Daily Papervision3D: Can you tells a little bit about yourself and your role on the team?
I’m Iain, Bloc’s Head of Interactive (if you want to know about me I’ve written a little biography on my blog – http://blog.iainlobb.com/2008/06/bio.html)
At the start of this project I was working with the artists and writers as we tried to hammer-out exactly how to do an interactive TV show. After the concept was finalized, I really just switched to programmer mode, building the games along with Bloc’s ridiculously talented developer Mat Groves.
Daily: What was the deciding factor to choose Papervision3D?
In terms of which 3D platform to choose, it was definitely because we felt it had the most features, especially around interactivity. It’s also pretty stable, and we’d played with it a bit, so it wasn’t a complete unknown. Away3D and Alternativa both look great, but we couldn’t really take the risk in the timescale we had.
Daily: What were the main obstacles you found when you first started?
I don’t have too many criticisms of PaperVision, but my main one is that you can’t just download Great White from the PV3D site and start playing – you have to use a source control client like TortoiseSVN just to get the classes. It would only take 5 minutes for them to add a zip file to the front page, and would make the latest version available to everyone. The documentation is also not very definitive, so you pretty much rely on google when you get stuck.
Daily: How did Papervision3D influence your normal workflow?
The main difference was working more closely with the 3D artists, rather than with just 2D designers. Trying to do animation with PV3D ended up being the hardest thing, and there aren’t really any tutorials to help you with that either. I think most people who have got animation working well have had to add a lot of their own code.
Daily: What did you love the most about Papervision3D?
I like the way the syntax follows the same patterns as AS3 itself, with addChild() etc. This makes it pretty easy to guess how to do something without looking it up.
Daily: How steep was the learning curve?
Not too steep. The hardest thing is learning 3D Math – that’s why most of the games are really just 2D game engines with a 3D camera.
Daily: Will you be using PV3D again in your projects? Why?
Yes, we already are, and it’s mainly because clients are asking for 3D or because we want to add a bit of wow to a site. PaperVision is cool and we know a lot of its “ins and outs” now, but I’d happily switch over to something like Alternativa if it gave better results. The Alternativa guys have done some awesome work, and I think because they’re developing it full-time as a business they may have a better engine in the end. Open source is great, but I wonder how much time the PV3D team can spend on it without getting paid.
Daily: Did you have any influence in the decision to use PV3D, and how did your manager react?
At Bloc everyone has a pretty adventurous spirit, so nobody had a problem with the site using PaperVision. At the end of the day, it’s still just Flash, so you get that all-important 95% reach.
Daily: What tips would give to other first timers?
Erm… Don’t be too ambitious at first – build your knowledge slowly, and then try some of the more crazy tricks. Also, don’t just use the built-in planes and cubes for everything, download Blender (it’s free!) and have a go at making some 3D models.
Daily: If you could ask for any feature to be built into the engine what would it be?
I guess bones animation has to be the main thing. Also, more sophisticated clipping / z-order logic – objects look crazy when they touch at the moment. Really, anything you can do in other engines like Shockwave, Unity3D or XNA, I’d like to be able to do in PaperVision!