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A Perusal of Game Engines and APIs

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1 A Perusal of Game Engines and APIs
A Casual Glance at the Big Picture for New Game Devs presented by Jon Davis A Perusal of Game Engines and APIs

2 Objectives Take a quick glance at the several prominent game engines and APIs Application-specific APIs such as graphics and sound Broad solution engines On different platforms Windows Mac OS X Linux consoles mobile multi-platform

3 Observations Game development involves a specialized skill set
Game tools have traditionally been as fragmented as their hardware / OS host environments … But less so now than ever! There seem to be more game engines than games! On the other hand, there are very few polished game engines capable of producing high quality games

4 Selecting A Technology
Technology choice precedes initial development by defining its basic essence Technology choice provides functional options and imposes limits on others Technology choice defines user prerequisites Technology choice contributes to developer experience and/or bias

5 Dimensions To Evaluate (To Name A Few)
Development Environment Functional Requirements Install Base Environment Performance Requirements

6 Dimensions To Evaluate (To Name A Few)
Development Environment Programming language, IDE support Availability of complementing APIs Extensibility (plug-ins, scripts) Supporting tools (level designer, mesh converters / importers, audio library management, etc.) Functional Requirements Install Base Environment Performance Requirements

7 Dimensions To Evaluate (To Name A Few)
Development Environment Functional Requirements 2D scroller? 3D MMORPG? Simple puzzle? Heavy 3D physics? Basic bleeps and bloops? Advanced 3D multi-track audio? Install Base Environment Performance Requirements

8 Dimensions To Evaluate (To Name A Few)
Development Environment Functional Requirements Install Base Environment Operating System Hardware Requirements Runtime Prerequisites Performance Requirements

9 Dimensions To Evaluate (To Name A Few)
Development Environment Functional Requirements Install Base Environment Performance Requirements Renderer is playable and convincing Minimum 30 FPS (rendered Frames per Second) Target at least 60 FPS Audio is convincing, immersive, and not choppy Interface is responsive Artificial intelligence and physics are responsive

10 Programming Languages Make yourself at home!
Find the proper balance of functionality, performance and productivity Languages often infer core language libraries that can be used as support APIs It’s okay (and, in large systems, ideal) to layer low-level languages with high-level scripting languages Let the language fit the task! Assembly / C / C++ for HAL automation and intensive computing tasks (physics, et al) Scripting language for general game logic

11 Programming Languages Make yourself at home!
Assembly + Blazing fast, direct-to-the-metal - Insanely difficult to learn, few or no support libraries C + Fast, close-to-the-metal, strongly supported, many libs, moderately portable - Not object-oriented, difficult to learn, write, and maintain C++ + Object-oriented, fast, strongly supported, popular, owns control of most APIs and libs, mostly compatible with C, moderately portable - Difficult to learn, write, and maintain Java + Easy to write, highly portable, used heavily on mobile devices - Performance hit, not intended for gaming, few APIs / engines available C# + Easy to write, moderately portable (Xbox 360, Mono), can make C calls easily - Some performance hit due to managed memory and IL JIT’ing Used by: XNA, Irrlicht, Axiom VB.NET + Easy to read, popular with beginner and corporate programmers seeking distractions - Bad general reputation for serious developers, no support with XNA

12 Programming Languages Make yourself at home!
Scripting languages (to name a few) Python + Popular - Integration hassles Compiled variant used in EVE Online UnrealScript + Good object-oriented language on an excellent game engine - Proprietary to the Unreal Engine Used in all Unreal Engine based games Lua + Designed specifically to be easy to integrate to C based runtimes; fast becoming popular - Relatively new, obscure, and lightweight in feature set

13 Typical Game Engine Components
Core System runtime for controlling threads, loop(s), basic math functions, and general runtime dependencies APIs do not typically implement runtime cores Game engines often implement runtime cores Video / Display 2D / 3D rendering Physics Engine Audio and Music (not quite the same thing) Input / Interface Networking

14 Multi-Function API Suites
Not to be confused with game engines APIs do not offer runtimes Multiple separate APIs for specific purposes Audio, video, networking The most prominent: DirectX SDL

15 Multi-Function API Suites
DirectX Direct3D – for [2D and] 3D video rendering DirectDraw (obsoleted and removed) – for 2D rendering DirectSound / DirectSound 3D – for multi-channel audio DirectPlay (deprecated) – for networking DirectInput – for user interfacing (mouse, keyboard, etc) DirectMusic – MIDI playback and synchronization Popular games: … Too many to mention (Nearly every successful commercial game for Windows?)

