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Visual3D.NET – XNA for the masses, Part I April 11, 2007

Posted by danmaltes in Game Programming.
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The first XNA beta release a way back in august 2006 was no doubt exciting.  Finally, a simpler way to create games with less low-level coding for managing devices, assets like models and textures, game loops, effects and just game objects in general has arrived.  Or had it?  Well, simple 2D games are certainly simpler to create with XNA, but 3D games with a modest level of complexity still remain a challenge.  Sure, the Spacewar starter kit that comes with XNA Game Studio Express is useful if you want to create a third-person camera locked game, but take it a step further into wide open environments with landscape and large structures, avatars with special abilities, a free moving camera, wide open skies, varied lighting, and you can see that things start to get complicated.  Plenty of research, learning of complex algorithms, coding, testing and recoding will be needed to take your game to that next level.  Is there an easier way accomplish this?

Well, it looks like there just might be.  Visual3D.NET from Realmware is built on top of  XNA and it’s goal is to give you a huge set of advanced time-saving functionality.  Visual3D.NET is a combination Game/Simulation engine and Game/Simulation building tool-set all built into one.  This means it has much of what you need built right into it, saving you a tremendous amount of time and letting you, and your team, focus on the imaginative and creative part of your application.  For instance, assigning keys and mouse clicks to control objects in your 3D world; normally you would have to write a whole bunch of code and event handling on your own to accomplish this.  Visual3D has that built-in, so all you have to do is decide what keystroke or mouse-click does what.  That is just the tip of the iceberg of what Visual3D has built into it.  How about a more complex game requirement like lighting?  Better break out your linear algebra and geometry books to tackle that one on your own.  Again, Visual3D.NET has several different light types built-in, like point and spot lights.  How the light effects object surfaces, and casts shadows, etc, is all there in V3D.  For the folks who like to write code, it’s pretty simple to start a Visual3D.NET project in either Game Studio Express or VS 2005 and use the Visual3D.NET API, which exposes what you need in the form of public properties, method and callback events.   However, for folks like me, who don’t want to fuss with code all that much(hey I’m a busy guy), the Visual3D.NET Architect tool is the way to go.  The visual point and click and drag and drop approach used by Visual3D.NET Architect feels pretty natural.   My scene window appears in the center and around it are all the things I would want to add and change in my scene.  For instance, there is an object toolbox on the left where I can select from a wide range of pre-built characters, terrain, scenery and lights, etc.  I simply click and drag it onto my scene and boom, there it is.  I can now move it wherever I want it, change how big it is and what color and texture it should use.  I can even use it’s animation right away and make it run, walk or fly, whatever it can do.  This lets me kind of play the game a bit while I’m still making it.  Very cool!  All that good stuff is built right into the tool without any coding by you.  Why right the code from scratch when a quality tool like Visual3D.NET can do it for you and save you loads of time?  🙂

I’ll continue my Visual3D.NET talk in future articles…

For more info, check out the Visual3D features page on the website.

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