Unity – what Virtools should have become

I’ve been playing around with the Unity game engine and keep having flashbacks to a little know 3-D game dev tool I used over 10 years ago – called Virtools.

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Most people will not have heard of Virtools, which itself was called NemoCreation in a previous life, until legal problems forced them to go away and rebrand. It was way ahead of its time, supporting real-time ray-tracing, hardware acceleration, full Havok physics an easy to integrate multi-player solution, long before the more popular Shockwave 3D and WildTangent had anything close.

The workflow was very similar to Unity and I had originally pinned a lot of hope on it. But, the platform was too restrictive, provided no sensible scripting alternatives and was prohibitively expensive to license. Getting hold of a trial license was notoriously difficult, too. So there were simply not enough people creating worthwhile content for it.

The licensing fubar and possibly the fact that it was way ahead of its time, were probably its death knell. But I tip my hat to what could have been.

Sneaky tricks for developing on small devices – Bitmap ‘folding’

DSC_1583One of the most problematic constraints when developing applications for mobile or Set Top Box is video memory (AKA VRAM). You often will not have control over how much video memory is allocated to your application, or what the fallback behaviour is when your application uses too much. Continue reading Sneaky tricks for developing on small devices – Bitmap ‘folding’

SmoothBitmap – How to enforce pixel smoothing on a Bitmap

A common oversight when using Bitmaps with loaded content is that Flash will revert a Bitmap’s smoothing parameter to false when you replace its bitmapData. It’s simple enough to fix, but since you may not know if someone is going to replace the bitmapData of a Bitmap you have created – then it’s often better to code defensively around it.

This little SmoothBitmap class is for just such an occassion. Instantiate it like a regular Bitmap and, no matter what another developer does with it, smooth pixels when scaling/rotating will be ensured.