3D Groove Games (partially lost online games; 1998-2009)
3D Groove was a 3D game engine that was active between 1998 and 2009, with its peak occurring in the early to mid-2000s. Many 3D Groove games were lost when 3D Groove's site went down in 2009.
The 3D Groove engine was created by the company The Groove Alliance. While The Groove Alliance developed their own original games, their main focus was to develop games to advertise various toys, movies, and cartoons. 3D Groove's Advergames would be developed at the request of a company for one of its brands, such as Radio Shack, AT&T, Intel, Pringles, etc.
These games could be played online with a web browser plugin, but often there was a more fully-featured version of the same game which could be purchased and played offline. The games were licensed royalty-free and non-exclusively, and the game would need to be removed after the license expired.
3D Groove games could be built to be played on the desktop or in a browser. At first there was 3D Groove SX, which allowed developers with Director to create a Shockwave Movie (with a filetype of DCR) with a 3D Groove game. In 2002, 3D Groove GX was introduced, and it allowed for the creation of 3D Groove games without the need for Director. With 3D Groove GX, developers would use the private SDK provided by The Groove Alliance to create Groove World Files (with a filetype of GRV.)
Both versions of 3D Groove, in turn, used the 3D Game Machine development framework (3DGM for short) from Virtually Unlimited Corp. In September 2001, 3D Groove bought the source code for 3DGM. 3D Groove games may make use of the 3DGM Model File format (with a filetype of 3GM) and is similar to the standard 3DS Model File format but with greater functionality. For example, the ability to use quads - or faces with any amount of vertices - instead of only triangles, was included.
In 1995, before 3D Groove existed, programmer Jules Urbach worked at DigitalFusion and helped to code the game Real Pool, a basic 3D pool game for the Mac intended to rival the Virtual Pool series. The game was published by MacSoft and got a Windows port in 1998, which was published through GT Interactive (which would later become Infogrames) shortly before the Groove Alliance was established.
The Groove Alliance was established on July 6th, 1998. Mr. Urbach was the company's co-founder, with entrepreneur Chris Kantrowitz and programmer Peter Laufenberg, who did much of the C++ code for the 3D Groove web browser plugin. Other notable names involved with 3D Groove are Patrick Thiel from Pepworks.com (animator,) Ben Encarcion (artist,) Nick Kang (developer,) Jed Whedon and Rene Winkler (music and sound design) and Jamie and Simon Edis from Ezone.com (artist and programmer, respectively, who used 3D Groove for their web games.)
The assets used in Real Pool were recycled to make a web demo version, becoming the first use of the 3D Groove engine. It was intended to promote the full game, the web version of Real Pool used 3D Groove SX and was published on Shockwave.com, becoming their first 3D game, where it got between 5-6 million plays according to Laufenberg. The game made over four million dollars in total sales, according to Vice President of Marketing for Infogrames Paul Rinde. It was later recycled again into an advergame for Jack Daniels.
The Groove Alliance then developed a game called SkyDive! which was released by Electronic Arts on June 30th, 1999, with their Gonzo Games label. It received mostly negative reviews. Shockwave.com announced a partnership with Groove Alliance to develop new games. One of these was Tank Wars, a game where you drive around the city playing as a tank destroying other tanks. It was released in Spring 2000 and got over 1.5 million plays per month.
From January 2001 to August 2003, Joseph Varet became 3D Groove's CEO.
Kpe and the Groove Alliance announced a partnership. The first title they released under this partnership was Otto's Killer Carvin Snowboard for NickArcade. RealNetworks announced a distribution agreement with the Groove Alliance for their RealArcade platform. 3D Groove also made a sequel to Real Pool called Real Pool 2, which became the first game to use the new 3D Groove GX engine version.
By March 2002, the 3D Groove engine had been downloaded 40 million times. In early 2004, Peter Laufenburg left the Groove Alliance.
