I’ve been using Ogre for a few days now, just going through the tutorials on the website and messing around, and I really like it. After the pain of programming a uni project directly in OpenGL, I was kind of dreading how much work it would be just to get a model into a real-time renderer. As an analogy, imagine wanting to cook a nice meal, and having to build the oven first – you know what you want the oven to be able to do, but actually going about it is a slow and painful process.
However, with Ogre 3D, the oven is built for you! If I don’t want to, I never need to go into quaternion maths, building a scene hierarchy system, frame listeners or any of the other complex engine necessities. After years of using 3dsmax, I found the Ogre workflow really simple and straightforward. There are lots of nice features and it seems robust. It is not too bloated in my opinion either – although the set-up process was rather long. The tutorials on the wiki website are really easy to read and learn from, although one was unable to compile on my computer. http://www.ogre3d.org/tikiwiki/tiki-index.php?page=Tutorials
Here are some screenshots of the demo scene I just made (having done Tutorials 1-6), using some example media and my own ships/ space-station:
You can read the code I wrote to create the scene shown in the screenshots here: http://www.evernote.com/shard/s121/sh/58d7c731-1507-4e4d-9e3d-8c9b14ef2005/71b5b5d250ca72c7173b8478e5b66395 – there’s exponential fog, texture shadows, a spotlight, a skydome, and some C++ structures like for loops to get me back into the flow! If you know some C++ and are somewhat familiar with making 3D graphics, I think the code’s pretty short and easy to read.
The structure of getting models into the engine takes some getting used to. There is a human-readable .scene file (which can be exported from Max, Maya, Blender, etc) and a dotSceneParser class. What this means is that scenes can be altered from within the .scene file, .mesh files and .material files without you having to recompile the source code. It’s amazing that you can use Max as your game editor almost, placing lights and objects, without having to constantly recompile your C++ code!
Here’s a screenshot of the “Easy Ogre Exporter” open-source Max plugin, http://www.ogre3d.org/tikiwiki/Easy+Ogre+Exporter, which is a really nice and simple way to get max scenes into the .scene format:
I had a really enjoyable few days taking it slow and learning all about Ogre – I don’t want to get disenfranchised by jumping in to making the game too quickly and doing everything wrong. Also I bought a load of expensive computer parts to make a new system, which will speed some things up a lot compared to working on my laptop – compiling and running the game takes about a minute, and those minutes sure add up. Hopefully I’ll start making the actual game soon though.
I’ve been trying to set up the OGRE 3D engine for the last couple of days (you can read more about it here: http://www.ogre3d.org/tikiwiki/tiki-index.php?page=Getting+Started), and finally, after failing to build it from source, and install the Eclipse SDK, had some luck with Visual Studio 2008 – the default solution!
I might actually write most of it in Eclipse because I loved the features such as clever highlighting, version compare when I was writing Python scripts in Maya using it. I guess I’ll have to get used to Visual Studio though, because it is painful going through the Ogre installation process. I don’t want to try it again if I don’t have to!
It was the best feeling getting the sample browser file to compile after hours of failure on many fronts. I spent an hour absorbed in the samples in the engine, which demonstrate all kinds of pretty new features that the best games today have, and some that I’ve never seen (Real-time Julia fractal 3D volumetric textures?). It’s nice that you can switch in-game between OpenGL and DirectX as well.
It’s great being able to see the FPS impact for every feature and effect – I never knew bloom would halve the frame rate. The whole demo has given me the confidence that it’s possible to create a really spectacular game using the engine, so I’m excited. The thing now is putting in the time and effort! I have a lot to learn; as well as the book I mentioned in the first blog post, there’s a brilliant website that feels like exactly what I need: http://www.altdevblogaday.com.
I’ll try and update again soon with some programming tests.