as3isolib Actionscript 3 Isometric Library for Flash/Flex

as3isolib is a great isometric library for actionscript 3 by Justin Opitz.  This is a lower level isometric library that could be used in building your own isometric gaming engine or learning more about the popular isometric view in games or other flash content.

From building basic blocks…

To constructing sprites and objects with individual iso objects with their own bounding boxes.


This sample shows a two piece tree, a common issue with sprites in isometric is where to slice them up.  This sample shows a tree with the leaves able to be in front of a character so that you could walk under the tree and be in front of the trunk but covered by the trees.  Essentially height is respected.

Sample code for the tree tutorial:

package
{
        import as3isolib.display.IsoSprite;
        import as3isolib.display.primitive.IsoBox;
        import as3isolib.display.scene.IsoGrid;
        import as3isolib.display.scene.IsoScene;

        import flash.display.Loader;
        import flash.display.Sprite;
        import flash.events.Event;
        import flash.net.URLRequest;

        public class IsoApplication extends Sprite
        {
                private var scene:IsoScene;
                private var assets:Object;

                private var loader:Loader

                private function loadAssets ():void
                {
                        loader = new Loader();
                        loader.contentLoaderInfo.addEventListener(Event.INIT, loader_initHandler);
                        loader.load(new URLRequest("assets/swf/assets.swf"));

                }

                private function loader_initHandler (evt:Event):void
                {
                        buildScene();
                }

                private function buildScene ():void
                {
                        scene = new IsoScene();
                        scene.hostContainer = this;
                        scene.container.x = 200;
                        scene.container.y = 200;

                        var treeTrunkClass:Class = loader.contentLoaderInfo.applicationDomain.getDefinition("TreeTrunk") as Class;
                        var treeLeavesClass:Class = loader.contentLoaderInfo.applicationDomain.getDefinition("TreeLeaves") as Class;

                        var grid:IsoGrid = new IsoGrid();
                        grid.showOrigin = false;
                        scene.addChild(grid);

                        var s0:IsoSprite = new IsoSprite();
                        s0.setSize(25, 25, 65);
                        s0.moveTo(50, 50, 0);
                        s0.sprites = [treeTrunkClass];
                        scene.addChild(s0);

                        var s1:IsoSprite = new IsoSprite();
                        s1.setSize(125, 125, 100);
                        s1.moveTo(0, 0, 75);
                        s1.sprites = [treeLeavesClass];
                        scene.addChild(s1);

                        scene.render();
                }

                public function IsoApplication ()
                {
                        loadAssets();
                }
        }
}

current features

  • simple scene creation
  • 3 primitive types
  • base class for displaying user-created content
  • plenty of styling option on vector based primitives
  • integrates well with a variety of tween engines
  • standard 3D isometric positional sorting

So get busy building the flash version of roller coaster tycoon…

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Hardware of the Casual Gamer Revisited from Unity3d Creators

A few weeks ago the makers of Unity3d released some really valuable information about casual gaming and general hardware of users that play online games.  It was an interesting report and very beneficial to developers on the Unity platform and others.  We wish other plugin makers would do the same in such a thorough method.

Unity 3d creators listened to the market and have now posted updated numbers and information as well as a page that quarterly stats will be updated. Check the new, quarterly, hardware of the casual gamer stats.

I would have seen this earlier but I have been deep in a Unity 3d project myself :).  I am a big fan of all web based gaming platforms and Unity is almost a dream come true for 3d web gaming.  For the company to be this open that is a very good sign.

What can you do with Unity3D?  Here is a list of games made with Unity3D on the web.  The one great thing about this platform is that is was made for gaming specifically from the start.  Simulations and game development with Unity3D is very fun and productive. I still love Flash, Director etc but Unity3D development is now very much in my rotation.

Games made with Unity3D:

Hancock Movie Games

Tennis Stars Cup

Duckateers

Temploe (ninjas attack you)

RC Laser Warrior

Urban Race Star

FlashBang studios

TraceON

EPIC Tower Defense

InvinciCar

Besmashed (multi)

Global Conflicts

Phoenix Final

Doom Siege

Mario Galaxy like run (third one down)

Zombie Drive

Pocket Piglets

ChickenDemo

Castle Conquest

Hardware of the Casual Gamer

Making great games, applications and tools using flash, silverlight or other tools that are emerging such as Unity3D takes great style, effort and knowing your target. We need to know what the end-user machine has at hand.  The Unity 3d guys put together a great post on the capabilities of casual gaming machines. With all the talk about flash 3d, unity3d and silverlight what level are you targeting and what group of people can actually PLAY your games as you envision.

Pretty much everyone knows Valve’s hardware survey – it’s a very valuable resource that shows what hardware the typical “hardcore PC gamer” has (that is, gamers that play Valve’s games).

However, the “casual gamer”, which is what Unity games are mostly targeted at, probably has slightly different hardware. “Slightly” being a very relative term of course.

Lo and behold – we have a glimpse into that data.

How? First time the Unity Web Player is installed, it submits anonymous hardware details (details in the EULA). This happens only once, and contains no personally identifiable information. It’s much like visitor statistics trackers on the websites that gather your OS, browser information and whatnot.

