Just got word of this great isometric engine similar to the Alternativa engine or zenbullets but with plans for open source. I checked out the demos and it looks well done and is pretty responsive. Once you get to heavy lighting it can draw a little slow (the cowboy becomes more John Wayne like with slow drawls) but this seems like a great base for an isometric AS3 engine.
The author, who is currently anonymous, describes it as:
The FFilmation Engine is an AS3 isometric programing engine, focused mainly on game development. The aim of the project is providing a robust development platform, where game designers can work on the game’s details and forget about the render engine. It is intended to be really usable from a “real production scenario” point of view.
Unfortunately there is no name associated with the project yet, I think it would be wise to let that be known. The author has some info on the level structure of files and 3 great demos.
Here are some features and plans for the engine:
- Have a programming interface as small and easy as possible, no matter how complex the internal code is. From a software engineering point of view, the OO structure may not be as correct and clean as it could have been. It is not messy, but several decisions where made that improved performance and simplicity at the cost of breaking some “good OO programming” conventions.
- Rendering performance is a major concern when designing all the algorythms. Some of them have been rewritten 4 o 5 times from scratch until one fastest enought was found. If it doesn’t perform well, it is not usable. We’ve all seen several impressive actionscript demos that look really cool and invite to be used in your next project. But then if the effect takes 90% of your CPU, you can’t build anything on top of that.
- Graphic designers should be able to work on the application’s ( game or not ) environments without any programming skills, visually, and with almost immediate previews of what they are doing. Using the engine should be fun to some degree. If you have this terrific engine and adding a wall to your dungeon means you have to write 10 lines of OO gibberish, lazyness will eventually win you over. If art directors can draw and place the walls and lights an floors and enemies and see them appearing onscreen, you have more chances of reaching your deadline.
- Flash has built-in drawing and animation tools. You should be able to take advantage of them !!
All this is important because in reality projects depend on limited resources. Resources are money and time, but also the enthusiasm of indie developers or single individuals doing stuff “for fun” in their bedrooms. Projects, specially the “for fun” ones, have more chances of completion if the production process is gratifying to some degree.
Here’s a list of highlited features:
- One engine capable of handling several isometric scenes of different complexities.
- Create scenes from human-readable XML definitions, allowing easy edition of the scene’s topology and contents
- Graphic media can be split into several external resources and loaded when an scene needs them
- Flat textures. Paint your grahics directly into flash. Walls, floors and celings are edited as 2D graphics and projected by the engine. Elements and animated characters can be animated via flash timeline, no need for complex programming.
- Dynamic lighting, global lighting, real-time shadow projection. Multiple lights from multiple sources affecting the same objects.
- Bump-mapped surfaces. Still somehow buggy and a serious performance killer, but already there.
- An extendable material interface. MovieClip materials, autotiled materials, procedural materials.
- Automatic zSorting of all surfaces and objects
- Built-in collision detection. No need to program complex coordinate comparisions, simple listen to COLLISION events generated by the engine.
- Basic AI API helpers such as “is character A visible from character B’s position ?”
I plan to make the engine open-source, but I’ll wait until I have a release “solid” and documented enough.
I am looking forward to more updates and to find out more about the author. We have some great engines underway in ’08 for AS3 and it looks to be a very fun year in that aspect.
Because it is an isometric engine is is not true 3d but sprite based animation. However with planes and objects other isometric 3d objects can be built such as walls, boxes, buildings, cubes, etc. I wonder if there are any toolkits being used or if this is all custom built?
Keep your eye on this space. It is very similar to the Alternative Engine.
Here are all the Demos:
And some docs on the architecture: