The future of 3D in internet – part 2

18 03 2009

My previous post was intended to be a draft that I would continue on this orning. Now it seems that I published it so it will stay like that but here comes what I really would like to say with that post (more than announce that Archon2160 will at least be put on a halt).

As usual, a lot of things are happening when it comes to webdevelopment and if 3D had it’s big entrance during 2008 it will definitely expand to a whole new level during 2009. There are several wise men with open-source-beards that predict the upcoming of alternative techniques such as Unity3D. Now, for you who hasn’t been following the progress of that exciting toolset, Unity3D is, just like flash, a package of tools for creating animated stuff on the net. Complete with a very functional drag and drop GUI, 3 different programming or scripting languages and a great set of support. Now here is where similarities of Flash ends, because Unity3D is in 3D. I mean for real. It is built up from scratch with a clear focus on game development in 3D and take use of all the new hardware functionality that comes with todays OpenGL standards which allows for a whole other experience compared to Flash and it’s 3D-engines out there.

But will it really bring the revolution to the net? What about the plugin for the browser? Will people really care to install that?

Those are a few question you are hearing both in the industry and among developers. I got no answers either but if you are referring to the slow start of Silverlight and other similar products there is a big difference here. First: Silverlight didn’t really offer that much of a difference. It takes a lot of time, energy and money to switch over to a new system and if you got tools to create the same thing already you wont find the need to switch that easy. Unity3D offers something we have never, ever seen before on the web. Throw in the fact that you can publish the same 3D apps and games directly to the Iphone , using all it’s features. and even the Wii.

Secondly: The tools will now soon come for the PC and open up the scene for the big audience of developers.

Many companies are very careful to switch to something new and they are probably right. One should be. The big entrance for 3D on the web is knocking on the door but the question is if Adobe will answer to that call or if we will be forced to look outside the box to find it. But it will come, I am sure about that. One interesting thing I have found about Unity3D is that the community comes from a different industry. It is not the flashdevelopers, working with commercials and putting up nice sites on FWA. They come from the gameindustry. It’s the boys and girls that plays with XNA, Irrlicht and Ogre + a lot of big shots with lots of game experience taking their steps into the web.

So what does this mean? Am I closing this blog down jumping to Unity3D?

No, of course not. Flash and PV3D is a part of my daily work here at x-com and even if I like what I see on the other side we are all careful to spend half a year learning a whole new set of techniques before we know that this is what the market really is ready for. I will continue just as normal, cheering for PV3D, being grateful to the team, hoping for PVX (even if it’s in a total other division and should not be compared with Unity) and give you tips and tricks both specific for Papervision and general.

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12 responses

18 03 2009
Greg

Awesome! good to hear that you ‘re back and you’re still going to show us how to do cool stuff :)
I’ve heard about this Unity 3D, but it sounds and look complicated.

18 03 2009
Antriel

I think it will take too much time for something as Unity 3D to be widely used, even thought it looks great, not many people will install plugin just for trying some game. Releasing some really great game(mmo or something) could help but still.. everything new got problems.. consider just security, stabilty… and as the time go.. it may be possible that flash will counter-attack with something.

19 03 2009
ash

Maybe not with the same platform reach, but 3d on the web via a browser plugin has been tried before with Wild Tangent and Director.

I’m not sure 3d on the web will ever take off. Adding another dimension doesn’t automatically make a greater experience.

Am I worried about game performance in Flash? No, because it’s not an appropriate platform. It could be, but it isn’t. I prefer to do all my gaming on a console, be it casual or serious. Flash will always have its place for vectors, animations, and now RIAs.

19 03 2009
blackmeoo

Try by heart with our way!

20 03 2009
Devo

Hi,

What are your thoughts now after the Unity3D 2.5 release?

20 03 2009
ajirenius

Unity3D sure isn’t flash and I am certain it will be no threat to the flash platform as they are both filling two different gaps ( compared to Silverlight which tries to do the same thing as flash). This said , I do believe that 2009 and 2010 will be the big years for 3D evolution on the net. Still this will not come from the webdevelopers but from the casual game scene and online portals at start.
Unity3D 2.5 has just been installed and the improvements are great in my opinion. Biggest thing is of course that all the tools are now available for the PC and will therefor open up the scene for many indie developers out there.

27 03 2009
Pete Mc

For a radically different view of the future of 3D on the net, check this out…
http://gdc.gamespot.com/video/6206692/
http://www.onlive.com/

I think we need to differenciate between casual games and serious games. For casual games Flash will win for a long, long time as it’s so easy to develope the simple stuff and rebrand old ideas (thinking mostly 2D). I really like the Unity3D philosophy, of making 3D game development accessible to everybody. On the otherhand having a highend video camera doesn’t make you Steven Spielberg. What I see right now atleast is that most Unity games are just a quick rehash of the demo projects. Development cycles and the skillset needed for 3D is so much wider than with “one man show” flash development, that it’s a challenge to make something really nice within the budget of a casual marketing game.

For serious online 3d gaming, onLive seems like a pretty formidable platform that threatens to make ALL gaming, online gaming.

Ofcourse the title of you piece is 3D online, and not necessarily gaming. For interfaces that use 3d elements I think Flash is going to win for a good while aswell, and it’s probably worth remembering flash10 is not the last version. It would surprise me if z-sorting, model import and more GPU utilisation are not on the drawing board for the next release. It may prove that Silverlight is a good thing for Flash programmers as it forces Adobe to develope more and more cool features (that MS will copy verbatim as they are doing now, go on deny it!!)

6 06 2009
Wred

I’ve been building online multiplayer games for well over a decade. We’ve seen technologies come and go and yet I’m hearing the same arguments year after year. There are plenty of platforms for game devs. I’m frankly surprised no one mentionned Director/Shockwave which has had 3D hw acceleration for years. There’s also WildTangent. But I have to admit that most of my dev work over the past few years has been almost exclusively Flash based. I love PV3D and work with it’s limitations. One has to believe that Flash will continue to be around for a long time because it has the largest market penetration of any platform. MM achieved a coup de grace by including it with Win98 and it has been bundled with most OSs since then. With nVidia’s recent announcement about Flash HW acceleration, I know it’ll continue to be a viable game dev platform. Question is when the hell can we get our hands on PVX. ;)

17 04 2010
james braselton

hi there nintendo 3DS probaly lets you see the internet in 3D with out glasses if intenet conected becuase you play games in true 3D with out glasses

21 12 2010
Trent Sterling

Sad to hear this project was abandoned… Any chance that Molehill will revive this blog?

12 06 2011
ajirenius

Hi Trent, half a year later a reply comes :P … YES Molehill will revive the whole project and all the tutorials will now be rewritten to suit the new technique. I’ve got a lot of faith in Molehill but will make it easy for both me and my readers not to go into the OpenGL api directly. I will use one of the middleware API’s currently under development to achieve the goal so it will probably be very similar to this blog (which used Papervision) at the moment I am rewriting the code, articles and tutorials and will shortly announce in which way this blog (and game project) will continue.
Best regards

Andreas Jirenius

13 06 2011
Trent Sterling

Great to hear! It was this blog that gotten me into Papervision/flash game dev. Looking forward to some updates!

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