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New tutorials on transparency and shadows on our wiki

Per our recent post, Software Developer’s Journal has published our article about shadows and transparency in Alternativa3D 8.27. Now we are sharing both parts of the article on our wiki as well.

Read about transparency

Read about shadows

Since the article was written, the engine has grown to include omni light shadows, in addition to directional light shadows. Omni light shadows are not covered in the article, but they are very similar to directional light shadows and you are welcome to learn more here.

Constrained mode support

FlashPlayer 11.4 was released recently and now many more users will be able to use  hardware  3D-rendering in Flash. Earlier versions of FlashPlayer 11 support hardware rendering for devices   manufactured after 2008. The constrained mode extends this support to all devices released since 2005. For example, almost one third  of TankiOnline players will be able to use GPU rendering thanks to the constrained mode support. (Around two third of the players already have GPU support and less than ten percent still use the old version of the Flash player that doesn’t support hardware rendering at all) Incidentally, your application should be ready to work in constrained mode as well as FlashPlayer on the user side. This is easy to achieve with Alternativa3D 8.32.

Continue reading Constrained mode support

Games created with Alternativa3D 8. Combat Sector

Hello there, let me introduce myself.
My name is Leonid Gaev and I am working on developing the Alternativa3D 8 engine. We already have some accomplishments to show you and that is what my post today is going to cover.

Just recently, Media Pillar LLC, a company from the Russian city of Perm, released Combat Sector, an online game developed on the Alternativa3D 8 engine. Even though the developers say that the game is in alpha testing, it is already interesting to play. The players have access to a wide range of options: they can build up their character, upgrade armor, weapons and devices, and buy boosters. They also can access different gameplay modes: Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, and Domination. But what is really cool is that these guys have no intention of stopping there. Even more modes are in the pipeline.

 

The game drew me in because I can rather quickly evolve and progress as a player, even as I’m loving the weapons-blazin’ action (which is why the game was created in the first place).

I should warn you that this post is written for game developers and those who want to get ahead in the gaming industry. I will describe how Media Pillar achieved its success, more specifically: which capabilities of our engine fuelled their successful efforts to make their project.

Let’s go!

 

Shadows

This is one of the key features in the engine. The benefit of shadows is that they automatically make the picture more appealing and three-dimensional. This 3D-ness is achieved because with shadows, the eyes can more easily evaluate the distance between an object and the surface on which that object is located. In other words, if you look at a character without shadows, it looks like it is floating in the air. But with shadows, your eyes can definitely see that the character is standing on the ground.

 

Lighting

This is the cornerstone of the engine. Some games pass up lighting. Those games use one of the most simple types of materials, what we call TextureMaterial. Objects made from that material don’t react to light. Combat Sector uses dynamic lighting and StandardMaterial, one of the main types of light-reactive materials. Light sources contribute to the intensity and color of each pixel in the object. In practice, the intensity depends on the angle at which the light from the source hits the object. Glare is an intense reflection of light from the object on the camera. In shaders, it is calculated as a separate component of lighting.

Lightmaps

Lightmaps are the light “baked into” textures. This is a way of displaying static lighting and saving CPU cycles. Lightmaps are also good because they don’t require high-resolution textures. They are frequently used on ground surfaces and other objects with tiled textures, when a single texture is repeated over the object. Lightmaps were originally designed in order to save CPU time.

Vegetation

Media Pillar didn’t spare efforts to create animated vegetation, either. Even though it doesn’t impact gameplay, earth vegetation creates the pleasant feeling of a live picture. What is really cool is that this vegetation interacts with the characters when they run on it.

Palm Trees

These are low-poly models with transparent textures. This approach is often used for implementing vegetation objects. They appear as highly detailed objects, but this is actually thanks to using transparent textures and alpha testing.

Special Effects

By using a relatively inexpensive technology (animated sprites), you can achieve good results in making pictures interactive and lively. In essence, sprites represent a flat object that is always facing the camera. If you remember such standard-bearers as Wolfenstein 3D (1992) and Doom (1993), they were the first to implement characters by using sprites. Remarkably, such old technology is still effective and is used to create various effects. For example, in Combat Sector, these are effects for fire, bullet holes, lighting (emphasis) around first aid kits and armor, sparks of electricity, and more…

Skeletal Animation

Alternativa3D allows displaying objects with skeletal animation. Most frequently, this technology is used to animate characters. This type of animation is efficient because instead of animating the vertex of the object, you can animate only the bones, and vertexes will become animated because in the bones you specify the impact on the vertex of the object. In Alternativa3D, this is done by the Skin class. Cheap and with good results: just what is needed for browser games.

