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Introducing the V3X 3D Engine

How about some Direct3D for BeOS too?

By Eugenia Loli - Tuesday, February 6th at 9:08am
 
Remember SpaceGirl, that cool BeOS game demo, two years ago? Well, RealTech-VR, the company behind it, never left BeOS, even if they decided to remain silent for a long time. But the silence has been broken and they are now talking about their new, professional level, 3D engine, V3X. The demo is already free to download for Windows, while the BeOS one is pending some final tweaks and the release of Be's OpenGL. You want even better news? RealTech-VR are evaluating the possibility of a Direct3D 8 port to the BeOS. Just think, how easy, porting Windows games to the BeOS could be. We are interviewing Stephane Denis, head developer at RealTech-VR and of course, some impressive screenshots are included.

1. When the V3X API will be ready for BeOS? Does it depend on Be's OpenGL stack release?

Actually, we are updating the new version of V3X engine for BeOS. The update process is nearly completed, we are just testing right now, building the samples programs and installation programs, the release of the V3X API should be available the same time as the release of RDS-2000 for BeOS. In any way, you can subscribe to our newsletter on our web site in order to be informed in the future.
We can handle the default OpenGL driver (which is the same used), the new OpenGL kit or we use our own software rasterizer (which is much more faster than the software opengl).

Click for a larger image
Click for a larger image

2. Tell us about the difference of your DirectGL API, OpenGL and Direct3D.

DirectGL and OpenGL are based upon the standard OpenGL 1.1 API. DirectGL has hardware acceleration support. So the main difference is the API initialization, all the rest is the same.
Direct3D (Direct3D 8) is a bit the same but: it's Windows specific (not portable, except of course on the Microsoft XBox).
Both APIs (OpenGL and Direct3D) give the same features (some little differences though). But at the end, the result is to render by the same hardware.
OpenGL may appear easier to programmer than Direct3D (Direct3D 7 for exemple required a very long and complex initialization code due to the fact of various kind of 3D accelerators (you must detect which video card to uses, which textures format, does the can ca do single pass multitexturing etc..)).
About speed performance, OpenGL appears to be a bit more performant compared to Direct3D but it's depend of the version of drivers, the configuration etc.. That's why we handle both APIs. Users can choose between the several modes and see for themselves which performs better.

Click for a larger image
Click for a larger image

3. How easy is to port a D3D game to a BeOS OpenGL one? Can your product help this procedure?

Guess what, we are thinking a lot about porting Direct3D API on BeOS! In fact we have already tried a couple years ago but the project what suspended (too complex at this time and).

But with the new Direct3D 8, we are strongly thinking about it again, since the API was simplified. We provided the same headers of Direct3D 8 (slightly modified) and you will be able, in theory, to recompile you application. It will be in fact, a wrapper to OpenGL.

So this problem of porting Direct3D game should be easier. On the other hand, it will only be available for Direc3D 8 or later. For older D3D games, if you have written a D3D game, you have to manually port it to OpenGL, and then to BeOS' OpenGL will be very easy. Anyways most of the games are written in OpenGL now.

Click for a larger image
Click for a larger image

4. From what I see in your web site, your demo-coding history and your... relationship with assembly you have lots of hand-code MMX in place and you are looking into PentiumIV SSE-2 instruction set too. Tell us about the performance of your engine.

Well, there is not so much assembly code in the engine but enough to make the difference. For example, all 3D transformations are done by the SSE or the 3D Now!. It gives a slight performance boost. Our engine is also multiprocessor enabled.

About performance, well, after releasing the first demo under BeOS (which will be a version of RDS 2000 for BeOS), we will release V3xMark2K1, a 2D/3D benchmark for BeOS and for Win32 (Q3 2001). Later DX Project 2K1, a full featured 3D demonstration (Q4 2001). We hope these demos will show the difference between the two OSes.

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The V3xMark2K1 benchmarks. Click for larger images

5. Will you update SpaceGirl to run with the new GL? Will you also take care of future versions of your NASM port for BeOS?

The SpaceGirl project has been discontinued for a while now (we are now focused on 3D developement and demonstrations).
Although, there is a project of a new form of that game, new graphics, with the latest version of the 3D engine which is not really planned but in our 'boxes'. For Nasm 0.98, a new updated version (with PentiumIV instruction set support) will be uploaded on our server tomorrow, 6th Feb. With the updated assembler version, a disassembler will also be provided.

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Click for a larger image

6. Tell us about this cool Win32 Resource convertion utility you developed. What can it do and how can it help developers port their games to BeOS easier?

It will help not only game developers but all developers. Imagine. You have developed a well known image processing software. You may want to port into BeOS but your application have thousend dialog boxes, menus etc and BeOS has no resource editor. With this tools, design your our dialog boxes, menus. Icons and bitmap images are also recognised and even the resource ID ! The program really works well and almost exports 90% of the interface. It still will have some enhancements to be done, but the product is almost there and available for public.

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Above: The RDS2000 resource editor application. Below: look how the dialog looks under Windows and click the small screenshot to see how to looks under BeOS, exported by the RDS2000 resource kit.
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7. What the strong features of your 3D engine are and how does it differ from its competitors.

First, we wanted to provided a portable but very fast and versatile 3D engine, revolutionary yet fully tested and stable (after porting the 3D engine on more than 3 operating system, you could be sure that the engine works).
We don't "lie" by provided freely the 3d engine viewer and exporter in order to really test the 3D engine and see if it fits with your project by giving freely RDS 2000 (development tools for exporting and viewing 3D scenes). But we do provide versions for BeOS, MacOS, and everything for a price at least twice cheaper than the competitors.

Click for a larger image
Click for a larger image

8. Do you find the absense of nVidia 3D drivers under BeOS a big problem? Will your in-house VESA-3 drivers help performance-wise?

I don't think it's a problem with nVidia since they also develops for Linux. Probably we should ask them about a port to their drivers. It could be hard to run as fast as the hardware acceleration under BeOS though with an NVidia video card !

Click for a larger image
Click for a larger image

9. I know that a port on MacOS is under way. Is Linux among your plans too? Is the BeOS port full featured as the Windows one?

The MacOs is under way, works under software and OpenGL drivers. For Linux, we had some trouble with NVidia GeForceMX (!) with our machines and we have suspended the update until the official release of XFree 4.0 on all Linux distributions. But 80% of the 3d engine is already ported.

Click for a larger image
Click for a larger image

[Discaimer: Some of the screenshots were taken in software mode, because windowed hardware Opengl under BeOS always run in overlay mode, where you can't grab screenshots. You would need a special grabbing utility, similar to HyperSnapDX for Windows, which is not available under BeOS]



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