Gekido Design Group Inc
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Beyond Virtual was developed, from the ground up, to provide powerful and flexible architecture for developing advanced 3d games and real-time ‘Machinima’ videos.
Beyond Virtual is based around a core framework dubbed ‘BvLib’. BvLib is used by all of the Beyond Virtual tools, including the Object Viewer, World Editor and Game Shell application itself.
|License Name||Price in $US||Source Code Included?|
|GameCore StarterKit - Freely available to anyone to download and use, with the sole limitation being that you can not export your final game projects into a stand-alone executable format. There is NO time limitation and NO functionality disabled in the Starter kit|
|GameCore Professional - contact Beyond Virtual for pricing|
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Ive used the BV engine since March when I took a 4 day game development course. In 4 days using BV we learned to build a simple FPS game, 2 levels, obviously no story. If a group of 16-18 year old kids can do that in 4 days its really saying something. Considering we also spent a lot of time playing UT2004 :).
On the features side of things I would say its a little above average. I have had little problem implenting many of my ideas.
Except for the fact that I cant code. Which takes me to the Ease of Use. While you would think that I would rate it highly I am not giving it 5 stars. I wish 4.5 but I cant. Its simple to do things like resizing, adding simple physics, and other operations that allow for a simple shooting game and the provided template takes care of many operations such as basic AI; however, more complex commands I have yet to figure out as there is little to no documentation provided in the current release (although I hear in the next release there is to be a much improved documentation set which I look forward to eagerly)
Im going to skip right to Support quickly. Because Im going to go right ahead and contradict my last statement. Because although the team has provided little documentation. It does from time to time put together demonstrations of common features requested such as branching conversations and the ever so useful level change as well as answering questions posted in the forums. The team whose face is Gekido does a great job of keeping the members in the loop both paying and non-paying members. The community itself is great and will often answer questions other members have on features, post new things they have discovered, and hack together new ways to do things.
On the Stability and Performance side of things I cant say Im too impressed. I hope to see things fixed up more with the next release but the last release and some startling shortcomings. Most notably when I was constructing my 4 day game I found the game ran pretty well. Until I added in NPCs. I found if I was displaying 3 NPCs at a time the game lagged horribly. I had to shorten the activation radius to 10 metres and I had some large areas which created a problem when I was running through a seemingly empty area trying to figure out where my enemies were only to have them suddenly appear in front of me shooting at me. Or when I was facing 2 enemies and I activated the enemies above me and I could feel it suddenly drop. The program is designed to export nicely to a .exe file, which worked fine for me so I could take my game home. The guy sitting beside me got it to work on his third try but the process was easy so it didnt hurt too much. Although for some strange reason when I burnt it to disc I could no longer load my game. The BV team has spent much time debugging this time around, and has even gathered many bugs and crashes from the community to provide an even more sound platform in the next update.
I am impressed with the verstatility, the power, and the ease of the current version of BeyondVirtual or GameCore as I think they call it now. I look forward eagerly to the next update where I hope for greater documentation, a little more stablility, and a few other features. BV shows a great amount of potential and I hope the developers will be able to turn this into a fantastic engine. I guess we will find out "soon"
NOW: I have to say this... Their support is dead!!! Documents are unfinished. You don't find many examples!
It will become Vaporware pretty soon! - My opinion!!!
Let me add a few more things:
There is no update for almost one year now and the developers finally said the the indie users are not their prioprity anymore.
Another problem is that they are starting to delete all threads where the users that bought their license, complains about anything.
So, don't waste your money with it.
Okay, i tried BV. This is what I think
World Editing: Done in 3dsmax, thats okay.
Moving Stuff: WTF I CANT MOVE ANYTHING!
Script: Not allowed to edit or make a script for some reason
Ease of use: Okay, i geuss. Language is good.
Stablily: AWESOMENESS. Good Graphics too.
Good interface, good choice on scripting language
One problem. The fps goes to shit when above 50,000 polygons on a screen, which isn't normal.
