Sketchfab, Unity, Blend4Web, PlayCanvas, and now Verge3D

    Do you think something else forgot to enter? It is likely, because the demonstration of 3D on the site is becoming very popular, which means that the set of tools for its creation is growing.

    I am often asked questions about the display of 3D on the site and just as often I find myself at a dead end. There is no universal tool for solving all problems. Damn it, guys, you will not hammer a screw, right?

    Perhaps we should deal with this zoo ...

    One day, guys from a young indie studio, who planned to create another mega-cool browser game, came out to me. Realistic 3D, seamless world, lots of online-type buns and more, stuff, stuff. Alas, the question was:

    - What will be cooler, Unity or Unreal?

    Stop, people, do you need toughness or performance? Indeed, a lot depends on the specific tasks, the capabilities of the team and a variety of additional conditions. I honestly do not remember what I said good fellows, but more than sure that they did not succeed.

    Therefore, I will try in a small article to summarize some of my thoughts on these technologies. Of course, this does not apply to reputable studios who can independently conduct the necessary research. The audience of this literary "masterpiece" - artists, freelancers, sympathizers and just lazy.

    I want 3D in a web browser

    - Unity! - roar the first half of the knowledgeable.
    - Anrial, - Unreal users will respond no less loudly.

    And to experienced experts you can add Defold users from fans of LUA, Blend4Web with its native JavaScript or Three.js from sadomasochists. Damn it, the list of engines is expanding, and if you still have a little more strain, you can easily double it.

    The fundamental problems of non-native engines are massive ready-made code, limited functionality and questionable performance in the mobile web environment. Here it is necessary to study the documentation of the applicant, otherwise you will receive the expected cries:

    - WTF!?!

    It's a sin to say, but for several years the developers of Unity have not finished the exporter under WebGL, and the figures from Unreal have completely hammered it. In addition, the finished application from massive game engines looks no less massive. And here the bill is already going to megabytes, which is critical for the web! Hmm, I think that already this moment should scare away everyone.

    Ok, then everything is okay with native engines?

    I am not a programmer, but a cool artist

    It is assumed that the sensitive sense of nature is unable to deal with the intricacies of logic. Only the reality turns out to be far more truthful than this assumption.

    A modern 3D modeler is ready to solve math problems (hello to the Blender node pipeline), knows the technical capabilities of vidyuhi very well and, with a certain kick of fate, is ready to quickly concoct a plugin for his favorite editor. In the end, everything can be attributed to lack of time, and even banal human laziness.

    Therefore, if you are a man of a lazy, but refined nature, then you need to look for technologies that facilitate the work of transferring 3D to the coveted web.

    Given this requirement and the mandatory nativeity, we still have four applicants: Sketchfab, Blend4Web, PlayCanvas and newcomer Verge3D.


    Spit at someone who does not know Sketchfab, for this technology is a veteran of porting 3D to a web browser.

    The main task of the service is to provide the most lazy representatives of the 3D world with the opportunity to showcase their work on the pages of websites. For this there is a simple mechanism consisting of:

    1. Account system;
    2. Exporting models from your favorite editor. There are plugins for all 3D packages;
    3. Downloading the result to the service and getting the long-awaited code.

    The main feature of Sketchfab is a cool player that is downloaded from the service with your model via the link provided. It offers excellent opportunities for viewing the scene, playing animations, using the environment, matchmaps and others. If there is no personal site, you can send a link to the model in Sketchfab by email. In general, this is a great option for creating a portfolio that is hosted on the web. But, from here follow also minuses:

    1. Free only in a mousetrap! This is understandable, well, no one will work for free, so you should know in advance about the limitations of the Free package. A limited amount of animation, no private placement of models (everyone can see what you are posting), a size limit for uploading, etc. For only 15 evergreens per month, you can remove some restrictions, and also get hooked on the igloo of subscriptions.

