05 Oct 2012

Away3D 4.1 Alpha roadmap

by Rob Bateman

We are happy to reveal that the next major revision of Away3D will reach Alpha on  the 15th November 2012. This version will contain many new features that are targetted at two fundamental improvements to the engine - performance and visual quality. The following post goes into detail around some of the features that are in the process of being added.

Much of the time, Away3D is being deployed on a wide range of devices with differing hardware configurations. It is our intention to allow developers a choice between speed and quality, that can be adjusted on the fly to allow higher-end systems greater graphical depth while keeping the experience smooh on medium and low-end systems.

Right now, materials in Away3D are built using dynamically compiled forward-rendered single pass shaders. This is great for minimising overdraw for graphics cards that have lower fillrates, but the approach restricts the amount of shading effects that can be performed on a single material, and doesn't take advantage of those systems with much higher fillrates and polygons-per-second benchmarks. In order to cater for this in future, we are adding a new set of materials that use forward-rendered multipass shading. This allows more complex lighting effects, as well as quality improvements on standard shading techniques such as shadow mapping. In other areas, we are adding some new material methods that have been requested by many of our users, such as real time planer and cubic reflections.

Another area of development sits around optimising the geometry pipeline in Away3D. A new compact geometry system allows the option of combining vertex buffers into a single stream where size will allow, reducing the number of GL calls required to render a single mesh object. Grid-based occlusion culling is being introduced as an experimental feature to allow the manual definition of visible areas in a scene depending on camera position - something we hope to enhance with a pre-processing step in a future release to automatically produce visible sets for individual occlusion cells. In terms of realtime optimisation, we are refactoring the tools package in 4.1 to provide more options for on-the-fly reduction of geometry data - a useful weapon for dealing with slower gpus such as those on mobile devices.

Finally one the most popular independent extensions of Away3D, the GPU particles system created by Away3D contributor Liao Cheng, will be officially merged into the main Away3D codebase. We have looked forward to this addition for a while, as GPU particles provide many solutions to performance issues when dealing with complex 3D effects, and particles are an invaluable visual addition to any graphics engine.

If you are interested in keeping up to date with new code being prepared for the 4.1 release, you can check out an up to the minute version from the Away3D dev branch at https://github.com/away3d/away3d-core-fp11/tree/dev. As usual, we are keeping a close eye on the issues tracker and will be addressing those issues relevant to this update, so if you have any feedback on the commits being made, please feel free to comment through the github interface here. Also, please let us know if you are building any experiments of your own using the dev branch that you'd be interested in sharing. We are adding to the Away3D code examples and tutorials all the time, but appreciate any assistance in this area.



17 Oct 2012 02:41 PM

ohufei said:

I have translated this to chinese, here:http://bbs.9ria.com/thread-154612-1-1.html ,if there is any mistake,pls correct me.

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