With the massive new 4.0 version of AI War hitting tomorrow, one of the big bullet points from that release is a wholesale platform shift: moving to Unity 3D, away from SlimDX / .NET. In the past, I wrote about why I chose SlimDX, and why I felt it was the best DirectX interface available in C#. Searching for “C# directx” on Google, I see that’s still one of the very top results.
It’s been over a year since I wrote that article — so, what’s changed in that year regarding my feelings for SlimDX? The short answer: nothing. It’s still the best .NET wrapper available for DirectX, bar none. My beef was with the .NET 3.5 runtime and DirectX themselves: their lack of cross-platform support, and the terrible and massive installer for .NET 3.5, were the two big issues for us. Unity 3D paved a way for us to have no prerequisites for installation, and to have Mac OSX support as well as potential support for phones and other small devices. That was really important to us, but it hasn’t changed the fact that SlimDX remains the best at what it does.
I’ve lately also been talking a lot about things that we can do in the Unity engine that we couldn’t do with the SlimDX version of AI War. That’s a good shorthand for me to use (much quicker than saying “version 3.189 and before of AI War, on the old engine”), but it really has very little to do with SlimDX. The limitations in the old engine came from our use of GDI+ as a windowing system, from our use of the Direct3DX extensions as wrappered by SlimDX, and the general fact that DirectX is a multimedia API and NOT a fully-fledged game system.
So for anyone who is looking for a way to use DirectX in .NET applications, I can definitely recommend SlimDX to you. Look no further, it beats the pants off its competition. We left that arena, but that should have no bearing on what other programmers might choose to do when looking for a solution in that environment. I don’t want anyone to get the impression that SlimDX is old, outdated, or inferior — it’s not. The “SlimDX version” of AI War was, compared to the “Unity version” of AI War. But that’s more to do with us than the SlimDX folks.
You’ll notice that the SlimDX team are still thanked in the special thanks section of our credits — we might not directly use the API any longer, but their API allowed us to launch ourselves in a way we never could have otherwise (I came to SlimDX from MDX, and it was like a dream after MDX). My best wishes go with the SlimDX team, and I’ll keep an eye on them and their project as it develops over hopefully years to come. Cheers!