The Away3D Team is pleased to announce the final production ready version of the the Away3D 4.0 engine!
I’ve promissed a while ago that I would release Prefab3D for Flash 11/Away3D 4.0 once a minimum set of features would be up&running.
This morning, I was about to break it to add an extra functionality but then realized:
The day I can release Prefab3D version 2 has finally arrived!
Just before hit the link (top right button on the page) and try it, let me explain a bit why it took so long since the last Prefab3D 1 update and what kind of beast you will actually discover…
It’s been a lot of work. simply because building a 3D app is, well, lots and lots of work!
At first, when the great Molehill project was still a secret prerelease program,
I thought: we have gpu now, we’ll have soon a new API, then I’ll port the v1 code and voila.
At that time, it was not possible to work on the app, as we first needed to rewrite from the ground up the early draft of what is now Away3D 4.0. Each new player drop releases were breaking or asking for new stuffs. I couldn’t get started properly on the AIR side either, because there was no AIR with Stage3D. The first beta SDK+runtime came 6 months later…
To be honest, it’s not about the player or the runtime: I had no idea of what having gpu access really means. Everything you do, needs to be able to handle loads of data. Prefab’s v1 internals were simply not built with this in mind. Oh sure, I tried hard to save the most code I could. Eventually, I got tired never see anything else but errors, (lots of ) code commented out or white screens. Short story: I decided to rewrite the entire app from scratch.
As the team focus was to get a robust Away3D up&running. I’ve restarted the work on Prefab 2 seriously only 4 or 5 months ago.
So what do you get exactly for this kind of effort? Not that much actually. At least on the exposed side. Most work done was on the AIR side, app logic, exporters api and a few exporters, an extended selection api, material edits, lights edits, animation managers etc… If the app is relatively limited feature wise atm, It can already do lots and learning to work with it should keep you of the streets for a while!
Many features are “almost” done on my disk, waiting for small problems to be solved before I can implement them. Such as awd 2 (the format 2.0 was locked just 2 weeks ago) with materials and animation exports or Prefab’s own project files. You will notice for instance an md2 export option. This doesn’t make much sense without a vertex animator/generator…
There are probably issues here and there. (some are even known). Also with new things such as export to ThreeJS or the new behaviors “guys” api that is in very early stage. So please use the report panel so I can fix/improve or simply to give me feedback. If you are one of the 30k+ user of the first version. You know you can expect a lot of automatic updates in the upcoming months.
You do not have to uninstall the previous one, as both can work together. I would keep both, at least until older features such as path edits and uv edits are restored. V2 will no longer export to AS3 for Flash 9 and 10.
I hope you will enjoy this new version even in its “LE” state and that It will find a little place into your workflow.
Last but not least: I would like to thank a LOT the Adobe player & AIR teams for the work they did in the past 2 years.
Following the recent Adobe announcement at the Flash Gaming Summit keynote, we are pleased to announce the first public build of the Away3D 4.0 engine for Flash 11. This release leverages the GPU support of the Molehill APIs, which are included in a version of the Flash Player now available as a new form of public release on Adobe Labs known as an Incubator build.
The Incubator build of Flash 11 was announced at FGS alongside an accompanying Air 3 Incubator build, allowing GPU-accelerated Flash content to be viewed both in the browser and on the desktop. These builds are part of Adobeâ€™s new program for bringing in-development features of upcoming features of the Flash Player to a public release ahead of a fully stable beta release, and so are not intended for commercial use at this time. However, we think this approach is a vast improvement over previous strategies for Flash Player releases â€“ offering anyone interested the opportunity to test and give feedback on new features as they are developed.This should lead to a final build that is focused on compatibility and stability â€“ something that is crucial with a release that relies on the compatibility of GPU hardware.
Of course, this release also means that we can finally let out of the bag some of the features weâ€™ve been developing for Molehill. The following screenshots link to a selection of demos whose source code is now available for download from our googlecode repository or the downloads page. In order to run these demos, youâ€™ll need to follow the instructions for installing the Flash 11 Incubator build on Adobe Labs. In order to compile the source, youâ€™ll also need to follow the instructions for installing and compiling files for Flash Player 11 & AIR 3.
With GPU rendering, all visual ouput of Away3D is handled by the GPU, freeling up all CPU cycles for other tasks. This now allows much more details simulations to be rendered, as the above demo shows. The water effect uses Shallow Water Simulation equations with a mesh plane constructed from 80,000 triangles that are updated by the CPU in realtime. The rendering on the GPU uses an Environment map to create a reflective surface effect with a realism never before seen in Flash.
However, the shading capabilities of Molehill can create far more complex shading effects. In the demo here, the imported model (a 3D Head Scan by Lee Perry-Smith, based on a work at www.triplegangers.com, licensed under Creative Commons) uses a sub-surface scattering shader to create an ultra-realistic skin texture effect. Away3D 4.0 has a completely revamped materials package that allows easy use of complex shader techniques such as specular maps, normal maps and shadow mapping.
Another area given a complete overhaul in the new Away3D engine is animation. The GPU offers us the possibility of accelerated animation calculations which again frees up CPU cycles for other work â€“ the only restriction being the amount of animation data which must be small enough to be upload to the GPUâ€™s memory. The example above uses a new AS3 exporter for bones animation written by Jerome Birembaut, which converts 3ds MAX skins and animations to AS3 classes that can be compiled direct into your Away3D project for any animation sequence or animation rig.
MD5 files are also supported, allowing any model built using the Quake 3 format to be used in Away3D 4.0. These also use a bones animation format but are saved as external compressed binary files (in a similar way to the Quake 2 MD2 format) that can be loaded and processed at runtime. The demo below loads several MD5 animations that can be applied to the same model – use the cursor keys to walk around and spacebar to attack!
At present, Away3D 4.0 is alpha software and so, like the Incubator build of Flash 11, should only be used for the purposes of testing and prototyping. To identify this release we have used the codename Broomstick, both on the downloads page and in the svn directories. We are also pleased to announce that as from today, Away3D is now available on github! Please register on our google group at http://groups.google.com/group/away3d-dev for updates on Broomstick, new demos, upcoming conference appearances and training!
The Away3D Team
With Prefab3D 1.5 it is now possible to extend the app capabilities via plugins. So in order to test all the distribution mechanics under the hood and possibly interrest someone to extend Prefab, I’ve written a little geometry editor: MeshEdit and added it to the loop.
In its first version, this little utility is far from being user friendly, it misses history, mouse rect selection, vertex features…
but even as is, it should ease up some common tasks and prevent the need to go back to your original 3d editor. You know, the few faces with inverted normals, that extra hole you miss, the face that you forgot to delete, the door hole you forgot to make…
Using it is pretty straight forward: select a mesh in Prefab, under the newly added “plugins” menu, select MeshEdit. Your model will now be displayed and you are now able to affect its geometry. If you cancel or close the window, nothing happends. If you apply, then your changes will be applied to the selected mesh.
Let’s hope I can find some spare time to polish this baby a bit more. In meanwhile, if you have remarks or wishes for this tool, please let me know.
Probably this week, another plugin will be added to Prefab, this time made by someone else… To install these extensions you have nothing to do: just say “yes” to the install dialog if one pops up.
Have fun with MeshEdit!
This week, I’ve uploaded what is probably the last major update for the Flash 10 version of Prefab3D. With 1.5, I’ve tried to close the 1.x chapter with improved code, ui enhancements and like in most of my .dot releases, I’ve added a few new features as well.
Here’s a little list of what has been done since 1.4.
and probably few more code changes here and there…
I hope you will enjoy this new release!