27th Feb 2011
As you can imagine I follow a lot of Flash developers on twitter. When Adobe unleashed the Flash 3D / Molehill release tonight (at the Flash Gaming Summit) it pretty much went into meltdown. Developers thick and fast started releasing demos, blog posts, APIs and videos. Here I’m trying to present a small summary of where to get started if you want to build some GPU accelerated Flash 3D games, or just check the tech out 🙂
Flash Player 11 Incubator Download
You need this before you can do anything 🙂
Flash Player Incubator at Adobe
If you want to develop with it then also grab the documentation, Flex Hero release and the new playerglobal.swc files from here.
Simple 2D Molehill Example
Michael Baczynski runs the polygonal blog, and has published a short article on getting simple 2D working with FlashDevelop and Molehill.
Away3D 4 (“Broomstick release”)
Away3D has long been the leader in 3D APIs for Flash, and an alpha release of version 4.0 was just launched. This includes all of the juicy new Molehill enhancements they’ve been working on for the past few months. There are a bunch of lovely looking demos on the site too, including:
.. and of course all the downloads you need to get started coding with Away3D 4.
JiglibFlash 3D Physics Engine
Jiglib has provided physics support in most of the popular Flash 3D engines for a while, and they’ve just released a brand new build (with lots of lovely demos) that all support Away3D 4 and Molehill. Some of the demos are stunning!
Unity “publish to SWF” coming!
In an exciting blog post the Unity team say “In the past few months, our engineers have been investigating the possibility of adding a Flash Player exporting option to Unity. That investigation has gone very well, and we’re moving into full production.” – now that is freaking incredible! You can still code using AS3 and Unity, or move over to C# or any other language they support. This is a major move because there’s simply no better “game building” package out there.
McFunkypants Molehill Terrain Demo
Chris K is in the process of writing a book “Adobe Molehill Game Programming Beginner’s Guide” (which sounds freaking awesome). And he has released this lovely terrain demo showing off Molehill 😉
Takes a while to load, but when it does you’re treated to a nice looking 3D dungeon (apparently from the game Torchlight)
Minko Quake 3 Level Test
A complete level from Quake3 using HD textures. Minko is a 3D engine for Flash and this demonstrates it’s ability to load BSP file formats, PVS rendering, light mapping and a nice FPS camera system.
This game was demoed at Adobe Max and looked awesome back then. But to see it actually running in your browser is really special! Beautiful graphics and model work, and a fun game to boot. You have to play this 🙂
How Fast is Molehill?
A nice blog post detailing how 3D used to be done in Flash before Molehill, how it works in FP11 and what sort of speeds to expect. Pretty freaking awesome speeds, that’s what 🙂
Oh and there’s a nice round-up of Molehill demos and articles over on Uza’s blog too 🙂
28th Oct 2010
As pretty much all Flash devs connected to the Internet now know, Adobe announced proper 3D GPU support for Flash at the Adobe Max 2010 Conference. Codenamed “Molehill” you can read all about it here. I’m not going to wax lyrical about how great this will be, but instead I just wanted to collect together all the great videos showing this new technology off.
The one that started it all, as shown in the Max 2010 opening Keynote.
From Alternativa, the same team who created the Max Racer game above, this is another showcase of their technology.
Metro 2033 Online
The final video from Alternativa.
Doesn’t showcase much, other than a murky tunnel system and some nicely animated monsters. It’s apparently a turn-based browser MMO-game in the universe of “Metro 2033” novel by famous Russian writer Dmitry Glukhovsk.
Zombie Tycoon Demo
This is a lovely looking game demo of Zombie Tycoon by Frima Studio.
Featuring half a million polygons, 500 zombies and some beautiful shadow and lighting effects, this is certainly exciting stuff! There are two versions of this video: The first is from the blog of Jean-Philippe Auclair who works for Frima Studio. His blog entry is a fascinating read because it gives some juicy technical details. His version of the video has the HiRes Stats component visible in the top left, so you can get a good idea of framerate / ram (in the HD version at least!). The second video is the official one which is similar, but without the interesting stats 🙂
Take a trip around a (rather grey looking) city. Flying cars zoom by, water reflects the world, and then a giant purple metaball drops in and explodes the place into bits. Lovely demoscene music to boot.
I can’t wait to see what else is coming! I also can’t wait until this is in public beta. FlashPlayer 11 is going to be a real game changer for game developers at long, long, last.
8th Jun 2010
A few weeks ago I posted my first demo of an animated 3D ninja. At the time I had high hopes of creating a primitive Virtua Fighter styled game. But there were several obstacles to overcome. The poly count was a bit too high, the scene only had one model in it, and it took Away3D a fair time to parse the MD2 data for the key frames.
So last night I decided to revisit the code and see what could be improved. Here is the result – I dropped Away3D and decided to run a test with ND3D instead. It’s a much more light-weight 3D library, and doesn’t include features like lights or shaders. But what it does do, it does very well, and very fast. The MD2 parser in particular kicked several bails out of the Away3D one.
This, combined with an optimised MD2 model (many thanks to Adam Biles for help) allowed me to get two fighters in the scene, each independantly animated and textured, with a ground plane and free roaming camera. I did have a skybox in as well, but the camera perspective didn’t look right and made the fighters seem as if they were floating in space. So I’ll save that for a different project.
Feel free to have a play with the demo.
27th May 2010
I had a desire to see if it was possible to create a simplistic “Virtua Fighter” or Tekken style game in Flash 10. The biggest initial hurdle was getting a convincing model displayed and animating it. And then seeing if the frame rate shot through the floor like a dead weight, or was actually playable.
After a lot of messing around with Milkshape, md2.qc custom files and the Away3D MD2 parser doing some really weird shit, I finally managed to assemble this tech test (click the picture to launch, FP10 required):
Ok so it’s not going to set the world on fire, but I was genuinely surprised at the speed, even when running a full animation sequence. And the model could be optimised significantly too.
More tests will follow as time permits, but this is very encouraging at least.
3rd Jun 2008
The awesome Alternativa 3D demos released a while back blew the Flash blogosphere away. Now the company behind them have released the full AlternativaPlatform package as an SWC for you to play with. It supports Flash10 out of the box as well. This is great news if you’re after a monstrously fast 3D engine for Flash.
The only downsides (and they are quite significant) at this moment in time are:
1) If you don’t speak Russian, the documentation is non-existent. Even the ASDoc dumping is fully Russian, so unless you can figure out how the whole system works from a couple of demos and a huge list of method names, you’re going to have to do some SERIOUS trial and error!
2) The Commercial use license costs thousands of Euros. If you can absorb this cost (or rather if your client can!) then it’s not an issue. But I wonder how things will fall with regard to people who make the games for free, then try to get them sponsored, or put adverts on the front via MochiBot / GameJacket. I’m guessing that would breach the current license policy.
So, given these two things I won’t be jumping in just yet – but it’s certainly something to keep a VERY close eye on!
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