4Feb

Valentine's Day

Valentine’s Day is a day full of feelings, hugs, kisses. In this day, you can turn around and you’ll find chocolates in heart’s shaped boxes, flowers, love cards and even mariachis singing love songs to get the love of your life. We are romantic people too! And in this day we want to give you our love!

Please, take our beating heart and use it to create your own ode to love.


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Full size here

This lovely example is ready for you! It is pretty simple, but it contains a few gems you’ll definitely find useful to include in your projects ;)

We have included a few small utils to render dynamic text using 3D fonts, so you can use any font you want but in 3D!

It is divided into two steps.

First, exporting the charset from 3Ds Max, just open the (included) script, type in the font name you want and execute. You’ll get all your characters ready to export to Flare3D.

Foont 3Ds MAX script

The second step, is required to generate the font XML descriptor. There may be many ways of doing this, but the simplest we found is using the Bitmap Font Generator tool, which is a very small, easy and useful app. Just go to Options, Font Settings and select the same font you used in the 3ds max script. Then save the font and you’re done! you should get a *.fnt (which is an XML) and one or many images, but we only need the *.fnt file.

Bitmap Font Generator

The AS3 part then is where you’ll find all the fun, you can either create a Font3D and set a text, or simply use the drawText method in the render event to draw text as many times as you want.

font3d_as3

Also, a small FLSL is included to animate the heart using the GPU, you’ll probably find other uses for it too ;)

Download the code and assets, build your own Valentine’s Day app and spread the love around.

All you need is love, love, love is all you need.

Make a different Valentine’s day with Flare3D :-)

A month ago, we showed a first preview of the new collision detection and physics library. We haven’t stopped since then and we are still working hard to include it in an upcoming release! This new engine was to be based on a new and innovative approach and also was to be capable of solving collision and physics behavior as we have never seen before in Flash. If you haven’t seen the video yet and you are wondering if that is possible? You can find the answer bellow. Thousands of objects, all working at beautiful 60 fps.

From the moment that we obtained the first results, a large  smile was put in our faces! :-D

A different approach

Let me talk a bit about the direction we’ve taken. When we looked at some games, we realized that a lot of them, don’t necessarily use physics, or in some cases they just fake it, but most of them have a need for collision detection. That doesn’t mean they don’t use physics, but they may not be simulation games either. Keeping this in mind, we faced the problem from a non-traditional point of view. Just to start, the system must be able to solve collisions in a highly optimized way. And after that, physics behavior may be applied on the objects involved. This approach is far more stable than traditional physics simulations, so it is very important to have a more controlled game environment. What we mean by a ‘controlled environment, is avoiding the unpredicted behavior that you may get in typical physics simulations, but without taking away all the fun :)

classic video games

Only few games needs real physics, but all of them need collision detection!

Collisions and objects (the core)

In your app you’ll be able to interact with collisions between different kinds of objects.

The available kinds of collisions are: ray, mesh, sphere and box collision (coming next: capsule, convex hull), and the objects affected by these collisions can be classified into Static, Dynamic, Rigid Bodies and Trigger, each one with its own behavior.

Flare3D New Collision System

new collision types will be available

New features will be fully integrated with Flare3D (engine and tools) and you can use physics/collision by code or define properties and behavior in a visual way using Flare3D IDE. The whole development was made “in house”, fully made by the Flare3D Team from scratch, which a ridiculously high performance! This is 100% AS3 (No FLASCC or cross compiling)

 

Who will benefit the most from the new engine?

We can say that the obvious answer is Game Developers. Game developers will be the group that will take most advantage of the new collision system (Especially those that are doing mobile apps). But, at this point we are sure that it can be used in a lot of other apps, because it provides a unique real solution for collision detection in low performance devices like tablets and smartphones!

Simple physicsfor game developers

Game developers! This is your lucky day!

The first mobile test

Yellow Planet, our tutorial game that recently was updated to Flare3D latest version, was our first mobile test for the new collisions system. The game is the same, we only optimized the assets to make them “mobile friendly” and we changed the controls to allow game play without a keyboard. In the original version, collisions were the most intensive resource consumer. Now, collisions only take less than 1% :-D

YellowPlanet on Mobile

Yellow Planet running on New iPad and BlackBerry 10

A little help from my (Flare3D) friends

To make your life easier, the new collision engine will be released including a super pack of mini-games showing how to use the new engine in a real project! This will be the ideal starting point for many developers!

