Weekly Links #41
Having recently worked on two projects that involve voxels, I couldn't help but notice that for an obsolete rendering technology there seem to be quite a few game engines based on them. Most are quite different from the kind of thing I do (though many seem to rely on procedural generation... why am I not surprised). But a friend just pointed me at the current Humble Indie Bundle, and it includes one project that features remarkable similarities to my own work.
Note the pseudo-3D camera (with just two degrees of freedom!) and the very small scene size — 128x128x64, probably chosen because it's near the psychological treshold of one million voxels. It also has physics — and I don't understand why everyone sees "voxels" and thinks "destructible environments" — plus a manual editor of the sort I recently criticized, but which may work well enough if all you're ever making with it is tiny "3D tiles", as the case appears to be here.
Also, why is everyone so keen on releasing their engine and toolchain before they have a solid game made with them?
In unrelated news, Nightwrath alerts me to a three-part post-mortem about porting a PC game to smartphones, and while it's worth a read, most of the lessons it teaches should be obvious:
- if you don't have the source code to your engine, you don't have an engine, period;
- more generally, avoid proprietary technologies such as DirectX, because you will want to port your game at some point;
- if you need better performance, cut down on the fluff -- players won't care how pretty your game is if it runs at 5 FPS;
- be ingenious and adapt the game to the target platform rather than clinging to some "grand vision";
- accessibility, too, beats fancy looks.
More surprising was reading about the troubles with the audio subsystem — guess I've been spoiled by the sound support in Pygame — and that licensing proprietary video codecs was such a big issue that they went with the Theora codec so many people disdain... and of course it was good enough. Of course.
Last but not least, VoxelDesc now comes with mouse support, and is actually built for Java 6 as advertised. At least I caught that before my users did. More documentation and samples are forthcoming as well.