AS3 Real-Time Raytracing

Forrest Briggs throwing down with a real-time raytracer in AS3. Also a C++ OpenGL version sample on the page.

Real-time pixel manipulation in flash is getting faster, but is still probably going to have to be faked in AS3, maybe AS4 will provide us per pixel speeds that Andre Michelle has been harping on since flash 8.5. Native operations can be much faster in that area. AIF might look to change some of that but that is Flash 10.

Here is the code for the as3 raytracer. Read more at laserpirate.

import flash.display.Sprite;
import flash.display.Bitmap;
import flash.display.BitmapData;
import flash.utils.getTimer;
import flash.text.TextField;
import flash.text.TextFormat;

public class RayTracer extends Sprite
 private var t:Number;
 private var dt:Number = .01;
 private var frameTimeTxt:TextField;

 public static const BUFFER_WIDTH:int = 160;
 public static const BUFFER_HEIGHT:int = 120;
 public static const BUFFER_SCALEDDOWN:int = 320 / BUFFER_WIDTH;

 public static const HALF_BUFFER_WIDTH:int = BUFFER_WIDTH / 2;
 public static const HALF_BUFFER_HEIGHT:int = BUFFER_HEIGHT / 2;

 private var outputBitmapData:BitmapData;
 private var outputBitmap:Bitmap;

 public var FOV:Number = 20;

 public var sphereCenterX:Array 	= [0,	0,		0, 		0];
 public var sphereCenterY:Array 	= [0, -.2,	.4, 		100.5];
 public var sphereCenterZ:Array 	= [4, 	4,		4, 		10];
 public var sphereRadius:Array 	= [.35, .35,	.25, 	100];
 public var sphereR:Array 		= [255,	0,		0,		20];
 public var sphereG:Array 		= [0, 	150,	0,		20];
 public var sphereB:Array 		= [0, 	0,		255,	20];
 public var sphereReflects:Array = [false, false, false, true];
 public var sphereReflectiveness:Array = [0,0,0,.3];
 public var sphere2dX:Array = new Array(sphereCenterX.length);
 public var sphere2dY:Array = new Array(sphereCenterX.length);
 public var sphere2dR:Array = new Array(sphereCenterX.length);

	public var numSpheres = sphereCenterX.length;

	var skyR:int =  20;
 var skyG:int =  20;
 var skyB:int =  20;
 var skyColor:int = (skyR< &lt;16) + (skyG<&lt;8) + skyB;
 var ambientIllumination:Number = .1;

	var canvas:BlankClip;

	var theta:Number = 0;
 var mouseIsDown:Boolean = false;
 var mouseDownTheta:Number = 0;
 var mouseDownX:Number = 0;

	public function RayTracer()
 	outputBitmapData = new BitmapData(BUFFER_WIDTH, BUFFER_HEIGHT, false);
 	outputBitmap = new Bitmap(outputBitmapData);
 	//outputBitmap.smoothing = true;

		outputBitmap.width= 320;
 	outputBitmap.height = 240;

		canvas = new BlankClip;
 	canvas.buttonMode = true;
 	canvas.useHandCursor = true;

		frameTimeTxt = new TextField();
 	frameTimeTxt.defaultTextFormat = new TextFormat("Arial");
 	frameTimeTxt.x = 8;
 	frameTimeTxt.y = 8;
 	frameTimeTxt.width = 640;
 	frameTimeTxt.textColor = 0xFFFFFF;
 	frameTimeTxt.selectable = false;

		t = 0;
 	addEventListener(Event.ENTER_FRAME, update, false, 0, true);

		canvas.addEventListener(MouseEvent.MOUSE_DOWN, mouseDownHandler);
 	canvas.addEventListener(MouseEvent.MOUSE_UP, mouseUpHandler);

	public function mouseDownHandler(e:*):void
 	mouseIsDown = true;
 	mouseDownX = stage.mouseX;
 	mouseDownTheta = theta;

	public function mouseUpHandler(e:*):void
 	mouseIsDown = false;

	public function update(e:*)
 	// start frame timer and update global time
 	var timer:Number = getTimer();
 	t += dt;

		// handle mouse rotation
 	if( mouseIsDown ) theta = mouseDownTheta - .0015 * (stage.mouseX - mouseDownX);
 	theta += dt;

