Monthly Archives: January 2007

theComplex (Game Engine)

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  • Product description: Game engine with a core concept of “most geometry will stay onscreen next frame too.”
  • Product history/genesis: Freeverse approached me about making a game engine that could run on both Mac and Windows platforms for a game series they were pitching. The games were ideal for the style of engine I already had in mind. The Hoyle games were completed after successfully creating an engine capable of driving DirectX or OpenGL. Soon after, iPhone became big and in less than a week theComplex was running on iPhone too.
  • Team: Self
  • Core Technologies:
    • C++ for Games, inside a cross platform wrapper
    • Objective C in Cocoa for Mac OS X wrapper
    • Objective C in UIKit for iPhone wrapper
    • C++ for Windows wrapper
    • Java for Android wrapper
  • Most proud of: This engine shipped in many games, and was updated and added to many times over the years. But throughout it has remained stable, well documented, and efficient.
  • Responsibilities: Everything from design to implementation

Custom Basketballs Screenshot

The design of this engine was based on years of experience with debugging other people’s engines in ports of Windows games to Mac. In each engine, when a new frame was started, everything from the previous frame was destroyed. All the sorted lists, all preprocessing, always redone every frame. In theComplex, the entire list of things to render is kept every frame. This way the game can choose to re-sort as often or as little as it wishes.

Falling Coins Screenshot

When Freeverse was purchased by ngmoco:), they chose to go a different direction with our technology choices to an internally designed javascript engine. Ngmoco:) invited me to help design and implement the 3d component of their new engine. It was never used in a shipping game because the core javascript engine simply could not keep up with the requirements of 3d engines. Two years later they have finally allowed alternate engines, and are now using Unity3D. As it turns out, Unity is so similar in design to my own engine that it was more like “coming home.” Even though Unity does not have the 2D support, some of their additions are brilliant.

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