PlanetInAction.com has released the first version of a fantastic free simulation game which leverages the browser-based Google Earth plugin as the primary graphics engine. The game is called “Ships” and lets you take the helm on ships – barges, cargo ships, container ships, and even a cruise ship (the QM 2). Everything is in 3D, you can drive the ships anywhere in the world, there are sound effects, physical modeling, and realistic visual effects that makes this a wonder to behold. Not only that, but the author – Paul van Dinther – has created some great camera tools to make it easier for people to follow the action and see the sights. This is the best example of the Google Earth API I’ve seen to date.
I was fortunate enough to work with Paul over the past few weeks providing some beta testing before he released Ships. Once you see the application, you’ll understand why I was thrilled to get involved. There are some technical notes on the application below the fold. But, watch this video review to see what I’m excited about:
You can try Ships right now – make sure you read the keyboard shortcuts. Everything else is pretty straightforward, although watching the video above may help you learn some tricks – especially with the cameras.
“Google Earth proves extremely capable to handle many overlays with
alpha transparencies which enables developers to create intricate and
graphically rich instruments. Proof of that can be seen in the
Compass/rudder instrument which consists of 5 layers of bitmaps.
(compass rose, rudder dial, rudder position needle, rudder target
needle and instrument bevel). Each layered image uses alpha
transparency to create a sense of depth and shadows. There really is
no limit what can be achieved in the hands of an experienced graphics
I’m hoping other developers will take a look at Ships and realize the GE platform has a lot to offer. This game really shows what is possible if you take advantage of what the Google Earth platform can do.
There were a couple of other GE plugins before Ships which gave a glimpse at what was possible. See the Paragliding Simulator and Satellite Debris plugin applications. But, today, my hat is off to Paul van Dinther for his Ships simulator/game. Great work Paul!