Castle Game Engine 6.4 release – physics, iOS services, shader pipeline upgrade, big API improvements (vectors, transform) and more

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We’re proud to announce Castle Game Engine 6.4 release! Castle Game Engine is a free, open-source game engine written in Object Pascal. We support both 3D and 2D games. We are cross-platform (desktop, Android, iOS — with the help of our own build tool and scalable user-interface components). The complete list of the engine features is here, so go ahead and download it and try!

New features in 6.4 release:

  1. Rigid-body physics. Under the hood, we use Kraft Physics Engine for all the calculations. Kraft is developed by Benjamin “BeRo” Rosseaux and thousand thanks go to him for implementing this wonderful physics engine. Integration of Castle Game Engine with physics engine was requested and sponsored by Castle Game Engine supporters on Patreon.

  2. Many new services are available for iOS games: Apple Game Center, in-app purchases, analytics (Google Analytics, Game Analytics), Facebook SDK and sharing photos. Most of these were implemented for our “Escape from the Universe” release for iOS.

  3. Terrain generation API upgraded, terrain demo improved, and a new game demo showing terrain editing, planting trees and destructible objects was implemented thanks to supporters on Patreon. The demo is called Wyrd Forest, and you can download a complete source code and binary release on GitHub or watch a movie here.

  4. Jan Adamec is working on a mobile view3dscene — a viewer for X3D, VRML, and all the other formats supported by Castle Game Engine (Collada, 3DS, MD3, STL, Spine JSON…) for Android and iOS. He also implemented various new CGE features in this release — thousand thanks!

  5. Shader pipeline rendering code was much improved, to completely unify mobile (OpenGLES) and desktop (OpenGL) shaders — this means that both desktop and mobile can do Gouraud or Phong shading, and mobile renderer can use bump mapping, steep parallax bump mapping, specular maps, and other advanced material features from CommonSurfaceShader. Also, the desktop rendering uses now shader pipeline by default. So, the rendering code is more functional and faster and simpler at the same time:)

  6. New powerful TCastleTransform class is introduced. This allows to transform scenes (TCastleScene instances) in a comfortable way. It is also the ancestor of TCastleScene, so you can now e.g. trivially move the TCastleScene by just doing Scene.Translation := Scene.Translation + Vector3(1, 2, 3);.

  7. New modern API for vectors and matrices.

  8. Other new things supported: support “Dragon Bones” for creating animated 2D models, support https protocol, support KTX texture format.

  9. Other API improvements: using Delphi-compatible Generics.Collections containers throughout the engine, camera API simplifications, drawing ellipses, rectangles lines on TCastleImage (thanks to Eugene Loza!), improved FPS API and documentation, base units are now compatible with Delphi.

    I advice existing Castle Game Engine users to read upgrading to CGE 6.4 notes.

  10. Various engine examples were improved, in particular we completely reimplemented rift (fixed_camera_game) engine example.

Together with the new engine, we also release view3dscene 3.18.0 — our 3D and 2D model browser, and glViewImage 1.8.0 — our image browser. These tools are useful when working with the engine (to quickly check how does the engine handle given model or image), but are also perfectly useful on their own, to view or even post-process your files.

At this moment, I also want to ask you to support the engine development on Patreon. This support really helps me, and is very appreciated. Various 6.4 features (like physics integration!) would not happen without this.

If you have not yet seen my plans for 2018, read them — I have a plan that should make our engine the best engine ever 🙂 In short: editor component (to get standalone editor, like Unity3d, and to get editing inside Lazarus/Delphi, like GLScene, and to get runtime inspection/editing of the game world), Delphi compatibility, glTF and PBR, and looking closely at WebAssembly and pas2js.

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New release this weekend, last pre-release notes

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We’re ready for the next Castle Game Engine 6.4 release. This weekend (Friday / Saturday), I’ll announce and upload everything 🙂

In the meantime, here’s a list of engine improvements we did in January:

