Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Apricot Blending Crystal Space

I haven't followed Project Apricot in a while - I've been out of the Blender & Crystal Space 3D scene for a while now. It appears to have taken an interesting turn however.

It appears the final name is "Yo Frankie!" - finally available online or retail, including all the code & assets that went into the game. Both of them.

Errr... what?

Evidently the project forked - one fork was done entirely within Blender, the other built specifically for Crystal Space. There appear to be differing accounts as to why the for occured; the Blender Foundation claims that this was due to advances in Blender's own game engine, while at the same time they appear to say that there were too many technical difficulties to marry the Blender Game Engine and Crystal Space 3D. Ultimately Blender's game engine remains an entity on its own, and Crystal Space walks a separate path. It seems the Blender community wasn't happy with using an engine outside of their own doors and so they walked away from integrating with a more sophisticated game engine. Integration with other engines and projects... something that could make Blender thrive in a production environment... was abandoned to work on the more primitive Blender Game Engine.

The Crystal Core project seems to have re-adjusted its ultimate aims as well, similarly finding its initial objectives far too ambitious. That makes two flagship titles that haven't been able to reach their intended goals.

I'm wondering why Apricot and Crystal Core are both having such difficulties. My guess is that content generation can be done well, engine development can be done well, but the interoperability between the two is an equal if not greater effort. Compare the tools Eskil created for Love to the Blender + Crystal Space tools: building models and meshes in Blender can be fairly arduous and requires a lot of reference material while Loq Ariou can create meshes using freehand and UV texture mapping in Blender is a multi-step process while Eskil has created something that can do the UV mapping in a few short steps. Verse seems to be the glue that the Blender <-> Crystal Space interoperability was missing, creating a uniform way to remotely process assets and scenes.

The effort to have a Crystal Space 3D game engine within Blender would have been tough, but I believe it would have been worth it. It is definitely no easy task, but these kinds of tools are sorely needed. It is too bad Blender decided to push Crystal Space aside - I was looking forward to big things with their collaboration.

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