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28. June 2018


Lately we’ve featured a couple RPG Maker style game engines targeted at creating JRPG style games, including RPG In a Box and Smile Game Builder.  Today we are looking at RPG Playground, the work of a single developer.  RPG Playground is built using the Haxe programming language and the Kha framework, another topic we’ve covered recently.


Right now RPG Playground isn’t incredibly full featured, it’s got world building tools, a nice collection of tiles and animated sprites to work with and a basic game scripting system.  In time the developer intends to add the ability for artists to add their own content while giving programmers the ability to extend the engine and create a game with no need for an artist.  Here is the developers ultimate master plan for the project from the Road Map:

  1. Build a tool that allows anyone to make their own Role Playing Games, and easily let others play their game.
  2. Make sure artists can make an RPG using their own graphics, without the need of a programmer.
  3. Make sure programmers can make a game without the need of an artist.
  4. Programmers will extend the engine, so any game type can be build at this time: platformers, 3D, … .


If such a project sounds interesting, be sure to check out our hands-on video with RPG Playground.

General Design


13. June 2018


With Apple’s recent unfortunate decision to deprecate OpenGL support in iOS and Mac OS moving forward this will be the end to the only graphics API that worked natively across all platforms.  I think many developers would be willing to ignore the Mac OS market, but the iOS market is just too big for most people to ignore.  What then are theImage result for opengl logo alternatives to using OpenGL?  In this article we are going to look at exactly that topic.


Use a game engine and let them worry about it!

This is the category probably the majority of developers are going to fall under.  If you use an engine like Unity or Unreal this entire thing becomes a non-issue.  These engines generally already support a number of different rendering options, including native Metal support.  For other small or open source engines such as Godot, CopperCube, Shiva, Cocos, etc this is a bigger problem as they now potentially have to dedicate more time, money and/or resources to support yet another renderer… or drop support for Apple platforms completely.  Unless they rely on some kind of abstraction layer for rendering, life just got a bit more annoying for every single game engine manufacturer that previously supported Apple platforms.

The following engines have Metal support out of the box:

  • Unreal Engine
  • Unity
  • Lumberyard
  • Armory(via Kha)
  • Stingray (now defunct)


Use Vulkan + MoltenVK

A lot of game developers and engine developers specifically were planning to, or already have, implemented Vulkan rendering support.  Vulkan is a lower level alternative to OpenGL, from Khronos Group, the same people behind OpenGL.  Like Direct3D 12 and even Apple’s Metal, Vulkan is designed in a closer to the hardware manner, to better maximize new graphical functionality in modern GPUs.  Working in Vulkan takes a lot more effort than working in OpenGL or similar higher level APIs, but it is cross platform much the same way as OpenGL was.   The catch…  it doesn’t work on Apple products.   Ugh.  Ok, how then is this a solution?  We there is a product called MoltenVK that enables Vulkan to run on Apple’s Metal.  


Use an Abstraction Layer

Another option I’m really partial too… letting someone else do all the work!  There are a handful of low level cross platform graphics APIs that take care of the work for you.  So if you don’t want to use an existing game engine, but also don’t want to deal with rendering intricacies for each platform, this could be a great option.  Well will discuss available cross platform layers.


bgfx

A cross platform “bring your own engine/framework” graphics rendering layer with bindings for several programming languages an renderers, including Metal ( and OpenGL, Direct3D, WebGL and more).  No Vulkan support however, at least not yet.


kha/kore

Kore is the open source C framework that kha is built on top of.  Kore supports a ton of renderers including metal.  You can learn more about kha in this video.


ogre

Ogre straddles the line between game engine and framework.  Either way, ogre3d has a metal renderer for iOS and MacOS.


The Forge

This one is fairly new to me, it’s a cross platform rendering framework that also supports Metal.


Veldrid

Veldrid is a .NET based rendering and computer library that supports Metal (as well as VUlkan, D3D11 and OpenGL, GL ES).  I have no personal experience with this library and it seems somewhat young from a developmental perspective.


SDL… maybe?

There are mutiple mentions and forks of SDL for supporting Metal.  I’m not sure if any are complete or still supported.


Implement A Metal Renderer

Of course you’ve always got the option of buckling down and implementing a Metal renderer for MacOS and iOS platforms.  Of course your work will only be useful on Mac/iOS platforms.  If you are interested in learning more about Metal you can learn more here.


Stick with OpenGL

Of course you’ve always got the option of just sticking with OpenGL.  Deprecated doesn’t mean it wont run on existing devices, just future ones.  Publish your game as it is now and let Apple deal with the fallout of their bad business decisions.


Programming


31. May 2018


Now that Armory3D is fully funded an installable version will be available for download any day now.  Armory is a game engine built using the Haxe programming language over the Kha framework that runs inside the open source graphics application Blender.  The timing of this release is ideal, as it was recently announced the Blender Game Engine is being removed from Blender.


Armory is a game engine I’ve been excited for for some time now.  You can learn more about Armory here, access the complete documentation here and download the source code here.  Additionally there are a series of examples available here with more complicated/complete templates available here.  Hopefully the full version will be available for download in the next few days.