 

Do you want more?

Check out our talk in Flash Online Conference #6 where we talked about Collisions and Physics in Video Games (our talk begins at 4:00:30 ).

Remember, this is not another Physics engine. This is a custom and powerful engine that we did it to make you happier! And we think that we did it ;-)

New technologies always have been used to improve the education experience, and Flare3D is not the exception, some months ago we talked with Zachery Allen, Project Manager for National Energy Center of Excellence at Bismarck State College (BSC), and he showed us a couple of fantastic demos made with Flare3D. BSC offers degreed energy programs and one bachelor of applied science in energy management and the dev team, found in Flare3D a flexible tool to generate 3D interactive content and simulations. They create interactive applications and videos that are used in different training courses.

Create 3D content for educational purposes is not easier. We talk with Zachery about his experience using Flare3D and the way it is used in their projects.

Why did you choose use 3D and why Flare3D as engine? Is this a new experience into the classroom or have you had a previous experience with other similar technologies?

Bismarck State College has been offering online courses and degree programs in the Energy Industry since 2000.  As part of this offering, the college has put significant effort into what we call Interactive Learning Tools (ILTs).  ILTs range from animations to remote laboratories.  In 2010, we added 3D capability to our team using Autodesk 3ds Max.  Our users are online students so we need to deploy our ILTs using standard web platforms.  Since Adobe Flash is our preferred authoring tool and rendering our 3D projects to scripted videos was not the experience we wanted for our students, we began to search for other methods to present our 3D projects to our students.  This is when we found Flare3D.  Although we evaluated other products, Flare3D seemed the most mature and had the support (examples, wiki and forums) needed take our existing Flash and 3ds Max knowledge and allow us to create fully immersive and interactive 3D ILTs.

How was the experience teaching Flare3D? Was it hard to learn? Did your students get quick results?

We are still integrating Flare3D into our development team.  Since we are a team of multiple developers and graphic designers we typically prototype then template new systems/technologies.  In the case of Flare3D, we have established publishing procedures for 3ds Max, created Flash templates, and created reusable AS3 classes that the developers and designers can use to create new interactive 3D projects.

team

The most difficult part of working with Flare3D was the fact that the Flash developers tended to over-think and be intimidated by 3D.  To rectify this situation, any time we use a 3D model used in Flash we first create custom AS3 classes that have non-3D properties.  For example working with a valve in 3D space requires knowledge of 3D concepts and the Flare3D API.  However, the valve also has to be operated by a user and be part of a larger simulation model.  Our solution is to write a valve class that has all the 3D functionality provided by Flare3D, but abstracts it from the Flash designers and developers by providing simple functions and properties such as “open” and “close”.  This allows our non-3D Flash developers and designers to use 3D in their projects without having to worry about 3D.  This extra step takes some time but allows us to leverage our existing Flash and AS3 expertise without having to train all our developers on 3D and Flare3D.  It also provides us with a reusable library of 3D object classes making subsequent development easier and less time consuming.  As an example of how well this works, it now takes only hours to produce a 3D flythrough from the time we receive the 3ds Max model.

You showed us two different demos that involves gaming and 3D simulation, both with educational purposes. Could you tell me about the people that participated on the development and the amount of time that you spent working on it?

The demos that we showed you were created by Bismarck State College’s Curriculum Development Center (CDC); a team of 5 developers, designers, and programmers.  The projects started as requests from Faculty who desired the tools for their courses.  After an initial design and data gathering phase, the 3D model was developed by our 3D designer using 3Ds Max.  Once complete, the model was exported to the Flare3D format and sent to our AS3 developers and graphic designers.  The next task was to create the 3D base classes (such as movement, scaling, loading, etc.) then integrate the 3D objects into AS3 objects for the designers and simulation modelers.  This last step allows our graphic designers to work with the objects in 3D space without having to know 3D or anything about 3D space.  The simulation models (a hydraulic model for the pipe pig project) were created simultaneously while the graphic designers developed the user interface.  The last step of development was merging the 3D models, the simulation models, and the user interfaces.  The projects were then sent to the original requesting Faculty for functional testing.  After a debug period and review the projects were moved into production and added to our online courses.

