Andre Michelle Brings It with Audiotools and Re-Makes Rebirth Alive and Better with AS3 Flash and Java

If you ever were a fan of Rebirth and Rebirth 2, this was a music kit that had two 303s, a 909 and an 808 kick drum (beastie says mmmmmm-m-m drop!).  Well Andre Michelle has re-ignited that awesomeness and upped it with the Audio Tools from hobnox!.

This not only has the famed 808, 909 and 303 (conveniently covered with stickers of love) but also sorts of channel mixers, pedals and sweet interface that mimics the inputs and outputs as well as customization on nearly every aspect of the audio creation with these tools. Use your mouse to move things around, connect ins and outs and move the whole setup around.

This setup on about 80 bpm and a little tinkering is groovy.

I think I just found my new batcave evil genius code monkey theme music

Apparently Andre and Joa made some noise and now you can too.  Also I noticed that some of it is in java for the sound output.  I wonder if Adobe missed an opportunity here in audio with flash, which will change probably in Flash 10 due to the Make Some Noise Adobe campaign and Tinic Uro for listening.  But for now have some fun. It is hard to find something that doesn’t sound good in the 80-90 bpm range.

as3Query – Actionscript Port of jQuery

This is older, from january, somehow I missed it but… nitoyon has created an AS3 port of jQuery. jQuery is my favorite javascript tool besides javascript itself. Mootools, prototype, and others like mochikit are all great but jQuery was the first to do lambda chain decorating and others followed suit.

But having this power in as3 is a great thing! $ selectors, common access methods to properties, methods, etc. All good stuff. Again this shows the fun in as3 or ES4 based languages like Actionscript because people are porting all sorts of libraries to it. If this performs I may just start using it daily TODAY!

For instance setting the stage align for use in full screen:

$(stage).attr({scaleMode: "noScale", align: "TL"});

That is too fun… The only thing not cool about this is all the spam at nitoyon‘s blog : )

How about a functional Tweener call:

function animate(f:Boolean):void {
				// Select 'RoundRect' elements using CSS selector
				$("RoundRect:" + (f ? "odd" : "even"))
					.addTween({
						rotation: 90,
						scaleX: 0.5,
						scaleY: 0.5,
						time: 0.6,
						delay: 0.3,
						transition: "easeOutCubic"
					})
					.addTween({
						scaleX: 1,
						scaleY: 1,
						time: 0.5,
						delay: 0.9,
						transition: "easeOutElastic",
						onComplete: function():void {
							// restore the rotation and call again.
							this.rotation = 0;
							animate(!f);
						}
					});
			}
			animate(false);

Stuff to see and try

Box2DFlashAS3 Version 2 Released – AS3 2D Physics Engine

Box2dFlashAS3 has been updated to version 2.0 complete with ragdolls and Theo Jansen walkers ala APE fame.

AS3 Flash 3D Engine SWFZ Source Code Goes Open Source

Jono is giving SWFZ to science and the open source devices.

The SWFZ engine is one Flash 3D engine that took a different approach. It is a bit early in its technique used but the author at custom:media Jono has decided to float the source code out there in ghost mode (no active development but not dead). It is just ready to branch and others to run with it. He is floating the source but I think in 1-2 years this will be the preferred method if processors and multicore parallel usage is optimized. We shall see.

The implementation method and difference with SWFZ engine in Flash for 3d is that is is a pixel based renderer or scanline. It is based on a really fun game engine called Irrlicht which has been pretty active for the last few years but is a C++ DirectX and OpenGL engine. Since SWFZ has to run in Flash and it is a pixel renderer/scanline it has some limitations currently in Flash. Games and renders have to be fast to pull this off and Flash is limited by the software renderer but as computers get multiple processors and flash player gets better at this then this will be a viable option (it is the same thing that limits Canvas based renderers right now). One main problem with this is you can’t go too full screen the biggest sizes that perform well are smaller windows 320×240 etc. But if the processors can handle it it is actually more efficient when it removes overlap, extra triangle drawing and painters algorithm like problems dont’ pop up (triangle overlap when on same plane). This method draws pixel by pixel but fast enough flash engines like Papervision, Sandy3D and Away3D draw overlaps due to the drawing technique, back to front.

But SWFZ still manages to pull off some amazing feats such as these demos

Quake Demo

Terrain Demo

Yoshis Hip Hop Couzin

Jono has put some great classes into SWFZ engine such as bsp parsers, quake md2 parsers, animated mesh, and lots of great examples in porting C++ Irrlicht to AS3. This was a very early example of how AS3 was fun for programmers to port stuff from C or C++ into Flash. AS3 is just fun. Also be sure to check the site for more samples like an FPS game, some basic ai etc.

Jono has been working on 3d in Flash for a while and actually this message is what shows the difference betweeen this approach and other flash engines the way Papervision, Sandy and Away3D (pv3d derivative) make 3d in flash fast enough (Painter’s Algorithm and drawing skewed movieclips and textures.

Demos

More about the Engine Some Notes

The SWFZ engine.

Overview:

SWFZ engine is the result of four years of me messing with 3D in Flash.

I was a complete newbie to 3D, so a lot of learning has happened to get to here.

If you’re interested in 3D engines check out the resource links at the bottom of the page:

The Demo:

Model

  • .md2 format from ID’s Quake2.
  • Uses frame based animation
  • Textured with jpeg
  • No lighting, No Gouraud Shading, just plain texture

Skybox

  • Textures are just jpegs.

Boxes

  • Rendering – Textured Gouraud , Textured Gouraud with Alpha, Textured Gouraud with Quick Alpha, Gouraud Shaded, and the large box is just Textured.
  • Star Texture – Targa (.tga) file format.

