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GarageGames Ships Torque Shader Engine (TSE) Early Adopter

by Rainier on June 15, 2004 @ 11:18 p.m. PDT

A couple years ago, the GarageGames position on shader support was that it was not needed. Now, however, a new generation of video cards supporting shaders and DirectX 9 have been on the market for several years and are becoming ubiqutious in new computers. Shaders are becoming a technology that cannot be ignored by game makers, but that cannot easily be addressed by old techniques.

For this reason, GarageGames started working on shaders for Torque about a year and a half ago. Our solution was to create a new engine, the Torque Shader Engine (TSE), based on the Torque Game Engine by completely rewriting the rendering portion of the TGE.

Here are just some of the features of TSE:

Thousands of built-in shader combinations available for technical artists to use out of the box, reducing development time and making shaders easier to integrate into games. Procedural generation of shaders that support:

  • Normal/ Bump Mapping
  • Glow
  • Refraction
  • Dynamic Per-Pixel Lighting
  • Detail Maps
  • Specular
  • Cubemapping
  • Reflection
  • Volumetric Fog
  • Texture UV animation
  • Powerful shader interface allowing easy integration of custom shaders and effects.

An API independent graphics layer, TorqueGFX, currently supporting DirectX 9, but designed with forthcoming OpenGL support in mind.

Versatile vertex buffer and texture management, with support for static, dynamic and volatile vertex buffers.

New and improved rendering code architecture.

Now you can use the TGE with full confidence that your game will not get left behind in the technology race. Our recommendation is that you continue to work on your game in TGE, so all of the old cards and slower CPU's are fully supported, but then "port" over to TSE when your game is nearing completion. The "porting" process is not that difficult. Before we announced TSE at the 2004 GDC, Tim Gift ported over our TGE demo in less than a week, but a significant portion of his time was spent helping Brian Ramage debug TSE. What we are saying is that porting to TSE is not automatic, but it does not break the bank either.
TSE is not finished, but we decided to release an Early Adopter version so the TGE community can have a crack at shaders and start learning how to work with next generation techniques today. Having the source code to TSE will help you plan your future releases and technology development plan as well as give you an idea of how all of the new shader rendering works. By the time your game is finished, we should have TSE ready as well. In the meantime, please be patient as we work through driver issues, compatibility issues, and completion of features.

I hope GarageGamers realize the importance of the release of the TSE. Jim Black, Developer Relations for nVidia, put it really well one day when he was in our office by saying, "this is unbelievable... A fully shader compatible engine for $295. That price is at least 1,000 times less than the nearest competitor!"

TSE Licensing and Pricing

Torque Shader Engine uses the same liberal licensing GarageGames pioneered with the Torqe Game Engine. Indie licenses are available to small game companies funding their own development and making less than $250,000 in annual revenue from all sources. Here is a link to the TSE Indie Game EULA:

TGE owners can upgrade to the TSE for the Early Adopter price of $150. The EA upgrade pricing is available until TSE goes final sometime later in 2004. After TSE is final, the upgrade price for TGE owners will go to $195. Eventually, we will have stand alone TSE, but for now, if you want to purchase TSE and do not own TGE, you will first need to purchase TGE.

Commercial licenses for TSE will be $995. We do not yet have a product page for the TSE Commercial License up on the site. If your company does not qualify for the TSE Indie License, feel free to email and we can arrange for your commercial license purchase.

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