PlayCanvas December Mega Update

Time for another dev update, WebGL lovers! We’ve deployed a ton of new features, optimizations and fixes. Here’s a run-down of what’s new.

Camera Preview

A Camera Preview is now shown in the top left corner of Viewport when an entity with a camera component is selected.

camerapreview

Interactive Asset Previews

New Material, Model and Cubemap Previews are now available in the Inspector. They are interactive and clickable.

material-preview

Antialiasing Control

It is now possible to control antialiasing in Scene Settings.

antialias

Model Placement

When dragging a model to the Viewport from the Assets panel, if CRTL is held (CMD on Mac) it will put the model in front of the camera rather than at the origin.

Assets Panel Enhancements

Added toggle button to Assets panel to switch between small and large thumbnails.

thumbnail-size

Added Folder Up button to navigate to parent folder.

folder-up

Hovering on asset in Assets panel will show a tooltip with the full asset name.

asset-tooltips

Asset Replace feature is available under the context menu of an asset. It activates the asset picker so the developer can choose another asset of the same type. It will replace references with new asset in Entities and Assets.

GIF files are no longer translated to PNG. They are now treated as another valid runtime format with parity to JPEG and PNG runtime texture formats.

Code Editor Enhancements

  • Highlight current line of cursor.
  • Highlight errors.
  • Made cursor more visible.
  • Fewer disconnection messages.

Optimizations

Huge speedups achieved for both loading and rendering of scenes!

  • New thumbnail rendering system reduces VRAM usage in the Editor by up to a factor of two. This makes the Editor more stable and faster to load, especially for larger scenes.
  • Major optimisations for loading and Editor rendering process so projects with thousands of entities and assets can load and render now up to 10 times faster in extreme cases.
  • Asset load operations are now batched rather than performed one by one.
  • All engine assets are loaded only when they are required (when they are enabled), leading to reduced traffic and loading times.
  • Optimisations in internal API of Editor and UI leading to reduced garbage collection (and therefore GC stalls) and speeds up UI templating for Hierarchy and Assets panels.
  • Enabled GZIP on WebSocket traffic, which reduces data transfers for initial loading.

Fixes

  • Fixed up arrow while navigating in the Hierarchy tree.
  • Fixed sorting of folders in the Assets panel tree.
  • Fixed material overrides on the Model Component if the model asset wasn’t loaded.
  • Cubemap faces now update in the Inspector (in the Faces section) if a face texture file is changed.
  • Read-only users can now select text/number field values.
  • Double click or right mouse click on number fields now will select whole content of the field and not just part of number separated by a dot or minus sign.
  • Networking improvements have been made to reduce disconnects.

Phew! We hope you like these latest additions. Got any feedback? Comment on the forum! We’d love to hear what you think.

Instant Games and PlayCanvas

You may have seen the news about Facebook launching Instant Games in Messenger. If not here’s the launch video

Instant Games is a totally new mobile gaming platform and it’s entirely built on HTML5 games. This is tremendous news for the PlayCanvas game development community.

Games that are built using PlayCanvas will work with no modification as an Instant Game. Those games are ready to be played in the Facebook News Feed and in Messenger.

Developing Instant Games

Instant Games are playable today in the News Feed and in Messenger. However, the development platform is currently in closed beta. If you’ve started developing a game that would be suitable as an Instant Game visit Facebook to sign up for the closed beta.

PlayCanvas Instant Games

PlayCanvas is already being used to build Instant Games. The launch title Shuffle Cats Mini by King was built using PlayCanvas. Look out for more titles built using PlayCanvas in the future.

A new gaming platform

We’re tremendously excited to see Facebook launching the Instant Games platform and it is a perfect platform for PlayCanvas games. HTML games that are fast and lightweight, mobile and shareable. We hope you share our excitement and if you want to get started building your Instant Game, sign up to PlayCanvas for free today.

Tutorials section expanded!

We have just revamped the tutorials page to include many more code samples of functionality with PlayCanvas. These include common use cases such as creating an Orbit Camera around an Object, Load Assets with a Progress Bar and more.

orbit-camera

To make it even easier to find the what you need, we have also added a filter to help narrow down the search. So if you are looking at moving a camera via user input? We have it covered!

tutorial-filter

 

The tutorial section will grow as we write more samples so if there is anything you would like to see, let us know on our developer forums!

PlayCanvas Interviewed Live on BBC News

On Friday, 18th November, PlayCanvas HQ was visited by BBC News, the world’s largest broadcast news organisation. Our CEO Will was interviewed live on the 6 o’clock evening news which has viewing figures of around 1 million people.

It was a great opportunity to promote London as a great place for young tech companies to do business. Will describes the benefits for finding great talent, but London has so much more to offer. Outside of the US, London has the most active venture capital scene. Most international companies chose to locate an office in London. Transport links are superb. Government tax breaks are in place to assist tech startups, particularly in the gaming space. And on top of that, it’s an incredible place to live.

We can’t imagine being anywhere else!

TANX Takes WebGL Gaming to a New Level

One of the most popular WebGL games today is TANX, our online tank battle game. WebGL brings developers amazing new possibilities: lightning fast load times, cross-platform play, easy sharing, incredible performance. It all adds up to instant, pure fun.

