Fish GL Released

Fish GL Tank

Fish GL Tank

Well for the past 2 months I’ve been tucked away working on my first official WebGL project – FishGL (www.fishGL.com, www.fishgl/mobile for mobile)!  The Internet Explorer team wanted to create a graphics showcase with the classic “fish bowl” theme and enlisted ThinkPixelLab.com to create the experience along with Scott Wetterschneider as the 3D artist.

The Fish Tank has many interactive features and elements that bring and rich experience to not only the desktop, but to touch devices as well.  In fact, you’ll have the most fun with the Fish Tank if you’re on a touch device since it has features that allow you to pan and zoom around the room, tap the glass, feed the fish and even SWIM with the fish!  There’s also a couple of nice easter-eggs for those of you who like to explore.

Some features include:

  • Swim in tank (click diver mask on panel)
  • Add fish to the tank with the fish dial
  • Set algae level with “last cleaned” slider
  • Tap the glass to scatter fish
  • Feed the fish by tapping the food jar
  • Turn the lights on and off with the light switch on the wall
  • Advanced panel gives you a TON of options for customizing the scene (hit the second dot at the top of the panel to switch to the advanced panel)
  • Real-time lighting from the sun and tank light as well as shadows (turn shadows on via the advanced panel)
  • Change clean/dirty water tint for in-tank swimming experience.  To see the change, change the amount of algae in the water while simming
  • Change color of light in the tank as well as its intensity, distance
  • Change the tank glass to your liking
  • Work with the realism of the gravel in the tank
  • … and so much more!

You can create a tank that matches your mood, room, computer, phone or whatever you like:

If you had told me 6 months ago that I would be working on a WebGL project, I would have laughed you of my office waving my Unity3D banner!  But God has been good and blessed me with some awesome people to work with at ThinkPixelLab.com - namely, Robby Ingebretsen and Joe Fillmore.  Super cool people, extremely talented in what they do and very patient!

If you’re interested in creating 3D WebGL content, I’d encourage you to look at the Three.js library – the api’s nomenclature and approach is right inline with other technologies like Unity3D, so getting up and running is very easy.

 

Creating Cube map / Environment map in Three.js with preloaded assets

 All the Three.js samples I found were all using the same technique of just passing the image URL’s in an array to  ImageUtils.loadTextureCube() , and used whatever it returned as the necessary texture for a environment, reflection or refraction map.  Well, I’d written an AssetManager to preload all necessary assets for creating our scene, and when it came time to assemble the reflection map, I had to dig through the source code to see what ImageUtils.loadTextureCube() was actually producing and how.

In my scenario, I have a class that is called CubeMap and after passing it the image URL’s, it takes care of preparing what is to be preloaded with the AssetManager.  When the AssetManager has completed the preload, I then have access to CubeMap.texturesArray, which is an array of the preloaded images, and I can then put together the environment map texture I need:

// create a new THREE.Texture
var envMap = new THREE.Texture();

// After preloading your images, set the image property of your new texture to the array of images you preloaded
envMap.image = this.tankReflectionBox.texturesArray; // array of images = [];

// Set the mapping type
envMap.mapping = new THREE.CubeReflectionMapping();

// You have to set this to false, otherwise your images will be inverted on the Y axis
envMap.flipY = false;

// Mark as dirty, otherwise you won't see anything
envMap.needsUpdate = true;

Have a bandit day!

Error with Three.js shader – ERROR :GL_INVALID_OPERATION – fix

I was just in the process of trying to narrow down what does and doesn’t work in IE11 with Three.js’ shaders and ran into this error message while working with the normalmap shader:

ERROR :GL_INVALID_OPERATION : glDrawElements: attempt to access out of range vertices in attribute 1

The fix is to simply call computeTangents() on your mesh’s geometry object, and bingo, we’re in business:

model.geometry.computeTangents();

Here’s the block for context:

var shader = THREE.ShaderLib[ "normalmap" ];</pre>
var uniforms = THREE.UniformsUtils.clone( shader.uniforms );

uniforms[ "enableAO" ].value = false;
uniforms[ "enableDiffuse" ].value = true;
uniforms[ "enableSpecular" ].value = true;

uniforms[ "tDiffuse" ].value = fdo.colorMap;
uniforms[ "tNormal" ].value = fdo.normalMap;
uniforms[ "tSpecular" ].value = fdo.specularMap;

uniforms[ "diffuse" ].value.setHex( 0xFFFFFF );
uniforms[ "specular" ].value.setHex( 0xFFFFFF );
uniforms[ "ambient" ].value.setHex( 0x222222 );

uniforms[ "shininess" ].value = 10;
parameters = { fragmentShader: shader.fragmentShader, vertexShader: shader.vertexShader, uniforms: uniforms, lights: true };
mat = new THREE.ShaderMaterial( parameters );

model.geometry.computeTangents();
model.material = mat;

NGUI for Unity

After interviewing with a few unity3D shops,I was hit with the same question every single time: “do you have NGUI experience?” – to which I replied “no, but I’m sure I can pick it up”. They didn’t share my optimism :) Enter in NGUI for Unity!

