Hey guys and gals.
Just a quick post to introduce something I have been working on in the teeny bits of free time I can find at the moment.
I have spend a good chunk of time working on 3d engines in the past and something that has always been a difficult part has been writing good parsers for the various formats out there, not only are there a huge array of formats but there are many versions of them and often there are discontinuities between the outputs from various 3d authoring tools.
So I decided to give myself (and you lot) a way round this, at least that is the plan.
I thought I would build an air app that runs on desktop and can be used as middle-ware to sit between your 3d authoring apps and your games/applications.
I know that there are alternatives out there already; away3d, alternativa and flare3d all can load various formats and do it well, but I am a sucker for reinventing the wheel, that said the approach I am taking will have some distinct advantages.
By preprocessing the data it can be stored much more efficiently and more ready for use, so that means much much shorter parsing times and much shorter upload times. I also plan to allow the users to choose how much data they wish to export from the tool, just want vertices for point rendering – no problems, want everything including animations, normals, tangents… you got it.
Another thing I would like to add would be to enable you to write custom exporters through your own swfs so you can really tailor the output to your needs, but this will happen further down the line and only if it is needed.
So at the moment I only have a prototype but it looks promising so far, it supports over 20 3d file formats and loads of texture formats including the following:
3d – 3ds, fbx, obj, md5, bvh, dea, b3d, x, and a few more too
image – jpeg, tif, png, bmp, tga, psd, and loads more
In terms of workflow the idea is this:
1. drag your 3d file into the app
2. check in renders ok in a basic view
3. export the scene in a binary file that is built for fast and easy usage in flash.
4. embed or load the binary file in your app
5. use a swc that will be bundled with the app to extract anything you need from the binary file
6. win at life
Here are some videos of the prototype, please ignore the crappy ui, it needs a fair bit of work but most the hard stuff is done I think.
Dragged in a 3ds file followed by a tga.
Dragged in an animated DAE file and the app auto-located the texture, the skeleton is rendered as an overlay
A zombie, because… well it’s a zombie.
So I aim to release a beta version of this as soon as poss, hopefully within a month so if you are interested let me know.
I would have found something like this invaluable not that long ago and I hope it will be useful to you.
Let me know your thoughts or if you have any questions just leave them below.
ps I may also include in the swc classes for generating shaders and maybe even rendering stuff too, but we shall see what the demand is like. I just want to get more folks playing with stage3d!
pps I may also combine this with my stage3d vector renderer, but I need to put some more thought into that so don’t hold your breath just yet.
ppps The app tries to convert older version of FBX files into newer ones under the hood to increase the changes of them loading where they might fail in other apps.
pppps I might look into generating ATF files too automatically from your input textures, which might save you some time, nice if you can just drag in a psd and then boom – auto converted to an ATF.