  1. Drawing ellipses (and circles), rectangles, lines on TCastleImage thanks to Eugene Loza.

  2. Photo service on iOS and Android, thanks to Jan Adamec.

  3. DXF exporter application, thanks to @rweinzierl on our Discord.

  4. Many improvements to the engine examples:

    • rift (fixed_camera_game) example was completely reimplemented. It now uses TUIState, has muuuch simpler code, and is portable to mobile (Android, iOS).
    • Terrain example reimplemented, has now much more functions (like adjusting shader parameters) and better defaults (some taken from wyrd-forest), and is portable to mobile too (Android, iOS).
    • Various fps_game improvements for Android.
    • sandbox (now just “isometric_game”) code improved (although it still uses a very simple approach to rendering) and it can compile to mobile (although input still relies on a keyboard).
  5. Sound buffer improvements and fixes: TSoundBuffer is a class now (although it should be invisible to you, as it’s automatically managed by the sound engine). And it correctly “survives” if the application was paused / resumed on Android. So you can safely do Buffer := SoundEngine.LoadBuffer(‘sound.wav’) in Application.OnInitialize and then play this buffer at any time later.

  6. Easier way to adjust ApplicationName: just set ApplicationProperties.ApplicationName.

  7. New Viewpoint.fieldOfViewForceVertical field.

  8. New property Attributes.SolidColor to make Attributes.Mode = rmSolidColor reliable with the shader pipeline.

  9. The assets:/ protocol is deprecated, better use now castle-android-assets:/. Read more about the protocols supported here, and reasons for name change are listed here. This should be internal (invisible during normal engine usage), as cross-platform applications should never explicitly use this protocol.

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Integrate your iOS games with Google Analytics, Game Analytics, Facebook, open URLs, share text…

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Happy new year everyone!

In preparations for releasing Escape from the Universe on iOS, I have implemented a number of new “services” on iOS. They allow to integrate your games easily with various iOS frameworks.

The detailed information how to activate all these integrations is here, you just add a 1 line to your CastleEngineManifest.xml and then use a trivial Pascal routines/classes for everything.

Have fun with Castle Game Engine in 2018 ! 🙂 And if you had not seen it yet, take a look at our plans for 2018 – it starts now.

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Plans: 6.4 release ASAP, visual editor soon, 2018 roadmap

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Editing SceneManager.Items at design-time

I’ve been doing some thinking about the Castle Game Engine future.

Basically, I’m excited — we’re at a point where I feel the engine is seriously great. It has been proven by developing a number of cross-platform games and demos and more are in-progress. And I feel we can seriously start to compete with other game engines, in Pascal or not, even the big ones whose names start with “U” :).

The plans, in short:

  1. Release the Castle Game Engine 6.4 as soon as possible
  2. Start developing a visual editor (both inside Lazarus / Delphi and as a standalone application) as soon as possible
  3. Work in 2018 on the most important/requested features (in rough order): Delphi compatibility, visual editor, glTF, and looking closely at the WebGL target

More details:

1. Release the Castle Game Engine 6.4 ASAP

My initial primary goal for the 6.4 release was Delphi compatibility. I documented it publicly and made some progress (also our containers now use Delphi-compatible Generics.Collections). But it’s simply taking me a long time, partially because I’m distracted by other cool tasks on the engine, partially because I’m working on various games using the engine.

I know that many of you want the Delphi compatibility, and you have all the right to scold me for taking so long to finish it.

As for the good news, we’ve made a lot of engine improvements since the last release, 6.2. Rigid-body physics, big API improvements (new CastleVectors API, TCastleTransform class), modernizing the renderer code (which resulted in using modern shader rendering for everything, by default, and in possibility to have Phong shading and bump mapping on mobile), Apple Game Center, in-app purchases, KTX, and more smaller stuff…

Note that one the biggest new features, physics integration, was done explicitly thanks to your request on Patreon, and thus: it happened because you support me on Patreon. It would not happen otherwise (at least not so soon). I’m really grateful for that, and I hope that using the engine is as much fun for you as it is for me to extend it 🙂 Thank you!

After a bit of thinking, I decided that we will release the next version of Castle Game Engine as soon as possible, which means: try to do it in 2017, eventually do it in the first week of 2018. Yes, that soon. Looking above, we have a lot of improvements done since last release, and it’s becoming hard to keep it unreleased for me 🙂 All of my new games are using the new engine features, and I consider the current state of “unstable” GitHub code to be actually… very stable.

The Delphi compatibility of course remains on the nearest roadmap, it’s just scheduled for 6.6 release now.

2. Visual editor (inside Lazarus / Delphi and as a standalone application)

I believe that the biggest missing feature, which sets us behind some other game engines, is the lack of a visual game editor. Yet, it is something very easy to make, with the right design — so, let’s do it! I want to make a working prototype of it ASAP, release it with 6.6, and polish it within 6.8 release.