What I love about e-books these days is their size and how concise they can be, and this book delivers not only on both counts, but sets you in motion with a very real world example project that covers a great portion of the capabilities of NGUI. Everything from the wizards to widgets to creating atlas’ and fonts is covered. The book isn’t exhaustive in its explanations but IS thorough in pointing out the features and properties of all the components it covers – which makes it easy to follow along with in the examples.

The author gets right to the meat of the matter immediately walking you step by step through the sample project. It helps to have Unity3D experience and you’ll have to understand the basics of how unity works with prefabs and code as this book is targeting unity devs looking for a solid UI framework. It IS written in a very practical manner so even a complete beginner could get something out of it.

Now, in thinking back about my response to potential clients about just “picking NGUI up”, I see how deep the framework really is. It’s much more than just a set of UI components, and this book really brought me up to speed in a very short amount if time – excellent work!

Find more information here

Save Pinky! now on Android

Well, it took a couple of weeks to integrate the android plugins in to the project to co-exist with the iOS plugins ;) But overall the experience was very good and it runs excellent on android!

So if you’ve felt left out of the fun, now’s your chance to show those iOS players how Android players roll!

Get it

WebGL Helicopter update

Ok, I know videos are only so good and you probably want to try the real thing – I get it!  It’s almost there!  I just have to clean up a few things to make it not so frustrating because flying the helicopter in and of itself will probably most frustrating ;)  If you ever played Battlefield 1942 with the Desert Combat mod and learned how to fly the helicopters there, this will be JUST like that.  I loved flying the helicopters in that game – and ever since then it’s just gone down hill.  They keep putting baby controls on the stupid things and it just ruins the cool factor IMO.  Yeah it was hard to fly, but once you got it, you owned just about anyone and everyone in the game.

Anyway, I originally mimic’d the physics and that worked ok, but then thought why not dive into a javascript physics engine and really get dirty.  So, I picked up Ammo (which is a straight API port of Bullet) and armed with very little in terms of documentation and examples was able to mimic the flight experience I’d created in Unity3D.  I’ll definitely be posting some examples and explanations of things I learned so sit tight for that – I’ll definitely attempt to de-mystify using Ammo as much as I can.

Goo Create IDE

If you saw the earlier post where I had an industrial area, you’ll notice that this time the scene is completely different.  I wanted to play with the different shaders and post processing affects and after playing with Goo I was inspired to recreate the scene I’d created there, here.  Goo definitely makes it a million times easier to achieve this look (another post for another time).  The floor is a mirror which has a nice subtle smoke / noise map and the only effect I applied was a vignette.  The performance so far is good at 60fps, but after adding the skyscrapers it’s starting to show signs of hitting the performance cap.

At this point, my overall impression of WebGL development is both inspiring and disappointing and somewhat cruel.  Documentation is probably my biggest gripe.  For Ammo, I had to go to Bullet’s API and docs and for examples, I just had to search the web for anyone who might have used Threejs with Ammo.  Thankfully, there was just enough to answer the basic questions, but it was tedious to say the VERY least.  Don’t get me started about browser issues and simple things like locking the mouse – I mean geez, really?? is that so much to ask a browser to do?  I have it working, but was astonished to find this wasn’t something supported up until recently and even then it’s only the main browsers (shocker, I thought I’d left all this crap back in the late 90′s? – why people are anti-plugin is beyond me, talk about wasted hours in QA?! oye!)

Ok, I’ll rant later and rave as well.  There’s good and bad of course, but the bottom line is, I at least enjoyed myself and the challenge has taken me back to the days when Papervision3D was just starting and we had no idea how to do many of the things we developed.  So that part is really very cool ;)

I promise – I’ll get the link up soon for you guys to try!

WebGL Helicopter Demo – Controls

It’s funny how things in life prompt you to change course or learn something new.  If you’d asked me a month ago about WebGL and if I’d be doing it, I would have surely said “no”.  But, after talking to 2 different agencies about contract work recently, I quickly realized that WebGL was catching fire to a certain extent.  Then, after talking to Carlos Ulloa about it, I realized I had a lot more experience with this type of 3D development than I realized.  After years of Papervision3D development, I found I was right at home with WebGL development.  It’s very similar to many of the techniques and limitations of Flash/3D development, with the nice twist of Javascript and browser incompatibilities thrown in… as if it wasn’t difficult enough to write 3D games/apps!

So naturally I dove in head first with a helicopter simulation ;)  I’ll be able to release this by the beginning of next week hopefully

Enjoy!

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