February 27th 2011 | Jens C Brynildsen
Tonight Adobe published the first Alpha versions of both Flash Player and AIR with support for the upcoming low level 3D API codenamed Molehill. Unity3D announced that they will soon publish to Flash and The Away3D Team already have an alpha version of their new 4.0 engine with Molehill support.
The new player versions on Adobe Labs are codenamed "incubator" and on the site you can find a description on how to get started. For a good introduction to what Molehill does, check out this article by Thibault Imbert, the Product Manager for the Adobe Flash Runtimes. The Molehill API is very low level, so unless you want to build a scenegraph yourself you should check out the "Broomstick" release just published by the Away3D team. This alpha release will let you play with the new features using a more familiar API so you don't have to write advanced shading, animation and lighting done on the GPU yourself.
Several industry players such as Alternativa3D and Flare3D have also announced support, but the biggest surprise with this launch is todays announcement from Unity3D. An upcoming version of the Unity3D authoring tool will support exporting directly to Flash. You can either use their existing C# coding workflow or you can author from any Flash tool, targeting a new API that they'll build. This gives you a complete workflow with scene building tools, model and animation importers / exporters, physics, lighting or lightmap creation tools and more. unity will still develop their own player though, but they will add support for as much as possible from the current feature set to the Flash Player version. You can probably expect further announcements from other industry players in the coming months such as Autodesk that recently bought Scaleform.
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