I think it has to do with certain graphics cards, as many people are experiencing this. When I mean shit, I mean 4-5 fps.
What a shame, very cool to work with, but wouldn't trust it on a commercial platform, considering how some people would blow their brains out over the laggyness.
I open base world(level) with two enemies on level and run it - all OK.
I adding 10 enemies on level and run it - FPS is a shit!
If adding static object (box etc) - all OK. Adding object with AI - enemies for example - FPS is down.
AI engine of Beyond is a very bad!
I'm sorry for my English :)
I have been following BV for a while now and am seriously considering switching from Torque. BV hasn't fully implemented the all of the features that it advertises and the community is still developing but the direction, focus, and momentum are excellent.
The art pipeline, particularly for animated models is a big factor for me. I've spent a lot of time tweaking DTS models in Torque trying to get them to work the way I want them to. In BV, once I have them working in Milkshape, they work in the game.
1 - The engine was released as beta in February already having many good features like:
(lightmapping / EASY PIPELINE from Maya, 3ds, Lighwave, XSI etc for importing objects / easy scripting language / easy setup for basic object physics behavior / a good world editor / fx editor / etc).
Since then, it was improved with many other features requested by the user community (bloom / bloom threshold / HDR / blur / dynamic shadows / templates for generic entities and projects / water and terrain meshes creation inside the editor / GUI editor / etc).
The design of the engine clearly has workflow in mind, which is crucial for small indie studios or lonely individuals.
2 - Comparing to others, mainly in respect to workflow (import/export/scripting/world editor) and ease of use, i think it is better than Torque, specially for the beginners. It compares/rivals well with Unity (which is only for Mac) in its approach.
3 - Advantages: import/export without compiling etc. / FBX and obj support / comfortable world editor, middleware approach / easy scripting now with code coloring and auto-completion (thanks to AndyGFX) / easy way of examining the demo game assets, for learning the basic things / generic entitites and projects template system which will be growing up in the future.
Disadvantages: No visual path editing for AI yet / No shaders creation yet (but it still has specular, normal & reflection material capabilities).
Addiction to the forum (you will be spending a good amount of time there, believe me).
My testimonial is: I´m a very speculative and a compulsive researcher. I´ve been reading engine sites, comparing features and downloading demos and trials for almost 2 years. I didn´t stick with another engine before, because i´m a 3d artist, not a programmer. And they all had some aspects very non-intuitive and in fact annoying (specially for small teams/individuals). Beyond virtual is an engine that will shorten very much your own game/demo development time (really) and you won´t need to sacrifice any "eye candy" feature. Very fast to prototype and test levels. If you don´t believe, go to the website and download the starter kit. It´s free and full-featured (the only restriction is it doesn´t export your game to a .exe).
Best. Hope it helped the speculators.:-)
Beyond Virtual is a very good GAME engine with a very clear structure. Let's face it: if you're looking for a decent indie game engine than you can seperate nearly all engines in 3 categories:
1. Good but expensive: 3DGS Professional, Unity (if it has to be for PC development)
2. Affordable but feature incomplete: Torque (which is old now), Cipher
3. Not a game engine: the main part of the engines like Truevision3D, 3impact
There are only 2 engines that really deserve to be called an true indie game engine: C4 and Beyond Virtual. But while C4 is C++ coding which can get very complicated, Beyond Virtual is easy. The support is good (the guys at Gekido actually listen to you!) and I've never experienced any instabilities or bad performance (notebook with ATI M56). C4 and Beyond Virtual are pretty much on par. If you like C++ coding and using the source code of an engine then go with C4. If you like to script and have a good and easy time with your engine then go for Beyond Virtual!
I would also like to point out to all that this engine listing here with these listed features and lisence features is actually old and out of date, it is intended for beyond virtual, not beyond virtual indie which has been developed around the bv engine from what I understand.
