Well, what can you say? The once great modeler trueSpace has been killed. Some may remember it as being acquired by Microsoft, and then in what seemed to be too good to be true, was offered as a freeware not long ago. Not entirely unexpected I must say. There was nothing much being done so to say, but TS did have a sizable community who is now understandably disappointed. My first experience with TS was a long time ago, when I was taking baby steps towards learning 3D and 3D modeling. I confess I am not a 3D artist, but I work with 3D tool-chains a lot and I had to switched over to Blender rather quickly since TS back then wasn’t free. When the application was released as a freeware, I did try my hand at some of the tutorials that accompanied the installation and was pretty successful at doing things, mostly because my experience with Blender could be carried over to trueSpace in some way. True it’s interface is a bit wired, but that’s something that could have been worked on. It may not have had all the bells and whistles of the truly top modelers, but it wasn’t all that bad. It’s unfortunate that it got terminated the way it did.
There is something to think about here. Had trueSpace been open source, it would have been forked and the project would have continued to live via enthusiasts and developers, maybe even via contributions from existing developers. The unfortunate thing is — it isn’t and therefore it’s fate is sealed. It’s really sad to see such a product go down and the anguish of the community members that have helped the product grow, is justifiable. Believe me, it’s not easy to see software that you have worked with for years go down like that. 3D software, especially 3D modelers take a considerable amount of time to learn, and it takes even more time to become truly productive with them. My guess it there are going to be a lot of 3D artists that would really pissed off right now.
Now that I think back, it’s a good thing we decided to use Blender as our primary content creation tool. Not that we were going to use TS in the first place. However, had we used some closed source software like TS, we would have burned down with it if it would ever had gone TS’ way. Most of the content pipelines would have been lost, a lot of code would have to be re-engineered for another application. This has been precisely my argument from the very beginning. However popular an application may be, it could very well end up being put down to protect corporate bottom-lines of large corporations. With closed source applications, one can never discount such occurrences.
Then again, could we see a resurrection of TS in some way? I sure hope so. Maybe there will be a release of it in a new incarnation — a integrated game creation tool for XBox/PC? — OR — Are we going to see a new tool to rival Sketchup from existing codebase? Maybe there will be a community buyout? Or is Microsoft going to release TS as OSS? That would be interesting indeed! No, I am not keeping my fingers crossed.
After having used Ubuntu for about 2 and a half years now, I got kinda bored and decided it was time to try out something new. Not that this has anything to do with Ubuntu — it’s just that every 2 years or so I get this itch that has to be scratched. It usually leads to a complete overhaul of one or more OSes on my machine. In a way it’s good — it gets rid of a lot of crud that accumulates on my hard-drivers over time. However, it also means I have to put in hours of work to get the new OS up to speed. Fortunately these days the Internet connections are pretty good and most OSes come with one click installers for commonly used software. There was a time not too long ago when every utility had to be downloaded, compiled and then installed. It would take days before you could get an OS up and running the way you wanted. I am glad that isn’t the case today.
I wanted to try something different. The Linux world has a lot of distros and though each one has it’s own special flavour (and many of them are really good) , it’s still Linux. There is a world of *NIX and *NIX-like systems that haven’t been too successful on the desktop — up until now (don’t know what the future holds). However, there are some sincere efforts being made to get these OSes on the desktop as well. One of them is PC-BSD, a FreeBSD based distro that has been customized for the desktop user. I decided to give it a shot given that it has had some good reviews.
The installation of the OS is painless — a standard graphical installation that will be too familiar to most users. Be careful though, the partition naming is a bit different from Linux! I had some anxious moments there, but as soon as that was sorted out, the rest of the procedure is pretty straightforward. The installation bundles some of the most commonly used software. Firefox, OpenOffice, Pidgen are all there. The desktop is based on KDE 4, which I must say, is my first experience with KDE 4. All installed applications worked pretty well and on the whole PC-BSD is usable system. Connecting to the Internet was pretty easy, maybe because I already knew how to setup a PPPoE connection under my former Linux system. Nevertheless, the basic OS was up and running within about 45 mins. The great thing about this distro is, most of my movies and videos work straight out-of-the-box, which thus far no distro has been able to achieve. Even with Ubuntu I have always had to download codecs for most proprietary formats (like wmv). That’s a strong plus for this distro. There is a click and install system called PBI for most commonly used software and it is similar to apt based system under Debian distributions. Most other software can be downloaded via FreeBSD ports and works pretty well. The system has an auto-update feature that updates the system components regularly and with ease.
The only real problem I had was not with the OS itself, but with KDE 4. KDE 4 is a bit on the sluggish side and that’s putting it mildly. Maybe it was just my case since I used a PC with only 1 GB Ram, I don’t know, but the same system flies under a default Ubuntu distribution. Another thing worth mentioning is the size of the install. The system took about 7Gb of disk-space for just a handful of software. Even the PBI updates seem to be on the heavier side than their Linux counterparts. Looks like most software packages are either statically linked or the system bundle separate copies of shared libraries for every software. Disk-space however, is cheap and you could live with larger installs given that nothing gets broken because of a missing shared library — overwritten by another install, or removed by an uninstall of some other unrelated software.
On the whole PC-BSD is a commendable effort. I have been using the system for about a month now and the only real thing that bugs me is the sluggishness of KDE 4 (which I am sure will get sorted out as KDE 4 matures). FreeBSD is a good OS and a desktop distros based on it was a long time coming. I hope PC-BSD and other FreeBSD distros gain more popularity as time passes.
Last night I was clearing the hard-dive to free up much needed space and I happen to run across an old zip file and in it was my older experimental engine — something I was working on long before I began work on the O2 Game engine. Well you can’t really call it an engine — it’s what you call; a bunch of experimental code hacked, stretched, hammered and stitched together to produce something that can be displayed on the screen 😀 . A more appropriate name would be a prototype or a demo. I was looking at the code and couldn’t help but wonder how I could comprehend anything inside those bunch of lines back then. To my surprise, the code still complied pretty easily on the new VC 8.0 Express. The app runs at 500+ FPS on the HD 4850 at 1280×1024, back then (, if I remember correctly) it ran at 40-50 FPS on a Riva TnT at 640×480.
Quake 3 Level – missing textures and shaders appear white.
Another Quake 3 Level in the prototype engine.
Cool ain’t it. Well sorta, but lets take that with a pinch of salt. First, those levels that you see are some really cool Quake 3 Levels that I had downloaded off the internet. They are not created by me. I had written up a Quake 3 Level loader for the demo and albeit incomplete, was pretty good at loading most Quake levels. The lighting was obviously Quake 3’s internal Lightmaps. The collision system was rudimentary and navigation (running around in the level) was a huge problem. There were times when the collision system would completely fail and one would fall through the floor into the dark abyss below. MD3 animation was crap, so there were no players in the level, though I remember I was working on a skeletal animation library later on, but I guess I never integrated it with this piece of code. Oh well!
Baby steps I would say. Obviously I learnt a lot from hacking around that piece of code. But could I have created a game with that? The answer is — No I would not have. With all that was achieved, you wouldn’t be able to pull together anthing more than a short cool looking demo — period! The code is too haphazardly written and has no structure and I would only term it as research and learning material. Even then it’s a bit nostalgic to see some of your old code run 🙂 , and man it still does look cool at higher resolutions!