I have a couple of design requirements of the editor, and together they determine how I’m going to implement it:

  1. The editor must be available as a standalone editor application. So you download Castle Game Engine and it’s not just code — it’s also a ready CGE Editor application that you can use to create a project, drop some 2D and 3D assets, invoke your favourite Pascal editor (Lazarus or Delphi), then press Build to compile a game.

    So the Castle Game Engine Editor will also wrap our build tool (to build your project for any platform, including desktop and mobile, which in turn uses FPC or Delphi compiler underneath), view3dscene (to view 3D and 2D game assets) and glViewImage (to view simple images). It can also contain some ready project templates — so instead of Clear project you can start with “3D first-person shooter” or “2D platformer” template.

    The designed hierarchy can be saved to a .cge-control files (serialized just like .lfm and .dfm), and the project uses TCastleWindow to load it (inside TUIState) and play. This is our ultimate flexible architecture to develop “pure games” applications (where OpenGL context is your only user-interface): TCastleWindow with a number of TUIState instances using TUIControl inside.

  2. The editor must also be available as integrated inside Lazarus / Delphi, to edit the TCastleControl contents on a normal LCL / VCL form.

    Once the castle_components.lpk is installed, you should be able to double-click on the TCastleControl to edit the game world inside. This is quite like GLScene or FireMonkey experience — a RAD tool to edit your game right inside the environment you know and love.

    It’s actually already started:) Double-click on TCastleControl under a new Lazarus (where my patch to add ocoRenderAtDesignTime is already included). You will be presented with a question whether to add some 3D sphere to your game. This dialog will be replaced with a full-featured world editor:)

  3. Finally, the editor must also be available to inspect and edit a running game. When you run the game, you can invoke the editor to inspect a hierarchy of TUIControl, including a scene manager with a hierarchy of TCastleTransform. You can view and edit the game world right there, while your game is running.

    This should provide an experience similar to running your game in game engines like Unity3d.

Once my mind was settled that I really want all the three possibilities above, the way to implement them seemed obvious: make a Lazarus component TCastleEditor, using LCL (portable to Delphi VCL), that can edit a hierarchy or TUIControl and TCastleTransform.

  1. Use TCastleEditor inside Castle Game Engine Editor (done using Lazarus) to edit a TCastleWindow instance (a window that shows only a game content).
  2. Use TCastleEditor inside Lazarus when double-clicking on TCastleControl.
  3. When the game is compiled from the Castle Game Engine Editor, make it possible to include the TCastleEditor in the runtime, by using the LCL backend of TCastleWindow (-dCASTLE_WINDOW_LCL) and handling some key (F12?) to automatically show TCastleEditor (in a separate window, by default, maybe dockable too).

3. Plans for 2018

  1. Release 6.4 with the current features: ASAP (maybe even 2017).
  2. Full Delphi compatibility and a working prototype of a visual editor (covering all 3 use-cases): 6.6 release.
  3. Visual engine editor fully working: 6.8 release.
  4. glTF 2 support, along with PBR (physically-based rendering).
  5. Look closely at pas2js progress, or WebAssembly compiler in FPC. As soon as we can reasonably adjust our code to it (e.g. it needs to support generics), port CGE to WebGL using pas2js! Yes – compile your games using Castle Game Engine to run in the browser (without any plugins). This will be huge, and I want to do this as soon as technically possible.

There are more plans of course. But the above should give you an idea where my priorities are.

4. Thank you!!!

Thank you for reading this long post. If you reached this far, maybe you would like to talk or help us with the development (not only coders are needed!). Finally, supporting me on Patreon really makes a difference, so please consider it.

Thank you all for the wonderful 2017!

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In-app purchases on iOS, world transformations, FPS, and soon: plans (including editor!)

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  1. In-app purchases on iOS! You can now sell products inside your iOS applications, through the Apple AppStore.

    We give you a very comfortable Pascal API to do this: TInAppPurchases class in the CastleInAppPurchases unit. And it works 100% for both Apple AppStore (on iOS) and Google Play (on Android), so you can really comfortably develop mobile games with in-app payments. Both “consumables” and “non-consumables” are handled.

    See the iOS services documentation.