		// do some funky animation
 	sphereCenterX[0] = .5*Math.sin(theta*5);
 	sphereCenterZ[0] =1 + .5*Math.cos(theta*5);

		sphereCenterX[1] = .5*Math.sin(theta*5 + 2 * Math.PI / 3);
 	sphereCenterZ[1] = 1 + .5*Math.cos(theta*5 + 2 * Math.PI / 3);

		sphereCenterX[2] = .5*Math.sin(theta*5 + 4 * Math.PI / 3);
 	sphereCenterZ[2] = 1 + .5*Math.cos(theta*5 + 4 * Math.PI / 3);

		// reused variables
 	var x:int;
 	var y:int;
 	var i:int;
 	var j:int;

		var r:int;
 	var g:int;
 	var b:int;

		var dx:Number;
 	var dy:Number;

		var rayDirX:Number;
 	var rayDirY:Number;
 	var rayDirZ:Number;
 	var rayDirMag:Number;

		var reflectRayDirX:Number;
 	var reflectRayDirY:Number;
 	var reflectRayDirZ:Number;

		var intersectionX:Number;
 	var intersectionY:Number;
 	var intersectionZ:Number;

		var reflectIntersectionX:Number;
 	var reflectIntersectionY:Number;
 	var reflectIntersectionZ:Number;

		var rayToSphereCenterX:Number;
 	var rayToSphereCenterY:Number;
 	var rayToSphereCenterZ:Number;

		var lengthRTSC2:Number;
 	var closestApproach:Number;
 	var halfCord2:Number;
 	var dist:Number;

		var normalX:Number;
 	var normalY:Number;
 	var normalZ:Number;
 	var normalMag:Number;

		var illumination:Number;
 	var reflectIllumination:Number;

		var reflectR:Number;
 	var reflectG:Number;
 	var reflectB:Number;

		// setup light dir
 	var lightDirX:Number = .3;
 	var lightDirY:Number = -1;
 	var lightDirZ:Number = -.5;
 	var lightDirMag:Number = 1/Math.sqrt(lightDirX*lightDirX +lightDirY*lightDirY +lightDirZ*lightDirZ);
 	lightDirX *= lightDirMag;
 	lightDirY *= lightDirMag;
 	lightDirZ *= lightDirMag;

		// vars used to in intersection tests
 	var closestIntersectionDist:Number;
 	var closestSphereIndex:int;
 	var reflectClosestSphereIndex:int;

		// compute screen space bounding circles
 	//, 0xFF0000, .25);
 	for(i = 0; i < numSpheres; ++i)
 		sphere2dX[i] = (BUFFER_WIDTH / 2 + FOV * sphereCenterX[i] / sphereCenterZ[i]);
 		sphere2dY[i] = (BUFFER_HEIGHT /2 + FOV * sphereCenterY[i] / sphereCenterZ[i]);
 		sphere2dR[i] = (3 * FOV * sphereRadius[i] / sphereCenterZ[i]);
 		sphere2dR[i] *= sphere2dR[i]; // store the squared value

		// write to each pixel
 	for(y = 0; y < BUFFER_HEIGHT; ++y)
 		for(x = 0; x < BUFFER_WIDTH; ++x)
 			// compute ray direction
 			rayDirX = x - HALF_BUFFER_WIDTH;
 			rayDirY = y - HALF_BUFFER_HEIGHT;
 			rayDirZ = FOV;

				rayDirMag = 1/Math.sqrt(rayDirX * rayDirX + rayDirY * rayDirY +rayDirZ * rayDirZ);
 			rayDirX *= rayDirMag;
 			rayDirY *= rayDirMag;
 			rayDirZ *= rayDirMag;

				/// trace the primary ray ///
 			closestIntersectionDist = Number.POSITIVE_INFINITY;
 			closestSphereIndex = -1
 			for(i = 0; i < numSpheres; ++i)
 				// check against screen space bounding circle
 				dx = x - sphere2dX[i];
 				dy = y - sphere2dY[i];
 				if( dx * dx + dy * dy > sphere2dR[i] ) continue;

					// begin actual ray tracing if its inside the bounding circle

					lengthRTSC2 = 		sphereCenterX[i] * sphereCenterX[i] +
 									sphereCenterY[i] * sphereCenterY[i] +
 									sphereCenterZ[i] * sphereCenterZ[i];

					closestApproach =	sphereCenterX[i] * rayDirX +
 									sphereCenterY[i] * rayDirY +
 									sphereCenterZ[i] * rayDirZ;

					if( closestApproach < 0 ) // intersection behind the origin

					halfCord2 = sphereRadius[i] * sphereRadius[i] - lengthRTSC2 + (closestApproach * closestApproach);
 				if( halfCord2 < 0 ) // ray misses the sphere

