Dear ShiVa Community, just in time for the holiday season, we are happy to announce the release of ShiVa 2.0 Beta 4! In this version, not only do we give you the long promised Android Studio support and a working Apple TV remote implementation, but also massive performance improvements thanks to the updated UI libraries and engine optimizations. We hope that you will enjoy this latest Beta over the holidays and give us lots of feedback on our forums and bugtracker!
Beta 4 features
When we changed the rendering pipeline with Beta 3, we intended to move ShiVa into a better, more future-proof direction, that would give us lots of room for exciting new features in the future. Unfortunately, this also broke backwards compatibility with older ShiVa 1.9.2 generated STK packs. We are going to remedy this problem with Beta 4. In the Authoring Module, you will find a new target named ShiVa. From here, you can generate STKs containing either games or just resources, as well as STE packages. Naturally, these new STKs will be fully compatible with the new engine shaders.
For everyone working with Android, we are very pleased to tell you that ShiVa is now supporting Android Studio, which means error messages caused by newer SDK/NDK combinations that plagued your 1.9.2 development pipeline should be a thing of the past. We have a tutorial on the new process in our online docs.
As software engineers, we are naturally most excited about the changes under the hood. The Editor interface, which was previously rendered using Qt4, is now powered by modern Qt5 libraries. This might not sound like a big change, but in fact it completely overturned our schedule for this release. That means you are not getting the full feature set we originally envisioned for this release, but instead something much more valuable in the long run: optimization and performance. Previous Beta versions of ShiVa 2.0 have been rightfully criticized for loading assets and games much more slowly than 1.9.2, along with the framerate lock of 30 FPS on some hardware configurations. Qt5 forced us to implement some previously neglected enhancements, which led to a much needed performance boost. We are now able of reaching framerates well beyond 60 fps Vsync and hundreds to literally thousands of frames unsynced – depending on hardware configuration and scene complexity of course. These improvements carry over to all platforms, including Linux and the open source driver world, which now deliver playable framerates with most of the engine rendering features supported.
The Apple TV engine has evolved and become a truly separate target with plugin support, not just an iOS afterthought. Beta 4 also adds full support for the Apple TV touch remote. We have mapped the touchpad to a conventional controller stick and Menu, Play as well as the Click to joypad buttons. The gyro is fully mapped too, of course.
These are the big changes waiting for you in Beta 4. However we have added numerous tweaks to almost every module, and updated all the engine ports to support the current S3DX SDK. We hope you will enjoy these little changes wherever you may find them, because they add significantly to a smoother and more satisfying editing experience.
More Betas coming soon
The move to QT5 was much more work than originally anticipated, but we are now back on track working on the last missing modules. We are determined to ship a first public release of ShiVa 2.0 as soon as possible next year. Beta 4 was released just a little over a month after Beta 3.1, and we intend to keep the development momentum and bring you more Betas in quicker succession. Please make good use of our Beta website and especially our bugtracker. If you have already reported on our system, please check whether your bug has been fixed with the new version and close or bump the threat (add a note) when appropriate.
ShiVa 2015 in review
2015 was a good year for ShiVa development. In February, we released Beta 2, which included the 64bit iOS engine, the new Game and Scripting modules, as well as the new ModuleXML API, which opens the doors to new and exciting community-created editor modules and scripts. In the following months, we experimented with the rendering core and rewrote big portions of the engine. In the spring, we showed you the first fruits of our labor: ShiVa was running PBR materials in our HTML5 engine!
Google caused a stir in the industry when they announced the end of NPAPI support in their Chrome browser, rendering ShiVa’s and our competitors’ Web Player Plugins broken within weeks. We took it with a grain of salt and doubled down on our HTML5 engine, which is becoming more feature complete with every new Beta release and will eventually replace our browser plugin.
The modifications on the ShiVa rendering core were finally completed in October. Betas 3 and 3.1 were released in quick succession in early November. This release also sported new modules, like the Scene Viewer, the AIModel Editor, or the new combined Attribute Editor. Apple TV was added as a new export target, which modernized our iOS pipeline and made it Xcode 7 and OSX 10.11 compatible.
Today with Beta 4, we are giving you much better editor performance thanks to Qt5, Android Studio support, Apple TV Remote mapping, resource STK packing and lots of performance-related tweaks. That makes a total of 4 new beta releases this year, new editor modules, a new rendering core, a modernized Editor UI framework, new export targets and performance enhancements – a pretty good year, don’t you think? All we need now for a first public release is to complete the missing modules like the new Material and Terrain editors. But the foundation stands as strong and as never before after 2015, both our engine and the editor are well equipped for the future, and we are very optimistic that 2016 will be an even better year – the year of ShiVa 2.0!
We wish you all a happy Holiday time and a successful 2016!
The ShiVa Development Team