The developers didn't intend for this listing to be for bv indie as far as I understand and they were going to be creating it's own listing in the near future, the community has taken it upon themselves to use this one since there is currently no other due to how much they enjoy the engine I think.
Anyways since I originally posted here, many things have changed with bv indie, it is still in beta. It now has a really easy to use and cool road system, which in the near future will be extended even further.
The engine is getting some game templates (currently in the engine, but are being updated) which are there to easily get you started making a fps, rpg, or racing game. However you are not limited to these types, you can make whatever type of game you want.
There are templates for objects in the game too which makes this even easier to use, and you can extend this by adding your own objects into the templates system.
The engine now has a very nice terrain editor and water. The water is in it's early stages but it does the job for now.
They've added a simple form editor for editing GUI's.
HDR and bloom have been added since my last post.
The engine natively supports lightwave and ms3d and also 3ds obj and fbx. Can load all sort of image formats.
The cinematic camers are very easy to create and there is a nice tutorial in the docs on doing so.
If you want to capture a video from your game it is as simple as pressing f11 to start and f11 to stop. Capturing a super high res screenshot (for doing anything in print) is as simple as pressing ctrl f10 I believe it was if memory suits me right. These screenshots are 300mb or so, and you can also take normal screenshots.
The community is great and alot of members are contributing tips and scripts to everyone.
All in all this is a great engine. About all I can think of that it's missing currently is shaders but that is said to be coming in the future (near?). Keep in mind this listing is out of date and not intended for the indie version.
BV Indie is $150
This is a great engine. It was just released, the indie release is still tecnnically in beta. It has a great indie lisence, $150 royalty free, and you can use it for as many projects as you want (as far as I understand, you just need to include the splash screen).
The FX Editor in this is great, easy to use, and makes some really good fx.
It also comes with the object viewer you can use to check all your models and such.
It has many featurs I probably wont get around to using such as lipsync.
The world editor is good, and the art pipline is great, you dont have to make everything a specific file format, like in TGE you'd need some objects to be a dts and some a dif, both made with different apps. Here you can just load them right into the engine from your favorite modelling app.
The engine has built in physics which is also nice.
It is in beta and the docs are still a little incomplete, but theyre working hard on that, and also responding to any and all technical problems with thier support ticket system and bullitien board.
I think thats about it, it's a great engine, and theyre working hard to make it better.
I've been using BV Indie now for a few weeks, so I haven't seen every features that it offers. Based on what I have seen so far I can do a preliminray review now.
BV offers a lot of nice features, like HDR, Bloom, depth of field, etc, which may not be available in other Indie engines at this price level. I gave four stars only, because it still lacks some important features like shaders though. I'm pretty confident, that they will be added in good time, and when this happens, I guess that this is a very good engine, and definitely one you can put your money to.
Ease of Use:
I'm a bit torn on that, so I decided to give it a good ratings/ the problems that I have with it, are mostly in the area of documentation and support, so I lumped that in with the support rating. In terms of workflow this engine is definitely EXTREMLY good. You can create all your objects in your 3D app, and the import it without much hassle. Major formats are natively supported, so can use Lightwave, Maya or other apps instead of a level editor and do evyerthing you need. Very convenient, because I hate to learn yet another 3D tool which would be the level editor or such. It also is a great benefit, that you can change aspects of your model, script or other parameters, without even interrupting your session. Change the model, drop it in the folder, overwriting the old model, and BINGO! BV tells you that the model has been change, do you want to reload it? Yes! And it's ingame. No conversion, or reimporting or other nasty surprises. Just like a native extension of your 3D app. :) The workflow is extremly tuned to artists, less for programmers, and also the devs are putting a lot into requests from artists to help them make their live easier.
Stabillity & Performance:
Judging that this is still considered a beta, the stabillity is quite good. I have seen worse applications with a much higher version number and yet much more instable. I have read on the forum about some issues, but I haven't found any problem with it myself.