					// ray hits the sphere
 				dist = closestApproach - Math.sqrt(halfCord2);
 				if( dist < closestIntersectionDist )
 					closestIntersectionDist = dist;
 			/// end of trace primary ray ///

				// primary ray doesn't hit anything
 			if( closestSphereIndex == - 1)
 				outputBitmapData.setPixel(x, y, skyColor);
 			else // primary ray hits a sphere.. calculate shading, shadow and reflection
 				// location of ray-sphere intersection
 				intersectionX = rayDirX * closestIntersectionDist;
 				intersectionY = rayDirY * closestIntersectionDist;
 				intersectionZ = rayDirZ * closestIntersectionDist;

					// sphere normal at intersection point
 				normalX = intersectionX - sphereCenterX[closestSphereIndex];
 				normalY = intersectionY - sphereCenterY[closestSphereIndex];
 				normalZ = intersectionZ - sphereCenterZ[closestSphereIndex];
 				normalX /= sphereRadius[closestSphereIndex]; // could be multiply by precacluated 1/rad
 				normalY /= sphereRadius[closestSphereIndex];
 				normalZ /= sphereRadius[closestSphereIndex];

					// diffuse illumination coef
 				illumination = 	normalX * lightDirX +
 								normalY * lightDirY +
 								normalZ * lightDirZ;

					if( illumination < ambientIllumination )
 					illumination = ambientIllumination;

					/// trace a shadow ray ///
 				var isInShadow:Boolean = false;
 				for(j = 0; j < numSpheres; ++j)
 					if( j == closestSphereIndex ) continue;

						rayToSphereCenterX = sphereCenterX[j] - intersectionX;
 					rayToSphereCenterY = sphereCenterY[j] - intersectionY;
 					rayToSphereCenterZ = sphereCenterZ[j] - intersectionZ;

						lengthRTSC2 = 		rayToSphereCenterX * rayToSphereCenterX +
 										rayToSphereCenterY * rayToSphereCenterY +
 										rayToSphereCenterZ * rayToSphereCenterZ;

						closestApproach =	rayToSphereCenterX * lightDirX +
 										rayToSphereCenterY * lightDirY +
 										rayToSphereCenterZ * lightDirZ;
 					if( closestApproach < 0 ) // intersection behind the origin

						halfCord2 = sphereRadius[j] * sphereRadius[j] - lengthRTSC2 + (closestApproach * closestApproach);
 					if( halfCord2 < 0 ) // ray misses the sphere

						isInShadow = true;


					/// end of shadow ray ///

					if( isInShadow ) illumination *= .5;

					/// trace reflected ray ///
 				if( sphereReflects[closestSphereIndex] )
 					// calculate reflected ray direction
 					var reflectCoef:Number = 2 * (rayDirX * normalX + rayDirY * normalY + rayDirZ * normalZ);
 					reflectRayDirX = rayDirX - normalX * reflectCoef;
 					reflectRayDirY = rayDirY - normalY * reflectCoef;
 					reflectRayDirZ = rayDirZ - normalZ * reflectCoef;

						closestIntersectionDist = Number.POSITIVE_INFINITY;
 					reflectClosestSphereIndex = -1
 					for(j = 0; j < numSpheres; ++j)
 						if( j == closestSphereIndex ) continue;

							rayToSphereCenterX = sphereCenterX[j] - intersectionX;
 						rayToSphereCenterY = sphereCenterY[j] - intersectionY;
 						rayToSphereCenterZ = sphereCenterZ[j] - intersectionZ;

							lengthRTSC2 = 		rayToSphereCenterX * rayToSphereCenterX +
 											rayToSphereCenterY * rayToSphereCenterY +
 											rayToSphereCenterZ * rayToSphereCenterZ;

							closestApproach = 	rayToSphereCenterX * reflectRayDirX +
 											rayToSphereCenterY * reflectRayDirY +
 											rayToSphereCenterZ * reflectRayDirZ;

							if( closestApproach < 0 ) // intersection behind the origin

							halfCord2 = sphereRadius[j] * sphereRadius[j] - lengthRTSC2 + (closestApproach * closestApproach);
 						if( halfCord2 < 0 ) // ray misses the sphere

