First Alpha release of Torque3D 1.1 released

Torque Powered
Torque Powered

Alpha Release – quicker than expected

Garagegames has just posted the first Alpha of Torque3D on the website for the current licensees of Torque3D Professional. This was a surprise for many, as the current communications coming out of Garagegames were all around the ongoing development of Torque2D, the successor to the Torque Game Builder.

Not much was known in advance about what was going to be in the Torque3D 1.1 release, and some rumours were that it would be a paid upgrade. I was happy to see that it wasn’t the case.

New Features

While Torque3D 1.0 was quite stable, quite some features scheduled to be added later.Some features, like the road editor, felt a bit light on features at the beginning. That has been remedied, and much quicker than any of us could have hoped. Let me give you some highlights of what’s coming:

Forest Editor

One of the major features demonstrated throughout the demos of Torque3D has been the Forest Editor , by Sickhead Games. It must have been very impressive, as Garagegames has decided to ‘buy off’ the guys from Sickhead, and incorporate the functionality in Vanilla Torque3D 1.1.

Sketch Tool

This one fell kind of out of the air, as nobody expected something like this. The Sketch editor lets you create models by using and transforming cubes to generate convex geometry. The explanation doesn’t do the tool justice, just have a look at the video here.

Prefabs

Prefabs are also a very powerful addition to the game artists’ arsenal. You can pre-create your models, and disperse them over the level. One change on the prefab changes all the instances of that prefab throughout your levels. This makes it much easier to model scenery in levels.

Ground Cover editor

The Ground cover system hasn’t been changed fundamentally, but the ease of use has been upped quite a bit. You now have an editor for it.

Conclusion

It’s clear that Constructor is fading out. The changes in the level editor more and more take over functionality of Constructor. If I have to compare, I see some pressure coming from Unity3D to try and match their fabulous editing suite. I can’t say I’m sad, as the engine is only as good as the levels one can create with it.

It’s clear much work has gone into the usability of the tools, and that’s a good thing. If you want to provide a good experience to artists and level designers, you need to control as much of the pipeline as you can. That seems to be the focus of the current alpha release.

I’m quite content of the direction this is going. I was a bit afraid that every single update or enhancement would be an extra cost, but I’m glad to see that Garagegames has taken the middle road: make the engine quite a bit more expensive, but enlarge the package. The future looks bright, as we have something to look forward to again. Let’s hope now that the impressive testing efforts of Torque3D 1.0 will be matched again by the 1.1 release.

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