Creating a game sprite: Modelling in Blender Part 4: Enough with the box modelling

29. August 2013

 

In this post we are going to, for the most part, complete with the modelling portion.  In the end, I am going to stick with a relatively low polygon model so it can easily be used in a real-time 3D game, as well as for rendering a sprite.  Additionally, a lower polygon count makes texturing more straight forward.  That said, if you are rendering to sprites, the polygon count really doesn’t matter to you ( except of course for your PC being able to run Blender that is! ).  Later on I may take a look at adding more detail, as well as rendering a normal map to give the illusion of more detail on a low polygon model.  That said, I cant spend forever on this or we will never get to texturing!

 

So… back to our model.  In our last stage we ended here:

jet

 

Certainly more jet like than box like, but there are obviously some major exceptions.  First the cockpit is still basically just a box.  Second, the nose is about as aerodynamic as a toaster at this point.  Third, there is no engine yet, although you could argue that is just wasted polygons given the shape of the jet ( aka, you cant generally see the engine… ), so for now I am simply going to skip modelling an engine.  Finally we can do a bit of tweaking and movement in general.

 

The Cockpit

First we start off with our friend the loop cut.  Create one more loop cut along the edge of the cockpit like so:

image

 

Now move the outer edge of the cockpit down a bit, like so:

image

 

Now we are going to create out first triangle!  A few triangles here and there aren’t a bit deal, especially if they make sense.  What we want to do is basically change our edge loop so it loops around the cockpit.

 

To do this, we are going to make use of the Knife tool.  You use the knife tool by hitting K, then clicking here you want to start cutting from, then click where you want to cut to.  Finally click enter to complete the cut.  Hit K then click on the two locations marked.  Be sure you get the special square indicator that shows you are cutting to an existing vertices or you will create extra un-needed and un-wanted geometry.

image

 

 

Now repeat the process for the back of the cockpit and your new edge loop should look like:

image

 

Now shape the cockpit to suit.  I am not all that pleased with the initial results, so I will probably tweak later, but its at least a cockpit now instead of a box.

image

 

 

Modelling the nose

 

Now let’s do something about that nose.  We are going to collapse all of the vertices at the end into a single vertex.

 

Box select all of the vertices at the front of the jet, like so:

image

 

Then hit X and choose Edge Collapse

image

 

And Voila!

image

 

As you can see above though, our newly created uber vertex isn’t at the mirror point any more.  Make sure to move it back to 0 along the X axis:

image

 

 

Now we have one small problem… our plane is really really really boxy and we don’t want that!  You can spread the vertices out by hand but there is a much easier solution.

 

First make sure you don't have any interior geometry ( lines/vertices created along the X axis ) , like I do now.  You will need to be in Xray (Z key) mode to spot extra geometry.

image

 

If you do, select the edges and delete them ( X ). 

Now select the boxy edge loop making up the front of our nose:

image

 

And run the To Sphere tool.  ( Alt + Shift + S ) and:

image

 

Now move the selected edge loop back from the front of the nose:

image

 

Now repeat the same process with the next edge loop ( closer to the cockpit ).

image

 

Obviously we have a bit of cleaning up and tweaking to do now.  After a couple tweaks and moves we have:

render

 

 

At this point I turned off the background reference images and played around by hand and selectively set smoothing.  To set smoothing, simply select the face you want to be displayed smooth and click Smooth under Shading in the tools panel:

image

 

I made a number of small tweaks, such as extending the wings, shrinking the cockpit and main body and just smoothing things out.

 

So, this was our original design:

topSide

 

 

And this is where we ended up:

perspective

toprender

frontrender

rearrender

siderender

 

Pretty close to my original concept.  Not perfect by any means, but I’m happy. 

 

You can download a zip containing the blend file right here.

 

Time to move on to texturing!


Click here for the Next Part

 

Art ,




PlayStation Mobile 1.2 release and free developer license promo extended.

28. August 2013

 

A pair of PlayStation Mobile new tidbits today.

 

Back in March, Sony announced they would be giving away free 1 year developer licenses.  Today they announced they will be extending that program:

PSM

 

We are looking forward to seeing your exciting ideas become reality and having fun developing together.

To help out all the talent out there we thought it would be better to waive the publisher license fee. So we decided to extend the duration.

