3D In Your Browser

Sure, not inspiring when static, but go take a look.

This is a bit nifty. A Russian company called Alternativa are working on a 3D engine that runs in straight, browser Flash. And flipping crikey, it’s not bad.

There’s a couple of demo areas you can trudge about – a science fiction-themed bunker (with footsteps I’d swear are from Deus Ex, and I know the bleepy noises too – someone please tell me in the comments), and an outdoor ancient ruin in the sunshine. Check them out. Be a bit impressed.

Blue sky thinking.

The potential for this is rather huge. If this is what Flash 9 can do, and Alternativa are saying Flash 10 is already dramatically improving performance, just think what Flash 20 will be capable of.

Once at a preview trip for Tribes 3, Dan Gril and I managed to switch the demo to wireframe mode. We frightened the devs so much. And now Gril's a PR.

In fact, Alternativa have good ambitions for the project. Future plans include dynamic lighting, bump lighting, paralax mapping, 3D sprites, and animation and physics additions. Their brains being farther reaching than mine, they don’t only see the gaming possibilities for this. Think about architects wanting to show their plans without the customer needing to install CAD programmes. (Take a look at this demo for an example of how smooth this is). Or 3D spaces for interactive advertising – how much more likely would you be to play with the banner if you could walk around inside it? Thanks to Mr Parkin for his ever-excellent tippage.


  1. RiptoR says:

    wow, nice, gotta try that out

  2. Flint says:

    The bunker is like Halo in the original Unreal engine.

    Nifty stuff.

  3. Switch625 says:

    Well the whooshy logo sound is a bit like in Darwinia when you correctly draw a glyph to create a squad (if anybody ever played Darwinia in glyph-drawing mode), and yeah the beeps are maddeningly familiar.
    I was reminded of the Jedi Knight games for some reason, any chance they’re from there?

    Also, no option to invert mouse look. Grumble grumble….

    The 3D is mighty impressive though. A few texture anomalies here and there, and no anti aliasing (ha!) but it’s not half bad.

  4. sana says:

    and no anti aliasing (ha!)
    Try not moving – the picture will be anti-aliased and the polygon count highly improved after a second.

  5. Muzman says:

    The sounds will undoubtedly be from a sound effects library of some sort (the bibby noise was the click confirmation sound in some menu of some game) as most game’s sounds are. If you pay too much attention to these things you go mad from how often they show up in movies, games, TV, yadda.
    (perhaps that’s not the point and it’s just the deus ex confirmation people want. Oh well, I post therefore I am)

    That’s pretty cool but is there much call for this with things like that Tribes rehash and so forth? Does it being in flash translate to more users or a lighter download or something?

  6. Delduwath says:

    I’m pretty sure that the sci-fi beeps are indeed from Deus Ex. Not so sure about the footsteps, but they do sound sorta similar.

  7. John Walker says:

    Muzman – my favourite example is the door opening noise in Doom. That sound is in about 75% of science fiction films.

  8. Pax says:

    That is freakin’ awesome!

    For some reason this inspires thoughts of a cyberspace or a metaverse at a level even something like Second Life can’t match.

  9. The_B says:

    I could be wrong, but are those blips in Doom and/or the original Half Life?

  10. Dumdeedum says:

    The footsteps sound like the ones from Half-Life to me, but like everyone else I’m too lazy to actually go and check.

  11. Tricky says:

    I think those footsteps are from Half-Life 1 and the GoldSrc engine. I’m pretty sure they are.

    Now they just need guns!

    I somehow get the feeling that this will be used to make a new RuneScape failure of an online game.

  12. ACK says:

    Hmm I seem to recall something about iD making Quake III into a browser game, although a quick googling only brings up something by some guys called “Necromanthus”, and it’s shockwave which means I can’t try it (Linux, yadda-yadda).

    link to necromanthus.com

    Oh, must be blind today:
    link to eurogamer.net

  13. Razor says:

    @ John Walker, who said “That sound is in about 75% of science fiction films.”

    All this time I thought I was the only one who noticed this =P I’d tell this to my friends and they’d just give me a weird look.

