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17. April 2018


If you are a Blender Game Engine (BGE) fan, I have some bad news for you.  Earlier today BGE was removed from the Blender 2.8 branch of source code.  This means in the next version of Blender and beyond, there will no longer be an in-built game engine.  The game engine was never particularly popular and apparently caused a bit of a code maintenance nightmare, so the decision was made to remove it.  Then changes to the game engine are massive, touching 916 files in the code base.

Details of the change from the Blender code commit comments:

Removing Blender Game Engine from Blender 2.8

Folders removed entirely:

  • //extern/recastnavigation
  • //intern/decklink
  • //intern/moto
  • //source/blender/editors/space_logic
  • //source/blenderplayer
  • //source/gameengine

This includes DNA data and any reference to the BGE code in Blender itself.
We are bumping the subversion.

Pending tasks:

  • Tile/clamp code in image editor draw code.
  • Viewport drawing code (so much of this will go away because of BI removal that we can wait until then to remove this.

You can learn more about the change in this video, also embedded below.

Art, Programming, GameDev News

30. January 2018


CoaTools, or Cut Out Animation Tools, 1.0 was just released.  Coatools is a free and open source plugin for Blender that enables users to create 2D animations directly in Blender, bringing IK based animation techniques to traditional 2D art.  It’s very similar in scope and function to other animation packages such as Spine, Spriter, Creature and Dragonbones.  The 1.0 release was quickly followed by a 1.0.1 update.


Details of these releases:

1.0 Release:

This is the first official stable release of the COA Tools.
It features a rich set of tools to create 2D Cutout Animation in Blender.

Some of the features that were in the Alphas and Betas available are disabled now. They can still be enabled in the Addon Preferences. But it is not recommended as they are going to be removed in the future releases. Thats the reason why I wanted to release an official release where they were still present, but deprecated. Some people may have used such features in older projects.

So here are the tools that probably won't work properly right now:

  • Experimental Json export (was used to export to godot. Will be removed.)
  • Spritesheet mechanics (Is replaced by so called Slot Objects. Will be removed)
  • Dragonbones Export( Many things have changed so this exporter will need a proper rewrite. Going to be modified in the future)

The addon features a complete new Addon Updater thanks to the CGCookie Addon Updater Module. Via this module I will make sure to autoupdate the addon in the future. So you can easily keep the addon up to date.

1.0.1 Release:

Trying to do publish new features/bug fixes now more often in maintainence releases.
Thanks to the new updater module people should get those features right away.

Additions:

  • Improve Sprite import (importing json files lets you choose which images should be imported. Updating images is now also integrated)
  • Improve Sprite Outliner (Sprites are now sorted based on the z depth. Rearranging sprite orders is now also included into the Outliner. AZ icon in the upper right corner)
  • Picking edge length for contour drawing in Edit Mesh Mode. Shift+Click on an edge will now pick that edge lenght for drawing contours.


You can download CoaTools on Github.  For more details be sure to check out this video, which is also embedded below.

Art, GameDev News

12. October 2017


Creating human models has always been one of the more challenging tasks artists can face.  There are a number of tools out there such as Poser, MBLDaz or MakeHuman that can create human models for you.  Often the results aren’t exactly ideal for use in real time games however.  The Blender Add-On we are looking at today however generates excellent, fully rigged and textured meshes that are perfect for use in games.


The add-on we are looking at today is the Manuel Bastioni Lab, very similar to Make Human, as it is a project from the developer who founded the MakeHuman project.  Unlike MakeHuman however, MBL runs entirely inside of Blender, and in my opinion generates more game appropriate meshes and rigs.  It is completely free and open sourced.


First download the zip file available here, then install and enable the plugin in Blender.  If you are unfamiliar with this process, the video embedded below shows you the process step by step.


Once enabled it will add a new tab to the tools panel:

image


Initial controls are incredibly simple.  Pick the base type of model you want to create, if you want it to create Cycles based materials, and if you want it to configure lighting for you.

image


There are several different defaults to chose from:

image


Your new model will be created as soon as you press the Init button.

image


Now there are an absolute ton of configuration options available:

image


Modify skin tons, default poses, default facial positions and a ton more.  Once done, click Finalize and you are off to the races.


The Video

(Direct Link)

Art

19. September 2017


Perhaps the biggest complaint about Blender is the user experience and this argument has some merit.  Once you learn Blender it starts to become somewhat zen to use, but getting there is a painful process.  3+ key hotkeys are rampant to do some of the most common tasks and a few of the design decisions, such as right click selection are just simply bad.  Granted many of these options can be configured away but that again requires a fairly advanced amount of understanding and by that point many new users have already been turned off.


You would think, being an open source project and all, someone would have forked it and made a more accessible version by now?  Well… someone has!  Meet BForArtists (as in Be For Artists), a Blender fork focused on making the user interface more intuitive.  How did they do that? 


Well first is an over all face lift.  Better contrasted theme really does make it easier to distinguish different features and functions.

image

You no doubt also noticed the prevelence of icons throughout the interface:

image


This cuts down on the amount of scrolling and is useful for people who learn by exploring.  They have also configured toolbars for common tasks:

image


And perhaps nicest of all, have camera pre-set controls available as icons instead of just hotkeys:

image


On the topic of hotkeys, they have also reconfigured most of them.  One nice option available is the ability to display the most common hotkeys in the background of the window:

image


Other new options are the ability to lock and outright hide the 3D cursor… a point of confusion for many new users.  You also have extended control over wireframe display, very useful for modellers.

image


Menus have also been greatly streamline:

image


While default layouts for common tasks have been added:

image


They even have their own manual!  What’s impressive is, at least so far, they’ve kept up with each new release of Blender.  There are of course downsides to learning via BForArtists, a great deal of the tutorials for Blender wont work without translation.  Additionally once mastered, Blenders default user interface can be great.  In my opinion though, BForArtists is a vastly superior experience for new developers and one I recommend to those put off by Blenders user experience in the past.


BForArtists is free and open source available for download here and in source form here.


Art , ,

11. September 2017


One very cool thing the Blender foundation have started doing is offering guidance and early builds of future releases.  The next major update to Blender is Blender 2.8 and you can learn more about (and download) it at this location.  Be aware this is a VERY early release… this isn’t a beta orimage even alpha, this is a developer work in progress build and it crashes, a lot.  There’s also no guarantee that features actually make it into the final release, nor that there wont be massive changes.  Without a doubt it isn’t suitable for production work, you have been warned.  Also, going forward Blender is going to require an OpenGL 3.2 or higher capable video card, you will understand why shortly.


So then, why am I excited about this release?  Well it’s got several new features that are going to be great and a lot of this release is actually foundational.  Changes to the low level guts of Blender that will make it a better product going forward.  Additionally new grease pencil improvements are going to make Blender an excellent choice for 2D animators, you can check out a preview of the changes here.  Changes are also coming to workspaces and layers making the UI more customizable and hopefully more productive. 


All that said, the star feature coming to Blender, as well as the one most useful to game developers, is the updated viewport.  Blender is now getting two new viewport renderers, Eevee and Clay.  Eevee propels Blender forward into the modern age, allowing real time rendering of PBR scenes with realistic lighting.  In a nutshell, your game should look exactly the same in Blender as it does in Unreal Engine or Unity.  Words can’t really justify how impressive this new viewport renderer is, so instead I made a video.  You can check it out here or embedded below.


Art, GameDev News

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