Search the web


Wednesday, May 30, 2007

OpenGL is far from dead

WITH ALL the DirectX games hitting the market these days, you'd be forgiven for thinking that poor old OpenGL was as dead as a dodo.

But not so, according to SplashDamage, developers of upcoming FPS Quake Wars. In an interview with Nvidia's Roy 'The Boy' 'Terrific' Taylor, they let on that they think DX10 will get a run for its money.

There has been a complete lack of progress on the OpenGL featureset in the past couple of years, and Splash said that "Hopefully the Khronos group taking control will speed the process up again." Khronos took over the running of the OpenGL Architecture Review Board last Autumn and has managed to get chip-makers like Nvidia to open up DX10-esque hardware features in the OpenGL system. "The extension mechanism has also allowed manufacturers of high end cards to gracefully expose DirectX 10 features on Windows XP," Splash said.

So DX10 features on XP? Does this mean we could see a new wave of games coming out using OGL for maximum market exposure? "[OpenGL] is still the only viable 3D solution for cross-platform development on the PC," we are told, and that includes XP, Vista, Linux and OSX. But that said, it seems unlikely - SplashDamage, and iD Software (which owns the Quake brand) are really the only two major development studios still using OpenGL.

Cross-platform it may be, but Microsoft is putting enough dollars behind Vista that it won't matter in six months time. Indeed, it seems that OpenGL could soon be the stuff of graphics pros and nostalgic dev studios - if it isn't already.

Something exciting for OpenGL programmers.....

OpenGL 2.x and 3.0 APIs arrive this year....
Longs Peak and Mount Evans represent major API upgrade. What is going on with OpenGL right now is very exciting. This year will see two new versions of this venerable API. The first version due in July 2007 is Longs Peak (OpenGL 2.x). This is a major clean-up of the code after almost a decade and a half. Approximately three months after that we will see the release of Mount Evans (OpenGL 3.0) which will run specifically on hardware born after November 8th, 2006. We are talking about DirectX 10-class hardware, bringing all the features of unified 3D architecture to the world of OpenGL. Mount Evans is compatible with Longs Peak, but you will require OpenGL 3.0 class hardware to run everything.

OpenGL 3.0 will offer features such as instanced rendering, stream out of vertex data to a buffer, texture buffer objects, numerous new texture formats and so on. Most importantly the Khronos Group is linking OpenGL and OpenGL ES, a mobile 3D graphics API via COLLADA and glFX, so what is supported in OpenGL 3.0 will see the light of the day in ES version as well.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Programming for PS3?

It is happy to point out that PS3 is not as complicated to write for as we've all been led to believe. Apparently, the machine's use of Open GL as its graphics API means that anyone who's ever written games for the PC will be intimately familiar with the set-up. In fact, PS3 employs a cut-down version named Open GL ES, which is even simpler.

The graphics capabilities of PS3 will be slightly above the absolutely top-end graphics cards on the PC, but you've got much more processing power in the box so you're going to see a lot more physics, a lot more generated geometry. With water ripples, for example - they're pretty much algorithms, you have a flat plane of triangles and you run some sort of mathematical algorithm over it to generate a surface rippling effect - well, you will have the processing power to do these sorts of generated geometry effects On PS3. You could actually put one chip aside just to do that...

Volatile reckon PS3 is going to be much better for HD cinematics than Xbox 360, thanks to its Blu-Ray storage medium. 20 minutes of HD-TV footage takes up around 4.7GB, so an Xbox 360 game would quickly run out of space. This is going to matter more in the coming years as movies and games merge and we see more film elements being brought across to games.

So there you go. PS3 is relatively easy to program for if you have experience with high-end PCs - certainly more straightforward than PS2 with its proprietary graphics APIs. We've also heard lots of talk - from various studios - that Sony's developer support will be a lot stronger with PS3 (it's already much, much better with PSP apparently). Time will tell.

Nintendo plans to sell 35 million Wii Consoles in U.S.

Nintendo plans to sell 35 million Wii consoles in the United States by 2011 or 2012.

Nintendo wants to get close to the success of Sony's PS2, which sold 38.2 million consoles in the U.S.

Clearly Nintendo tanked lots of self-esteem with the runaway success of the Wii console world-wide. Sony has a slower start with the PS3.
Nintendo sold 2.5 million Wii so far in the U.S. Sony stands at 1.3 million PS3 consoles sold.

In 4-5 years I hope that we actually see a new Wii console that is HD and makes good on the hardware performance side of things.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Where is Video gaming industry heading?

The current generation of consoles is so diverse and as a result, video gaming industry is at crossroads. The winner of this three-way race (360, PS3, Wii) will cause a major directional shift in the industry depending on what happens.

If the PS3 wins: consumers will have chosen high technology and media convergence. Future consoles would be more PC-like (just as media PCs are becoming more console-like), and pretty soon PCs and Consoles would be indistinguishable. If this happens, with PCs fighting head-to-head with Consoles for control of the living room, I actually think PCs would win because they're more customizable, upgradeable, and general-purpose. End result would be a resurgence in PC gaming, and a "crash" on the console side.

