We are happy to announce the release of ShiVa 2.0 beta 3, an important milestone on the road to the first official 2.0 release. It has taken us several months to complete this beta update, and we hope you start downloading and testing it as soon as your schedule allows!
In a Nutshell
Beta 3 brings new modules, engine enhancements, a new target and important under-the-hood changes to your favourite 3D game editor. Not only will you be able to release your games to important new platforms like tvOS, but for the first time you will be able to view and manipulate your Scenes and AIModels inside ShiVa 2.0, two of the most requested features over the last few months. As always, we have to issue a message of caution before you dig in: This release is still a beta release and comes with unfinished rough edges, so be prepared to encounter problems while testing. We recommend you to back up all your projects before loading them into the new beta - just to be safe. One of these rough edges is the 3D stage itself, which neither has the final look nor all the controls and tools we are planning to add. It is however already very usable and should serve you well until the next beta release.
The new modules in beta3 are the AIModel editor, which will help you customize handlers, variables, states and functions as well as manage your scripts, and the new Scene editor, which is so large and complex, we had to fit it into several sub-panels. While the AIModel editor should be familiar to everyone who has worked with any ShiVa version, the new Scene editor requires a bit of explanation.
For starters, the Scene module consists of several panels working together to give you the best possible scene editing experience without switching desktops or modules. Everything fits nicely onto the first Editor Desktop: a 3D stage view, an outliner, a properties view, and the project manager. The new arrangement combines several aspects of the editor that have previously been separate ShiVa 1.9 modules: The old Scene Outliner module for instance is now included into the scene outline panel, the new Properties panel now combines the old Object Attribute Editor, the Scene Ambience Editor, terrain and ocean (both still too much WIP to be included) as well as Navmesh functions.
We strongly recommend to read the new doc pages on the new modules to give you an overview of how everything is arranged. Naturally, there is also an offline version of the documentation included in beta3.
ShiVa on Apple TV
We are very excited to report that tvOS has been added to ShiVa 2.0 beta 3. Apple's new "living room OS" has just been released last week, and ShiVa is already providing you with the new target! You will require Xcode 7 to use the new target and have to adhere to their app restrictions though:
- You cannot use local storage on tvOS, and there is
- no multitouch on the default remote, which must be supported, also
- apps must not be bigger than 200MB.
We are especially excited about our new tvOS engine, which has already been used to publish the first ShiVa game to the new platform, DungeonQuest! by ShinyBox LLC:
If you are planning on porting your apps to tvOS, you should definitely read about the new human interface guidelines using the new remote, since the button layout and expected configuration of the remote and the way you are expected to interact with it is not intuitive.
Of course, we did not neglect any of our old targets by any means. The iOS exporter now works with Xcode 7 and OSX 10.11 too, and the HTML5/WebGL engine continues to evolve and mature. All engines have been compiled with the latest libraries and engine sources to give you better performance and bug fixes across the board.
Under the Hood
The most exciting change however is one that you will most likely never see: We added a new GLES rendering pipeline to ShiVa 2.0 and rewrote large parts of the existing rendering code. Now, why on earth would we possibly want to do this? Don't we have enough re-writes already by porting the entire ShiVa editor over to a Qt-based Lua/XML interface?
Indeed we do, but this change was necessary and will benefit ShiVa greatly in the long run. Our customers have been begging us since the very beginning to open the engine up to custom shaders, and since we wanted to include PBR into the 2.0 renderer, we combined both efforts into the new core renderer. ShiVa 2.0 beta3 and all subsequent releases will use GLSL ES as their primary shading language, which is probably one of the most complete and universally supported shading languages currently in the world. Translators are in place to cover all our export targets, so the code gets converted automatically into Desktop GLSL, DX11/XB360/XB1 HLSL, PS4 PSSL, PS3 PSGL, and so forth, without you having to write a single line of platform-dependent code. For us at ShiVaTech, this change will also make it easier to maintain the engine on all targets and push changes and improvements as well as new shaders more quickly to all available platforms. However we still ship the the "legacy" pipeline as a fallback for very old hardware, just in case you are experiencing difficulties with the new pipeline.
Changing the pipeline also has a very positive effect on all Linux users: For the first time, you will be able to develop and play your games with the open-source drivers instead of the proprietary binary blobs. The performance gap between open- and closed-source drivers is continuously narrowing, and you not having to worry about the graphics driver on your customers' linux system is certainly a great plus.
More Betas coming soon
The core rewrite took us quite a bit of time, so you are certainly wondering whether Beta 4 is going to be another 8 months away. We assure you this will not be the case. Indeed we are determined to have a first public release of ShiVa 2.0 as soon as possible. Therefor we will accelerate the release of new betas towards the end of the year and give you updates roughly every two weeks from now on. It is therefor vital that you use our bug tracker. 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.
You have certainly noticed that some features we wanted to bring into beta 3 did not make the cut, most prominently Android Studio support. We do have a preliminary integration, but it needs to be refined and properly tested first. Android Studio support is on the top of our list for the upcoming beta - a beta which you won't have to wait long for!
Download from the beta portal
Due to the rather large changes under the hood, we are not able to push the update through the updater that is included in the beta 2 editor. Instead, we ask you once again to download the new beta version from our portal at http://beta.shivaengine.com.