  14. jungleFish says:

    FREAKIN’ FINALLY! I’m in love! Especially after looking at their tutorial code. This is so much simpler than Papervision or all the other 3D Flash solutions! And it’s SUPER FAST!

    Oh man oh man oh man. Looking forward to the GUI release.

  15. Ging says:

    ACK: Quake Zero is now known as Quake Live, here‘s a interview with him over at gamesradar about it (ok, so it’s actually a google cache of the article, as it’s seemingly vanished from gamesradar).

    It’s all about the Magic Carpet boost sound effect, used just about everywhere! (I’m getting deja vu, didn’t we talk about this not too long ago?)

    edit: yes, yes we did – it came up in the interview with Chet Faliszek.

  16. mbanana says:

    Fallen Empire: Legions (which is a needlessly long name btw) is a browser based fps and it’s really quite good.

  17. Hugh says:

    Ging: I was just about to mention the Magic Carpet one… I remember being so surprised the first time I heard it…

  18. Leelad says:

    That is insane!! So smooth even on my work PC which is very awful.

    Running around 50FPS.

  19. Mr Clock says:

    I can’t get behind their claim that it’ll be useful to professional draughtspeople; most of the better ones do not require specialist software on clients’ machines in order to view drawings, or even publish them on the web. The conversion to flash is an unnecessary extra step.

  20. phuzz says:

    On a half decent gaming rig I’m getting the fps topping out at 100, dropping to about 65 with movement, and oddly dropping to 40 just looking at the green sparky thing at the other end of the bunker.

  21. JFM says:

    Interestingly, Opera runs it a lot faster than Firefox 2. I’m on Linux so your mileage may vary, etc. Maybe it’s because I use more extensions in Firefox…

    How much does using different browsers affect everyone’s FPS?

  22. Al3xand3r says:

    Don’t compare this to things like Instant Action. Those games use a plug in to run the standard Torque engine (or whatever else is used) within a browser window. It’s nothing like what these guys have achieved with making 3D in FLASH.

    As told already, most everyone has flash, while not everyone would be willing to download stuff and extra plug ins just to view or play something in their lunch break.

    That said I do think the Instant Action implementation is good and Fallen Empire: Legions is fantastic (though needs more content).

    I just misunderstood the service, I thought games would be 100% free with revenue coming from ads but you actually have to buy them to get all the content other than sample levels.

    So with that in mind what’s the point of having it all work via browser? I’d prefer to buy Fallen Empire: Legions for example and not have to mess with browser plug ins anymore after that, but still have the friends, matchmaking etc features available.

  23. phuzz says:

    In IE 7, I only get 60 when still, 40 when moving and a woeful 20 when looking at pretty things, so FF3 wins against IE 7 at for me.

    Having two sets of beepy noises going off is offputting.

  24. bobince says:

    Oho! Now just add avatars, and we’ve finally got the cyberspace 1996-era VRML was always promising!

  25. Jickel says:

    I’m only getting around 35 FPS when moving about (slightly over 50) when standing still, running Firefox 3 on a Macbook Pro (C2D 2.2 GHz and a Geforce 8600 GT 128MB). Seems a bit low, but I heard Adobe has been criticized for Flash’s performance under OS X.

  26. Zac North says:

    It’s no Crysis, but with some optimizations, some pretty quality 3D could come out of this. My only problem with it is that there are certain places that the illusion just falls apart–the wiggly textures on the bunker walls for one. It has to do with the way the engine displays the environments.

    Someone’s going to figure out a way to do this with texture filtering and anti-aliasing on the fly, and on that day, you can consider me impressed :)

  27. Chris R says:

    I found myself wanted to jump around whilst exploring, like I do in all FPS games, haha.

  28. Rob says:

    @Chris R

    So glad I’m not the only one! Kept hitting the space bar – even after establishing I couldn’t do it – just from an ingrained habit.

  29. John Walker says:

    Me too. Knowing it doesn’t work, knowing it still won’t work, I still press the space bar.

  30. Mark says:

    SPOILER (you can jump on the temple)

    A big part of me wants flash to die, but this is very impressive. How’s the performance on lower spec machines?

  31. elias says:

    For some reason the “speed” demo you linked, the factory one, is doing the perspective wrong for me (zoom out and you can see: the far away parts of the buildings appear wider than the ones closer to the camera). Weird.