    2. Only player. You can not make a game, you can not create any logic of work, only to demonstrate the model and all.

    If this is your ceiling, then welcome here .


    Wow Here I want to exclaim: "Bingo!". For this is already a complete environment for creating programs that can play 3D on the site. Although the developers of PlayCanvas claim that their brainchild is suitable for creating all sorts of 3D presentations, it’s still more of a game engine.

    It is “free” (well, you remember that free cheese is only in a mousetrap), the scene editor runs straight in the browser, understands many 3D formats, has good functionality for programming and a fairly modest size of executable files.

    Ops, the forbidden word "programming", excuse me ... The true artist has already wrinkled, and the mouse cursor crawled to the cross of the window closing ...

    Alas, working with PlayCanvas implies the knowledge of JavaScript, scrolling through the documentation and, accordingly, the presence of programming skills. I don't even know why I'm writing about PlayCanvas. Just keep in mind that there is a good native technology for creating 3D games for the web. She's here .


    Monster of domestic software, focused exclusively on the web and ... Blender. Unusually powerful functionality, excellent documentation and just a huge portfolio of programs created with it. On it, the people perfectly rivet all kinds of 3D configurators, presentations, create a portfolio (there are no games, really). Where does such popularity come from?

    The fact is that Blend4Web offers a direct transfer of a scene from Blender to the web with just one keystroke. In this case, the user gets a ready-made player, which is enough to fill in the desired site or connect to a web page. And most importantly, the engine has a powerful logic programming system based on the use of the Blender node system. Thus, by simply dragging the bricks of logic in Blender, you can create your own application. For example, add animation control buttons, texture changes, but at least create a mini-game. At the same time, software knowledge is required minimum. And you get these features for free!

    Cool, yeah? And now a big fly in the ointment ...

    If you work in Blender and you are satisfied with the ready-made b4w player, then use your health. But any way out of this, for example, changing the appearance of the player, adding JavaScript code and other things, will require everyone to open the source or have to pay a very substantial amount for the license. I will not call her, for it becomes sad. And so, you can get acquainted with the engine here .


    A young 3D engine for the web, but from old, seasoned programmers. The point is that some of the Blend4Web developers have recently “spun off” from the parent tree and created their own company, with their own development. At the same time, they took into account the unfortunate moments in the development of Blend4Web and offered something new that looks much more attractive.

    First, there is no attachment to Blender. Therefore, users of 3ds Max are not left out. All the basic steps for setting up scenes, animations and other things are performed in Blender or Max editors, and then they are distilled to the web with a single button. Hence the second innovation ...

    Secondly, the logic is configured not in Blender with its nodes, but directly in a web browser, with the help of special graphical puzzle elements. Connect them in the right order and voila. The developers boast that in this way you can create programs of any complexity without even knowing JavaScript (although the latter can also be used).

    Third, the developers offer their own cloud service for storing 3D scenes. Unlike Sketchfab, it is private and this is a definite plus. Moreover, it is possible to overtake the project directly from the Verge control panel. No software knowledge is required here.

    And now to the minuses? Oh, yes, without it!

    1. Compared to Blend4Web, the engine functionality is rather poor. You can create a presentation, configurator, portfolio, but forget about the games. Although the engine is developing rapidly, and who knows what will happen next. The guys every two or three weeks roll out updates with new features. Just yesterday, the next release of Verge3D for Blender was released with support for Cycles and Principled BSDF. Curious what's new for Max.

    2. There is no free version, i.e. lovers of "cheese in a mousetrap" break off. Here is an honest system "trial → payment". True trial is endless, and the price is quite sparing and more suitable to domestic realities.

    3. There is no documentation in Russian, although Russian people are developed. But this is probably a new thing.

    The engine page is here .

    PS Forgot about something else? Maybe. I am writing more in order to answer in simple terms and in a simple way those questions asked by users. And most of the time these are not programmers with naive questions: “What is cooler?”

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