Today I want to talk about Minko’s API. Whats it looks like and how it feels to work with it. This is the first time ever I show some actual code using Minko. There is a great buzz around Molehill and the next release of the Flash Player in general. Please note that evet if – for obvious reasons – this post does not use the Molehill-powered version of Minko, the APIs look “pretty much” the same.
The goal of the post is for people to see what it looks like. Feedbacks are very much welcome and would be greatly appreciated!
Before we start, here is the (very) simple application we will build:
I’m really excited to announce Minko (which is, by the way, the final name for my 3D library) has reached a new level: pixel shader integration! Pixel shaders are little programs that run on each pixel and can modify their final color. They are often written in C-like languages and in this precise case we use Pixel Bender, the shader language introduced with Flash 10.
In this post I will:
Explain how any 3D scene is built when using Minko
Explain how pixel shaders are integrated in the 3D scene
Explain how pixel shaders are built using Pixel Bender
Show you a very simple demo of the kind of effects pixel shaders will provide
… or at least that’s the plan! The next meeting of the Tonton Flexers – the closest thing to a “french Flash user group” – is taking place the 23rd of this March and I’ll be there to present my 3D library.
I would be more than happy to talk about the software, the way I built it and the technical choices that drove its development. I will also try to emphasize what makes this library different through a few demonstrations.
Depending on the agenda of one of my co-worker, we might also present a very cool piece of software I never spoke about!
You can read more about the event here (in french).
The following video demonstrates a new “voice gesture” library targeting the Flash Platform. As you might have guessed, those “voice gestures” are pretty much like “mouse gestures” but they are activated by voice only. I guess it uses some kind of voice learning/recognition algorithm. I can’t stress enough how trhilled I am to see this kind of new and powerful software coming to Flash. This enables a whole new kind of usages and applications…
Update: corrected a few glitches in the bounding sphere creation routine.
Optimization is always important. But when it comes to 3D for the Flash Platform, it’s an everyday battle. The first ideas that come to mind are to avoid:
redrawing the same regions : each pixel value must be set once and only once
rendering invisible objects : objects that are out of sight still take a lot of CPU horsepower
While Flash takes care of the first one in its very renderer, the second one is not handled. But that is something we can easily address!
The method is called “frustum culling”. The big picture is that every mesh is approximated using a bounding volume (typically a sphere or a box). If the bounding volume is visible, the corresponding mesh is rendered. The two following pictures show the frustum culling caught in action:
For those who have never heard of “augmented reality” (AR), here is Wikipedia‘s definition:
Augmented reality (AR) is a term for a live direct or indirect view of a physical real-world environment whose elements are merged with (or augmented by) virtual computer-generated imagery – creating a mixed reality.
Sounds a bit blury? Well… I’ll try to make it clearer with a demo…
First, you will have to print a little black and white “marker”. The AR software scans the webcam picture and look for this very marker. When it is found, its 3D position, rotation and scale are computed and used to embed a 3D object. You can found the marker here and it looks like this:
Loading and rendering Quake 2’s maps is a challenge because Flash 10 doesn’t handle complex 3D geometry very well. But what about a smaller count of polygons ? Say a 3D model for example… already done! What about an animated 3D model then?
Details, pictures and a demo application right after the jump…
The Quake-series is really awesome. Not only in terms of gameplay but also technically. Quake 1, 2 and 3 are especially impressive. No wonder why Quake’s graphics engine, maps or models file formats have been reused in many many games such as Half Life, Call of Duty or Medal of Honnor! So why not in your own Flash 10 game?
There are so many reasons why loading Quake 2 files inside the Flash player would be considered as just “impossible”. Performance would be the first and main one. One would just consider that Flash is not fast enough to display complex 3D graphics, not even those of a game as old as Quake 2 (published in 1996!). But using Flash 10 latests features such as the Vector and GraphicsTrianglePath classes, it is actually quite doable!
Details, pictures and a demo application right after the jump!