh(sphereGeometry,sphereMaterial);

        // And put it at the origin
        sphere.position = new THREE.Vector3(0,0,0);

        // Add it to the scene and render the scene using the Scene and Camera objects
        this.scene.add(sphere);
        this.renderer.render(this.scene,this.camera);
    }

    start() {
        // Well, arent I a bit pointless?
    }
}

window.onload = () => {
    var three = new ThreeJSTest();
    three.start();
};

 

And when run it we get:

 

image

 

Cool!  Now time for some texturing ( and as a result, lighting ).

///<reference path="./three.d.ts"/>

class ThreeJSTest {
    renderer:THREE.WebGLRenderer;
    scene:THREE.Scene;
    camera:THREE.Camera;

    constructor() {
        // Create the renderer, in this case using WebGL, we want an alpha channel
        this.renderer = new THREE.WebGLRenderer({ alpha: true });

        // Set dimensions to 500x500 and background color to white
        this.renderer.setSize(500, 500);
        this.renderer.setClearColor(0xFFFFFF, 1);

        // Bind the renderer to the HTML, parenting it to our 'content' DIV
        document.getElementById('content').appendChild(this.renderer.domElement);

        // Create a Scene
        this.scene = new THREE.Scene();

        // And a camera.  Set Field of View, Near and Far clipping planes
        this.camera = new THREE.PerspectiveCamera(45
            , 1
            , 0.1, 1000);

        // Position is -20 along the Z axis and look at the origin
        this.camera.position = new THREE.Vector3(0, 0, -20);
        this.camera.lookAt(new THREE.Vector3(0, 0, 0));

        // Createa the geometry for a sphere with a radius of 5
        // This time we cranked up the number of sections horizontal and vertical to make a 
higher resolution globe
        var sphereGeometry = new THREE.SphereGeometry(5, 20, 20);

        // This time we create a Phong shader material and provide a texture.
        var sphereMaterial = new THREE.MeshPhongMaterial(
            {
                map: THREE.ImageUtils.loadTexture("earth_sphere.jpg")
            }
        );

        // Now make a THREE.Mesh using the geometry and a shader
        var sphere = new THREE.Mesh(sphereGeometry, sphereMaterial);

        // And put it at the origin
        sphere.position = new THREE.Vector3(0, 0, 0);

        // Add it to the scene and render the scene using the Scene and Camera objects
        this.scene.add(sphere);

        // We need some light so our texture will show, ad an ambient light to the scene
        this.scene.add(new THREE.AmbientLight(new THREE.Color(0.9,0.9,0.9).getHex()));
        this.renderer.render(this.scene, this.camera);
    }

    render() {
        // Each frame we want to render the scene again
        // Use typescript Arrow notation to retain the thisocity passing render to requestAnimationFrame
        // It's possible I invented the word thisocity.
        requestAnimationFrame(() => this.render());
        this.renderer.render(this.scene, this.camera);
    }

    start() {
        // Not so pointless now!
        this.render();
    }
}

window.onload = () => {
    var three = new ThreeJSTest();
    three.start();
};

Bet you can't guess what texture I went with!

 

image

 

So apparently textured 3D objects are nothing difficult.

 

This is getting pretty long, so I’ll cut it off here.  Next up I’m going to look at getting a Blender object rendering in Three.JS.

Programming


9. June 2014

 

I just received the following email from Autodesk:

 

SAN FRANCISCO, June 9, 2014 -- Autodesk, Inc. (Nasdaq: ADSK) has acquired Stockholm-based Bitsquid AB, the creator of the Bitsquid game engine. The acquisition brings to Autodesk expertise in 3D game development and proven technology that will enable Autodesk to supercharge its portfolio of tools for game makers through the development of a new 3D game engine. Multiple game developers have used the modern and flexible Bitsquid engine to create 3D games for next-generation consoles and PCs, and Autodesk will continue to work with many of these companies to develop the new 3D game engine. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

"Bitsquid has been a key success factor for Fatshark, as we’ve been able to produce high quality games with short development times,” said Martin Wahlund, CEO, Fatshark. "We are excited to see how Bitsquid evolves now that it is part of Autodesk.”