  2. We have improved the utilities and terminology around FPS (frames-per-second).

    • Read the new documentation about how to show and interpret FPS, it was improved in many ways.

    • You can now display FPS using Window.Fps.ToString. It accounts for the fact that we may be sleeping (Window.Fps.WasSleeping, possible when Window.AutoRedisplay = false), and always looks sensibly. It may show “no frames rendered” or “no need to render all frames”.

    • New --no-limit-fps command-line option is automatically handled by your games (if you let the build tool to autogenerate the program file, or you explicitly use Window.ParseParameters or Application.ParseStandardParameters).

  3. You can now get world transformation of the TCastleTransform using the TCastleTransform.WorldTransform and TCastleTransform.WorldInverseTransform methods.

    While you may not often need to call these methods explicitly, they provide a very important internal feature. Every TCastleTransform and TCastleScene is now fully aware where is it placed with respect to the world, even when it is under a series of transformations. So this makes various things working correctly in all cases of transformations: the physics, X3D Billboard nodes (see e.g Text3D within the wyrd-forest demo).

  4. New unit CastleDialogStates and new feature MessageOKPushesState allows you to use modal dialogs a TUIState descendants, and thus have easy modal boxes working on all platforms, including iOS. Read the manual for more information about TUIState usage.

  5. Some tiny new features: build tool defines CASTLE_IOS when compiling for iOS (to easily detect any of the 4 platforms (os/cpu combinations) representing the iOS target), TCastleEdit cooperates with the clipboard (Ctrl+C / Ctrl+X / Ctrl+V work), fix logging long strings (> 4k) on Android, use Lazarus ocoRenderAtDesignTime automatically, and probably more:)

I will post some more news soon (hopefully this weekend 🙂 ), about some exciting new plans for the engine. I want to start 2018 with a bang (actually, I want to end 2017 with a bang!), and I want you to know what I’m doing. So, stay tuned for the next post where I will lay out what I’m thinking about 🙂

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Lots of engine improvements (from the last 2 weeks), mobile view3dscene in-progress

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There’s a lot of new stuff to announce:

  1. Jan Adamec is developing a mobile view3dscene: a viewer for various 3D and 2D models our engine can handle (X3D, Collada, Spine JSON…) designed to run on Android and iOS!

  2. You can use the <custom_options> in CastleEngineManifest.xml to specify custom FPC options for compiling your game.

    Thanks to Jan Adamec, you can also specify custom options on the build tool command-line: add something like --compiler-option=-dMY_SYMBOL to the castle-engine compile|simple-compile|package ... command.

  3. New section in manual about optimizing PNG loading.

  4. New engine demo test_bump_mapping, to easily show bump mapping (with steep parallax, and self-shadowing) with animated light working everywhere — on mobile too.

  5. GLFeatures.Memory to query GPU memory information. This way you can easily detect graphic cards with lower memory (e.g. test GLFeatures.Memory.LessTextureMemoryThan(1024)), to eventually load some alternative (e.g. smaller) textures.

  6. When loading Spine JSON models, the atlas name is now more eagerly auto-detected. Loading various examples from official Spine installation will now (again) work.

  7. New feature allows to apply fog from SceneManager.MainScene to the rest of SceneManager.Items . See UseGlobalFog. This is enabled by default, thus potentially changing the way your game looks. I decided to enable it by default, as it’s consistent with UseGlobalLights, which is also enabled by default.

  8. RenderControlToImage is a new powerful function to easily render any TUIControl (like a scene manager, TCastleSceneManager!) into an RGBA image. It uses using off-screen rendering and FBO underneath (and thus you’re not limited to your window size).

  9. Thanks to Jan Adamec, you can now associate files to open with iOS application. An equivalent for Android is in-progress 🙂 See the CastleEngineManifest.xml in view3dscene-mobile for example usage. The Window.OnDropFiles callback will be called when user will use our application to open a specified file type on a mobile device.

  10. Creature corpses using TCreatureResoure by default no longer collide. Change TCreatureResoure.CollidesWhenDead (or collides_when_dead in resource.xml file of the creature) if necessary.

  11. Fixes and a huge optimization for CastleCreatures if you have many (like > 50) creatures on your level.

  12. Jan Adamec wrote a nice documentation how to set up FPC to compile from Mac OS X for iOS and Android on. Things are a little more complicated than usual there, due to having both 3.0.2 and 3.0.3 compilers.