3D Groove marketed a new Battle of the Planets game to celebrate the show's 25th anniversary. Transformers Battle Universe for the Net Jet controller was also made in the 3D Groove GX engine.
In early 2009, 3D Groove's site shut down, causing a lot of their games to be lost.
The Groove Alliance rebranded as OTOY, which is still around today but has moved in a different direction, instead focusing on their OctaneRender engine used to create photorealistic graphics from within 3D modelling tools such as Maya. Jules Urbach's explanation for 3D Groove's sunset is that he wanted to shift his full attention to OTOY's bigger goals which involved GPU rendering, as explained in a Twitter reply. He also added that a half dozen people from Groove still work at OTOY as of writing.
One blog post on A Tree Falling in the Forest about Jules Urbach, who worked at 3D Groove, wrote that he was "kind of screwed" by certain people in Groove Alliance. When asked on the Ezone Discord server what happened to 3D Groove as a company, Ezone responded that "all [they] know is that Jules got ripped off in some way by the CEO." However, these stories don't coincide with OTOY's official response.
Availability of Games and Download
No 3D Groove games are currently available for purchase. However, several are still available to play thanks to various means, such as archive.org or people uploading a game that was on their computer. Many games were also given out directly by Simon Edis from Ezone. A list of games that are currently lost and found can be viewed below. A MEGA Folder of the currently found 3D Groove games is available here for download.
Groove Alliance Original Titles
|1||3D Marble Demo||Found|
|2||9MM: Beer Bottle Shootout||Found|
|4||Death From Above||Found|
|5||High Roller||Partially Found|
|6||Nothin' But Net||Found|
|7||Outpost X Demo||Found|
|10||Real Pool 2||Found|
|11||Showdown: The Gunfighting Game||Found|
|16||Tank Wars Multiplayer||Lost|
Groove Alliance Advergames
|1||3D Groove Bose Game||Lost|
|2||3D Groove Skittles Bowling Game||Non-existent|
|3||Cisco Broadband Game||Lost|
|5||Eight Legged Freaks||Found|
|6||FedEx USA Express||Lost|
|7||Intel's Showdown: The Gunfighting Game||Lost|
|8||Jack Daniel's Real Pool||Lost|
|9||M&M's: Yellow Takes Tokyo||Found|
|10||Mazda: Skyracer Impulse||Found|
|12||Mountain Dew Skateboarding||Lost|
|13||Nesquik: Chocolate Mountain Challenge||Found|
|14||Pringles Pony Express||Found|
|15||Pringles: Super Spud Boxing||Found|
|16||RC Stunt Machine Showdown||Found|
|18||Volvo Cross-Country Challenge||Found|
|19||Unlimited Challenge 2||Found|
|1||Powerpuff Girls: Showdown in the Sky||Found|
|2||Toonami: Trapped in Hyperspace||Partially Found|
|1||American Dragon: Robot Pandemonium||Found|
|4||JetiXtreme 3D Racing||Found|
|5||Johnny Kapahala: Island Grind||Found|
|6||Kim Possible: Middleton Mayhem||Found|
|7||Oban Star Racers: Great Race||Found|
|8||Tarzan's Jungle Rescue||Found|
|9||Yin Yang Yo: The Dangerous Comic Book of Dread||Found|
|1||Battle of the Planets: Peril of the Praying Mantis||Found|
|2||Farmer Giblet's Turkey Farm (Turkey 3D!)||Found|
|3||Lenny Loosejocks Boardin||Found|
|4||Lenny Loosejocks in Snow Worries!||Found|
|6||Santa Goes Buttboardin' 3D||Found|
|7||Super Mega Big Trucks: Arena||Found|
|1||All Grown Up Crazy Karts||Found|