Animation With Blending

A couple of words about this technique. In addition to skeletal animation, Alternativa3D includes animation of objects with blending. By applying it to Skins, you can make smooth transitions between any pair of animations. Blending is used a great deal in slashers so that players don’t notice any jerks between blows. Cool way to switch between animations.

Particle System

This is a mechanism for creating sophisticated special effects. For those who remember the demo of the Tank i 2.0 prototype, it used a particle system for gunfire, fire, and smoke. Media Pillar used a particle system to implement smoke from fire and fumes from lava.

Dynamism

With Combat Sector, Media Pillar set out to create a dynamic game. The core of gameplay is hacking-and-slashing action between gladiators in arenas of the future. That’s why Media Pillar was looking for a high-performance engine. And for us, performance is one of the foremost product requirements. We use simple and efficient algorithms where they are necessary. For historical reasons, the performance of browser games is lower than desktop games. So we try to squeeze out the max.

Media Pillar achieved excellent results, I think. They took advantage of almost everything available in AlternativaPlatform products. In addition to Alternativa3D, this was AlternativaGUI, AlternativaCore, and AlternativaPhysics.

I also want to congratulate the users of our engine: the browser game industry has now come out with full-fledged projects. Today we can proudly recommend the top five projects created with our engine to you. Many of them will soon approach the release version stage. I will write about them in due course.

But for now, I suggest that you look at Combat Sector on your own. Be careful though: this game will draw you in like no other!

Links:

Alternativa3D 8
Combat Sector
AlternativaCore
AlternativaGUI
AlternativaPhysics

FlashGamm Moscow 2012

Last week in Moscow, the Flash Gamm’12 conference successfully ended.
The conference had about 800 attendees. Our company was represented by:

  • The producer of the “Tanki Online” project and CTO of AlternativaPlatform Anton Volkov who in the “History of mistakes of a successful project” presentation, told about the inevitable problems in the life of an ambitious online game and about experience we got from them.
  • Training Center Manager Mikhail Sukhoterin and Software Engineer Andrey Andreev shared their experiences on the use of Stage3D on mobile platforms in report “Flash 3D on mobile? That’s easy!”
  • Chief Marketing Officer Roman Epishin had several meetings with partners.

Also on our stand, we provided the opportunity to play in Tanki Online on tablet computers and on a typical computer. Continue reading FlashGamm Moscow 2012

Graphics acceleration using Flash Player 11

In 2011 the Flash Player 11 was released with support graphics acceleration on the graphics card. Prior to that, all calculations were performed on the CPU, and developers had to put up with a restriction on the number of triangles, etc.The Tanki Online Game was developed on the Alternativa3D 7 engine under Flash Player 10 and the average FPS players have been 20-25. To speed up the schedule, we decided to make the game support Flash Player 11. And that’s what happened:

Without hardware acceleration:

With hardware acceleration:

To improve the graphics you need to install Adobe Flash Player 11, update the graphics driver and Flash Player settings to enable hardware acceleration.

Unfortunately, the Linux operating system does not support this functionality, so that is why it will not increase FPS.

Also on the Adobe website there is a list of video cards that do not currently support hardware acceleration of Flash Player.

AlternativaPlatform celebrates an anniversary!

Friends and colleagues, we, the AlternativaPlatform company, are five years old. Today, December 2, 2011, we had our first anniversary!

Five years ago, in early December 2006, a team of GRTOV studio completely stopped working on websites and retooled to work on a game called Alternativa Game. This an infinitely ambitious project remained on paper, but instead we launched Tanki Online and a whole bunch of innovative technologies – Alternativa3D, AlternativaCore and others. And indeed the “group” has grown from seven to more than fifty people. Behind – the sea of achievements, ahead – there is an ocean of opportunities!

Happy Birthday, AlternativaPlatform. Thanks to all our relatives, friends, colleagues and partners for their help and support. Go on!