							// ray hits the sphere
 						dist = closestApproach - Math.sqrt(halfCord2);
 						if( dist < closestIntersectionDist )
 							closestIntersectionDist = dist;
 					} // end loop through spheres for reflect ray

						if( reflectClosestSphereIndex == - 1) // reflected ray misses
 						r = sphereR[closestSphereIndex] * illumination;
 						g = sphereG[closestSphereIndex] * illumination;
 						b = sphereB[closestSphereIndex] * illumination;

 						//trace("ref hit");
 						// location of ray-sphere intersection
 						reflectIntersectionX = reflectRayDirX * closestIntersectionDist + intersectionX;
 						reflectIntersectionY = reflectRayDirY * closestIntersectionDist + intersectionY;
 						reflectIntersectionZ = reflectRayDirZ * closestIntersectionDist + intersectionZ;

							// sphere normal at intersection point
 						normalX = reflectIntersectionX - sphereCenterX[reflectClosestSphereIndex];
 						normalY = reflectIntersectionY - sphereCenterY[reflectClosestSphereIndex];
 						normalZ = reflectIntersectionZ - sphereCenterZ[reflectClosestSphereIndex];

							normalX /= sphereRadius[reflectClosestSphereIndex]; // could be multiply by precacluated 1/rad
 						normalY /= sphereRadius[reflectClosestSphereIndex];
 						normalZ /= sphereRadius[reflectClosestSphereIndex];

							// diffuse illumination coef
 						reflectIllumination = 	normalX * lightDirX +
 												normalY * lightDirY +
 												normalZ * lightDirZ;

							if( reflectIllumination < ambientIllumination )
 							reflectIllumination = ambientIllumination;

							r = sphereR[closestSphereIndex] * illumination + .5 * sphereR[reflectClosestSphereIndex] * reflectIllumination;
 						g = sphereG[closestSphereIndex] * illumination + .5 * sphereG[reflectClosestSphereIndex] * reflectIllumination;
 						b = sphereB[closestSphereIndex] * illumination + .5 * sphereB[reflectClosestSphereIndex] * reflectIllumination;
 						if( r > 255 ) r = 255;
 						if( g > 255 ) g = 255;
 						if( b > 255 ) b = 255;

						}  // end if reflected ray hits

					} /// end if reflects
 				else // primary ray doesn't reflect
 					r = sphereR[closestSphereIndex] * illumination;
 					g = sphereG[closestSphereIndex] * illumination;
 					b = sphereB[closestSphereIndex] * illumination;

					outputBitmapData.setPixel(x, y, (r<&lt;16) + (g<&lt;8) + b);

				} // end if primary ray hit
 		} // end x loop
 	} // end y loop

		// compute FPS
 	var fps:Number = 1.0/((getTimer() - timer) / 1000.0);
 	frameTimeTxt.text = "Drag to rotate. FPS: " + int(fps);


AS3 Water Effects in Papervision 3D, Away3D and Sandy3D

I was messing with water effects and Perlin Noise (sandy3d) and some other stuff and collected some water effects and simulations that are fluid like for research, a snapshot of the state of fluid and water effects in 3d in flash.

Ralph Hauwert, of course one of the original pv3d team members, posted some great samples on water effects on 3d objects in Papervision 3D. Of course the papervision list spawned this discussion from another great post on water simulation in papervision and away3d by Exey Panteleev .

Also, some other water like effects from Fabrice Closier and the notorious mrdoob.

Ralph’s Water Effect Demos:

Hey look, the water ball is smiling at you.

Exey Panteleev’s Water Simulation:

Some other Water Like Fluid Effects:

Water is hard in flash. Fluid dynamics will probably have to be cheated but it is still looking pretty good. The amount of processor usage depends on how real you want it to look.

If you are looking to make some agua, with x, the y AND the z in Flash or Flex, these are a good place to start.

AS3 Flash Isometric Engine

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:

Check it out!

AS3 Flash FPS Paradox Engine Updates – Simply Amazing

Paul Spitzer has been updating the animasinteractive paradox FPS engine for flash with some great new additions and more about the engine capabilities. I think you will be blown away again by this engine.