Well, this is the bad area of BV. But then, it depends on what you consider as support, so this has to be split up in two parts. The community on the forum is great and really helps a lot. Still, since BV is a commercial product, I judge it by commercial standards, and in this area I have some problems.
It's true that the devs are on the forum and responsive when they have time. I can also understand that they can not follow all the forum postings, even though there is not that much traffic there yet. And of course, you wouldn't consistently open a support ticket, whenever you don't understand something. But the response of the devs is pretty inconsistent. Looking at the forum itself, some question regarding features of the engine or key questions prior to purchasing it, go often unanswered, even though this is an important step to make the decision to buy it. The website also is not THAT clear what you really get for your money, and you have to ask other forum members to make sure. The documentation for the engine is there, but not that helpfull either. Many times you must try features and functions and see how they work for yourself. I would expect that devs, because of the lack of documentation, should more consistently give information when questions are raised.
So my summary is - even though the support could be better, this is not bad enoguh to not purchase it. Considering the workflow and the focus on artists and content creator, it is definitely well worth it's money (otherwise I wouldn't have bought it :) ). I've tried a few other engines some years ago, so maybe they have improved in the meantime, but BV is definitely the best engine for focussing on content creation. I want to create a game and not fight with the software that should help me to create it, and BV is really good in this area. :)
I've been in gamedev (as a hobby) for the last 7 years. BV is not the-end-of-all-engines, BV is the next step that every indie should take, its what we've been waiting for. In the price range of Torque, 3DGS Commercial and others, it offers so much more, but not only it offers more, but it offers it in a way that game development should be done in this century.
Gone are the blocky levels, gone are the ton of strange file formats used for a simple scene and the painful import/export processes. BV works directly with .3DS .OBJ .MS3D .FBX, for textures we can use almost every image format including .PNG with alpha and layered .PSD.. yes PSD
Although its still near v1 the way its going is the right one. The editor (while not perfect yet) is clear and easy to work with, you can actually load your models, light them, turn on bloom, HDR, etc. with just a couple of clicks... this is the truth, i know that every engine advertises itself like "artist friendly" and "extremely easy to use", but after purchasing a licence, suddenly it is not exactly what it looked like... sounds familiar... well, BV is really easy to use.
Besides this, we get: fully working physics (hello 3DGS Pro-$900), road editor (more fun than the road editors that come with games)... well, i wont say more, just that: This engine is NEW, not built on legacy technology! For the price of the Indie licence ($150), is like bying 3 PC or console games ... you get an engine capable of rivaling current gen graphics and performance.
What can i say, almost EVERY feature requested on the forum has been added in incredibly short time. The team behind the engine really wants to deliver a quality product! If you've read this far, go get this engine, you wont regret it.
I already own a few engines and I must say that I never feel so excited by any other as I feel with BV.
Things that I like most:
They way Gekido team listen to BV users. They implemented almost all features that we asked for.
The engine is very stable for a beta engine.
I love the road system!!! (Every engine should have an option like this.)
I also love the way I can make my models and load them into BV very fast.
There so many other nice things, like High FPS with lots of polys and very big levels, etc
BV still doesn't have Shaders editing and a visual path editing system, but the developeres said that it will be implemented.
So, Beyond Virtual is becoming one the Top 10 engines out there.
Beyond Virtual is seriously the best game engine I've seen in all of these areas, of all enignes anywhere near this price point. As a game developer, this engine is excellent in every way.
The indie license of $150 gives you access to all currently released features. These features include a physics system, great HDR/Bloom, modern graphics quality rendering, support for normal and bump mapping, an excellent scripting engine, and even networking features. All features are comparable in quality to game engines like Truevision and even professional engines like Doom3.
The community is excellent. The devs are actively involved and responsive in the community, and are very good about providing frequent updates that include features that the community recently suggested. Everyone there is very helpful and nice.
Beyond Virtual is very easy to use. You can do very complex things in the engine such as implementing physics or special lighting techniques with literally a few lines of script. All of the tools are WYSIWYG and very functional. It's possible to complete simple games in under an hour with BV in what would take multiple hours in any other engine.
