December 2005

Newton’s custom joint interface

So one of the most interesting features of Newton are the so-called custom joints, which basically expose Newton’s low-level functionality for joints and allow you to create all kind of joints. In the end, this means you’re not bound to the given set of pre-defined joints (like it’s the case with other engines, even most commercial ones like Novodex) and so if you need a joint that Newton doesn’t offer you just create it yourself.

And to demonstrate that feature Newton comes with a set of common joints that are built using that custom joint interface. The current beta SDK contains the basic joints from Newton recreated using those custom joints (Ball and Socket, Hinge, Slider, etc.) and also some additional ones like joints for making gears, worm gears and even pulleys. And believe me, as soon as you start using the custom joints instead of the pre-defined ones, you’ll never go back. You want to restrict movement? No problem with custom joints. You want motors for your joints? No problem with custom joints (well, at least if you’re a bit into physics)!

But up until now there was no translation of that SDK-part for Delphi (and Pascal) users, which hides away much potential of NGD from those users. So the last two days I decided to finish translating those joints (much of the work was done by Jon Walton aka Tux, who send me his initial translation of that file) and adding the missing ones. So when Newton 1.35 will be released, there will not only be updated Pascal-Headers, but also a full translation of the custom joints from the Newton SDK for Pascal, so all those Pascal-users waiting to use custom joints with Newton now can rejoice (and wait for the final release of 1.35)…

And before you ask : Yes, all those custom joints (including the recent gear and pulley) are already implemented into the NewtonPlayGround, but I still didn’t got around doing new scenes for it.

1.35 is around the corner

Newton 1.35 :
Believe it or not, but the 1.35 release of Newton is almost upon us! We SDK-developers are getting constantly updated SDKs (almost every two days or so) and it looks better and better with each SDK. The only thing that’s really left for the Newton makers is now the overhaul of the vehicle container and some tweaking and testing.

Julio (the main man behind NGD) already said that he wants to release 1.35 this year, so it should happen within the next two weeks (but please don’t put any bets on it). He’s doing a great job, and the constant updates allowed us to test out 1.35 and report any bugs and errors we encountered (which is rather easy with my NewtonPlayGround, as you can directly see how or what changed compared to older releases). So in the end that long wait also means that Newton 1.35 will be released as a througout tested and stressed product, which shouldn’t have many bugs or problems upon it’s release. If you compare that to the many products that are released without proper Q&A (and therefore are full of bugs and stuff, I especially talk about current games that are rushed out before christmas season), you should be glad to get a stable (free) product.

NewtonPlayGround :
And though I don’t get much time to do coding (as already told by me in my last postings), the NewtonPlayGround is still under developement. I’ve recently added a Character Controller (like the one from the SDL character controller demo on my Newton page) which can be configured to your likings and which then allows you to run around in your own scenes and to interact with other objects, cause the character controller itself is realized as a full physics body. And since this is fully integrated into the PlayGround, it also means you can pick up stuff while running around, throw it, take it with you and so on. So basically it’s like the gravity gun from Half-Life 2.

You can see that fine screenshot there, which is a demonstration level I built for the new character controller?Yes, and that’s one of my current problems with the PlayGround. Currently I really lack time and (mostly) motivation to really do anything productive (hence the slow updates here on my blog) but what the PlayGround needs are scenes that demonstrate all of the new features. Many of the scenes that are currently in there still are from the earlier releases and not only feel dull, the also lack visual polish (the first versions of the PlayGround didn’t support textured objects). So I really need to sit down and create some new scenes that demonstrate the PlayGround’s current state in a visually at least somehow appealing way. And that’ll take time, much time. So I guess I’ll have to concentrate on modelling new scenes for the next few weeks, at least if I can motivate myself. So right now I think that I’ll be releasing the new version one month or so after 1.35 is there (which would be January 2006).

Real-Life :
Well, it’s christmas time and I must admit that I just hate christmas and all that religeous hypocrisy, so when I go out to buy something I usually get pissed off by all that christmas stuff hanging, flying, running or just sitting around. So for the last five years or so I refused to buy any gifts, but this year (well, actually today) I went out to buy something for a girl I really like and well, it was even expensive. But hopefully she’ll like it.