Paul has added proximity objects which are key elements of online multiplayer games for networking (distance based messaging and events) as well as fun stuff like proximity mines as demoed. Get over there and check it out the best, quality FPS engine yet in flash continues.

The lighting, textures, effects, HUD, all look excellent.

This is in flash, a paradox indeed.

AS3 Flash FPS 3D Temple made with Away3d

Wow. This new away3d demo of a temple and FPS movement in Flash9 AS3 rivals that of the paradox engine in pv3d.

Both are extremely smooth movement and great looking textures, both of these efforts are amazing for Flash is at this level. I would say Paul Spitzer’s paradox papervision3d based engine is still a little more responsive and the textures have such good baked lighting that is is very smooth (he posted recently on some internals and usages of media in the engine). But from these two engines and iterations you can see that the FPS engine in Flash is not too far off.

Although there used to be crashes with away3d it has really improved and this is very smooth. My processor was actually quite chillin’ with all the software rendering carpet bombing from software rendered 3d in flash. But it really is starting to get much better with optimizations to flash this year and papervision, away3d and sandy getting more mature and further iterated to greatness.

The away3d sample if you walk through the rooms also has an interactive button, opening doors, room transitions (and if these are dynamic) a decent room engine with pretty sweet load times since the whole thing is under 300k.

Game Development: Havok Offers Core Physics free for PC Game Developers


This is a bit off the online games department (although Havok was part of Director previously) but they are offering Havok physics core engine, the one that runs many great games including Half-Life 2 family, free. This is truly amazing Havok was the best and probably still is the best 3d physics engine for so long but was so freaking expensive it made it unattainable to anyone without probably close to half a million for budget. I think they are either getting heat from competition or they realize the importance of allowing communities to see what they can do with something, then coming along for the ride rather than being a wall that they have to go around. (of course this leads to bigger license fees once someone is established and can afford it).

They say exactly this here:

Havok’s core platform, Havok Complete combines the industry-leading Havok Physics engine and Havok Animation, the company’s premier character animation solution. Havok Complete is already the most popular solution in the cross-platform AAA games market, featuring technology used in over 200 games. By making Havok Complete for the PC freely downloadable, Havok will further build on its leading position by completely removing the barriers to entry for the large number of independent developers, academic institutions and enthusiasts in the PC space.

I always encourage products and people making any sort of toolkit, engine, application or library to offer it free or a portion of it free to get people hooked, and then as skills are acquired, they are then completely sold in. It is a bit of a play on the old piracy market where applications become so rampant that everyone uses them for years, then they recommend them at work and the growth of this type of marketing is long-term. Windows and Photoshop both got their market shares this way, they will never admit this though but I digress.

I am so excited by this news. It is interesting that the next version of Director, Director 11 was recently announced and it NO LONGER uses the Havok 3d physics engine but the AGEIA PhysX due to it being free (although the source license is still 50k).

I currently use Irrlicht and AEGIS, or ODE (open source physics engine – open dynamics engine) for pc based game development and physics fun. I will have to read the Havok license carefully but just getting your hands on this will be beneficial to all aspiring game developers.

Now if only game companies like Epic, Artificial Studios, and others would do the same, hrm…

One item of note is that it won’t be available until May.  I can imagine that the developers are like “ok well give me a few months to clean up all the code and cuss words from the source” j/k.  Let’s hope this release is not on Valve Time.

Get your game on!

AS3 First Open Source 3d Flash Physics Engine Released – WOWEngine

Seraf, True to the word WOWEngine was released today. It is still a work in progress but it is the first 3d physics engine out of the gate. It is built with many open source kits that are emerging. It can use any of the 3 major flash 3d engines (pv3d, sandy, away3d) and it is built on APE AS3 2d physics engine.

WOW-Engine use Sandy library for all the 3D mathematical computations (matrix, 3D vector, plane). The inner architecture of the engine is also inspired by Sandy’s one.

Collisions and physical reactions are possible thanks to the AS3 physic engine made by Alec Cove, named APE(version 0.2.).. Even if APE is a 2D physic engine, it is possible to extend the contraints on volumes, and that’s the purpose of WOW-engine. WOW-engine extends APE, and allows to simulate physics on 3D volumes.

WOW-Engine is capable to handle positions and rotations of abstract objects, which need to be linked to some visual objects (2D or 3D). The visual objects can be drawn thanks to another library (Sandy3D , Papervision3D, Away3D for 3D).