If the Wii wins: consumers will have sent a strong message to the industry that they want gameplay, not technology. This is so incompatible with Sony's greater market strategy that they would likely drop out of the console market entirely (with SCE perhaps going the way of Sega), while Microsoft would probably continue to position itself as the "mature" gaming console. With the market narrowed to two main contenders, we'd probably see at least one newcomer in 8th generation, and I'd bet at least one company will totally miss the point and try to create a console with a bunch of wacky new controllers that are impossible to create games for. In either case, consoles will move back to being "for games" and this whole "media convergence" thing we keep hearing about will be one more fad that's over.

If the 360 wins: this would show that gamers still care a lot about high production values, but there's also a limit to how much anyone's willing to spend on a game machine. Sony would still probably drop out, Nintendo would continue to be the low-cost leader that it always has, and Microsoft would use the lessons it learned with operating systems to lock down a near-monopoly on console gaming in the following generation.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Design your own games...

Who hasn't wanted to make their own computer games? It's a fantasy many game players hold -- designing levels, programming artificial enemies, and making millions of dollars on your hard work Okay, the money may not be realistic, but we're fantasizing here. Imagine churning out first-person shooters, action horror, third-person adventures, auto racing, outer space shootouts and other games in a matter of minutes. You can do that and more with 3D Game Maker. Focus Multimedia and Dark Basic Ltd. packaged a number of features into their program, making you a game designer in minutes.
Getting Started

3D Game Maker uses a point and click interface to get you up and running. If you've spent countless hours toiling over scripting codes for other games, then you will appreciate its simplicity. The program comes with everything you'll need to make as many playable and exchangeable games as you wish. The purpose of 3D Game Maker is to allow you to customize a game you want to make.

How easy is it? You begin by selecting either beginner or standard mode from the interface screen. The beginner mode doesn't have all the options (such as editing a level or placing objects) that you'll find in the standard mode, but it is the fastest way to learn 3D Game Maker as you go along.

For the truly lazy there is an option to have the program randomly generate a game for you to play. But that takes the fun out of doing it on your own. There are also some pre-made games you can play through to give you some idea of what the software can do.

Next, choose one of eight possible genres (scenes) for you game -- shooter, horror, war, space, driving, jungle, cartoon, or silly. Under each of these categories are pre-made characters, weapons, textures, sounds and more specific to that genre. For example, if you select "space," then you'll only have access to 3D Game Maker's space-related tools (textures, players, levels, etc). Or if you want to make an adventure game, you're offered jungle scenes, animal characters, etc. 3D Game Maker comes with more than 360 pre-made scenes and over 500 3D objects. If that's not enough, users can scan their own images, import 3D models and download free objects from the official 3D Game Maker site. Kiss your free time good-bye.

Now that your scene is selected, you'll add enemies, toss in weapons and obstacles (or power ups), name the game, and play. Characters depend on the genre you select. But these are not the high polygon creations found in today's games. Close your eyes and imagine the early days of gaming. I'm talking about the birth of 3D characters. They're blocky and have graceless movement, but heck they're cute.

The developers went a little insane when offering characters. Yes, there are people such as cops and soldiers, but have you ever wanted to be a killer tomato? This assortment will add hours of fun to the program. An end boss who's an evil kangaroo or marshmallow man is genius. If you don't want to fight a bad guy simply change the game's objective to "collect all pick ups" or something similar.

Final thoughts;
There have always been products spouting how easy they are in creating a game from scratch. 3D Game Maker means it. Without the use of a user manual, I had no trouble making game after game. This may not get me hired at id Software, but I can dream.

Useful info:

Game Type: Game Development
Developer: Dark Basic Ltd.
Publisher: Focus Multimedia
Multiplayer: N/A 3D Card Requirements: 8 MB DirectX Compatible
Minimum System Requirements: Windows 95/98/ME, Pentium II 400 MHz, 64 MB RAM, DirectX 8.0, DirectX-compatible sound card, 4x CD-ROM drive, 600 MB hard-disk space.

G3D 6.10 3D Engine

G3D is a commercial-grade 3D Engine available as Open Source (BSD License). It is used in games, tech demos, research papers, military simulators, and university courses. It can support real-time rendering, off-line rendering, back-end game server management of 3D worlds, and use of graphics hardware for general purpose computing.

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 and sockets easier to use without limiting functionality or performance. G3D gives you a rock-solid, highly optimized base from which to build your application.

G3D does not contain scene graph or GUI routines. Because of this, there is a lot of flexibility to how you structure your programs. The tradeoff is that you have to know more about 3D programming. G3D is intended for users who are already familiar with C++ and DirectX or OpenGL. G3D does not draw widgets by itself. Several good G3D-compatible GUI libraries exist and we recommend using one with G3D if your project has extensive UI needs.

For more info and download Click Here