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Published on April 5, 2008 By mittens In Game Developers

Last weekend as a result of being hungover after my first time drinking in over a year and waking up on a couch in the apartment of a gay nineteen-year-old friend of my friend's and the first thing I saw being a Hannah Montana poster on the ceiling above the couch where I was sleeping I bought a license to TorqueX Pro. I've used other GarageGames products in the past for various experiments and random fun, but I've never used one to make a full game. I thought I'd use TorqueX for my new game idea involving a depressively-self-abusive blob who resides in the center of a city and the player must build buildings to handle a thriving economy without making the blob too sad so that he hurts himself to death and takes the entire city populace down with him.

I'm calling this game Bipolar.

Anyway, once I found out that TorqueX now had support for 3D rendering I figured that was all I needed to tip my tepid interest in the engine towards a purchasing point. After browsing bits of the documentation and checking out the four included demos I was, on the whole, happy with the way that the engine was packaged and structured. I have never worked with an aggregate-based codebase before, so the concept of TorqueX's "components" was kind of new to me. The documentation seemed solid enough, though, so I wasn't too concerned.

Of course, I didn't realize that the documentation was really only solid for the 2D portions of the engine. The 3D documentation only existed in API form in an included CHM file and is, at best, spotty. I discovered this Monday or Tuesday night when I was trying to cobble together a minimalistic base codebase with some nice debug features. Over the course of the week I grew increasingly familiar with aspects of the engine, though, and I was finally able to get something working a couple nights ago. The problem, for me at least, is that I like developing my game in-code. The engine seems keen on having a great deal of things defined in an XML file (terrain, camera, skybox, and such in the starting package I chose) and I'm not a terribly huge fan of that. Since there aren't really any 3D tools for the engine -- or, at least, none that I've uncovered thus far -- adding things to an XML file is far more unnatural than just coding up my game in a number of C# classes and such (which is a method I enjoy more, anyway). Determining how to properly build up an object/component to act like how I want it to within my C# code took a great deal more effort than I would prefer it to.

The other problem I've discovered is that the engine is surprisingly buggy for a full 2.0 release. Thus far I've found that, though there was a field in the options for it, enabling multisampling crashed all of the included 3D demos. I was able to determine why that was happening without too much effort, but that seems like a fairly obvious error that could be fixed. Another rough spot I found was that the included refraction material (I quite like the material system) seems to have an error where it "blows out" at certain viewing angles as seen below:

On the whole, I like the features that the engine has, I just think it needs more polish and far more documentation. If this was a beta release, I'd be a bit more understanding, but I bought it a week or so after the Torque X Pro 2.0 announcement/release. Blergh.

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