In the first post of this blog we’ve introduced briefly our simulation engine. Now we are moving closer to the release of the first beta version of this engine and it’s time start talking about what’s coming next. And this is the SimplyCube.
The SimplyCube is the real commercial name of our product offer; it is composed of two elements: the simulation engine, and a set of editors. The SimplyEngine is for software developers, and though we’ve made it as simple and easy to use as possible, creating a full simulation scene is always much easier with graphical edition tools. Each of these editors addresses a specific aspect of creating a 3D application. Used independently they allow precise tuning and customization of each element of a real time 3D scene. Used together they allow quick editing of a complete simulation scene, with no specific knowledge of 3D software development. Today we’ll present the first four editors we’ll release:
The SimplyEdit, is our 3D scene editor. This is the central tool where you can set up the 3D scene. From the definition of the basic setting of the scene (ground, water, sky) to arranging objects and light sources in the scene to finally setting up the last details before importing the scene in your application.
Here’s a quick list of things you can use in this tool to define the scene:
- Terrain (ground, water, underwater, sky)
- Objects (we can import any model created by Autodesk software, more detail in “asset compiler”)
- Lights and shadows (several lights and shadow type available)
- Sounds (2D or 3D sound sources)
- Post processing effect (for advanced rendering)
The edition possibilities of SimplyEdit are however kept simple, to keep the user interface understandable, pleasant and easy to use. For most of the simulation elements, you’ll simply have to choose between different options in a list. For example the 3D model are not created or modified by the SimplyEdit, you can just choose which model to import and where to set them up in the scene. Of course we leave you the possibility to control and edit things more in depth, but this is done separately in the other editors (to keep our example, to define in detail how a specific 3D model should look, how it should react to lights, you’ll have to use the SimplyShader editor).
The Asset Compiler
The Asset Compiler is an essential tool to import assets in our simulation engine (a first version of the Asset Compiler will be available in the beta of the Simulation Engine). It can process any 3D model file in the .FBX file format, which mean you can import any 3D model created by Autodesk 3D edition tools (Maya, 3DS Max …). We are also compatible with the .X file format so you can import any XNA compatible 3D model. The asset compiler can also import textures files (images in BMP, JPG, DDS…) and shaders (.fx) created by FX Composer (Nvidia) or Render Monkey. This ensures two important things:
- You can rely on the high quality creation tools of other software editors (Autodesk, Nvidia, AMD…)
- If you have already existing libraries of 3D models, you can easily import them in our tools.
The SimplyPhysics editor is a unique tool to define every physic property of a 3D object. As we’ve seen before, accurate physic simulation is essential, as it guarantee the realistic behavior of objects in a 3D scene. To ensure this accurate physic simulation, it is essential to define the properties of every 3D objects. With the SimplyPhysics, you can define:
- The mass/or density of any object
- Simple collision shapes for accurate and efficient physic collisions
- The physics properties of objects (damping, inertia, force and torque)
- The material properties of objects (friction, elasticity)
- Joints (to create complex physics objects)
It is important to note that thanks to our multi physic engine support, the properties of the objects are defined for every physic engine in a single editor. Of course, the 3D models we provide with our simulations are already set up with correct physic settings, so if you’re a novice user you can create simulation without having to bother about physic concepts.
The SimplyShader is an edition tool where you can define and configure the “shaders” that affects a 3D object. “Shaders” are advanced 3D graphics techniques that enable very realistic 3D rendering in real time. In the SimplyShader you can add details and texture to an existing 3D model, set up the way the object react to light, or the reflection of an object. Here is a list of the type of “Shader” you can define in this editor:
- Multi layered surface
- Normal and Parallax mapping (add relief to an object)
- Self illumination (for object that are also light sources)
- Specular mapping (define the way the object react to light)
We have several other editors planned for 2010, 2011 and 2012, they will bring new easy edition capabilities and give you more control on the simulation. We’ll announce them on this blog.