To obtain a PSM Publisher License, please register or sign in to: https://psm.playstation.net/

  • Start date: 8th May 2013

  • End date: TBD

  • The free PSM Publisher License is valid for one year from the obtained date.

 

Also, PlayStation Mobile 1.2 SDK was released.  Ok, this was a week ago, but it’s new to me!  Easily the biggest feature is the addition of scoreboard support. 

 
Changes in SDK 1.20.00
  • The APIs for PlayStation®Network scoreboard has been added.
  • Added Windows® 8 as an official support target of SDK. Removed Windows® XP as an official support target of SDK.
  • Supported the multi-user feature added from Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean).
  • When the application is hidden in Android, the application no longer terminates.
  • Supported portrait mode in UI Toolkit.
  • Improved convenience of creating keys.
  • Improved graphic performance on PlayStation®Vita
  • Added new samples which use new functions and show good practices. (Scoreboard Sample, Lua Sample, etc)

 

Not mentioned above was the addition of LuaInterface as well as Lua Samples, as well as a JSON sample.  Additionally, they also added the PersistentMemory class back, which is nice, as when they removed it, they ruined a recipe in my book

News ,




Maya LT officially launches. An interview with Autodesk reveals more information.

28. August 2013

 

As you may have noticed yet we ( somewhat prematurely ) reported on Maya LT, a new indie focused version of Maya.  Today marks the official release of Maya LT. I also got the opportunity to get some additional clarification from Autodesk, in an interview below.

 

Here is the official press release:

Autodesk Unveils Maya LT for Indie and Mobile Game Developers Starting at $50 a Month

 

 


Powerful Tools and Affordable Pricing Expand 3D Options for Independent Game Developers and Small Studios

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., August 28, 2013 — Autodesk, Inc. (NASDAQ: ADSK) today introduced Autodesk Maya LT 2014, a new 3D modeling and animation tool tailored for independent and mobile game developers. Available immediately and compatible with certain industry-standard game engines, Maya LT draws inspiration from award-winning Autodesk Maya software to bring an intuitive, affordable new toolset for the creation of professional-grade 3D mobile, PC and web-based game assets.MayaLT__HyperShade_DX11_UberShader__1920x1080

“We see indie game developers as a key part of the industry, driving innovative new production techniques and gameplay,” said Chris Bradshaw, senior vice president, Autodesk Media & Entertainment. “The market is fiercely competitive, and Maya LT can provide indie developers and small studios with a powerful, yet simplified workflow for designing and animating remarkable 3D characters, environments and props – at a price that fits within even the most modest budget. It’s a practical solution that closely matches the needs of the mobile game development production cycle and helps developers rise above the noise and really shine.”

Smaller studios like Phyken Media, creators of the mobile game Wizard Ops Tactics, saw both the economic and workflow benefits of the new product.
“I jumped at the chance to try Maya LT, as the cost flexibility means we could grow the studio much more comfortably,” said Phyken Media President Kunal Patel. “With an option like Maya LT, our small team can accept bigger challenges and take on various new types of projects that may require more artists without having to worry much about any large upfront expenses. We even found operating expenses are much easier to determine.”

Maya LT for Game Developers
Maya LT debuts with an easy-to-navigate user interface (UI) and industry-renowned 3D modeling and animation tools that enable independent game developers to rapidly deliver 3D assets into game engines. The software integrates seamlessly into game development workflows with out-of-the box support for Unity 3D Engine and Unreal® Engine™ through the FBX file format for primary data exchange, and the ability to import certain 3D asset formats [Maya (.ma, .mb), Maya LT (.mlt), OBJ, FBX, AI, EPS] and texture formats (BMP, PNG, DDS, EXR, TGA, TIFF), as well as export 3D assets in FBX and .mlt.

MayaLT__HumanIK_AnimationGraph_and_Outliner__1920x1080Key Features
Maya LT has a number of features customized specifically for the needs of mobile and independent game developers: powerful modeling tools to help create and alter 3D assets of any size and export FBX files containing up to 25,000 polygons per object, animation tools that include a skeleton generator and inverse kinematics with Autodesk HumanIK, and high-quality viewport previews to help developers view assets as they would appear in game, reducing iteration and asset creation time. Other key features are lighting and texture baking, giving designers professional global illumination tools to help simulate near realistic lighting through baking lighting data into texture maps, and vertex maps.