  32. cannon fodder says:

    Am I the only person who thinks that we’re going to see some truly cringeworthy 3D porn made using this thing? I expect the hentai game market will find many innovative if phisiologicaly improbable uses for something like this, involving tentacles and yogurt.

  33. Arsewisely says:

    My knackered old Athlon XP 1.6, 512 MB RAM on board 3d laptop runs it really well. Lowest FPS was around 45 going up to 100 when stationary. (edit: that was bs, just re-checked, it does go below 20 on occasion but still pretty smooth). I’m no tech-head coder but I’m pretty impressed. Looks better than my first play through of Half-Life back in the day.

  34. Pod says:

    Christ that was impressive. It’s insane that it runs far, far better than a lot of the 2d flash games!

    Also: I thought the sound were HL1 ones. But when you mentioned DX I then thought that as well. The bleeps reminded me of one of the droids from the first Jedi knight, thought it ALSO reminded me of some kind of health pack from DX. (as in, when I heard one of the bleeps i immediatley expected it to be followed by the sound of an futuristic health injector…anyone else?)

    for the “spot the doom sounds”: I once heard the sound of a doom barrel blowing up being used to represent the destruction of an ENTIRE CITY. It was in some lame sci-fi that centered around a toxic waste train in the future, or something. It also had a thrash metal soundtrack…

  35. Ben Abraham says:

    THIS IS AWESOME! Are they releasing source code / SDK? This is the future… and it’s already here! =D

    RE: Blips – Perfect Dark 64 anyone? That’s what it sounds like to me.

  36. Rory says:

    Wow 3D in a Browser??!! Awesome . . . oh wait this is 2008 NOT 1995!! Helloooo anyone forget VRML or X3D? Until Adobe get off their fat monopolistic backsides and put acceleration into flash these are pointless exercises in magical actionscript.

  37. The_B says:

    But verily, Sir Rory doth not believe in thine Witchcraft. ‘Nay, be a trick upon thine eyes?

  38. Sucram says:

    Flash is the future ubiquitous console. You can’t stop the future.

  39. Rob Beschizza says:

    Gentlemen, check out the Unity 3D browser plugin.

  40. Muzman says:

    On the sound thing again; I think Thief 2 uses every ordinary door sound there is, just about. After playing that enough, TV and a lot of movies are thoroughly tragic. Every other scene is capped off with the sudden fear of being discovered.

  41. Albides says:

    This is great, and can only get better. The bunker reminds me of Sentient, a very terrible 3D sci-fi adventure game from 97.

    What’s the name of that sound effect used when people are in a forest? It’s strange and slightly ethereal, and although it’s supposed to sound like an animal, I can’t imagine what would make that sort of call. It also featured in Daggerfall’s dungeons, amongst other things.

  42. Bob Arctor says:

    Yay for software pre-3d-cards/PSX rendering, all funny warping in the textures!

    Strange how we didn’t mind at the time, now it’s very off-putting.

  43. Chaz says:

    @Ging, John and Razor

    Wow, it’s not just me that recognised the Magic Carpet boost and the Doom door sounds in various films and TV shows then. It’s strangely reassuring to know there are others.

  44. Bite says:

    “(with footsteps I’d swear are from Deus Ex, and I know the bleepy noises too – someone please tell me in the comments)”

    I believe the bleepy noises are from the main menu of Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force.

  45. capital L says:

    The Imp growly sound from Doom crops up in a lot of things as well. Every time I hear it, I feel very strongly that somebody should start circle-strafing…

  46. mujadaddy says:

    As long as we’re reminiscing on stock sound effects, how about the “dying infantry” scream from Command & Conquer? I’ve heard that thing about a thousand times, notably as the fellow is being flattened by the steamroller in Austin Powers…

  47. Mr. Bunny says:

    The footsteps sound like they’re from Half-Life to me.

  48. neoanderthal says:

    perspective seems a bit wonky, but the performance is smooth on my silicon-slave at work – p4D 950 (3.4GHz), 2GB ddr2-533, vista biz 32, Firegl x3350, Firefox 3.0RC2