I fully intend to do a tutorial series covering using the Armory game engine, which hopefully I will be launching soon.  However in the meantime I created this introduction to Armory which should illustrate to you why this engine has me as excited as it does.  Of course being built on top of Blender, you are also going to have a solid understanding of Blender to make used of Armory3D.  Thankfully, I’ve got you covered there with both a text based and video based Blender tutorial series to get you started.


Video Link

GameDev News Programming


28. May 2018


Last month we reported that Blender Game Engine (BGE) was being removed entirely from the source code of Blender for the upcoming major 2.8 release.  Judging by the comments section this was certainly a polarizing decision, with replies basically falling into two camps.  On one side there was a lot of “good riddance to bad rubbish” type replies, while in the other camp it was mostly “I’m done with Blender if this happens”.  Clearly the decision impact enough people that something had to be done.  Well, that something was just announced on Twitter:

image


The linked article from the developer mailing list:

Hi all,

The Blender Foundation Development Fund has reserved a number of bigger donations (also on donator's request) for game engine and interactive 3D related features.

Now 2.8 is getting shaped up, it was time to check on this topic. Yesterday afternoon I met with Benoit Bolsee and a couple of Code Quest participants, to discuss the future of Blender's real-time 3D needs and "interaction mode".

The outcome is that Benoit accepted a grant to work as designer and lead developer for one year on bringing back a good real-time interactive 3D system in Blender. He will do this part-time, in average 1.5 days per week, starting July 1st.

Obviously all work and further discussions will be done in public; using our regular channels (mailing lists, code.blender.org, developer.b.o, devtalk.b.o). Help from other Blender developers is very welcome. This will be further announced when Benoit starts.

To summarise, work will first be done in two areas;

- Implement a high quality real-time viewport with physics/event handling. This should result in a pleasant & usable environment to setup and bake simulations.

- Design and prototype a new nodal logic system.

Related to this work is also to enable good support (export or some kind of integration) for external game engines such as Godot, Armory, Blend4Web, Unreal, Unity, etc.

I especially invite the first three (open source) projects to connect with us to find ways to keep a high level of compatibility.

Work on typical GE features such as super-fast drawing (LOD, etc) are welcome too but should be part of the regular work on Blender's viewport and our internal drawing engines. That way everyone benefits. Laters,

-Ton-

Blender Game Engine is not coming back, but a great deal of the functionality that was removed with it will be returning. Additionally Blender will be working directly to support Blender as a game development tool for existing game engines.

Art GameDev News Programming


18. May 2018


It’s not very often a game engine takes me completely by surprise.  Especially a full featured, open source, C++ based, cross platform, heavily documented, feature rich, high performance 3D game engine.  Well that’s exactly what happened with the G3D Innovation Engine.  The primary maintainers are Morgan McGuire (@CasualEffects) who is currently an educator as well as a VR scientist at NVIDIA and previously worked on games such as Skylanders, Titan Quest and the Unity game engine, as well as Michael Mara at Standard University and Oculus Research.

The G3D Engine is self described as:

The G3D Innovation Engine is a commercial-grade C++ 3D engine available as Open Source. ss

G3D supports hardware accelerated real-time rendering, off-line rendering like ray tracing, and general purpose computation on GPUs. Its design emphasizes rapid prototyping and innovation, particularly of rendering and game algorithms.

G3D provides a set of routines and structures so common that they are needed in almost every graphics program. It makes low-level libraries like OpenGL, network sockets, and audio channels easier to use without limiting functionality or performance. G3D is a carefully designed, feature-rich base on which to prototype your 3D application.


Beyond being a capable engine it is also an incredible learning resource.  The engine is bundled with over 6GB of assets to experiment with, as well as over a dozen robust ss2samples with thoroughly documented source code.  One of the samples is even a full blown first person shooter, while another demonstrates a Minecraft-esque voxel based level.  There are also examples that show you how to work at the lowest level directly with OpenGL as well as advanced examples showcasing functionality such as real-time raytracing, lighting effects, procedural geometry and even VR.

Additionally each example can easily embed a suite of tools directly, enabling you to screen shot or video capture, change camera settings on the fly or launch the built in profiler.  There is even a complete scene editor built in, allowing you to place entities directly in your scene via simple drag and drop, turning your application into a minimalistic level editor.


Remember back at the beginning I mentioned that the maintainer was also an educator?  He has also authored a companion called the Graphics Codex which goes hand in hand with the G3D game engine.  For a mere $10 you gain access to an advanced reference that may just be one of the single best ways of learning computer graphics GIF2topics such as ray casting, BSDF, rendering and more.  You can see a full chapter list here.  So if you are trying to learn more advanced graphics programming, G3D is certainly a great resource.  Keep in mind however, this material was used with a 300s level graphics course, so you are going to need a solid foundation in math to follow along.

Purchasing the Graphics Codex is by no means a requirement however.  One thing open source projects often suffer from is poor documentation.  Thankfully this certainly isn’t the case with the G3D engine.   There is an extensive manual available here, as well as a comprehensive set of API references.  As mentioned earlier, the engine is also loaded with well documented samples.

If you are looking for a low level foundation to build your game on, a framework to do some graphical experiments or simply are looking for a way to learn more about modern graphics programming, I can think of little reason not to suggest checking out the G3D Innovation Engine. 


If you are interested in learning more about the G3D Innovation Engine, be sure to check out our hands-on video available here and embedded below.  I am almost certain you will be amazed.

GameDev News Programming


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