AS3 classes

  • 171 classes and interfaces

Scene

  • No lighting
  • No collision detection

SWFZ engine technology:

The demo only shows a small part of the capabilities of the engine. In the coming weeks I will get www.custommedia.co.nz up and running and start to post more info then.

Currently implement stuff:

New file formats supported

  • .tga – Targa Image
  • .bmp – Bitmap Image
  • .3ds – 3D Studio Max
  • .bsp – Quake3 levels
  • .md2 – Quake2 models
  • .obj – Wavefront 3d object (static)
  • .zip – Read from a zip archive (all in Flash, no server side scripts)

3D Rendering

  • mipmaps
  • perspective correct texturing + affine texturing
  • Flat shading
  • Gouraud
  • Textured Gouraud
  • Textured Flat
  • Textured Two Layers
  • Gouraud Alpha
  • Textured Flat Alpha
  • Textured Gouraud Alpha

3D Scene

  • Billboards
  • Parent, Child scene nodes
  • OctTree
  • Skybox
  • Static Meshes
  • Animated Meshes
  • Basic collision detection
  • Scene node animators

If any code is useful to you maybe drop him a donation or what would be nice if this was all setup at google code and used to be integrated into other engines. Irrlicht ports are fun and there is a future in this method when processors catch up I think.

AS3 Nascar Game By mr. doob – AS3 Flash Library Mashup

I have been one upped by mr. doob! I did a little nascar like RC pro am like prototype in march ’07 when the pv3d kit showed up on my screen and I was hooked like most suceptible flashers who have longed for 3d in flash! Only my version is like Nintendo64 and his is like xbox360 with updated effects and physics kits and some doob magic. All these are based off of, of course the original race car driver in Papervision and its creator Carlos Ulloa (Adobe should be paying this man).

To the feature! This is a sweet game by mr. doob, called burn and brag for Nascar.

Now I don’t’ particularly like Nascar all that much but who doesn’t like to peel out to some fiddlin’? I mainly do Nascar stuff because it is highly marketable and like the only answer most ad agencies have for getting the southern us markets it seems, that and c-o-u-n-t-r-y mu-si-c (must be said at a slower rate).

But I digress, this is a perfect mix of advertisment, game play, fun and experience. It is fast, simple, and playable. Exactly the simplicity and smoothness needed of gameplay and playback.  Great ad work but it also gives something fun to do and best of all it is built in AS3 flash with a plethora of libraries from the flash as3 community.

The game platform is emerging fantastically in the AS3 market. mrdoob used these kits to build this:

It would be cool to see a post on how he did the replays with tweener – I imagine just a series of points collected with car state (current position state) and then just play them back with a call back or time delay. You’d have to capture alot for smooth playback without laggy movements.  I am working on multiplayer games with this same issue for a current project.

Game on! The question is when will this be SOTD or SOTM at thefwa.com?

Flash/Flex Application Proofs: Adobe Launches Photoshop Express

If there ever was a proof that more intense applications like word processors and image manipulation software are capable of being built and some aspects even better than their desktop counterparts with flash and flex then Scrapblog, Buzzword, Picnik and Photoshop Express are that (in fact Photoshop Express is a direct competitor with Picnik it seems…).  

Adobe launches Photoshop Express today to add to that set that are very usable, quality applications built with Flash9/Flex and most of all actionscript 3 (as3) and the new AVM2. These apps just weren’t possible with AS2 and with Flex they can be easily managed codebases (one major problem with old skool flash actionscript is it was throwaway many times because it was so scripter specific and full of optimizations just to barely perform – now these are actual code bases made by programmers and you see the results).  The great thing about buzzword, picnik and photoshop express are that they are easy to use. Flash/Flex make sense in their case and they tend to mimic and use very good usability patterns.There is no way an AJAX app (even though I build lots of those too) can come close to this integration of style, usability and expected results on all browsers.One important point of this article on news.com mentioning this:

The service will go live in beta test mode on Thursday. Mack said that the company intends to use the test period as a way garner feedback from customers.Adobe intends to offer more features to consumers who pay a yearly fee. Some planned features include a printing service, more storage, support for audio and other media, and the ability to read additional image file types (the service works with .JPGs now.)Adobe also plans to build an offline client using AIR (the Adobe Integrated Runtime) so that people can edit photos offline, executives said.

A couple things here.  First there is going to be an AIR version for the same experience on the web and the desktop for a major application.  Second, flash IS limited to certain file types JPG, SWF, PNG, GIF, and a few others for sound and video.  So why an online photoshop is great, it is still only web based photos, simple edits, etc.  Photographers and users above 72dpi in the 300 600 ++ ranges will still be using Photoshop.  Users with EPS,RAW, etc will still have to use Photoshop until Adobe figures a way to either proxy an image and handle the real source (be it another format) behind the scenes.  Or, improve the flash player to handle other raster and vector image types.A project a while back we had this issue where it was a approval system of media types but the types could be PDF or EPS in addition to web image formats or on occasion other formats and it became a challenge where the content was marked up with flash.  Eventually it was in a div overlay so we could load in the unsupported types behind and sync them with javascript, where flash was just a canvas or screen on top to put notes and markings.  But when it comes to editing that is different, you expect to edit. Also, working with the real source in image manipulation is extremely important so a proxy to the real image seems unlikely a good choice except for simple web uses.In any case, Photoshop Express is a great web based image tool but there are limitations that prevent it from taking any large swath of share from the normal old desktop Photoshop any time soon.

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!