In addition to acquiring the Bitsquid game engine, the acquisition of the Bitsquid team and technology will enable Autodesk to create new tools that push the limits of real-time 3D visualization for architects and designers, many of whom face challenges placing design data into real world contexts. The new technology will also be incorporated into solutions for customers outside of the games industry, including architecture, manufacturing, construction, and film. Autodesk plans to create new types of design exploration tools that allow visualization and contextualization of designs using the same fluid control and immediate feedback that exist today in modern console and PC games.

"Autodesk's acquisition of Bitsquid will revolutionize real-time exploration of complex data. Imagine being able to walk through and explore any type of design, from buildings to cars, with the same freedom you experience in the open world of a next-generation console game. Game engine technologies will be an increasingly critical part of the workflow, not only for creating games, but also for designing buildings or solving complex urban infrastructure challenges," said Chris Bradshaw, senior vice president, Autodesk Media & Entertainment. "The Bitsquid acquisition brings to Autodesk both the expertise and the technology that will enable us to deliver a groundbreaking new approach to 3D design animation tools, and we welcome the team and community to Autodesk."

Additional information on the new Autodesk 3D game engine, which will compliment Autodesk's industry leading games portfolio of middleware tools and 3D animation software including Autodesk Maya LT, Autodesk Maya and Autodesk 3ds Max, will be available later this year.

 

In that press release, it sounds like a relatively minor acquisition, they could simply be rolling the technology in to one of their existing products.  However, if you read this site, they obviously have bigger plans:

 

More than just games – This is going to be BIG

With the acquisition of Bitsquid, Autodesk is bringing expertise in 3D game development and proven game engine technology in house. We are significantly expanding our portfolio of game making tools, complementing our middleware and 3D animation tools: Autodesk® 3ds Max®, Autodesk® Maya®, and Autodesk® Maya LT™ software. Across Autodesk, this technology will fuel new product development in our Media & Entertainment business, and enable a new class of design animation tools.

Tools for Game Makers

Later this year, Autodesk will introduce a modern and flexible 3D game engine based on the Bitsquid engine. By introducing a game engine, Autodesk can offer game makers a more complete game creation workflow from concept to release.

A New Era in Design Animation

Many of our manufacturing, architecture, building, and construction customers are also excited about game engine technology– but not because they are making games. Instead, they are looking for new ways to visualize and interact with design data with the same level of control and feedback of modern console or PC games. With the acquisition of Bitsquid, Autodesk will begin exploring the creation of a new interactive design exploration platform, integrated with our design tools, which will help designers contextualize their ideas.

In Film and Television

Autodesk will also be looking at how Bitsquid technology may be applied to workflows such as pre-vizualization and interactive compositing.

 

Bolded portion mine.  So Autodesk is clearly entering the game engine space and building it around BitSquid.  Ever heard of it?  Yeah, me neither.  It is however the engine powering Magicka:Wizard Wars:

2.jpg (1920×1080)

 

Their site is fairly minimal, but describes the BitSquid engine as:

 

Fast

Bitsquid is a new high-end game engine, built from the ground up to focus on excellent multicore performance, cache friendly data layouts and advanced rendering techniques.

Dynamic

Bitsquid supports immediate reload of all resources, both scripts and content. You can also test run levels instantly, on PCs, consoles, phones and tablets.

Flexible

The engine is completely data driven, making it easy to create a highly scalable rendering pipe that shines on both the latest DX11 GPU and mobile devices, just by changing configuration files. And any game or simulation can be authored using just Lua and visual scripting. Of course you can use C as well, where you need the speed.

Lightweight

Written with a minimalistic modular design philosophy the entire engine is less than 200 KLOC and easy to modify.

 

The technical blog however makes for an interesting read.

 

Autodesk entering the game space isn’t really a huge shock.  They actually dipped their toe in the pond when they released Scaleform as an Indie game engine.  Considering their heavy role in the game development pipeline ( due mostly to Max and Maya ), this move does make sense.  The question is, will this alienate their existing partners?

 

EDIT: One thing I didn’t mention in the original post.  Autodesk also announced the lowering of the monthly cost of Maya LT from $50 a month to $30 a month.  Additionally they have made Mudbox available for $10 a month.  This seems like a much better price point to me.  You can now get Photoshop ($30), Maya LT ($30) and Unreal (19$), a complete game development package for less than $80 a month.  Compare that to prices a few years ago and it is simply mind blowing!

 

Additionally, Develop have published an interview with Autodesk’s Frank Delise discussing the acquisition. 

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