Bolt Torque demo

Bolt Torque demo

In the case of the pipe pig project, three CDC members, one Faculty member, and one engineer were engaged in the development over a span of around 3 to 4 months.   However, this was also our first project with Flare3D and we have since dramatically decreased development times by reusing code and becoming more proficient with Flare3D.

The demos look very nice, they include polished details and shows that 3D is useful for education! Did you consider using it as new learning material for your courses?

The demos are actually real production projects requested by Bismarck State College’s Energy Faculty.  In fact, they are already in courses running for our students now.  They are also used as part of our marketing initiatives and industry offerings.  Multiple energy companies have seen the demos (and our other 3D projects) and are very excited about the ability to use 3D environments for training and education.

Pipe Pig, interactive app

Pipe Pig, interactive app

Are you using Flare3D in other kind of project? (like augmented reality, control panels, real time monitoring, mobile solutions, etc… )

As we become more proficient and efficient using 3D we will be incorporating it into more of our animations, simulations, and remote laboratories (real-time monitoring and control).  The Energy Industry is a critical part of peoples’ lives, so students often can’t train on real equipment.  Bismarck State College has led the way in developing interactive tools to replace the hands-on training that is needed by students.  3D will play a large role in providing students the ability to learn concepts, equipment, and procedures that they do not have access to in real life.

Flare3D has allowed us take our 3D projects and integrate them with our existing development expertise in Adobe Flash while allowing students from anywhere in the world to access our training using just a web browser.  A demo of multiple types of Interactive Learning Tools (ILTs), including 3D, developed by Bismarck State College can be found here: http://www.bscenergy.com/onlinepres.

 

About Bismarck State College and the National Energy Center of Excellence (NECE)

The National Energy Center of Excellence (NECE) is located at Bismarck State College in Bismarck North Dakota. The NECE is home to many nationally-recognized energy industry degree and training programs. The NECE offers eleven degreed energy programs and one bachelor of applied science in energy management degreed program, as well as certificate programs.

NECE

The National Energy Center of Excellence

On-campus degree students use our world-class, one-of-a-kind lab equipment designed to prepare the next generation of energy industry employees.

Online degree students enjoy the flexibility of completing courses or a degree program built for those who cannot attend on-campus courses. The online courses offer simulations, 3D animations, discussions and real-time lab sessions operating real equipment to offer the participant the same hands-on experience as the on-campus students.

The NECE also offers a wide range of industry training options to assist in maintaining certification and training requirements, educating new hires or as a supplement to existing training programs.

We believe that to have a good set of 3D assets is essential for our projects and we also know that get good 3D artists is a hard task too. When Alex from CGTRADER asked us if we wanted participate in a new challenge where the goal was create 3D models for video games our answer was immediate -”Yes, sure!”

CGTRADER has a large community of great artists and Flare3D has a great developer’s community that needs this kind of resources.

CGTRADER - 3D Game model Challenge

The “3D Game Model Challenge” was launched a couple of months ago and now we can present some of winners works! We are very impressed with their work’s quality and we want share it with you in a Flare3D version! You can rotate and zoom them to appreciate in detail the great work made by these artists.

We give special thanks to winners who provided their models to be included in this post! – Thanks guys! :-D

Winner – Best 3D model

The great Beast made by Wandah Kurniawan Prosetiyo is officially the best game model made for this challenge.

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3D Model – 1st Runner Up

Pianpat Ronruangrit presents an amazing Pit Crew. Four high quality detailed models that could be present in your next racing game.

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3D Model – 2nd Runner Up

rombynas rose to the 2nd place with his realistic British MBT Challenger 2 model. Are you looking for a tank for your next game? This is the man!

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The challenge, also best 3D portfolios in the contest were:

3D portfolio - Winner

The winner in this category is humster3D and he uploaded 80 models for the contest!  check out his gallery and discover why he is the winner!

3D portfolio - 1st Runner Up

Are you looking for a wide set of spaceships? Then Bogdan is definitely the best choice for it.

Check it now and enjoy his amazing space based set!

3D portfolio – 2nd Runner Up

3DArtisan uploaded 37 game-ready models for the challenge and they are really different between them. Planes, soldiers, cars, buildings, etc… All of them are really cool models!

 

Do you like contests? Are you a ‘master’ making Social games, Mobile or FLSL shaders?

Please add a comment in this post talking about what kind of challenge you’ll like for participate!

We are waiting for suggestions! :-D