GameFromScratch review of Castle Game Engine

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Castle Game Engine was reviewed by GameFromScratch! Watch the video below 🙂

My first reactions:

  • I’m extremely happy that a number of good things about the engine (in particular editor, documentation, recent CGE for Unity page, support for many platforms and formats) were pointed out. The 12-minute video is packed with information, and most of it is exactly the information I want to emphasize to the new engine users. Which means that overall we’re doing a decent job of communicating “what the engine is all about”, since an “outsider” was able to figure it out and very nicely describe.

  • I browsed the comments under the video (wow, > 12000 views!). It is obvious that having a console port (Nintendo Switch) and some actually released games like The Unholy Society and Escape from the Universe (that look pretty, unlike our somewhat ugly examples) is an important factor for many people for judging the engine. So I’m glad we have those, and I’ll keep emphasizing them on our webpages 🙂

    And with this, a big plea to everyone who makes games using CGE: let me know about them, make screenshots, make movies, make announcements on your website — I want to reshare (and put in our gallery) all the pretty stuff you create. This stuff makes me personally happy, and it is a proof for others that “the engine can be actually used to create real, finished, polished games”.

  • I lament that there are ~5 seconds when the editor gizmo dragging doesn’t work on the video. That is most probably because the video was recorded right before we finished gizmos’ implementation. Gizmos rock today!

  • The author mentioned common Lazarus complaint: it opens a lot of windows 🙂 Note that Lazarus has actually since some time a solution to it (it is just not enabled by default): it’s called “anchored layout”. To use it, just open in Lazarus a package inside your Lazarus source code: components/anchordocking/design/anchordockingdsgn.lpk. Install this package (it will recompile Lazarus) and you have an IDE with docked windows! Much more manageable in my experience, even if still not ideal.

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New Patreon rewards and goals since October, including plans for: training videos, conference+gamejam, Occulus port

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Castle Game Engine on Patreon

First of all, big thank you to everyone who already supports the engine on Patreon. If you like what we’re doing, please support us!

This announcement took a long time to write. I want to change our Patreon rewards and goals to be both more exciting (having CGE on VR was my dream for some time now 🙂 ) and also more realistic (as I announced last month).

Before we start, I wanted to tell you what “Patreon rewards” I rejected — because they are available already, for free, for everyone 🙂

  • A new developer, whose time will be paid by my savings, will join CGE in October! I will announce him officiallly next weekend 🙂
  • Remember that you can always contact me, describe your project, and ask for help. You can use Castle Game Engine forum, Discord and other ways, email or Keybase or just send a message through Patreon.

    I promise to look at everything. Simple questions or even fixes/improvements are always answered promptly, as you can probably see in the above communication channels 🙂

  • Remember that I welcome all your projects on our game gallery (or tools or components galleries). I want to link to you, I want to announce your projects, I want to reshare your screenshots and movies. I love seeing how you use CGE, this is incredibly motivating. Please send me screenshots / movies of what you’re doing with CGE right now 🙂

Moving on, these are new rewards for your support on Patreon on various tiers:

  • 5 USD tier allows you to “Request new training video”.

    The goal is that you can request a new training video on any CGE-related topic. I promise to have time each month to prepare at least 1 video on any subject that can “fit” anywhere between 5-45 minutes. The videos will be public (so everyone using the engine benefits) on our YouTube channel.

  • 10 USD tier becomes now “Request Next Engine Features, once every 2 months”.

    I want to openly admit that this is a downgrade to what I previously offered. This reward previously costed 5 USD, and I promised 1 feature every month. But I was not able to deliver it… And practically, developing requested features took me between 1 and 2 weeks of work (instead of “1 weekend”, as I initially envisioned). So I hope that the new plan will be more sustainable for me, and I will be able to deliver on-time what is promised.

    Of course features and games requested so far will be done ASAP, they are in my backlog and I want to do them. I have now feature “TCastleScene loading from stream”, and “Marble Madness game” in my backlog.

  • 50 USD tier remains unchanged: you get “Cloud Builds Server for Your Projects” and my eternal gratitude! I’m also thinking about introducing merch for this tier. Please let me know what do you think about this, as Patreon makes it super-easy to make and deliver.

  • Oh, and the 1 USD tier remains as just a basic way to support the engine. You also still get access to private posts on Patreon, but I do not want to commit to them regularly. I want to make everything public and open about the engine, so there wasn’t much opportunity for private posts in the past.

And here are new Patreon goals:

  • Upon reaching 250 USD / month support (I really hope we’ll reach it soon!) we organize Castle Game Engine online conference + gamejam!

    To celebrate this goal, we’ll organize a conference followed by a gamejam session! To start small, I want to devote a weekend toward it, with one day (Saturday) devoted to sessions (4-8 talks of 30 mins) and another day (Sunday) devoted to a gamejam. (Maybe we should switch gamejam and sessions days order?) Throughout the entire weekend, the primary goal will be to actually “meet” (online) and have a chance to talk together — CGE developers and users alike. There are many free tools to organize such event now, so I have no worries about the technical feasability of it 🙂

  • Upon reaching 500 USD / month we buy a good VR headset (in 200-300 USD price range) and port CGE to it.

