If you're interested in playing around with it, go ahead! Want to go straight ahead and use it in a professional project? You may want to think twice (and the risk is entirely yours). As the engine is built by me and especially for myself, you may run into some quirks and pedantries that may be confusing at first. The original code base was ported from a personal C++/DirectX project, and since then large parts of the JS version have been rewritten and remolded. Some concepts from DirectX (blend/stencil states, vertex layouts, ...) stayed in because they were simply good ideas*. If you're coming from an old-school Flash background, you may also run into approaches that are similar to the original Away3D "Broomstick" prototype that I developed back in 2010 before it became 4.0.
(DirectX 10+ is absolutely awesome, I don't care what your friendly local GL-only fanboy says)
In any case, I think it's worth making things open source. There may always be things to learn and teach doing so.
Some aspects of note:
- The engine is built using the Entity/Component/System model. This means objects in the Scene are Entities that can have Components registered to them, defining modular behaviour. More information on this in the documentation.
- Materials are strictly split up in "geometry" code and "lighting model" code. You can focus on writing uncluttered geometry code.
- Some aspects may or may not be supported by the device (hdr rendering, WebGL 2 support). The engine will catch this automatically, but in most cases it's good to provide alternative solutions. Lack of HDR support or adaptive tone mapping may require a different lighting setup.
- "Bones" (used in skinned animations) are always named "joints". It's more correct, and I'm a pedant. There!
- More pedantry: adding and removing children to a scene graph node is called "attaching" and "detaching". I feel it describes more accurately what the relationship between child/parent is.
* Actually, it's built as a game engine, but only the rendering and animation engine has been implemented at this point.
The easiest way to get started is just grabbing and including the
.js files in the
build folder. Take a look at
examples/hello-world to see how to create a simple scene and render it (the other examples hide a lot of boilerplate
Some important things to note:
HX.init(yourDOMCanvas)needs to be called before anything else!
- You do not need to call
requestAnimationFrame. Helix handles this internally and exposes the
HX.onFrameSignal. Just bind a function to it, and it will be called every frame.
With this, you're ready to explore the other examples. Easy ones to start:
If you want to change code and re-build the project yourself? Helix's compilation process uses Node.js, npm, and gulp, so be sure to have those installed. Then, in a terminal, simply perform the following steps in the helix directory:
npm install -g gulp npm install
This will make sure all dependencies are installed. Unless any dependencies change, you need to do this only once.
Then, to compile:
The newly built files will end up in the
If anything goes wrong, make sure you have the latest versions of Node.js and npm installed!
helix-core: the module containing the basic game engine and essential functionality.
helix-io: the module containing non-essential importers.
helix-physics: the module containing the physics engine, which is a wrapper for cannon.js.