Leadwerks 5 Feature Spotlight: glTF Models
Leadwerks Game Engine 5 will be backwards-compatible with asset file formats used in version 4. In addition, we are adding support for glTF 2.0 (GL Transmission Format), a new open-spec model format from Khronos with support for skinned animation and PBR materials. glTF will be our main 3D model format, for both development and final published models.
What's so great about the glTF file format?
Documented and Human-Readable
Unlike the "black box" FBX file format, which can only be read using Autodesk's proprietary SDK, glTF is an open specification based on JSON. This makes it easier for us to reliably support import and export of glTF files without worrying about future changes or different versions. Your data remains easily accessible and the files can even be edited in notepad! (For faster-loading files, vertex and indice data can be packed into a second binary file, while the main .gltf file is encoded in text).
glTF aims to be "the JPEG of 3D" and most of your favorites programs already support it! Blender includes import and export capabilities by default, and there are plugins available for 3ds max suppot. Even Windows Explorer includes a glTF previewer so you can just click on a file to view it.
glTF includes a well-defined specification for materials using physically-based rendering techniques, and includes options for transparency, emission, and alpha masking. That means when you load a model from glTF format, you never have to worry about creating new material files. It just works. (A Blinn-Phong material definition is still available for older models.)
Vast Libraries of Game-Ready Content
SketchFab, Turbosquid StemCell, and other 3D model stores are adopting glTF as the standard file format for 3D game content. This means you can choose from thousands of game-ready models that will load up in Leadwerks Game Engine 5 without any touch-up or adjustment.
Making Game Development Easier
For years, game developers have had to convert their editable source model formats into final proprietary game-ready formats. If the original files were ever lost, or if you forget which version you last saved, you were pretty much out of luck. glTF models, on the other hand, can be easily re-imported into a variety of 3D modeling programs, so saving a 3D model for games is now as simple as exporting a bitmap from Photoshop. This will make game development in Leadwerks Game Engine 5 easier than ever before.
You can get ready for Leadwerks 5 now by learning the art pipeline for your modeling package. This video about the Blender glTF pipeline is a great start:
Our glTF loader now supports the following:
- PBR materials.with transparency and alpha masking.
- ASCII and binary gltf / glb files.
- Skinning and animation.
- KHR_materials_pbrSpecularGlossiness extension.
- KHR_materials_unlit extension.
- MSFT_texture_dds extension.
Additional engine features allow you to automatically load textures from Basis and other texture file formats when they are available.
About Leadwerks 5
Leadwerks Game Engine 5 is in development, with an initial release scheduled for the second half of 2020, with Vulkan graphics for fast performance, especially in VR, and 64-bit floating point support for huge worlds. Join our mailing list for updates and special offers.