    The goal is to buy a real, popular, powerful VR headset and make games for it 🙂 Which one we will actually buy — depends on when it will happen. A few months ago I was doing research, and would go for one of the Occulus variants, as they seemed to give biggest “bang for the buck” within 200-300 USD price range. The “optimal VR headset” may well be something different in 2021, so we will just make a final decision once we reach this goal. The explicit desire here is to buy something that has really good quality and significant user base.

  • Upon reaching 1000 USD / month we make “Cloud Builds Server for Your Projects (Jenkins)” accessible for all open-source projects, for free, and you can automatically register and use it.

    I described what it is on Cloud Builds (Jenkins) wiki page. Yes, we have it already running, and Jenkins and continuous delivery concept rock! I actually planned to make this available for free since a long time. However, making it secure and reliable when 100 projects and people (that don’t know each other) will start using it… proved to be a much more difficult task. So this now our goal on Patreon. The money would cover both the cost of development and maintenance of a specialized Jenkins instance, and the cost of actual servers.

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Editor gizmos to translate, rotate, scale

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You can finally visually edit the transformation of the TCastleTransform (including TCastleScene) in our engine editor! This was a critical feature since some time. I’m very happy, because in the past I used the lack of this feature as an excuse “Oh we cannot release yet Castle Game Engine 7.0, we miss gizmos!” — well, I no longer have this excuse 🙂 So we’re getting closer to the CGE 7.0 release.

Here are some details how the gizmos work. As you can see on the screenshots here, the gizmos work with both 2D and 3D games, and you can instantly test them using “New Project” editor templates.

  1. Using the toolbar you can switch the mode to select / translate / rotate / scale a transformation.
  2. In the translate / rotate / scale mode, you can also select different scenes with left-click. So actually the only use-case for the “only select transformation” mode is when you deliberately do not want to accidentally change the transformation of something.

  3. In the translate /rotate / scale mode, dragging with left button performs the appropriate transformation. You can also drag with right mouse button, this allows to drag but without changing the current selection.

  4. In the translate mode, you drag a particular arrow to move in the given direction. The arrows reflect the current rotation.

  5. In the rotate mode, you drag a particular circle to rotate around the given axis.

  6. In the scale mode, you either drag a particular arrow (to scale in one dimension) or you drag the transparent box in the middle (to scale in all dimensions, a common use-case).

In addition to this, the “Layout” tab now contains the “Reset Transformation” button when a TCastleTransform is selected. In particular, this allows to reset all the crazy edits you will do with gizmos 🙂

This is not the end of gizmos work, of course. I have a few TODOs, in particular:

  • Making them prettier 🙂 There’s a bunch of tiny tweaks to make them look and behave perfectly, and I want to incorporate various ideas from 3D authoring software (like Blender) and other engines.

  • Snapping. This would allow to move by increments of 1, rotate by increments of 5 degrees, scale by multiplies of 0.1. Like in Blender.

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CGE overview for Unity developers, example of anisotropic filtering

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  1. Inspired by some questions on our Discord, I wrote a page Castle Game Engine for Unity developers. This documents how various concepts from Unity “map” to Castle Game Engine. It may provide an easy start for people already familiar e.g. with Unity.

    I would encourage everyone (whether coming from Unity or not) to browse it. It mentions some things that describe the general direction we’re heading — e.g. I’m dedicated to making our CGE editor really a universal and versatile tool to design CGE applications, I advise using TCastleWindowBase over TCastleControlBase for typical game projects and more.

    Some of these notions will find their way to the updated manual eventually, where I want to focus on the approach of designing as mush as possible using the editor. I also want to keep it clear that everything you design using editor is still possible to also do by code, so it will take some work to describe it all consicely and clearly 🙂

  2. We have a new example examples/3d_rendering_processing/anisotropic_filtering that shows how to activate anisotropic filtering on chosen textures. Anisotropic filtering improves the look of textures that are repeated, and may be visible from far away, under a steep angle. It avoids “blurring” the textures in some cases.

    In the future it may be possible easier (by adding this possibility to material properties XML configuration, which in turn may be possible to do visually at some point).

  3. Oh and examples/fonts/html_text has been remade to use CGE editor. This is a general trend, I hope to remake most examples to use editor.

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Presentation about View3dScene and Castle Game Engine

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At the beginning of August, I made a presentation about View3dScene and Castle Game Engine, for Web3D webinar about X3D Browsers. The presentation is now publicly available:

Enjoy 🙂 I focus in the presentation on View3dscene features, which you get just by opening some X3D and glTF files, no coding (or knowledge of CGE API in Pascal) required. For CGE developers, all these features are available as part of our TCastleScene class, documented in a few chapters of the manual.

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