Remember, all this data is from people who installed Unity Web Player (most likely because they wanted to play some Unity content on the web). Hardware of standalone game players might be different, and hardware of your game’s players might be different as well. The data set is well over a million samples at the moment.

Check out the full stats here.

The most interesting stats to me:

OS Platforms

Windows 96.8%

Mac OS X 3.2%

CPU Core count overall

1 54.7%

2 44.1%

4 1.1%

8 .1%

Wow this one is surprising, but with the type of gamer that will play and download a quality new plugin to get to a game, maybe not.  They need to have the latest and greatest.  Multi-core processors have been selling for about 2-3 years so this is a continuing trend that will make Flash 3d and even plugins like Unity 3d better over the short term.

Also when you check it over at Unity Blog note the top cards, it is a bit painful if you are a casual gamer developer.  Not a decent card in the top 10-15. But that is changing rapidly over the next 1-2 years in this regard. But this also vyes well for flash based games that rely on dual core software rendered results right now as a decent constraint for developers to keep content painfully accessible to all states of machinery out there.

I wonder if this information is available on the flash player and public? This is specific to the Unity 3D plugin that is also a bit of a different market that is willing to install a plugin for better experiences.  With Flash it is usually preinstalled or auto updated for a casual user and might be different as Flash has a 98% penetration rate.  Or for that matter the Director users which would be more gaming focused which amout ot about 40% of internet users.  But as with the case of Unity it is specific to games right now and a small penetration rate, Flash is also apps, ads, tools, demos, interactives in addition to games.  Having this information on Flash or Director would be nice.

AS3 Plinko with APE 2D Flash Physics Engine

I rarely mention stuff I have worked on here but I got a chance to use APE and AS3 on the online Plinko game at the site for the Price is Right videogame for the famed pink Plinko Board.  Who doesn’t love Plinko?

I did the programming on this back when I still worked at emarketing/prizelogic.

I will be featuring a small iteration to APE with draggable particles and how I did it.  In the end I didn’t use the draggable particles but they are fun (i ended up changing my collision/border particles after testing).  I ended up controlling the drop location by swapping out a wheel particle after they dropped it.  So that it got the famous Plinko disc bounce and roll.

Why did I use APE? Well it is the least complex physics engine.  I started off with Box2dFlashAS3 and will post that one maybe as well but ended up going with APE mainly for integration it was easier that it was a less intensive codebase.  Box2DFlashAS3 can scare non C++ coders with it’s style let alone AS2 coders moving to AS3.

It is slower with all the other animation going on in the site but you can also play on my server here just the Plinko part.

Can you get 10,000?

AS3 Creative Papervision 3D Flash Games

Recently on the papervision lists there have been some really creative uses of pv3d in games. I will highlight two here:

The Bowling Buddies game is made by the very creative Playfish.com company (more on the release at their blog). They have some great facebook/social network games combined with flash. With bowling buddies they created a game similar to Wii bowling (even with customize characters) and the best part is how they have scaled down versions. You can play in 2D, 3D and at different levels of quality to make it accessible to everyone. I think that will probably be needed with 3d flash games (Shockwave Director has LOD (Level of Detail) that helps with scaling down to slower machines but you have to do that yourself with the state of 3d engines in flash so far).

Bowling buddies and most playfish games are Facebook/Social Network based. You might say, why? (especially if you aren’t in the US where facebook is the biggest social network). But even Activision’s CEO calls facebook a threat to online gaming as we know it, this is because of the community aspect and the ability to play with friends and multiplayer games easily. Rather than setting up your own player find mechanism, facebook has it built in and all the viral aspects you need to garner more fans. So those into facebook and gaming are possibly ahead, but also it will be extremely competitive.

[ try bowling buddies ]

Airship is a really creative game that has been impressive to watch grow over the last weeks. It is now textured and performs pretty well. The best part is the Airship model and the fans. Very neat and I hope this one is seen through to a launched game. It is a bit like a RTS/Strategy overhead game that would be very cool to play multiplayer with Red5 server as well (just need the TIME!).

[ try airship demo ]

The best part is you can see after a year+ of release papervision and the other 3d engines are really changing the way gaming is done online. What was once a Java or Shockwave only capability, flash now has with evolving 3d engines, and there are playable fun games to prove it that are commercial ready.

Get your game on!

AS3 Flash Isometric Game Engine Released – FFilmation 1.0

The FFilmation AS3 Flash Isometric Engine has been released into the wild.  Jordi Ministral has been generous to watch his creation grow and evolve with the help of the open source community and the flash community is one of the best open source communities out there even though the core (adobe flash) is still closed. Open sourcing is one of the best ways to market test your skills really and this engine has much anyone can learn in making isometric engines for flash. You can see our first post on this great engine here.

Here’s a peek at the classes in the API:

http://www.ffilmation.org/docs/api/1.0/class-summary.html

All Classes

BumpMap
fAiContainer
fCamera
fCharacter
fCollideEvent
fElement
fEngine
fEngineMaterial
fEngineSceneRetriever
fEventIn
fEventOut
fFloor
fGlobalLight
fLight
fMaterial
fMoveEvent
fObject
fOmniLight
fPlane
fProcessEvent
fRenderableElement
fScene
fSceneLoader
fWalkoverEvent
fWall
line
mathUtils
movieClipUtils
polygonProjection
polygonUtils
Vector
vport

Get your game on!

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!