WOW-Engine use and depend of the Data Structures classes written by polygonal labs.

Basic technical Demos :

Advanced technical Demos:


Away3D 3d Labyrinth Like Level Demo and Technique To Help Polycount

Who’s up for some flash 3d gauntlet? Away3d and Fabrice have posted a pretty sweet demo that samples a 3d level with a little 3d avatar running around (animated).

Fabrice has some other good notes on keeping assets in flash low poly and not relying on full 3d or shrinking that down where possible. For instance in making the walls they are more dynamic and just extrudes not really 3d point collections.
Most 3d usages (even outside flash) resort to this to make sure the featured 3d models get all the processing power and polys needed to look good but still be optimized for flash 3d (fake software rendered 3d — slower). I agree and also am interested in loading 3d flash assets as compiled SWFs, but that has it’s own set of duplication whoas. It has to be designed/planned very smart to pull off a game that can perform well.

The stuff for generating 3d worlds in flash from the FPS demo from Animas (Paul Spitzer), the intense work going on at Alternativa Game, toolkits like AS3 Geometry Exporter for 3dsmax (to away, sandy or papervision 3d format/types). And of course all the great 3d engines, physics engines and animation kits that have helped make the 3d flash pipeline for actionscript 3 (as3) a little more optimized and quite fun.

AS3 Papervision 2.0 Alpha (GreatWhite)

Only a year after release Papervision is getting a major update to 2.0.

Get it while it is hot from the SVN server on google code:

Papervision3D, launched a year ago, really sparked the AS3 and flash/flex world and inspired every flash guru I know into working on this code. There have been some great tools made and some fwa’s won but it is only the beginning.

I am mostly looking forward to performance enhancements, ascollada integration, culling and Andy Zupko’s 2d bitmap effects on 3d.

New features:

  • Faster!
  • ShadeMaterials
  • Shaders
  • ASCollada (animation support)
  • Frustrum Culling
  • Multiple Viewports (3d editor anyone?)
  • Render to Scene
  • and more!

SVN server and branch:

We do indeed like to ride the racecars!

AS3 Papervision3D 2.0 and 2D BitmapData Effects are Evolving

Andy Zupko is probably doing some of the coolest / useful work in performance and possible effects combining 2D and 3D. Using 2D BitmapData and papervision 3D it turns out you can create a parallel dimension of coolness that cannot fully exist by themselves.

Papervision 2.0 with these effects and if it is as pluggable as it seems is very good for games that lighting is a key component or effects. Imagine a game that can customize weapons with 2d effects in 3d, or rocket boosters, or fireworks or all kinds of inspiring things like changing the mood or environment such as fog, lighting etc… If you start taling about adding physics to all this it just gets too fun. Effects have always been there and around, but making this possible to have a semi-standard way to do this and if it is pluggable, this can lead to many engine advancements.

I think the PV3d team additions of Tim Knip and Andy Zupko have been very good and zupko era in PV3d has begun. Tim Knip is also very active and helping to really organize the ascollada formats and performance stuff like only drawing what is on screen.

Who needs Hydra now? j/k although having this now in papervision leads me to see a very fun 2008 ahead for Flash, it is also, if as pluggable as it seems, a bit like a shaders kit.

All those older great 2d effects merging into 3d from the good old days (some still going very strong) of praystation, yugop, levitated, neave (great 2d tv effects in , flight404 (moved to processing) and many others. And a new era of zupko [pv3d], mr. doob, unitzeroone [pv3d], fabrice [away3d] and many more a new 2d effects in 3d platform is emerging. This kit for papervision3d by zupko and Hydra is making the future glowing full of bright points, and lots of effect explosions.

Let’s hope papervision3d 2.0 it is released soon and it has zupko’s effects code in there.


Sandy3D and Red5 Server Attack! – Sandy 3.0 Final Released for AS2 and AS3

Sandy 3.0 was released today. To go along with that a RedSandy (Red5 and sandy demo) has also been released. Sandy is the original 3d flash engine that was around before Papervision3D and Away3D and all the others. Sandy3d is an excellent library and it has many features that others do not have well particularly in the easier control of objects and importing all types of files such as ASE, WRL and 3ds in addition to COLLADA which other 3d engines like PV3d and Away3d support although it has been slower in the past 3.0 may change that.

Sandy 3D engine main features are :

  • Flash player 7 to 9 compatibility.

