Reallusion and gaming

So there is a company that I love and that has been part of my main hobby for years now. The company is called Reallusion, and the hobby I’m referring to is making machinima.

Machinima is that art of taking real time footage captured usually from a game engine, and using it to make a movie. I have been doing this for over five years now and have become quite an expert in the tools and techniques involved.

Reallusion has been selling an application called iClone for several years now that allows people to create machinima for a very low budget compared to full CGI programs used by Hollywood studios, but they have been adding more and more sophistication to their application over the years, and it has become very powerful while remaining within reach of the average hobbyist in terms of pricing.

A rich and diverse ecosystem of content creators have formed around this application to produce all manner of 3D assets including props, scenery, avatars and motions and I have in fact amassed a very extensive collection of all of this stuff as well as expert skills using it and creating content for it.

But it has always been a one way street. It has always been very easy to get 3D assets into iClone, but there has never been a way to get them out. Considering that the purpose of the application is to make videos however, this was never really an issue.

A few weeks ago however, they released new versions of their asset import tools and announced that they would be changing their content store and asset pipeline tools to allow purchase of content for use in game engines.

This is a very smart move for them and all of their existing content developers, and for me it is a boon beyond belief. I have been looking for a way to share 3D assets between iClone and game engines so that iClone can be used to make videos that feature the same characters as the game, but a clean solution has never presented itself until now.

So hats off to the folks at Reallusion for their excellent product. It never fails to amaze me how much value they pack into each iteration of iClone.

RIM and Gameplay 3D

I am not a pundit, and if you actually needed to hear me say that then this blog probably isn’t for you. I am just a geek that has an interest in modern computing of all sorts, and how it is all converging together and becoming a ubiquitous part of our lives. There are a lot of pundits however that are counting RIM out and saying the Blackberry platform is dead.

Well to paraphrase Monty Python “they’re not dead yet”.

RIM is funding something that I find quite appealing and that is an open source, cross platform gaming framework called Gameplay 3D. Released under the Apache 2.0 license, anyone can get the complete source code for this framework and write a game with it that will run on iOS, Mac OS X, Windows 7, Android, and Blackberry OS 10 and Playbook 2.

For me this is a no brainer. I have a Unity 3D license for iOS, but that’s about the only platform that license gets me, and it’s a constant struggle to keep those tools up to date with new versions of Xcode and iOS. I may have the same issue with GamePlay 3D, but I have ALL the source code for it here, and it costs nothing.

It’s also being very actively worked on and developed by some top notch game programmers working for RIM, and the features they have mapped out for the next few iterations are quite appealing. They are also very accessible and responsive to bug reports.

Susan can share her own thoughts about the framework, but it wasn’t hard to convince her to give it a look even though she was already well invested in using a different framework. We have both been looking for ways to work together to achieve more than either of us could alone, so we want to be careful about what skills and tools we choose to learn so we get the most out of them. Gameplay 3D looks like a good way to achieve a lot of portability with very little effort on our part.

Check this stuff out at http://gameplay3d.org

A new (Ad)venture

A new (ad)venture – How exciting!  Pete and I have been having discussions for a month since my old friend called me out of the blue. We last worked together about 10 years ago doing things with QNX. After that we went off in different directions. Recently, I have been programming iPhones, moving into 3D graphics. Pete has been doing mostly driver work but he’s also been an avid 3D enthusiast for over a decade. Both of us have worked on many platforms.

Fast forward to 2012 and we’re sharing some observations. So what have we been talking about… Pretty much everything, since anyone who knows either of us knows we can hold up our end of a conversation.  Here in the blog, we plan to cover mobile platforms and casual gaming, cross-platform development, tools, languages, 3D graphics and putting it all together in our own projects. We hope you enjoy it!