ECTS: 3D development toolkit makes debut

A developer toolkit aimed at the growing market for cross-platform games.

One of the few ECTS exhibitors with appeal for multi-platform developers -- Criterion Software -- has chosen the show to show off its third generation 3D games development toolkit.

Unveiled for the first time here, the company revealed the latest beta of RenderWare3 for the PC platform -- downloadable here -- as well as a RenderWare for NGP beta, a similar graphical environment targeting Sony's Next Generation PlayStation.

Criterion says the API was designed from scratch to be fully platform-independent, allowing easy portability across platforms, although each version then has to be optimised for the chosen system type.

Criterion CEO David Lau-Kee claims that over a hundred "man-years" have gone into designing this latest version of RenderWare since 1996. "Developing for next generation platforms is becoming increasingly complex and demand from end-users is forcing lead times to get shorter and shorter," he said.

As with previous incarnations, the latest Renderware offering uses a fully open extensible architecture in its core graphics engine. This means that users can add any number of more advanced features in the shape of plug-ins to improve processing power to match their requirements.

For the PC version, Criterion has added support for Glide, D3D and OpenGL to offer developers a wider choice of APIs.

The Sony NG-tuned version has been optimised for the NG's use of vector units. A DMA manager makes the most of Sony's asynchronous DMA transfers, providing tight integration of vector units and graphics subsystems. This apparently allows chained uploading of code and data to vector units.

Showcased games developed using RenderWare3 on show at ECTS include trickStyle, Suzuki Alstare Extreme Racing and Deep Fighter, running on PC, DreamCast and iMac platforms.

Pricing is expected to be set at around £650 per programmer per platform per year, with plug-ins available as optional extras.

Gold betas are expected later this autumn.

Take me to the GameTech ECTS coverage for in depth technical news from the show. For news on the games, go to GameSpot's official coverage.