We recently sat down with Rob Bateman, managing director of The Away Foundation, who told us about the company’s new project, Away3D 4.0 Gold, that was launched earlier today. Away3D 4.0 Gold is first official project from The Away Foundation, an offshoot of Away3D. The company has been active for two months, but Rob had been involved in the Away3D engine since 2007.
Enjoy the Q&A below and visit away3d.com to read more about the release and download tutorials, examples and source files.
Tell us a bit about The Away Foundation and how it came about.
The Away Foundation is a non-profit Community Interest Company based in the UK, focusing on building and maintaining free and open source software resources for online and mobile games and applications. Work within The Away Foundation is enabled by corporate sponsorship and the continued support of a large community of individuals and organisations.
Around 6 months ago, I left a full-time Technical Director role to focus on Away3D activities, and it was around this time that the concept of a foundation was discussed with other core members of the Away3D community. The idea of a non-profit entity managing Away3D matters appealed to us as it appeared a straightforward way to generate corporate funding interest and accelerate development.
After the Away3D 4.0 Beta was released in February, we started making enquires to gauge company interest. Adobe came forward as a strong candidate for becoming a founding member, with significant interest in the work already achieved by our group and positive feedback from the many creative companies around the world that use our libraries. After 3 months of discussions with Adobe we agreed on the vision and we had our first founding partner.
How does this align with Away3D priorities?
Away3D has its roots in open source, and a large active community that has grown steadily from its origins over 5 years ago. The focus of Away3D has been 3D graphics on the web using the Flash technologies, and has previously relied on the free contributions of its community members to survive and grow. As things have got bigger, so too has the amount of necessary commitment, and the main benefit The Away Foundation offers is a business incentive for companies like Adobe to get involved and help support this commitment.
What was the principal driver of The Away Foundation?
As the organiser and founder of the Away3D project, I was the primary catalyst for pushing forward discussions and working out the logistics of the company. The main driver for me was the opportunities The Away Foundation presents to our community and development areas. Away3D has always been about providing free software to developers, but in the past we lacked a long-term business strategy for sustainability and growth. With The Away Foundation, we now have an official strategy for these aspects of free software development.
What is the goal of The Away Foundation and how do you see that coming to fruition?
The Away Foundation is primarily focused on the development and maintenance of tools and libraries used in the production of high-performance graphical content on the web and mobile devices, and seeks to promote the value of open standards and open source software to a broader audience. Away3D has laid the groundwork for this, establishing ourselves as a center for creative, high quality frameworks and free, unrestrictive licensing. By offering an official membership program to the businesses that benefit from such technology, we hope to encourage a new wave of possibilities and collaborations while cementing our existing development streams and improving the quality of our resources and support.
How will the Foundation be managed?
As a CIC we can be quite flexible about how we structure ourselves, and even how we do business. The only firm rule is our non-profit status which we hope will encourage business investment, as you can be sure that every penny donated in funding will be spent on the development and support of our libraries and resources. Decisions on our focus and strategy are made using a flat voting hierarchy that includes all members of our organisation, ensuring that our developers and community are at the heart of everything we do, and remain so.
How will The Away Foundation gain support and funding?
We already have a great deal of support for Away3D at a community level, and want to encourage companies who use our software regularly to become more involved in support activities through The Away Foundation. This doesn’t just have to be funding involvement – we have had several successful collaborations in the past with companies who have donated development time, and the foundation is designed to encourage this further.
How is Adobe involved in the project?
Adobe is registered as a Strategic Member of The Away Foundation, the top tier membership status. This is intended for organizations that benefit greatly from the proliferation and use of Away Foundation tools and software, and want to create lasting connections with Away Foundation activities, through the integration of their own communities, tools and software platforms.
What does it mean to gaming that Adobe is involved with the foundation and open source?
I think it’s a great step in the right direction, and further demonstrates Adobe’s commitment to providing high quality resources for games developers looking to the Flash ecosystem for serious games development. Earlier this year Adobe endorsed the open source Starling 2D framework and now developers can leverage Away3D framework to create 3D and hybrid 2D/3D games. There is still a way to go, but The Away Foundation provides the resources, community and talent to get things to a potentially very interesting place. Our biggest advantage is our free & open source approach that offers any software project, whether it be free or commercially based, the ability to pick up our libraries and integrate them with their own systems. This expands the potential of what you can do with Away Foundation software, and empowers games companies of all sizes to be creative and innovative in the products they produce.
What are the benefits to members?
Membership is arranged in tiers, from community contributors right up to strategic sponsors, and benefits vary accordingly. The very least, you are entitled to vote on decisions that affect company direction and strategy at our annual general meeting and formal recognition as a foundation member on our website. Increased commitment offers increased benefits, such as targeted support on company matters relating to Away Foundation resources, pre-release details of updates and new projects being worked on, and at the very highest level a seat on the board of directors to foster long term commitments relating to shared goals and strategies.
Of course, the biggest benefit to anyone is the continued existence of a free, non-restrictive software resource that offers cutting edge libraries and strong community ties, something we hope any member would be happy to be associated with.
Where can one go to find more information on the Away Foundation?
Our main site is hosted at http://www.theawayfoundation.org, where you can find more information on the projects we manage, support we offer and members we are involved with.