Simplifications, optimizations, GTK backend suitable for testing OpenGLES too

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mobile/simple_3d_demo screenshot
  1. We had a few methods that needlessly traversed whole TCastleTransform hierarchy. Reworking them was an optimization and also an API simplification (IOW, a “no-brainer” 🙂 ). Changes:

    1. TCastleTransform.Press, TCastleTransform.Release are now only called when TCastleTransform.ListenPressRelease is true.

      The need to process keys in TCastleTransform is very seldom (we only had 2 use-cases for it in the engine, one is in soon-to-be-deprecated CastlePlayer, the other was for X3D key sensors which are not very useful for normal engine usage).

    2. TCastleTransform.CameraChanged, TCastleTransform.UpdateGeneratedTextures, TCastleTransform.VisibleChangeHere virtual methods removed (their use-case is now implemented as an internal mechanism, tailored to factual needs, not needing to be recursive).

    3. TCastleTransform.Dragging removed (not needed, a simple Boolean internal field that tracks “whether something is between PointingDevicePress and PointingDeviceRelease” is enough).

  2. CastleWindow GTK backend (default on Linux) can now initialize OpenGLES context using EGL. (Note that it was already possible with Xlib backend previously.)

    This allows to test OpenGLES rendering on desktops, just define symbol OpenGLES at compilation (e.g. by adding it to CastleEngineManifest.xml, or just tweak one line of src/base/ And make sure you have OpenGLES installed (libgles2 package on Debian and similar).

  3. Updated documentation about CastleWindow backends.

  4. Optimized bounding box calculation for meshes (boxes are now a little less optimal, but much faster calculated; undefine FAST_MESH_BOUNDING_BOXES if you want to try again the old method).

  5. Optimized GeneratedCubeMap with update=NONE (should take zero time, was accidentally consuming some).

  6. Fixed LOD node behavior under transformation animation (testcase: navigation/lod_test.x3dv in demo-models).

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Demo of showing loading progress, WaitForRenderAndCall utility, new TCastleTouchNavigation

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zombie_fighter demo - loading
zombie_fighter demo
zombie_fighter demo
  1. We have new TUIState.WaitForRenderAndCall utility, especially useful to implement loading inside TUIState descendant.

  2. Our examples/user_interface/zombie_fighter features now a demo showing loading progress (as a descendant of TUIState, which is our advised approach for loading screens now).

  3. Whole examples/user_interface/zombie_fighter was remade to use editor.

  4. We have a new UI control, available from code and in editor: TCastleTouchNavigation.

    This shows controls that you can drag to navigate within a viewport. Thus it allows navigation in a TCastleViewport on touch devices. It is a “reboot” of previous TCastleWindowTouch use-case, now expressed as UI control that can have any size, can be attached to any viewport, and in general is consistent with the rest of CGE.

    In a typical usage scenario, you just add it as a child of TCastleViewport, set FullSize=true, set Viewport to the parent. Then control the touch interface. It is easiest to call MyTouchNavigation.AutoTouchInterface := true to let it be automatically assigned. Set MyTouchNavigation.AutoTouchInterface := ApplicationProperties.TouchDevice to let it be automatically assigned, but only on touch devices (that do not have regular keyboard / mouse).

    See TCastleTouchNavigation API docs for more info. An example is in examples/mobile/simple_3d_demo.

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Interactive example showing our collision routines, various engine and editor improvements

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collisions example screenshot
collisions example screenshot - sphere collision
  1. I made a nice new example to demonstrate our collision checking routines examples/3d_rendering_processing/collisions:

  2. Sphere collisions are now more precise (at least when uniform scaling is used for transformations),

  3. TCastleTransform.CollisionSphereRadius is visible in the editor,

  4. Added various properties to Basic tab on editor,

  5. Nicer editor behavior when toggling TCastleViewport.AutoCamera (or changing MainScene when AutoCamera=true), it will now immediately update the camera,

  6. Fix editor main window hiding on Windows,

  7. Fix editor crash when toggling multiple components property at once (remember: you can select multiple objects with Ctrl in the hierarchy),

  8. Improved shadow maps cooperation with X3D 4 nodes.

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Reading glTF extras (e.g. from Blender custom properties) to X3D metadata, support changing shape collision mode from Blender, documentation improvements

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  1. We now read glTF extras data to X3D nodes metadata.

    In practical terms, it means that you can set custom properties in Blender, and then read it back in CGE using MetadataString and similar properties on nodes.

    We read “extras” data from glTF primitives, materials, cameras and transformation nodes. If you use Blender, it means we can read “Custom Properties” from Blender objects, meshes, materials and cameras.

    More pointers how to read custom properties defined in Blender are here. Our demo-models contain examples of Blender models with custom properties, see in subdirectories blender/custom_properties/ and blender/custom_properties_2/. Finally, reworked examples/short_api_samples/metadata shows how to read and write metadata in CGE.

  2. Our metadata API was also a bit simplified. MetadataString can now be used easier (doesn’t have an index, use it like Node.MetadataString['my_name']), but we expose MetadataStringArray when you need an array (use it like Node.MetadataStringArray['my_name', 2]).

  3. Shape.collision field supports "NONE" value. In Pascal you would set it as MyShapeNode.Collision := scNone.

  4. We support a special custom property at Blender mesh: CastleCollision. It can have these values:

    • none — do not collide
    • box — collide as box
    • default — collide as precise triangles

    See the Shape.collision field linked above for more details.

    This way you can easily turn off collisions in Blender, or set collisions to use simple box for complicated shapes. Just set Blender custom property CastleCollision on a mesh.

    Demo usage in examples/fps_game/data/example_level level. The level defined there contains everything collidable + non-collidable water surface in one model, one glTF file, and the water is marked with CastleCollision=none.