  13. The option --fpc-version-iphone-simulator of the build tool is auto-detected now by default. So it will be 3.0.5 for FPC 3.0.4, and thus work correctly out-of-the-box in more cases.

  14. Also, look what Michalis is doing right now: Wyrd Forest – terrain and spawning fun 🙂 See code on GitHub.

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More comfortable transformation of scenes, fixed-function disabled by default

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  1. We have a new class TCastleTransform that can be used to group and transform scenes, using properties like Translation, Rotation, Scale, Direction, Up.

    • This class replaces previous classes T3D, T3DList,T3DTransform, T3DOrient, T3DCustomTransform, merging all their functionality. The ability to “group and transform” is so basic feature that the previous split into multiple classes was uncomfortable.

    • This way you can freely switch between adjusting rotation directly (using Rotation, as axis vector + angle) or Direction and Up (that specify rotation versus a default orientation of your models, which is of course configurable).

    • The TCastleTransform class is now an ancestor of TCastleScene. So you can easily transform TCastleScene e.g. by Scene.Translation := Vector3(1, 2, 3);.

    • The TCastleTransform class is also used as the ancestor of SceneManager.Items list. So you can easily transform your whole world, e.g. scale everything down by SceneManager.Items.Scale := Vector3(0.1, 0.1, 0.1);. (Be careful though — transforming the SceneManager.MainScene is not supported yet, so you cannot use the above example if you use SceneManager.MainScene for default camera.)

    • Also, TCastleTransform has a nice name, correctly suggesting that it’s useful for both 3D and 2D games 🙂 As usual, 2D in our engine is just a special case of 3D, and I’m writing everything to be comfortable for both use-cases.

  2. The GLFeatures.EnableFixedFunction is now false on desktops with modern GPUs (with OpenGL >= 2.0). This means that the rendering, by default, uses modern implementation that is more flexible and can be even faster.

    Remember that, in order to see even better shading, you can use “Phong shading”, either for the whole scene (Scene.Attributes.PhongShading := true;) or only for a particular shape (Shape.Shading := shPhong;), see shading methods documentation. By default we use Gouraud shading, which is uglier but faster.

    The new rendering method (based purely on shaders) should generally produce the same or better results as the old method (which was using a mix of fixed-function and shader approaches). It is more flexible, and may be even faster on modern GPUs. But there are some possible “gotchas”:

    1. If you have implemented custom rendering using immediate-mode OpenGL commands (in overridden LocalRender, or Window.OnRender) then you possibly depend on some deprecated state being set by the engine.

      The simplest solution is this case will be to reenable GLFeatures.EnableFixedFunction for now. Just set GLFeatures.EnableFixedFunction := true in Window.OnOpen or Application.OnInitialize (you want to do this early, but after OpenGL context is created).

      The more long-term solution is to upgrade your custom rendering to work with the new system. In most cases, you should not render things yourself using OpenGL — instead handle everything by loading appropriate 3D models into TCastleScene. The models can be in X3D format, with shader effects and many other fancy stuff. In general, let us know on the forum if you have a specialized need and are not sure how to upgrade.

    2. The fixed-function Gouraud shading was using two-sided lighting. The new shader pipeline makes one-sided lighting in case of Gouraud shading, for speed.

      One solution is to flip the side that receives lighting by flipping the ccw field at your geometry node (like IndexedFaceSet). The other solution is to use the “Phong shading” (that always does two-sided lighting), either for the whole scene or only for the particular shape — see instructions above.

    3. Finally, some old GPUs with buggy OpenGL implementations may be affected by this. We tried to protect from this (GLFeatures.EnableFixedFunction remains true if OpenGL version is less than 2, even if GL supports extensions for GLSL)/ But if you find a case when GLFeatures.EnableFixedFunction really needs to be enabled even on OpenGL > 2 (because otherwise rendering using shaders is buggy), please submit it to us (through the forum or as an issue on GitHub).

      Please attach the OpenGL version (and renderer and vendor) on your system — you can see it in the output of GLInformationString function, which is also dumped to the log file if you use InitializeLog in your game. You can also see it in the view3dscene message for Help->OpenGL Information.

    Note: If you use shadow volumes, they will still use fixed-function pipeline. This, and some other planned improvements to renderer, is documented here — contributions to improve this are welcome!

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