 

Pricing and Availability
Autodesk Maya LT 2014 is now available for Mac and Windows at a starting price of $795* SRP per perpetual license. Term licenses will also be available as part of a monthly, quarterly or annual rental plan in the near future, starting at $50* SRP, $125* SRP and $400* SRP respectively.

Learn More About Game Development with Autodesk Maya LT
For more information, and to download a free** trial of Maya LT, visit: www.autodesk.com/mayalt. Connect with the Maya LT development community at: http://area.autodesk.com/mayalt.

 

I got the opportunity to get a bit more detail from the team at Autodesk.  Answers where provided by Wesley Adams (WA), Autodesk Industry Market Adams  and Frank Delise (FD), Autodesk Director of Game Solutions.

 

Question: What are your target audience with this release.  Are you aiming primarily at game developers working with UDK and Unity, or indie developers in general?

Answer (WA) : Maya LT was specifically created to address the needs of indie game developers who want to create 2D and/or 3D assets for mobile platforms and much of its feature set is dictated by these requirements. It is primarily a 3D asset creation tool although it has a broad range of animation tools as well. It is engine agnostic and the assets created in Maya LT can be exported to any game engine via FBX including both Unity and UDK. Maya LT is designed to expand our portfolio of mobile game development tools, which already includes the Scaleform Mobile SDK with a Unity plugin. The Mobile SDK is based on the core technology of Autodesk Scaleform, but enables developers to use it as a standalone Flash runtime to port games to mobile platforms. This gives indie and mobile developers two different ways to access technology that was somewhat inaccessible to them previously.

 

Question: Are you considering launching a similar program for other tools such as Softimage or Max?

Answer (WA): Although we cannot talk specifically about future product releases, we do intend to continue to evaluate many different productization strategies, including LT versions, for our core entertainment markets of Film, Games and Television as well as to address new markets. However, it is not our intent to release multiple products for new markets. In this case we are targeting game developers who want to create 2D (sprite sheets) and 3D assets for mobile games. They require a solution that works both on PC and Mac and so we chose Maya as the basis.

 

Question: Will it be possible to white list certain plugins.  For example, the current no plugin policy will make it impossible to use Maya with Project Anarchy's art tools from Havok.  Will Autodesk be working with third parties in this regard?

Answer (WA): Yes, our intent is to work with third parties to build a healthy plug-in eco-system around Maya LT. In many ways Maya LT is a v1 product and we plan on an aggressive development path for it.

 

Question: Any possibility of an end-to-end Autodesk bundle ( such as versions that output specifically to Scaleform ) at indie friendly pricing. Or in a Creative Cloud type subscription service?

Answer (WA): We have no further announcements to make at this time regarding other new products and offerings, but we will indeed offer customers the option of purchasing either a perpetual license (with or without subscription) or a monthly rental plan.

 

Question: Are there going to be upgrade options available like other Autodesk LT products to move from LT to full versions?

Answer (WA): Right now there are no upgrade options available to move from Autodesk Maya LT to Autodesk Maya or any other Autodesk 3D animation product, primarily because it was not designed as an entry level product to Maya but to go after a new market.

 

Question: Is LT based on 2014? Is the intention to keep them at release parity? How long is the outright license purchase eligible for support?

Answer (FD): While Maya LT is based on Maya 2014 it is not intended to just be a reduced version of Maya but follow its own trajectory as a solution for indie developers developing for mobile platforms. So while we plan to keep Maya LT and Maya very close in terms of those Maya features that are relevant to indie game development, in some cases we may take different approaches to solving certain problems or needs. This could mean Maya LT specific capabilities not available in Maya for example.

 

Question: Doesn't the 25K limit on export heavily handicap certain usage scenarios, such as using Maya as a level editor?

Answer (FD): No, Maya LT can handle the same scene sizes as Maya. Therefore you can create large complex scenes. When exporting to a game engine, you’ll need to export the scene in modular pieces, up to 25k per object via FBX. This is a typical scenario when building games, using modular design. For example, you can create a car that’s over 70k polys, but export the body separate from the wheels. Maya LT also supports hi-res to low res texture baking for complex asset work.

 

Question: Does removal of MEL also prevent creation of toolbar shortcuts? What is the reason for removing MEL in general, is it not remarkably core to the Maya experience?

