Lots to discuss here, I see!
I suppose that while the workblog is a good overview of the ongoing work, it's hard to understand the scope of it in regards to the current development branch. So, allow me to take some time and answer inquiries as well as lay out the game plan a little more clearly:
To answer the starter questions, @ andi_s
1) Correct, a good bit of how the engine handles in 3.10 will change for 4.0. Examples of this are the new template, E/C stuff and PBR rendering.
To build on this, technically speaking, the new template and e/c stuff is actually in the development branch already, it's just undergoing active work, so it's still a bit unstable compared to the full template. When 4.0 launches, the full template will be removed and the new template + modules will be utilized.
It's not as big of a deal as you think, as the exact same functionality will be doable, it's just that there's no point in doubling up the templates at that point. Just makes maintenence and work more complex.
Regarding the E/C stuff, we're looking at not fully removing the existing 'game classes' for 4.0, but considering them deprecated. So anything Shapebase derived such as Item, Player, Vehicle, etc will be considered deprecated to be removed in the following versions.
In their place, however, will be a good list of stock components that replicate the functionality, and a default set of GameObjects to utilize in their place.
So you're not really losing any default examples or functionality, it'll just be re-implemented through the E/C stuff.
Because the old game classes won't be removed immediately, you would be able to port up any work you have from prior versions and have them function, though obviously you'll be limited going forward in capitalizing on the new stuff. That said, because of the one-for-one reimplements of those game classes as GameObjects, unless you've massively reworked their behavior, it should be a simpler job to port up to the new ones.
As Timmy mentioned, with PBR, the texture maps materials expect will be changed. The art can obviously be updated and we'll have examples of how to convert stuff up, but some work will be involved in jumping your art up from non-PBR to PBR style.
Otherwise, most of the general knowledge you'd learn by using a 3.10 build - scripting, tools, building the engine and making changes - will carry over just fine. Stuff pertaining to gameplay or art content should be able to be ported without too much of a hassle.
I'm actually plotting out a utility to import "Legacy Projects" that utilize the full template to the new BaseGame template + modules to try and streamline such a process as well for people that already have a project going.
2) As mentioned, the e/c stuff is actually in and functioning now. Easiest way to use it is the BaseGame template + one of the gameplay modules(spectator is the barebones one). You can spawn an entity via the regular existing objects in the Levels folder, and use the inspector to add components.
I do plan to PR the asset browser and a good number of improvements to the E/C stuff that's been cooking in R&D this week, so if you wanted to wait until the weekend, you could start messing around with that interface, which is probably going to be easier to work with in general.
3) If you grab development right now, it should work just fine with the modern windows SDK, since we killed off DX9.
4) The wiki docs aren't SUPER out of date, but no doubt need updating. We can look at getting those updated soon
To specify a few side points:
Basic lighting - for 4.0 we're not "removing" basic lighting, so much as shifting/repurposing it to what it really is: It's not a 'low detail render mode', but just a general "Forward Render" mode. It'll be a project setting for if you utilize Deferred or Forward. Forward is good for low-end hardware and VR, Deferred is good for more advanced render effects and post effects.
So I would not recommend using the new stuff at all, since it has never been field tested and no games have been made with it yet, which means, you will run into a lot of bugs you will need to fix.
I mean, people using it is how issues get corrected, so...
@ Jason Campbell
I've noticed over the years, people often did this waiting game or constantly porting to the next version
Yeah, this has always been an issue for people doing real production work. We're looking to make it WAY easier for people to keep up with stuff with 4.0, so once you get on the 4.0 builds, updates after that should be far, far simplier to deal with.
haven't been actively working with T3D that much the last few months.
Pft, you and your fancy vacations down in Straya-land!
So yeah, here's the short-form of the roadmap for the next month. The bigger, impactful stuff anyways:
Initial implement of Asset Browser,
Various improvements to the entity/component stuff, including the introduction of Systems(these two should be in this week),
Hopefully wrap on initial implement of PBR
Threadpool update to usher in the new age of Torque threading(plan is by the end of the weekend)
Update multiple parts of the engine to capitalize on the pending Threadpool update
I'm looking to do a series of videos for the BaseGame template, modules, assets and the browser, E/C stuff, and then when PBR is in, likewise get some videos tutorializing how it's used/works as well as some options for converting existing assets. I've got a library of a few thousand images I want to PBR-ify, so I'll definitely be pursuiing options before anyone else to try and figure out a good suggested baseline path for that.
Basically, gunna try and get a series of tutorials/walkthroughs for a lot of this new front-end stuff over the next couple weeks, which hopefully should make it easier for everyone to get up to speed.
As for what you should do for now? Well, I'd say mull over what I've put above. I don't think it'd be a bad idea to start getting a feel on T3D now with 3.10, but I can understand not wanting to risk 'losing' work. If you're unsure about jumping in just yet, give it a month when we should hopefully have the above locked in, and it should be much more in line with 4.0 than 3.10, at which point if you wanna be an early adopter, it'd be a good time to jump on board.