Polymorph weekly news #3

Going for the third week now, I scheduled an appointment with @balt, the second developer of Polymorph Engine.

I never met Balthazar and so this was more an introduction meeting and a discussion to get to know each other. The other reason is Balthazar has tasks to do on the Polymorph Engine but he has not found the time yet to get to it, so it was pointless to talk about what he had achieved so far. Nonetheless we did talk about it and what he sees in Polymorph and that’s equally interesting.

So Balthazar de Tonnac is a developer and system administrator from Brussels. He has worked with artists helping them integrate open source tools in their workflow. He also has knowledge in Blender, Unreal Engine and Unity3D. One of his previous work was to develop a visualizer for atk.io. ATK! is an audiovisual duo, composed of Ofer Smilansky and Isjtar, known for doing live performances using light and music in relation to architecture. Balthazar created an interactive application for ATK! using the Unreal Engine. This permits them to visualize their set up and show what it could look like to their clients. Using the Untity3D engine, Balthazar is now working on a VR application to help companies visualize the installation of heavy industrial equipment in their final environment.

All this experience with proprietary solutions is very useful for Polymorph and it’s also the reason why he wants to invest time and energy into it. As Balthazar says it, there is an incredible amount of resources and tools already available in the free/libre and open source world regarding the development of games and interactive applications. But where proprietary still beats everyone is that there is no packaged solution yet. Ogre3D is a very powerful engine but it’s very complex to start using it. There is an enormous amount of code that needs to be rewritten every time someone wants to start a project and this should not be the case.

Also, we need something that can compile for all platforms and from whatever platform you’re working on. And to achieve that, a lot of configuration needs to be done. Ogre is not easy and one needs to dig into its documentation first, which is also a little scattered all over the place. But it’s a very promising tool and, as we can see, @frankiezafe and Pieter have achieved a big step this week (check previous posts by Fran├žois).

Balthazar believes that Polymorph is working on an incredible and very ambitious project. Something that the open source community needs and that in the long term could be really successful, but it also requires a great amount of resources. He sees the Polymorph Engine as an open source alternative to Unreal Engine or Unity3D. But for that, so much work needs to be done in terms of ease of access and more intuitive interfaces. The problem with Ogre is that, whatever you want to achieve, you have to do it with code. There is no preview window, no icon that tells you where your camera or your lights are. You have to write it, compile it and then see it running. Which makes game creation very tedious. Balthazar is hoping that with Polymorph Engine, those aspects could be solved, one day.

For now, though, building PEEL, the first open source game project from Polymorph, is the real goal and the best strategy according to him. It allows the team to see what’s working and what needs to be improved. And once Polymorph has something to show, than the bigger goals can be put on the table. But as Balthazar says it: “All we need now is a very good Makefile”.