This was 2008, and jMonkeyEngine 2. Yesterday, the first alpha of the upcoming jMonkeyEngine 3 has been released!
The big news are the jMonkeyPlatform (more below), OpenGL 2 support, new shader features (with huge improvements on lighting, materials, textures), integrated 3D physics, and an asset manager. Overall, the art pipeline (working on materials and models, also together with designers) is now very smooth. Other upcoming features include Android support, a terrain editor, and an editor for in-game cinematics.
To get a feel for jme3, I recently started using the new 3D game development tool jMonkeyPlatform. It's built on the NetBeans Platform and the main ingredient of the jMonkeyEngine SDK. (Geertjan reported on it under its working title "GDE".) It's like NetBeans IDE plus a 3D scene composer, a model converter, and a game project template that sets up all jME3 framework dependencies (including javadoc popups and source navigation). Of course you also get NetBeans IDE's debugging, testing, profiling, and deployment support: Think web-startable games, desktop games, game applets, and soon also Android games...
As I said, I've been using the alpha, and it's awesome already. Last year I wrote a tutorial how to get started with a jME2 project; now, for jME3, the same tutorial will be three lines: Download jME SDK, choose "New Project", there is no third step. Of course using the jMonkeyPlatform is optional, you can develop jME3-based projects in any IDE you wish, or even on the commandline -- but why would you want that? :D
Here is what I mean:
- Video: jMonkeyPlatform - Editing Models in the SceneComposer
- Video: jMonkeyPlatform - Editing Nodes in the SceneExplorer
- Video: jMonkeyPlatform - WebStart Your Game!
- jMonkeyEngine 3 tutorials
- jMonkeyPlatform documentation
- Feature comparison between jME2 and jME3
To get started, download the jMonkeyEngine3 SDK alpha (incl. jMonkeyPlatform alpha) here.
The alpha is stable but not yet feature complete. Feel free to test the heck out of it and tell us what you think, or if you want to contribute.