Where were we? ... On part 1 I had introduced some general concepts about game engines and other components and on part 2 I had presented some examples for each category. Well, now is time to reduce the spectrum to .NET world.
There may be a lot of well-known components that I'll forget to mention (as wll as new additions made to the market and upcoming ones), so I recommend you for the n-th time to pay a visit to "DevMaster.net" and check the "3D Engines Database" section.
Not too many components were built for .NET using C# from scratch, but I can remember two of them which did: Purple# and Haddd.
Purple# was one of the first engines to appear that were written using C# 1.1 and if I remember well -please correct me if I'm wrong- it'd be ported to version 2.0 of .NET. However, things have been quiet for a while since no news have been posted and the forum's activity has almost stopped. Also, last time I checked the "Downloads" section had no files to download (?).
Tip: you can always use the rate of new posts, both for news and forum's threads, as a proxy of the activity related to the component's site. I mean, whether a component is still updated or under development, whether it has been abandoned by the developers and or its users, etc.
Haddd was one the most (relatively) recent ones to appear and was pretty much impressive. Open source, its rendering process was designed for the use of shaders (mostly, model 2 ones), a physics middleware was successfully plugged in and some AI implementations were interesting. Unfortunately, Haddd project was suddenly stopped. Fear not! Fortunately, the source code for the latest review was distributed free to the community and now there's a new successor: Jadengine.
What about components ported to .NET and or targeted for .NET but built upon non-NET components? "Err ... what? Please rephrase ..."
I remember AXIOM3D. This engine was built upon OGRE and let me tell you it was quite good on the offered features and open source. One of the things I liked most about it was the BSP implementation.
Then it came Realmforge GDK. Built upon AXIOM3D -but from a different team, this component was meant to ease your game-creation experience by providing a handy GUI which one could use to set and edit your worlds properties and such.
Both components were discontinued. Fear not ..... again! Visual3D.Net is on its way.
But, what is it? Well, to sum up, the next phase of evolution that results from the cumulative experiences of the developers of Realmforge3D (the original developer of AXIOM3D joined the project a few months ago). Correct me if I'm wrong but it has been built from scratch using C# and MDX so it's not AXIOM nor OGRE dependant anymore.
For what it can be seen in the screenshots and read in the forums, Visual3D.net promises to be a very useful framework when released with support to .NET Framework v2.0 and XNA Framework. A Community Technology Preview ("CTP") of Visual3D.net is comming this October so if you're interested don't forget to visit its site and sign up to get the latest news about the CTP.
Its nemesis? Or at least, for what I understand, TorqueX ... Garagegames' future product which is a combination of its newest product ("Torque Game Builder") and some features of other products (like "Torque Game Engine" and "Torque Shader Engine") all ported to XNA Framework. This also promises to be very useful so as to reduce coding time.
Some videos have been released to the public showing TorqueX's features and a public beta has been announced (even though no release date has been confirmed yet), so again if you're interested, go and sign up to receive the newsletter on the product.
As already said, Visual3D.net and TorqueX will both support XNA framework, so this match is going to be interesting ...
"Wait! You have mentioned XNA for the third time now ... but what is XNA?"
According to XNA's FAQ it "is not acronymed". XNA Framework is a collection of classes and tools that can be used for the production of DirectX-enabled programs with VisualStudio 2005 that can be run in both, PC and XBox 360 platforms. One of its most important features is the content pipeline it offers (a handy way of "incrementally" deal with your assets for the game, like meshes, music and sounds).
Think of it like the successor of Managed DirectX 2.0, given that it has been recently announced that no further development shall be provided for MDX 2.0. Sooooo, when you choose a component for your project bear this information in mind in order to avoid ugly surprises.
"Ok, but what is XNA Game Studio Express?". XNA GSE is the ... you know what? Just read it here (I promise I'll post my comments about it in future posts but currently you can find some source code for it I've already posted in this blog).
I cannot bring the series to a proper end without mentioning some other components that supports .NET technologies through the provision of wrappers which are worth checking:
- SDL.NET, and
Remember MAC developers to check "Unity3D": based on its features, users' comments, demos and examples, this framework seems to have nothing to envy to PC-platform's ones. And yes, for those of us who may consider buying a MAC, Unity3D can produce cross-platform executables.
To sum up, as you can guess for what you have read in the whole series of posts, there are a lot of engines, middleware and frameworks which will help you produce videogames from square one (as well as, in some cases, other multimedia applications). Thus, the whole process of selecting the one/s for your project demands a high amount of man/hour efforts so as not to fail by making a wrong choice. Therefore, before starting a project make sure you spend some time to develop a systematic method to evaluate the component candidates efficiently in order to seek and get optimal results.
Well folks, I hope you have enjoyed reading "Game Engines And Others" as well as found it useful.
'till next time. See ya!