But as good as TANX is, we’ve been working hard on a major upgrade. And we’re happy to announce that it’s live today! So what’s new?

We’ve added a brand new level. We’ve moved away from the ‘TRON’ style graphics and adopted a more realistic style. Beautiful, I hope you’ll agree.

tanx-new

All power ups have been lovingly remodeled.

tanx-powerups

We’ve added a very sexy shield effect. See it crackle with energy as it kicks in. All done in a special custom GLSL shader.

tanx-shield

To turn up the mayhem, we’ve added camera shake and punchy explosions, built with PlayCanvas’ particle system component.

tanx-boom

 

The game even has a new URL. Play now at:

https://tanx.io

Public Service Announcement: TANX is highly addictive. Please take occasional breaks!

Can you believe this game is playable after loading just 2.8MB of data? Massive fun delivered to your browser in seconds.

We hope you love this update. But what do we have planned for the future? Is there more to come? You’d better believe it! Our games team is now working full-time on TANX so expect continual updates over the coming months. Send us your feature requests and suggestions in the comments below!

Refinements aplenty for our WebGL Editor

You probably saw this week’s big announcement about our seamless integration with WebVR. But while WebVR is getting a lot of attention, we still care about the small details that can make you even more productive. We’ve spent the week adding some simple yet useful tweaks to the Editor.

Previous Selection Button

We’ve added a button to the top right of the Inspector panel that allows you to step back through the selection history. There’s also a tooltip that shows clearly what the previous selection was. So if you’ve selected a model, then a material, and then a texture, you can now bubble back up to the model quickly and easily.

selection-back

Updated Physics Engine

We have updated PlayCanvas’ build of Ammo.js to the very latest version. This update benefits from 2 years of Emscripten improvements and exposes much more of the Bullet API. So if you are feeling adventurous, you can delve into the parts of Ammo that PlayCanvas does not expose and try some more advanced physics effects. For example, soft body physics. Or maybe utilize constraints for things like ragdolls, as shown below:

What to check out the project above? It’s here.

Miscellaneous Improvements
  • You can search for an asset by ID in the Assets panel
  • Edit boxes in the Inspector panel now lose focus on hitting ENTER
  • Read-only collaborators can now download assets from projects
  • CTRL-A now correctly ‘selects all’ in the Assets panel
  • A material’s ‘reflectivity’ property can now exceed 1
  • F2 (or ‘n’) now renames a selected asset or entity
  • Page Up/Down move the Editor camera up and down

We hope you like these little tweaks. We do love to make your lives easier!

WebGL Texture Compression Made Easy

Big news! PlayCanvas is excited to introduce easy texture compression, enabling you to build bigger and better WebGL apps.

Today, the vast majority of WebGL developers load textures from JPG and PNG images. Unfortunately, while these formats compress well for transmission (especially JPG), they occupy a great deal of video memory when passed to WebGL. For example, let’s consider this image of the Earth:

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Miniclip Launches Their First PlayCanvas Game

PlayCanvas is proud to announce that browser-gaming giant Miniclip has published their first PlayCanvas-powered game: Virtual Voodoo.

Virtual Voodoo is designed to get you in the mood for a spooky Halloween. Make the poor Voodoo doll’s life a misery with a dastardly selection of spells, curses and implements of pain! You can even customize the doll with different clothing and accessories.

Jamie Cason, Executive Producer at Miniclip said:

We’re really excited by PlayCanvas technology and the promise that it holds for the future of Open Web Games. It is currently the best toolchain and engine for WebGL that we’ve seen and Virtual Voodoo represents the first of, what we hope to be, a series of successful PlayCanvas-powered Miniclip titles.

Using PlayCanvas to create new games is a no-brainer for Miniclip. Browser plugins are gradually being phased out of the browser ecosystem and HTML5/WebGL are the technologies browser game developers are moving to. PlayCanvas is the only professional IDE for building lightweight HTML5/WebGL games that have incredibly short load times. Virtual Voodoo is playable after loading only 4MB and loads in seconds. This means more players end up playing the game and Miniclip achieves better retention.

Look out for more PlayCanvas-games from Miniclip in the future. But for now, why not embrace your dark side and PLAY VIRTUAL VOOODOO NOW!

PlayCanvas REST API

api

Today we’re launching the first version of the PlayCanvas REST API.

The REST API is available to all Organization account holders and allows developers to automate processes to help them with their development. For example, you can use the API to create a daily build of your application and download it via a build server. In the future we’ll be expanding the API with additional features like access to assets and more.

You can read more details about the API in the documentation.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on how you are using the API and what you’d like to see in the future. Let us know on our forum.

PlayCanvas versus Unreal WebGL

Our previous article comparing PlayCanvas with Unity’s WebGL exporter certainly got folks talking. One of the questions that came up in the aftermath was “OK, but what about Unreal’s WebGL exporter?”. Unreal, like Unity, relies on Emscripten to port the native codebase to JavaScript. So it would be reasonable to expect Unreal to suffer from the same issues as Unity: large download sizes, long load times and poor runtime performance.

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