16 Multi-Function API Suites
SDL Über multi-platform .. but considered old hat unless complimented with other APIs such as OpenGL Supports audio, keyboard, mouse, joystick, and 2D video framebuffer Natively runs with C / C++, with bindings to Ada, C#, Eiffel, Erlang, Euphoria, Guile, Haskell, Java, Lisp, Lua, ML, Objective C, Pascal, Perl, PHP, Pike, Pliant, Python, Ruby, and Smalltalk Runs on Linux, Windows, Windows CE, BeOS, MacOS, Mac OS X, FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD, BSD/OS, Solaris, IRIX, and QNX Unofficial: AmigaOS, Dreamcast, Atari, AIX, OSF/Tru64, RISC OS, SymbianOS, and OS/2 Popular games (to name a couple) Neverwinter Nights (2002) Second Life

17 Video 2D Graphics Direct3D OpenGL SDL (Simple DirectMedia Layer)
DirectDraw is long gone Windows only Basically “paint” onto a camera-facing 2D plane OpenGL Multi-platform Same as Direct3D, render onto a 2D plane SDL (Simple DirectMedia Layer) Über multi-platform

18 Video 3D Graphics Direct3D OpenGL Windows only; Windows standard
Current hardware standard (esp. with DirectX 10) Extremely fast and highly programmable DirectX 8.x introduced programmable shaders Shader Model DirectX 9.x Shader Model 2.0 / 3.0 current standard used on Xbox 360 DirectX 10 Vista only Fully programmable pipeline; Shader Model 4.0 Built on the new video card driver model in Vista OpenGL Easy to learn Highly multi-platform, particularly with OpenGL ES

19 Speaking of OpenGL … Khronos Group – Working group for several important technologies and standards OpenGL – No longer controlled by Silicon Graphics glFX – API for OpenGL runtime effects COLLADA - XML schema for exchanging 3D assets COLLADA FX – Extension of COLLADA to describe shader effects (using the OpenGL Shader Language) OpenGL ES – Embedded 3D Graphics OpenVG – Embedded hardware-accelerated vector graphics (for tasks similar to those of Adobe Flash) OpenSL ES – Embedded Audio

20 Video 3D Graphics Cg (nVidia) R.I.P. Proprietary
Not intended for game audiences R.I.P. Glide QuickDraw 3D

21 Video Middleware OGRE: Open-Source Graphics Rendering Engine
Scene-oriented 3D engine in C++ Considered a rendering engine (built on top of Direct3D / OpenGL), not a game engine Axiom C# port of the OGRE rendering engine Open-source, cross-platform 3D graphics rendering engine for .NET and Mono

22 Video Middleware: Truevision 3D
A commercial rendering SDK Built on C++ but supports multiple languages such as C#, VB.NET, Delphi Easy to use; clean code Features HLSL Shader support (to Shader Model 3.0) Landscape and Terrain System Static and animated meshes and minimeshes Material and lighting system Particle systems GPGPU (General Processing on the GPU) Integrated Newtonian physics engine Post-processing effects

23 Video Middleware: C++ library with Python bindings
Designed for short learning curve and rapid development Free software license Platforms: Windows, Linux Used by Disney for Toontown

24 Audio Basic subsystems DirectSound / DirectSound 3D / XACT
Win32 (MS Windows) Core Audio (Mac OS) DirectSound / DirectSound 3D / XACT MS Windows only XNA audio content pipeline toolset with XACT AAT FMOD / FMOD EX / FMOD Designer Platform-optimized multi-platform (Windows [32/64bit], Mac [PPC/x86], Linux [32/64bit], Sony PS2/PS3/P3P, MS Xbox/Xbox360, Nintendo GC/Wii) audio subsystem DSP effect suite and VST support Bioshock, Call of Duty 4, Starcraft II, WoW, Crysis, many more Creative Technologies OpenAL Multi-platform alternative to DirectSound EAX 3D environmental audio effects (echo, reverb, chorus, etc) SDL Multi-platform multimedia API

