Monday, June 4, 2007

Engine Search

Coffee Quest fans will probably be disappointed when they read this entry, as I have very little progress to report on Revenge development. In fact most of the ten hours allocated for this project this week have not been used so I can't even tell you if a new build will be happening this week. Work this week is revolving around finally implementing a tile class (in AS3) and if there is enough time I will try to get a map class also finished with a very simple viewer so the result would be a map viewer. I honestly don't think that I will get all that done in the allocated time, which means there probably will not be an update as there will not be a second build until I get the map view functional. While I normally get most my hours in on Sunday, yesterday was spent looking at a variety of game engines which would be used to develop a commercial game when I am between contracts again.

A game engine is what you use for building a game. This is essentially what I am creating with my CQfs project that is being used for the creation of CQR, CQ5 and CQ6. The engine used for these games, due to the fact that it is being written for online Flash games, is much less capable than what is necessary for a commercial quality game. Once Flash has proper hardware 3D support and better resource management, it may be possible to expand CQfs into a much more powerful engine. Even with the FS project, I am planning on using a 3rd party software 3D library. The problem with software 3D is that it is so limiting. A commercial game that uses 3D hardware can throw huge numbers of polygons at the screen allowing for incredible looking images. In addition, hardware supports all sorts of effects and special per-pixel shaders that simply is not practical to do in software.

All of this fancy stuff comes at the cost of complexity. While I could certainly write my own game engine, it would be a multi-year task. Using an existing engine saves a huge amount of time and allows me to focus on making the game. The problem is that there are so many engines that choosing one is quite a challenge in itself. My lack of a budget is actually not that big of a factor, as many of the engines are low cost (for instance, the C4 engine is only $200) with a lot of them being Open Source (Crystal Space being the big one here). The best way of cutting down the options was to require Mac, Linux and Windows support which cut the field down to about fifty. I will go over my short list of entries in future posts.

Apple did get back to me, which was nice, but they basically didn't tell me anything. I don't know why the Smashing Pumpkins albums are no longer available as plus (DRM free) albums, but do know that they are trying to work out some issues. Not sure who has the issues but do hope that this gets resolved as I do like Smashing Pumpkins and don't want to have to remove them from my favorite bands list.

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