Using\Choosing a Game Engine for a non-game application
Posted 05 February 2013 - 02:50 PM
We are currently developing a Windows (and eventually MacOS) application and are considering using a gaming engine or graphics rendering engine to display the app's content. We will be focusing on charts, fonts, text, etc. What we end up with will hopefully look similar to ComponentArt . We were originally planning to use ComponentArt itself but ran into some limitations.
Searching for rendering engines led us to the gaming dev world and this website. We've seen such products as Ogre and Unity which look like they may fit the bill, but we are concerned with warning of slow font rendering in the Ogre documentation and the seemingly strict Game Development focus of Unity.
My question is, is this a "done thing"? Can these engines be repurposed for non-game apps, and if so, does anyone have any recommedations considering the following?
- Needs to have very good, very fast text rendering from TTF and OTF fonts
- Needs to be as cross-platform as possible, at least WIndows and Mac and hopefully iOS as well
- Are there any that cater for, or can be adapted to desktop app development languages such as C# and .Net
- Open source or proprietary - We have no real preference, but are there any considerations other than cost?
Thank you all for taking the time to read this and thanks so much for any advice you can give us.
Posted 05 February 2013 - 04:30 PM
Posted 05 February 2013 - 05:39 PM
Thank you for the suggestion. We will eventually want to do 3D charts like Component Art, and also tinting and shading effects as seen in Microsoft Office 2D and 3D charts. Interesing abou the text support, thanks. I wonder if we may be able to add better text features to an open source engine.
Posted 05 February 2013 - 06:44 PM
Posted 05 February 2013 - 07:42 PM
I'm not familiar with the specific effects you mention, but you can often get a lot of mileage out of doing pseudo-3D effects in a 2D environment, using gradients and suchlike. It depends on your needs. If you need perspective projection, accurate shadow casting and suchlike then a 3D engine would likely be easier to work with.
Another possibility is a hybrid approach - you could render text with a high-quality 2D font renderer and use the resulting image as a texture for the 3D engine.
Posted 06 February 2013 - 12:29 AM
An alternative would be HTML5. Have a look at RGraph. I often use it when I need to make some quick charts for presentations and stuff. With a bit of know-how you could write your own set of graphics to accomplish what you want and HTML is highly portable. With this you get vector graphics quality and you can run the app on a plethora of platforms easily.
I would not consider using a 3D engine for what you want on a number of reasons. 2D renderers are efficient because they use what is called "dirty rendering". That is, only changes that need to be made on the screen are made. 3D engines operate on the principle of rendering everything to the screen every frame. Rendering font can pose a performance problem because each glyph is re-rendered every time. Some frameworks use a render-to-texture approach to avoid this problem (like taking a screenshot and showing that screenshot instead), however it can create quality issues when things need to scale. Another serious problem is that game engine UIs are quite lacking. They're not fully featured like on dedicated frameworks such as WPF and to a lesser degree HTML. CEGUI is probably the closest, but it still requires a bit of work to get somewhere with it.
Posted 13 February 2013 - 10:08 PM
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