25 Music Not typically multi-channel (but for 2x) unless using a tracker music subsystem Typically large compressed file requirements OGG MP3 WMA Consider Digital Rights Management (DRM) Interesting example: DirectSong MIDI and tracked music are obsolete .. but still fine for embedded devices FMOD should do fine for OGG

26 Networking Basic TCP / UDP easy to come by
Advanced networking options often stacked in feature-complete game engines DirectPlay Deprecated; use XNA? Portions already removed: DirectPlay Voice DirectPlay NAT Helper Service Microsoft XNA Framework v2 (not available yet) HawkNL Free, open-source, game-oriented API, GNU license Based on Berkeley/UNIX sockets and Winsock Torque’s openTNL (GarageGames) Focuses on versatility; cross-platform RakNet UDP-centric; cross-platform; high performance SDL

27 Physics Commercial Open Source Freeware (closed source) Havok*
Half-Life 2 Crackdown (Xbox 360) Company of Heroes The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion Halo 2 nV Physics SDK CMLabs' Vortex Open Source Open Dynamics Engine (ODE)* Bullet OPAL PAL Tokamak Farseer (2D physics for XNA) Freeware (closed source) AGEIA PhysX* Newton Game Dynamics Simple Physics Engine True Axis

28 Probably Typical API Assumptions from the OS Perspective
MS Windows DirectX OpenGL FMOD SDL .. and of course several other lesser known APIs Mac OS Cocoa (object-oriented OS API) Carbon (C based OS API) Core Audio Linux Many open source game engines

29 Probably Typical API Assumptions from the OS Perspective
Consoles Xbox 360 Homebrew: C# XNA Commercial: C++ DirectX 9 PIX (performance testing) Xbox Live networking APIs Microsoft certification tools Nintendo Wii ??? Sony Playstation 3

30 Probably Typical API Assumptions from the OS Perspective
Handheld Homebrew devKitPro Systems: GameBoy Advance GP32 Playstation Portable GameCube C++ based freely available J2ME cell phones Java In-Fusio ExEn ("Execution Engine")

31 Game Engines

32 Game Engines: Microsoft XNA
Complete game engine / runtime Implemented in C# Built upon DirectX One-click deployment to Windows and to Xbox 360! Real-time debugging for Windows and for Xbox 360 over the LAN! All basic game functions fully implemented and abstracted Basic SDK supporting Windows is completely free Extended feature set, support, and Xbox integration requires a fee $49 / 4 mo. $99 / 12 mo. Failure points in current (v1) release only: No Xbox Live integration … no networking at all, actually Xbox 360: Very slow floating point calculations No support for Visual Studio SKUs except only Visual C# 2005 Express Edition

33 Game Engines: Irrlicht
Built with C++ with managed (C#) wrappers that are portable to Linux using Mono with the replacement Irrlicht.NET CP (deprecates previous C# wrappers) Multi-platform Windows 95, 98, NT, 2000, XP Linux MacOS Provides for video rendering: Direct3D OpenGL Two platform and driver independent fast software renderers included They have different properties (speed vs. quality) and feature everything needed: perspective correct texture mapping, bilinear filtering, sub pixel correctness … Technically a rendering engine, not a game engine; however, related / complimentary tools exist that do not relate to the rendering engine

34 Game Engines: Irrlicht
Features Huge built-in and extensible material library with vertex and pixel shader support Seamless indoor and outdoor mixing through highly customizable scene management Character animation system with skeletal and morph target animation Particle effects, billboards, light maps, environment mapping, stencil buffer shadows, and lots of other special effects z-buffer, gouraud shading, alpha-blending and transparency, fast 2D drawing and more. Powerful, customizable and easy to use 2D GUI System with Buttons, Lists, Edit boxes, .. 2D drawing functions like alpha blending, color key based blitting, font drawing and mixing 3D with 2D graphics Direct import of common mesh file formats: Maya (.obj), 3DStudio (.3ds), COLLADA (.dae), DeleD (.dmf), Milkshape (.ms3d), Quake 3 levels (.bsp), Quake2 models (.md2), Microsoft DirectX (.X) Direct import of Textures: Windows Bitmap (.bmp), Portable Network Graphics (.png), Adobe Photoshop (.psd), JPEG File Interchange Format (.jpg), Truevision Targa (.tga), ZSoft Paintbrush (.pcx)