Answer (FD): In Maya LT, you can still create custom toolbars; however, Mel was removed. Maya LT is not a replacement for Maya in games; it is designed for asset creation for many indie game assets. We still expect Maya to be used by game developers who want the functionality to build custom pipelines\tools and advanced features.

 

Thanks for taking the time to answer guys!

Art ,




GameMaker 1.2 update released

27. August 2013

 

YoYoGames have released update 1.2 for their popular GameMaker cross platform 2D game engine, which was used to make such titles as Hotline Miami and gamemakerlogoHome.  Included in this update is one pretty bold claim…  New YoYo compiler runs projects up to 100x fasterI!  That’s a pretty big claim, and I have to say… if you’ve got room for a hundred fold improvement in speed… you had some pretty serious issues before hand!

 

 

Anyways, here is more information from the release:

 

 

  • New YoYo Compiler Runs Projects Up to 100x Faster
  • New Shader Support Allows Creation and Cross-Platform Publishing of Shaders

 

YoYo Games today announces the general availability of GameMaker: Studio version 1.2. With today’s update, developers will be able to harness the full speed of the CPU with the new YoYo Compiler, allowing projects to run up to 100x faster across all native platforms supported. Fully-integrated, totally cross platform Shader support allows developers to write shaders once and then deploy them across all platforms that support them.

 

"Today’s update raises the bar in the visual quality and the complexity of games that can be made in GameMaker: Studio,” said Russell Kay, chief technology officer at YoYo Games. “Our goal with today’s update and all future enhancements to GameMaker: Studio is that the imagination be the limiting factor in the game development process, not the technology.”

The YoYo Compiler

The YoYo Compiler unlocks new possibilities in CPU-intensive areas such as artificial intelligence, procedural techniques, real time lighting, enhanced physics, real time geometry deformation, collision and data manipulation, immensely raising the quality bar. The YoYo Compiler is free for customers of GameMaker: Studio Master Collection and is otherwise available as an add-on priced at $299.

Cross Platform Shader Support

Fully integrated, totally cross platform shader support allows full access to low level shaders, while still letting GameMaker: Studio do the heavy lifting. The built-in editor has been extended to have full color syntax highlighting and “intellisense” for shaders, making creation a breeze.

 

The rapid adoption of GameMaker: Studio as the preferred 2D games development framework has exceeded YoYo Games’ expectations. Today, GameMaker: Studio has been downloaded more than one million times and is quickly approaching 20,000 daily active users. To learn more about the GameMaker: Studio family of products and to get GameMaker: Studio version 1.2, please visit www.yoyogames.com.

 

Certainly an important release for GameMaker developers.

News ,




Autodesk finally offer cheaper Maya “indie” edition

27. August 2013

 

This one comes care of Tom’s Hardware:

 

Autodesk has introduced Maya LT, a new 3D animation product based on their award-winning Maya software. This new product also brings with it a subscription pricing model that they hope will make it more affordable to indie developers.

 

 

Indie developers, whether working for mobile, PC, or web-based games, need a professional 3D animation software that can be used to create 3D and 2D assets to be used in game engines. Autodesk has developed Maya LT as a new product whose focus is on the needs of indie game developers. It brings the established tools of Maya into the affordability range of indie game developers and also allows them to import assets that were created in Maya proper (as well as OBJ and FBX), giving them access to thousands of available models from sites like Turbosquid. Through support for FBX export, Maya LT also can be used for game engines like Unity Engine and Unreal Engine.

 

I have been advocating for an indie friendly version of Autodesk products for a long time, as they are easily the most expensive aspect of the game development tool chain.  This release certainly lowers the price, but does it lower it enough?

 

Pricing and Availability

Maya LT is available immediately for both OSX and Windows at a price of $795 for a perpetual license. Term licenses are available as part of a monthly, quarterly or annual rental plan in the near future, starting at $50, $125 and $400, respectively.

 

So, 800$ is certainly a better price than 3,675$ for a license of the full version.  The monthly and quarterly licenses are certainly a great option for short term game development and complement the Adobe Creative Cloud offerings nicely.  But

 

What exactly do you give up for that savings?  Well, here is where things get a bit tricky.