  5. Improved Detecting Memory Leaks Using HeapTrc documentation (done long time ago by Eugene Loza, now merged with notes previously in optimization manual chapter ).

  6. Documented various X3D extensions added lately to have perfect glTF support:

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Editor improvements: dragging scenes to viewport, undo for gizmos, better docs

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Drag and drop fun:)
  1. You can now drag scene files (like glTF, X3D, images…) from the “Files” bottom panel onto a viewport. It will automatically create a TCastleScene instance with proper URL that displays this model.

    The initial translation is determined by the point where you drop the item, with some smart code that should account for both typical 2D (orthographic) and 3D (perspective) needs.

    • In case of 3D (perspective), we try to place new scene origin exactly at the 3D position at the drop point. Or just 10 units in front of the camera (if nothing was hit).

    • In case of 2D (orthographic), we try to place new scene origin 1 unit closer than the object present at the drop point. So the new scene is in front. In case nothing was hit, we place object at the middle of ProjectionNear and ProjectionFar (which will be 0 by default).

    Thanks go to Andrzej Kilijański for doing this!

  2. Undo system now works for gizmo operations (moving, rotating, scaling of TCastleTransform) in the editor. Thanks to Eugene Loza!

  3. Improved manual page about the editor.

    I am also encouraging everyone to watch Castle Game Engine – introduction to the engine and editor, which is our video introduction from Debian conference, already announced here 🙂 I have embedded this video on the manual page, as well as the getting started page.

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New TCastleTransformDesign component (like prefab for TCastleTransform), example advanced_editor showing advanced usage of designs and custom components

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Castle Game Engine example advanced_editor
  1. New component TCastleTransformDesign allows to reference a xxx.castle-transform file inside a parent design. This way you can define a composition of TCastleTransform (including TCastleScene) inside an xxx.castle-transform file, and reuse it multiple times.

    It is similar to the existing TCastleDesign for user interface.

  2. New example examples/advanced_editor shows:

    1. Instantiating multiple times UI design with TSerializedComponent, TCastleDesign

    2. Instantiating multiple times transform design with TSerializedComponent, TCastleTransformDesign

    3. Registering custom components (project-specific) to be available in editor

  3. Finally, an important bug with using custom components in the editor on Unix was fixed.

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Lots of optimizations, support for explicit tangents information in glTF and X3D, X3D 4.0 being finalized

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As I mentioned in the news post 2 weeks ago, lately I’ve been following a trail of reworking and optimizing some renderer code. In particular this is important if you do skinned animation in glTF with bump mapping — which is a very common use-case. New features / optimizations:

  • We support now explicit tangent vectors information, by new X3D node Tangent .

  • We read from glTF tangents information. So if you export e.g. from Blender a glTF model that has normalmaps, it is beneficial to click the checkbox “Tangents” at export options — this way CGE will not have to calculate this information, so loading will be faster.

  • We animate tangents correctly when skinned animation is used.

  • We generate tangents once, at load, for the most common case of glTF with IndexedTriangleSet geometry, this makes rendering fast — even if you didn’t export with “Tangents”.

  • When tangents are used, they are loaded to the VBO together with coordinates and normals (since they usually all change simultaneously during skinned animation).

  • Coordinates, normals and tangents are updated using fast track to VBO: fixed for tangents, faster in case of no tangents.

  • Memory usage and loading time of precalculating glTF animation optimized. Our approach is still memory-hungry, unfortunately, esp. if you have long-running animations. You will see in the log messages like "Memory occupied by precalculating "xxx" animation: yyy" if an animation eats more than 10 MB. The true solution for this (already planned, but post CGE 7.0 release) is to move the entire skinned animation calculation to GPU.

In an unrelated news, X3D 4.0 specification is getting finalized, with last public draft here. This includes the modification from Michalis to add PBR and many other material upgrades to X3D, making it also consistent with glTF.

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Raspberry Pi – binary builds, ready for download

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CGE on Raspberry Pi

You can now download Castle Game Engine for Raspberry Pi from our main page.

These are ready builds, with the editor, build tool, view3dscene already precompiled, so just download them and run bin/castle-editor and use CGE on your Raspberry Pi. Technically, they are just Linux/Arm builds, and will work on any Linux/Arm system — we simply call them “Raspberry Pi builds” as that is how most people will probably view them.

They are being compiled with the latest stable FPC (3.2.0) and Lazarus (2.0.10). You can however use them with any FPC and Lazarus versions supported by CGE.

  • In particular, FPC that is included in current Raspberry Pi OS packages (3.0.4) works without any issues, so you can just do sudo apt install fpc and you’re good to go, CGE will work with it.
  • You can also install Lazarus (like sudo apt install lazarus-ide) although you can use other editors to edit CGE applications too.

  • All “normal” ways to install FPC/Lazarus on Raspberry Pi work. E.g. you can use fpcupdeluxe if you want FPC/Lazarus versions newer than the Debian packages.

The builds include latest CGE 6.5, automatically updated after every commit. We use a Raspberry Pi hosted by Mythic Beasts as a Jenkins slave (see about our Jenkins).

In time we’ll provide Linux/Aarch64(Arm64) precompiled builds too.

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Video introduction to the engine and editor (from MiniDebConfOnline2)

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Two weeks ago I made a presentation about Castle Game Engine at a Debian conference MiniDebConf Online #2 “Gaming Edition”. I think it turned out to be a very nice video introduction to the engine, presenting the editor, creating 3D content in Blender, and even using Docker to create an Android build — all wrapped in 40 minutes. This is the best video introduction to CGE right now, so I really recommend watching it to everyone here 🙂

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