  • Both MTASC and Macromedia compilers compliant for AS2 and Flash CS3 and FlexBuilder for AS3 versions.

  • Several 3D primitives, allowing fast and parameterized object creation without any 3D modelisation knowledge.

  • Advanced and easy object management allowing some fantastic possibilities during your creations (scaling, rotation, translation, tween, etc.)

  • Advanced camera management ( rotation, motion on linear or bezier-curve path, movements, etc.)

  • Complex object loading thanks to the .ASE and .WRL files parser , but also Collada and 3DS files for AS3, (files generated by several 3D object modeling packages such as 3D Studio Max or Blender)

  • Material system to easily change your objects appearance. Several material are available allowing to create transparent faces, bitmap texture and video texture as webcam video stream.

  • Managment of Flash filters bringing some very nice visual effects

Red5 is the best multi-user media server out there right now and it is built with Java.

The cool and probably most interesting part is Sandy combined with Red5 to create multi-user environments in 3d for flash. There have been experiments with this and many attempts at this and is being done but an open source kit that does this is very helpful and these are two great flash toolkits in Sandy and Red5.

Get your game on!

Getting started video with Sandy 3.0 with a wise robot

AS3 Amazing Isometric 3D Alternativa Game Engine Demo

Alternativa Game is a leap forward in isometric 3d engines for flash. A gigantic leap…, would you expect this kind of quality of software out of anyone but the Russian Alternativa Game group? Check it out NOW.

The demo runs suprisingly smooth. I had to kick down the quality just a bit to get started but once I did that it was very smooth, full 360 degree turning, texturing levels, render quality, day/night, and many more features. You have to try the day and night, check the lighting coming out of the window…

More from Anton Volkov:

This is technological demoversion of an Alternativa3D Flash engine, which was made within Alternativa MMORPG development. This engine uses Flash player version 9 as a platform, and, as far as we know, works in all full-flash-supporting browsers. Alternativa3D is optimized with upcoming game features in mind, and utilizes some non-trivial solutions to show game graphics quickly.

Main features:

  • Three-dimensional geometry and 3D-sprites. Buildings and landscape are made in a fair 3D, objects with complex geometry — using sprites, including multi-phase ones.
  • Lighting system, including ambient, directional and omni lights. Changing daytime, diffuse and sunlight, automatical “in-corners” shading, dynamic shadows, including sprite shadows.
  • Texture and light quality settings (it is really important without 3D hardware acceleration in Flash).
  • Low processor load (excluding moments of lighting change and camera rotation, which happen not too often and is not critical for the game).

This is on par with Paul Spitzer’s amazing FPS flash engine.

You can follow this amazing development over at the Alternativa Game blog. I suspect quite a bit of interest now that they have thrown it down. Apparently when Anton and the guys of Alternativa throws down, they bring it!

This is only possible in AS3, this would be nothing more than a prototype test in AS2 but in AS3 it is fast enough and much much more capable of building stuff like this.

AS3 3D Rooms and First Papervision3D FPS Engine by Paul Spitzer

The 3d engines in Flash and the power of AS3 virtual machine and programming language is inspiring all kinds of killer stuff on the web, winning awards, on lists and all over the web. It is going to get even more intense with the new Astro releases.

One amazing implementation using this latest tech is Paul Spitzer’s FPS Engine in Papervision3D. Wait til you see this…

Paul Spitzer’s FPS Engine

This is by far the smoothest and best textured FPS like control for Flash I have seen yet.

Mouse click and move – look around
e – walk forward
d – backward
s – strafe left
f – strafe right

What is cool about this is it isn’t just for games, this can be used for all types of applications but Paul is giving us a glimpse of the possible gaming platform in 3d that Flash could become. It hasn’t been confirmed but Paul just might be some sort of Flash superhero. There have been other FPS like movement in pv3d and other3d flash kits or canvas but they just aren’t as smooth and well put together as this and my processor doesn’t melt on this one.

Another cool 3d room type app is Tim Knip’s Floor Planner Using Papervision3D

This looks like it can be a very cool way to implement useful apps with 3d flash not just games.

Also recently we highlighted a 3d editor and real-time texture lighting isometric 3d engine.

Flash 10: Hydra and AIF (Adobe Image Foundation) and Hardware Rendering

Adobe has announced the release of the inital developer views of AIF and Hydra in “Astro” the next version of the flash player (10).

