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29. May 2011

 

Well here is one out of nowhere.  StudioGPU have released their flagship product MachStudio Pro 2 for free.  Real free too so far as I can tell, not free with an asterisk free.  For those of you that have never heard of MachStudio, it is in very rough terms a near to realtime renderer that makes use of your GPU.  In their own words:

 

StudioGPU's MachStudio Pro reinvents the 3D visualization production pipeline by putting the power of real-time graphics processing at your fingertips.

Render times that typically take hours or days are reduced to minutes and even seconds, limiting artists only to the scope of their creativity.

MachStudio Pro lets you truly Work at the Speed of Thought!

 

 

A Blender exporter is coming soon, but for now it does support importing FBX files.  Previous to this announcement, MachStudio sold for 4 grand!

 

Now the downside… you need a 1GB Direct X 11 GPU to run it.  In the world of desktops, that’s not too demanding.  For people like myself that buy only laptops, then it gets a bit trickier.  My best GPU is currently 512MB, but I am downloading it anyways to see what happens.

 

At that price though, if you have the system to run it, what are you waiting for, go download it now!

 

 

For those who ignore minimum requirements, just an FYI, it simply refused to run on my non-DX11 card.

Art

28. May 2011

 

As YouTube allows videos up to 1080p in size and does a very good job of providing downsampled versions, from now on I will try to publish all future videos in 1080p.  The only exception are videos capture on my 720p laptop…. which will obviously be 720p. Only downside is, some of these can get pretty blasted big!

 

Also, I am now using a utility to display what keys and buttons are being pressed, which should make it easier to follow along with what I am doing, while minimizing the amount of explanation I have to make.  Well, that’s the plan anyways.

General

27. May 2011

 

I am struggling a bit on how to format a “book” in blog terms.  What is the best way for me to get information across.  One of the big goals of this site is to guide a beginner through the entire process of creating a game.  At the same time however, as I come across problems, interesting things or just simply something strikes my fancy, I want to post it here as well.  This leads to a serious continuity problem, especially for someone just starting out.

 

As a proposed solution, I am going to keep things as they are, but “on topic/ordered” posts are going to be organized by chapters around a common theme.  That way a person can come in and view content on a chapter by chapter basis, even though a chapter is actually just a series of posts.  So, there will be a link on the right hand side Chapter 1/ Chapter 2/ etc… as well as each post being tagged by which chapter it belongs to.  Hopefully this will provide a solid structure to follow along by.

 

In addition, for each video posting, I will attempt to merge all chapter video together into a single video for people that want to consume it all at once.

 

I am currently working on chapter 1, which shows the entire pipeline in action.  Setting up your modeler, creating a model in Wings 3D, exporting to Blender, texturing and animating, the exporting to Unity.  By the end of chapter 1, you should be able to get your content from nothing to Unity with ease.

General

21. May 2011

 

In every industry there are definitely trends, and the CG world is no exception.  I remember the days when patch modeling were the “IT” thing, and every package under the sun added some forms of patch or spline modeling feature to its toolbox.  Then came NURBS and Sub-D surfaces, etc…

 

 

Pixologic_Logo_2

These days, the “IT” thing is sculpting.  Pretty much modeling via “virtual clay”.  Maya’s Artisan Tools no doubt was one of the big contributing factors to the whole sculpting movement with its release in 1998, but without a doubt the most disruptive and important program in the sculpting movement was Pixologic's zBrush.  Put simply it changed how the industry worked and if you have never checked it out, it is really worth a look! 

 

 

 

Now the gotcha, zBrush meshes by nature tend to be quite dense, as in high in polygon count.  Therefore it is a pretty piss poor tool for creating real time meshes ( although still useful for normal maps ).  In recent years though, lower polygon tools have more commonly made their way into the toolset.  Now, in regards to our project here, zBrush isn’t really all that relevant as simply put, it cost 700$.  That said, there are options.

 

See, a fellow by the name of DrPetter started an amateur project to create his own sculpting software.  In that way that can make you so damned jealous of other peoples abilities, the son of a… er wait… well anyways, he pulled it off, and created a pretty damned cool piece of software in just 6 months.  Being a hobby project he was pretty much going to abandon it, but the folks at pixologic stepped in an employed the fellow to continue work.

 

So, long story short, there is a freely available sculpting solution out there, thanks to drpetter and pixologic.  Given the cost of admission, you really owe it to yourself to check it out.  It is now called Sculptris Alpha 5 and you can download it here.  It’s a zip, download, extract and run the EXE, simple enough.

 

And to whet your appetite so you actually go ahead and download this powerful and FREE program, check out the following video!  Oh, and it is truly free, no watermarks, no limitations, simply free.

 

Sculptris in action

Art

18. May 2011

 

You bet your ass it does!

 

When moving between applications, each has it’s own unit of measure and frankly 1 has a very different meaning from application to application!  In Wings, a Wings “unit” is completely arbitrary.  So for example if you make a cube 1 by 1 by 1, the “1” means absolutely nothing or frankly, whatever you want it to.  This however gets a bit tricky when moving to another application.

 

In Blender, up until version 2.5 and higher units were completely arbitrary as well.  This means 1 could be a foot, a metre, a cord, a hand or a pan-intergalactic squible, it really didn’t matter.  The problem is, it did, a lot.

 

You see, once you start attaching physics to your models, size truly does matter.  Gravity does not cause things to fall at 9.2 feet per second, it’s 9.2 metres per second and mixing this up will cause things to be wrong by close to a factor of 3 times.  So unless you want gravity to be extremely powerful in your virtual world, you need to standardize on a unit of measure.

 

Now unfortunately to our American and English readers…  Unity picked the standard for us.  In Unity “1” is 1 metre  ( or meter again, for our American readers! Winking smile ) and given that Unity is providing the physics engine, I guess we better conform.  On the bright side, there are systems in place to make the transition as smooth as possible.

 

First off, when working in Wings3D simply treat 1 as 1 metre, then when you export to Blender it should appear as 1 metre in size.  That said, when moving from Wings to other Untitledprograms you may find that the results are exceedingly small.  There however is a fairly simple though remarkably imprecise solution.  Craft your object in Wings, then import it into your graphics program of choice.  Beside it create an object in the native program with that is 1x1x1m in size as a reference, you can then use Wings “Export scale” when exporting to automatically scale up your object when exported until the sizes match.  Once your export looks about right, use this scale factor for all future exports.    Clicking the square icon for the File –> Export –> Collada will bring up the export options window ( as shown to the right ).  The value surrounded in red is the important field.  A value of 1.0 means no change, while 2.0 would be twice as big and .5 would be half the size.  Again, while working with Blender, so long as you treat 1 Wings unit as 1m, you shouldn’t have to do anything.

 

With Blender, fortunately since version 2.5 you can now specify what units are.  Instead of re-inventing the wheel, I will refer you this excellent blog post on the subject.  They do a very good job of describing how to work with actual units.  Once configured, your export to Unity should be configured properly and compatible with the physics system.

Art , ,

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