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Mobile 3D Graphics for J2ME (JSR-184): Part 2

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Now that you're up close and personal with the Mobile 3D API and had a look at how 3D graphics were added in to mobile Java applications, Mikko Kontio continues his series with a look at how 3D modeling software can be used to make things simpler to code and to design.
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Today, 3D graphics are a vital part of almost any game, and even some applications gain a lot by presenting information in 3D form. As you saw in my last article, development is very slow and complex when you use immediate mode and code all 3D objects manually. All the corners of all the polygons in the application must be separately coded in arrays. In JSR 184, this is called immediate mode.

The more advanced mode, which is called retained mode, allows designers to use 3D modeling software such as 3D Max Studio to design scene graphs and use them in the applications.

3D Editors

The most popular commercial animation software seems to be 3D Studio Max, which also supports exporting models or scene graphs to M3G format (the file format that JSR 184 specified). The special file format was specified because of the unique requirements of mobile devices. 3D Studio Max is expensive, and even if it is a very good tool, it might not be suitable for everyone.

Superscape has its own Swerve product family (Swerve Studio, Swerve Client, and Swerve Content), which helps developers to develop 3D Java and native applications. Unfortunately, the Swerve Studio is available only to a limited number of developers who are working closely with Superscape.

There's also a free choice: Blender. Blender is an open source 3D modeling tool that is actually quite powerful. You can use Blender for any kind of 3D designing—from simple models to complete animation movies. Although there are currently no (practical) export tools for exporting Blender models to M3G files, there might soon be some available (because Blender is open source).

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