Beyond Virtual is a great engine, suitable for any indie game developer, and is much better than any other engine around its price.
Features: on the list is says a 3 is for "typical", and with all the engines i've messed with in the past, one that I could get a working model into very easily is a bit above "typical".So, a 4 for that.So is this editor.I daresay it's the best editor I've ever worked with, and I started working with game/level editors/makers when the very first one came out: excite bike on the original nintendo system.Moving around in the view is simple, as is getting the supported formats into it.So that's a 4 as well.And if you can't model all that well, the fact that it directly supports .3ds and .obj, without having to convert them, is a godsend.More Features are on the way .........very soon.
Ease of Use: I'm not a coder, but I can learn the angel script that BV uses, easily.Collision is done very easy this way, in about 4 lines of code, less than 50 characters.
Stability & Performance: I personally had 30 13,000 tri Makehuman non-moving converted .3ds models on a large Milkshape-made 4000 tri terrain with a forest of custom-made trees.....I know of others who have 750,000+ tri area's in the works.Stability is kind of shaky with the .94 version, though....with some reporting problems with .jpeg textures, and some reporting that they can't make a .exe with it.( no problems for me with either, though)
Support: No other forum, except possibly the last GDGI forum, is as friendly and helpfull as this one is.None.You come in as a newbie, ask a question, no matter how dumb it may sound, and it gets answered, either by the gdgi staff, or a member of the forum pretty quick.
When I ordered, I even recieved a phone call from a gdgi staff member, just to see that I got my order.
All in all, a very nice engine for indies to consider.....and maybe even for large commercial outfits to look into, after the 1.0 version that is just a few days away gets here.............just my opinions.
edit: new features have been added, that gives this engine a 5 star rating now......and there are now easy to use templates as well.....stability has been improved immensely.....and support is still the best ever.
Beyond Virtual Indie has come a remarkably long way since its initial beta in February. Release Candidate 2 has just been published and the list of new features keeps growing while workflow has improved tremendously. Documentation and examples are still the biggest drawback, but the recently added game templates make things a lot easier for the complete beginner. At $150, BV Indie can't be beat!
UPDATE! The engine keeps getting better. The new release candidate 2 is great. As a beta tester I have seen many improvements this year. It is worth buying!
I first looked at this engine at GDC 2006 this year. The Gekido Design Group had a booth to show off their work. It was so impressive that I flew home and bought an indie license right away. Using the simple tutorial I was able to see how the editor and scripting works in less than an hour. This engine has HDR, bloom settings as well as depth of field for the cameras. Simple to use yet complex enough for a developer to customize it for their own game design using Angel Script. I recommend buying it now before the price goes way up!
I purchased this engine recently, based mostly on this forum and partially on a whim. For $150, it seemed like a worthy risk, and it probably was.
The first thing I need to point out is that a number of features described above are actually not in the engine. I have no doubts that many of them are coming, and this engine is indeed still in Beta, but potential users should take note of this before going entirely by what's listed above.
"Pathfinding, Decision Making, Finite State Machines, Scripted:"
---- none of these things are in there as of right now. The pathfinding may be to some extent, but if it is, it is a., only functional with Lightwave, and b., not documented at all.
----Finite State Machines/Decision Making- if there is any predefined functionality for this, it is completely undocumented and hasn't been mentioned. No one's going to stop you from coding these things yourself in script, so if that's what "scripted" means, then...yeah.
"Currently supported: Lightwave (.lwo, .lws), 3ds Max (.max), Maya (.ma, .mb), 3d Studio (.3ds), Alias (.obj), Autodesk (.dxf) and many others (.3do, .nod, .raw, etc)"
----This is not accurate. The only natively supported file format coming straight out of the software is either Lightwave, or Milkshape. .max, .ma, .mb...these ARE NOT directly supported. To get your files out of Maya, you are dependent on the third-party FBX format, same goes for other packages except Lightwave.