35 Game Engines: Irrlicht
Related IRRKLANG Multi-platform (Windows, Mac OS, Linux) Supports .NET WAV, MP3, OGG, MOD, XM, S3D, IT IRR EDIT IRRLICHT world editor and radiosity light generator Jirr Java binding for IRRLICHT

36 Game Engines: Crystal Space 3D
Cross-platform SDK primarily targeting Linux Open source Requires MinGW / Cygwin when compiling on Windows

37 Game Engines: Torque Complete soup-to-nuts cross-platform 3D game engine with landscape/terrain, audio, networking, and more Developed for rapid indie game development $100 one-time registration fee Built on the Tribes 2 codebase .. and expanded since then Commercial publishing options available for finished games Excellent community

38 Game Engines: 3D Game Studio
Complete commercial game engine for Windows Features Rendering engine OpenGL / Direct3D Particle & effect engine Physics & collision engine 2D engine Sound engine Networking Including MMOG support Complementing C-Lite Allows for building a complete game without knowing C++ (or any common language) at all!

39 Game Engines: Commercial 3D game engine
Lightweight, even has a web player .. but can produce serious games as well Focus is on ease of use, rapid development Platforms: Mac OS X Windows 2000/XP/Vista

40 Game Engines: C4 Engine Platforms: Windows, Mac, PS3 (Xbox 360 coming)
Commercial game engine Claims to be “one of the most technologically advanced 3D game engines available today for the Windows and MacOS X platforms” Platforms: Windows, Mac, PS3 (Xbox 360 coming) Features Rendering (Full-scene dynamic lighting and shadows, advanced per-pixel shading capabilities, other special effects) Audio Networking Collada

41 Game Engines: Blitz3D/BlitzMax
Commercial 2D game SDK ($80) Compiler, modules, 2D graphics, IDE, debugger, sample code, documentation Cross-platform Blitz3D SDK Commercial 3D game SDK ($100) Windows only Functions Renderer OpenGL / Direct3D Audio Input Static libraries and interfaces for C, C++, C#, BlitzMax and PureBasic Dynamic library for shipping with your games Installation guides and comprehensive API documentation

42 Game Engines: jMonkey Engine
A complete game engine for Java programmers! Features OpenGL renderer Geometry bounding, visual effects, texture system, multi-format model loading, shape primitives, camera system, terrain, billboards, et al Sound using FMOD and OpenAL User Interface Embedded integration Java applet, AWT/Swing, SWT [through user code]

43 Game Engine Mods Easy and cheap (but not free) to create complete games by modifying existing games Licensing mods as commercial games is legally impossible (a commercial engine license or complete buy-out is required) Few games are fully exploitable for mods

44 A Few Popular Moddable Game Engines
Unreal Engine (Unreal, Unreal Tournament series) Game bundled with UnrealED, UnrealScript Commercial license available (but expensive) Used with several games Rune Deus Ex Gears Of War many others Quake Engine Used with many games Half-Life 2 / Source Engine Very thorough and complete mod toolset Modern / current feature set

45 Most Reviewed (DevMaster.net): Commercial Engines
Torque Game Engine Truevision3D SDK 6 3DGameStudio C4 Engine Unity 3Impact DX Studio v2.1 Beyond Virtual LawMaker Game Engine Deep Creator

46 Most Reviewed (DevMaster.net): Open Source Engines
OGRE Irrlicht Crystal Space jME (jMonkey Engine) Panda3D Reality Factory The Nebula Device 2 RealmForge Blender Game Engine OpenSceneGraph

47 3D RPG / MMORPG Engines Bigworld Technology Gamebryo HeroEngine
Stargate Worlds Gamebryo The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion Civilization IV HeroEngine Kaneva Game Platform Multiverse Network RealmCrafter

48 Remember … Choosing a path is extremely important, but once the path is chosen, the other paths DON'T MATTER. Get your game done!


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