|2||Adventures of Bleeposaurus||Found|
|3||Adventures of Bleeposaurus: Dragonfire||Found|
|4||Blue's Clues: Joe's 3D Scavenger Hunt||Found|
|5||Danny Phantom Ghost Sweep||Found|
|6||Diego's Rescue Adventure 3-D||Found|
|7||Dora 3D Soccer||Found|
|8||Dora The Explorer 3-D Backpack Adventure||Found|
|9||Dora The Explorer 3D Driving Adventure||Found|
|10||Dora The Explorer 3-D Pyramid Adventure||Found|
|11||Fairly OddParents Information Stupor Highway||Found|
|12||Hey, Arnold! Runaway Bus||Found|
|13||Jimmy Neutron: Gotta Blast! Rocket Race||Partially Found|
|14||Jimmy Neutron: Rescue Jet Fusion||Found|
|15||Jimmy Neutron Space Blast||Found|
|16||Otto's Killer Carvin Snowboard||Found|
|17||Rocket Power Big Air Mountain||Found|
|18||SpongeBob SquarePants 3D Movie Game||Found|
|19||SpongeBob SquarePants Pinball Panic||Found|
|20||SpongeBob SquarePants Saves the Krusty Krab||Found|
|21||Wild Thornberrys Movie Chopper Chase||Found|
|2||Animenace: Operation Phantom||Partially Found|
|5||Battle of the Planets: 3D Battle Racer||Found|
|6||Battle of the Planets: Zoltar's Revenge||Found|
|7||Bio Boxing 3D||Found|
|10||Leo's Great Day 2||Found|
|1||OTOY Battle Space||Found|
|2||Star Trek Online||Lost|
|3||Transformers Battle Universe||Found|
The title screen for SpongeBob SquarePants Saves the Krusty Krab.
- Link to a MEGA folder containing some found 3D Groove content, including games and Shockwave xtras. All games are for Windows unless otherwise specified. Retrieved 08 Jul '16
- Article about 3D in Director with a screenshot of 3D Groove's Xtra being used within Director. Retrieved 23 Apr '17
- A commercial for the M&M's game: Yellow Takes Tokyo. Retrieved 13 Nov '17
- The Groove Alliance's business model. Retrieved 21 Dec '16
- Information about 3D Game Machine. Retrieved 06 Jan '17
- Information on SkyDive!. Retrieved 15 Dec '16
- Information on Shockwave.com's partnership with Groove Alliance. Retrieved 28 Nov '16
- Statistic about the game Tank Wars. Retrieved 28 Nov '16
- Information on kpe's partnership with Groove Alliance. Retrieved 28 Nov '16
- Information on RealNetworks distribution agreement with Groove Alliance. Retrieved 28 Nov '16
- Statistics and information about Real Pool. Retrieved 28 Nov '16
- The 3D Groove engine download statistic. Retrieved 03 Jul '17
- Twitter post explaining OTOY's shift in focus. Retrieved 13 Oct '20
- A blog post on A Tree Falling in the Forest about Jules Urbach who was involved with 3D Groove. Retrieved 29 Aug '16
- Small screenshots of High Roller and Outpost X. Retrieved 10 Oct '18
- A brief review of High Roller. Retrieved 24 Oct '18
- A capture mentioning Tank Wars Multiplayer existing on e4.com. Retrieved 10 Oct '18
- Site on which 3D Groove Bose Game of unknown title, Cisco Broadband Game and SEMIs ChipsOnTour would've been embedded. Retrieved 10 Oct '18
- A capture of Disc Dogger's loader which tries to install 3D Groove. The game itself was not caught. Retrieved 10 Oct '18
- Joseph Varet's LinkedIn suggesting there was a FedEx advergame in the 3D Groove engine. Retrieved 28 Oct '17
- Art of Wei's portfolio mentioning Michelob Golf. Retrieved 10 Oct '18
- Page linking to Lisasquest 3D and Architecture Demo made in Groove GX. Retrieved 10 Oct '18
- Marc Nail discussing Cyobreed's cancellation. Retrieved 24 Oct '18