Molehill might become a fun, usable mountain

[tweetmeme source=”neoRiley” only_single=false]So, essentially, Unity has entered the Flash 3D world.  While 3D api’s (Away3D is doing an excellent job, btw) might provide a way to bring 3D to life via Molehill, Unity brings a kick-ass IDE with it.

And considering that they’re going to support AS3 right out of the bag (which they practically already do with UnityScript) as well as the other languages you can already use (I’ve become a c# fan myself), I’m hoping the resulting project from Unity will allow for maximum integration with flash projects.  I have no idea what output they intend to target (swf or project to yet be compiled by flash), but I do hope they output a project we can work with on the FlashBuilder or Flash IDE side of things.

There have been quite a few discussions about this move, and as usual, there’s 2 camps – the yay’s and nay’s.  I see it as a positive for Unity overall – they’re in the business of making tools, and they do that extremely well, and without a doubt, their developer base will broaden drastically if the resulting Flash is what people expect and need to get their work done (reference Adobe’s output for iPhone compared to Unity’s – case closed).  Case in point, I’d created a Papervision3D component for the Flash IDE a while back – it was downloaded over 450,000 times).  That tells me that people want visual solutions to 3D problems and that there’s a huge potential user base for a good Flash3D IDE.  Bringing Flash3D to the lower common denominators in the development food chain is a “good” thing.

But without a doubt, Adobe is the massive winner here.  IMO, they are walking away with much more of a win.  The one thing I’d complained about early on was that Molehill left 3D to the egg-heads who loved being the only ones who could use it.  As I’ve said before – until you bring it to a state of usability by the masses, it’s pointless and will largely be fruitless.  In other words, I felt that if the new 3D capabilities weren’t put in the hands of us lesser-folk through a common interface and language, it wasn’t going to go anywhere except for demoscene reels on YouTube.

Enter in Unity, and you just fixed all of that.  All of what I was saying and telling them they needed to achieve, they received from Unity3D (Merry Christmas Adobe).   I do wonder how Unity’s physics, Beast Light mapping and shaders will translate, but I’m guessing those are the fruits they intend to dangle in front of even the most hardened Flash 3D developer😉

Check out the official release statement:
http://blogs.unity3d.com/2011/02/27/unity-flash-3d-on-the-web/

    • Jason Merrill
    • February 28th, 2011

    “The one thing I’d complained about early on was that Molehill left 3D to the egg-heads who loved being the only ones who could use it. As I’ve said before – until you bring it to a state of usability by the masses, it’s pointless and will largely be fruitless. In other words, I felt that if the new 3D capabilities weren’t put in the hands of us lesser-folk through a common interface and language, it wasn’t going to go anywhere except for demoscene reels on YouTube. Enter in Unity, and you just fixed all of that.”

    It’s not pointless. Adobe clarified at Max 2010 that the Molehill API is for the 3D engine/framework developers, it was never targeted at the standard Actionscript developer. They mentioned they were possibly going to create an API for Flash designers and developers, but for the most part, Molehill is for the likes of third party 3D framework developers like Away3D and Alternativa3D. With those frameworks already targeting Molehill and building off it, the masses are not left out of Molehill’s capabilities to tap into hardware acceleration. So Unity or not, the average Flash guy would still have Molehill made accessible by third party 3D frameworks.

    • yeah, again, that was my point. I just didn’t agree with Adobe doing it that way is all. However, if the end result is that I get to use Unity as the IDE to create 3D content and leverage MoleHill – then I can’t argue the results😉

  1. Update on comments about egg heads: this was more of a reaction the the climate of discussion surround what adobe *should* do in the end with regards to Flash3D. The business decision to leave API creation to projects like Away3D and others makes sense. However, as a tool’s based company, I thought it made sense that they (Adobe) provide an out of the box solution as well. Molehill is obviously very “player” centric, while investing in an out of the box 3D API everyone could leverage would have been more inline with a tool’s based company’s efforts.

      • Jason Merrill
      • February 28th, 2011

      Yeah, I was able to grab some of the Adobe engineers at Max and they said they were working on some libraries – not anything as extensive as frameworks like Away or Alternativa, but something the average Joe could use easily. Their point of view is, it takes a lot of man-hours to build one of those 3D frameworks, and since there are already some great ones out there, it didn’t make sense to compete. Made more sense to partner and give them what they wanted. And now we see the benefits not only with those frameworks working with Molehill, but now Unity is on board.

      Exciting times ahead for the Flash platform!

      • yeah, we had talked to them some time ago about this topic (the PV3D team) and I thought it made sense back then. I still see the wisdom with it to this day.

        But what I’m after is integration as well. How do we bring Flash3D into the Flash IDE and make it a great IDE once again? Full of wonder and fun? Designers still struggle to deal with packages and class paths and the fundamentals of developing “code”. I didn’t feel like this step (Molehill) was making as big a step as was needed. I would like to see Flash 3D brought to the Designer level ultimately. Unity will bring that, but at a cost of course. Unity makes that huge extra step I was hoping for since back in the MX days😉

  2. Best news I have heard in a long time, not only does it make doing 3D in Flash ten times easier since you have an IDE for doing 3D but it also makes Unity3D ten times easier to sell to clients (especially if they are advertising agencies) since you can deploy to desktop browsers (with out having to worry about plugin installations) in Flash and do native apps for iOS and Android. Getting projects approved for the web should be much much easier! THIS IS HUGE!

    • Cardin
    • March 1st, 2011

    I thought it was quite alright for Adobe to “sublet” the 3D framework process to 3rd party engines like Away3D and PaperVision. After all, there are already quite a few mature 3D Flash engines, all with their developers and preferred working style.

    Mainly I was afraid that something like the Tween engine will be churned out, which we can all agree is bloated, slow and inefficient compared to the multitude of faster 3rd party animation libraries out there (eg. TweenLite).

    • Yeah, competition is healthy, and it’s particularly strong in the 3D world. It certainly caused the teams to streamline, come up with features and stay on their toes – which resulted in good libraries

  1. February 28th, 2011

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