  • Does not support external renderers; cannot render 'scenes' or animations
  • No MEL support, and currently no plugin support or SDK.
  • Export to FBX format of up to 25,000 polygons per scene (but the .mlt format allows denser meshes within Maya LT)

 

The first item, the inability to render scenes means you cannot use Maya LT to create pre-rendered animations, such as cut scenes.  Perhaps worse, you also can’t even create a composited still, or any graphic more complicated than a rendered sprite.  So if you were thinking about rendering your title screen using Maya LT, you are out of luck.

 

No MEL support; that either sucks or is a non-issue depending on your workflow.  No plugin support is the same story with a bigger downside.  The inability to support plugins makes Maya LT completely useless for game engines that require plugin support such as the indie friendly Project Anarchy.

 

FBX export limited to 25,000 polygons.  This is probably the biggest problem as higher polygon count meshes are becoming more and more common as devices improve in power.  Granted, you generally wouldn’t use this many polygons on a standard mesh in a mobile title, yet.  On a desktop title though, you certainly would.  Perhaps the biggest downside is, this limit pretty much precludes you using Maya LT as your level editor.

 

In the end, it is certainly a step in the right direction but falls flat for me.  If Blender didn’t exist and wasn’t getting better with every release, this might be more appealing. At 800$, that is getting incredibly close in price to Modo, Lightwave and Maxon in price.

 

Oddly enough, Tom’s Hardware is the only source of information right now.  There are no details on Autodesk’s site.  I will update more information as it becomes available.

 

EDIT:

The Tom’s Hardware link is now down and as it was the primary source of this information there may be something fishy with this story.  I have found no other source to verify the story, nor have I heard back from Autodesk.

 

EDIT: 2:37PM

Shawn McClelland from Autodesk’s games solution group made the following post, with a great deal of clarification over on the Polycount forums:

 

Hey guys!
My name is Shawn McClelland and I am a product designer over on the games solutions group. I'll pause in case people would like to throw any objects at me upfront.

I wanted to come in and clarify a couple of things with regards to the Maya LT release and hopefully answer any questions you all might have or listed to your input/feedback.

As far as the 25k poly limit goes this is purely on export so the FBX file will not store anything larger than 25k. You could stuff a gigajillion polygons into a Maya LT scene and still save out the LT file and have zero issues but when you want to export that out to your game engine it needs to be packed in 25k chunks. We felt that limiting the contents of the scene was dumb but wanted to manage things on export a bit better so that's the reasoning there though we're not adverse to hearing your input and changing this to suit your needs.

With regards to the scripting I will say yeah it's a bit of a bummer and I totally get the disappointment of some tools guys or folks that like to rely on third party scripts floating out there on the web. We've heard this feedback and it's loud and clear to us that you need a scripting solution as part of this offering so we're going to see what we can do here. There is no Script Editor inside of Maya LT by the way just to clear that up as well.

JonJones: Your feature list isn't actually all that far off from what LT provides We did our best to provide a feature set that was enticing to the non-highend crowd so we removed things like rendering features, dynamics and various other things that cause a ton of UI bloat but aren't really all that useful to the indie, mobile, casual games developer or the freelance modeler. While we don't provide an SDK out of the box we do provide ShaderFX, FBX and Turtle all as pre-compiled included plug-ins. For third-party stuff we have a few ideas we've been mulling about but I don't think I can go into specifics just yet but if there are plug-ins you feel are a necessity to your work please let me know and I'm happy to work with dev on it.

For Rendering output we're relying on the VP2.0 and playblast options to output essentially hardware renders of your scene. Turtle is also provided for map baking needs as well and we've got a pretty sweet build of ShaderFX included as well that will let you build node networks for surface shaders. I have a few sample scenes I've built up using ShaderFX if people are interested including a version of the DOTA2 Hero Shader I've been working on as a ShaderFX graph.

Hopefully I've answered some questions and concerns here. If you have any further questions please don't hesitate to ask me via these forums or you can reach me direct at shawn(dot)mcclelland(at)autodesk(dot)com. If you're interested in becoming a beta tester you can also email me about beta participation and I'd be happy to get you added to the LT program.

Cheers,
Shawn

 

It basically confirms the majority of what was said earlier.  They are listening for feedback though, so if you strongly disagree with the 25K limit or removal of scripting for example, let them know!

Art ,