"Environment Mapping, Lens Flares, Billboarding, Particle System, Depth of Field, Motion Blur, Sky, Water, Fire, Explosion, Decals, Fog, Weather:"
----Lens Flares, Decals, weather- these things are either NOT available or in no way documented or mentioned. Decals is a definite no at this time, there is no specific weather system, although you could presumably use the FX editor to conjur something up.
They have implemented bloom and HDR, which look very nice.
Now that that's out of the way, I have to say that it's a very impressive engine with a lot of potential. I haven't dug to deep into the scripting, but it is fairly straightforward, C-style syntax. No complaints there...however the documentation is only about 25% complete, so in many ways you aren't going to get that far as of right now. Again, this in beta, and I'm sure the docs will be updated eventually...but know what you're getting into.
The art pipeline has some big problems at the moment. Importing static meshes is fairly straightforward, specular, diffuse, normal mapping is all supported and works right. Animation is another story. Morph/blendshape animation and soft-bound skeletal animation is supported, but only through the FBX format. I struggled for a week trying to make this work right. What I've concluded to be a bug in Beyond Virtual makes importing skeletal animation, at least from Maya, virtually impossible right now. It has been confirmed that this will be corrected on the next release which should happen in the next few weeks.
That brings us to support- which seems to be a very mixed bag. The community is small but helpful. I'm not sure what to think about developer support. Going by the entry at this top of this page from the developer ("have you even tried contacting us?") I started by directing my inquiries to them via e-mail before purchasing. 3 days, no response. I then asked the questions in the forum, and got an almost immediate response from the developer. When I first experienced problems importing animation, I posted in the forums, and the developer responded within a matter of minutes. I sent him all my materials and description of the bug. 6 hours later- responded saying it would be dealt with in the next day. 2 and a half days later- no response. 3 days later- I come up with a temporary fix on my own, and post it on the boards. After talking to another forum member on the forum, I discover the devs have told him, (but not me or the community as a whole) that the problem will be fixed in the next release.
To be fair, the dev team is active in their forum, listens to the community, and is dedicated to a quality product. As of right now though, do not expect immediate and reliable e-mail support that you would get from other small-team engine projects.
In closing- I don't regret this purchase, it was a baragin for $150, but if there had been a demo of the IDE for me to try, I would've gotten frustrated with the bug, lack of documentation, and iffy support and never bought it. I feel fairly confident that this engine will become a very workable product in the next months, and I reccommend it, but I would also caution potential buyers about some of the things I mentioned.
And this is the closest you will come to the ease of use/feature richness of Virtools/Unity without spending $5,000/buying a Macintosh.
Sure, I work for Gekido Design Group.
I am not the best artist nor the best programmer, but the simplicity of Beyond Virtual never ceases to amaze me!
I spent a weekend creating my own RTS marble/chest type of game.
After dealing with and using Beyond Virtual during my work week. I found myself spending more time playing with Beyond Virtual than I spent playing my new addiction, World of Warcraft.
Only better things to come with Beyond Virtual! Keep an eye on it!!!
I only downloaded the demo from BV´s homepage yesterday and its strictly a playable demo, not a development demo...so it is difficult to truly rate this engine, but I have to say the following...I principally agree with the irritation the two first reviews shows towards the large amount of idle promises that a lot of would-be game engines gives on their homepages, but in this particular case their critisism is unfair. BV is developed by Gekido group which is also responsible for Reality Factory and they are a serious player in this field. Also whether you like RF or not, it is a decent engine and FREE ! In developing BV Gekido Group also seems to have attempted to correct some of the problems which is present in RF. Whether they have been succesfull in this, remains to be seen, but if this
engine lives up to its promises the Indie developer price of 150$ seems to be a fair bargain. From the released demo to judge, BV seems quite impressive, only negative things is that a demonstration of seamless indoor-outdoor transmission is absent and the engine seems to require rather highend hardware. Otherwise good.