AIF (Adobe Image Foundation) like AIR (Adobe Integrated Runtime) is a new technology just out of the gate but it does show that Adobe is into innovating and the vector wars. AIR is beta2 and Flash player 9 “moviestar” updates for video are coming along nicely but here we have more news out of MAX in Chicago that AIF is now available.

What is AIF? It is a new imaging and effects technology to help people create their own filters for Flash (blur, drop shadow etc are defaults). Hydra the new language for this is reminiscent of (if you haven’t been to since the 90′s then processing is all it is about there) and Cg from nVidia to write and test shaders. The fact that it is based on GLSL (OpenGL Shading Language) will help it easily port shaders coming in 3d gaming into Flash which is really sweet. The direction slowly is that Flash and maybe Silverlight will become more of gaming platforms and this is a nice point in that direction.

From Adobe here is what AIF is:

Introduction to the Adobe Image Foundation Toolkit Technology Preview

The Adobe Image Foundation (AIF) Toolkit preview release includes a high-performance graphics programming language that Adobe is developing for image processing, codenamed Hydra, and an application to create, compile and preview Hydra filters and effects. The toolkit contains a specification for the Hydra language, several sample filters, and sample images provided by AIF team members. The AIF technology delivers a common image and video processing infrastructure which provides automatic runtime optimization on heterogeneous hardware. It currently ships in After Effects CS3 and will be used in other Adobe products in the future. The next release of Flash Player, codenamed Astro, will leverage Hydra to enable developers to create custom filters, effects and blend modes.

Hydra is a programming language used to implement image processing algorithms in a hardware-independent manner. Some benefits of Hydra include:

  • Familiar syntax that is based on GLSL, which is C-based
  • Allows the same filter to run efficiently on different GPU and CPU architectures, including multi-core and multiprocessor systems in a future update
  • Abstracts out the complexity of executing on heterogeneous hardware
  • Supports 3rd party creation and sharing of filters and effects
  • Delivers excellent image processing performance in Adobe products

Reaction is that this is a strong Adobe direction to move towards more capable technology as in AS3 and Hydra and allow more customizable possibly hardware rendered and accelerated shader like technology for Flash filters. The new AVM2 and AS3 allow for faster processing and pixel based operations that you need for buildng filters and or shaders.

This is pretty interesting, it isn’t full blown hardware rendering which would just be excellent. So far hardware accelerated full screen stretching in Flash 9 Moviestar beta and now filters will have an element of hardware capable rendering, it should help performance. Full hardware acceleration seemingly will not happen in Flash 10 so the 3d engines and new 3d elements from Adobe are all software rendered still. However dual and multi-core processing will help rendering of 3d in flash BUT video cards are more prevalent than dual or multi-core for some time. Basic hardware rendering even for a low bar could greatly change the flash platform.

It is still a while off yet but it was good to know that performance and shaders/filters are getting attention but hardware rendering not just yet for 3d and basic drawing/rendering. One thing is for sure, in 2007 developing interactive for the web is being shook up and changing rapidly.

Here’s a video taken by Aral Balkan of the Astro presentation at MAX

AS3 3D Isometric World Engine AlternativaGame

Take a look at this amazing custom 3d isometric engine for building 3d virtual worlds. This literally just popped up on the scene. It seems that they are progressing nicely, not sure how much it can handle in terms of multiple assets but they have a sample of a house and many effects such as lighting (day+night changes), interpolation, zooming levels etc. They are using their own custom 3d engine and texturing system but it is probably highly inspired by the new 3d engines available out there.

Try out the sample here


Now we have all the techs in one engine. Now we also can add bump-mapping and unique lighting FX (say, some green light on a wall near the grass). The engine has some optimization potential, but speed is mainly based on a texture quality settings.

It is supposed that all the objects will be in a 1 pixel = 1 centimeter scale.


  • Spacebar — change daytime
  • Mouse wheel — change scale
  • Shift + wheel — tex quality
  • Ctrl + wheel — lightmap quality
  • Alt + wheel — groung quality
  • Q — tex interpolation on/off

The real-time lighting and 3d aspects of this look very promising. There are strong limitations to bulk in 3d in flash, for instance if you had a view with 100-200 homes and zoomed out with this I would like to see the performance then. Amazing work by this Russian development team.

Via Den Ivanov from Park

All the demos from this engine are excellent here’s some:


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.