IntelliJ release 13.1.2 update

29. April 2014

 

I love IntelliJ and JetBrain’s products in general.  Unfortunately though the current release is somewhat well, slow.  Gradle builds take a painfully long time.  Fortunately they recently announced the 13.1.2 release, which shows increased Gradle performance as a major component.

image

 

So I am keen to check out the update.  Sadly, I get this:

image

 

Doh.

 

I’m going to do a complete remove/install and see if that solves the problem.  I will update with results.  If you want to try for yourself, you can download it here.

News




Substance Painter release Beta 3 to Steam

17. April 2014

 

I suck at texturing.

 

There, I said it.  I love 3D modeling, I even enjoy rigging and animating.  While not my favorite activity, I am even OK with UV unwrapping…

 

But texturing, I suck at texture mapping.

 

Over the years I have tried a number of solutions that make texturing easier going back to the early days of 3D Studio Max plugins that allow you to paint directly on your models.  Since then, those tools have become progressively more built in to the base package but at the end of the day, the vast majority of texturing still takes place in Photoshop and I still suck at it.

 

Enter Substance Painter.  It appeared on Steam about a month back and I’ve been playing around with it ever since.  I intend to cover it in more detail soon, in fact I would have already if it weren't for the massive influx of goodies that came with GDC this year.  Anyways, stay tuned for more details shortly…image

 

For now, a spot a of news.  Beta 3 was just released.  Oh, and if you buy during the beta it’s 50% off.

 

Enough talking, so what exactly is Substance Painter?

 

Short version; it’s the program that makes me not completely suck at texturing.  That’s about the biggest endorsement I can give.

 

Long version, well, I’ll use their wording for that:

 

Substance Painter is a brand new 3D Painting app featuring never before seen features and workflow improvements to make the creation of textures for modern games easier than ever.


At Allegorithmic, we have a long history of working very closely with our customers, from the small independents to the largest AAA studios. Today we want you to help us design the ultimate painting tool and bring innovation and state of the art technology to every artist out there at a fair price.

 

Today, as the title suggests, they released Beta 3.  As to what’s new in BETA 3:

Testing focus

  • 2D View
Change list
  • Added: Seamless 2D View!
  • Added: Bitmap layer masks
  • Added: Environment exposure control
  • Updated: Fill Layers now use the Tools windows to set their properties
  • Updated: Materials can be applied to Fill Layers
  • Updated: Added more stencils in the stencil library
  • Updated: Particles presets updated for faster computation
  • Updated: PBR shader optimization and quality improvement for lower quality settings
  • Fixed: Layers thumbnails are linked to the currently selected channel
  • Fixed: Lots of crashes

 

Sound interesting?  Here is a video of Substance Painter in action:

There is also a free trial available.  It’s a stand alone program, although some of the import options are disabled right now ( I used OBJ personally, from Blender ).  Keep in mind it is a beta, and feels Beta-like at times.  Some features are currently missing and performance can occasionally suffer.  On the other hand, outside of some missing features, it feels production ready.  I hope to have a more detailed preview available soon.

 

If you try it out, let me know what you think.

Art, News ,




A quick look at Tiled. An open source 2D level editor

15. April 2014

 

One very common requirement for even the most simple game is a level editor.  The level of sophistication required varies massively from game to game but a lot of the functionality is pretty common.  At the very base level, you need a tool to layout the graphics that make up your world.  Slightly more advanced, you need to define layers, properties and collision volumes.  Often people roll their own solution but you certainly don’t have to.  One very popular 2D level editor is Tiled Map Editor which exports in TMX format, perhaps the most supported 2D game format ( Cocos2D, LOVE, LibGDX and many others all support TMX out of the box ).  As I am going to be writing a tutorial about using tiled maps in LibGDX, I figured I would give a quick introduction to Tiled first.  Keep in mind, we are only going to scratch the very surface of what Tiled is capable of.

 

First off, download and install Tiled.  It has binaries available for Windows and Mac and a source (and daily builds) release available for Linux.  You can download Tiled here.  The documentation is available here.

 

The Tiled UI is pretty straight forward, although it looks quite different across platforms.  Today I will be using the MacOS version.

 

T1

 

A tiled map is fundamentally simple.  You are basically making a grid of tiles.  A tile is a fixed size image within a larger image.  The larger image is called a tile sheet.  It’s somewhat like working with legos to make a level.  Here is an example tilesheet ( taken from here ):

 

Tilesheet

 

It’s a 512x512 image composed of a number of tiles that we are going to paint our level with.

 

Now that we have our tiles, let’s create our map.  Tiled has the ability to create Orthogonal ( straight on or “top down” perspective maps ) or IsoMetric ( angled perspective ).  In this example we are creating a Orthogonal map.  Next you need to decide how many tiles your map consists of in each direction.  Yes, tiled maps are always rectangular in shape.  Finally you need to decide your tile dimensions in pixels.  Looking at the tile map above it isn’t clear how large each tile is, but that is because some of the larger constructs are actually composed of a number of tiles.  You will see how that works in a few seconds, for now simply select 32x32 pixels for tile size and 32x32 tiles for map size.  In real pixel terms, this makes our map 1024 pixels by 1024 pixels.

 

T2

 

Now we need to load our tile set into Tiled. Select Map->New Tileset

 

T3

 

Now in the resulting dialog name it and otherwise we keep the defaults.  Our tile set is made up of 32x32 tiles, so those values work.  The background colour is used if you use a particular colour colour to mark transparency.  In this case we are using the alpha channel to determine transparency, so we don’t need to set a colour value.

 

T4

 

Now if you look at the bottom corner of Tiled you will see a grid of tiles available.  You simply select a tile, then paint in the right window with it.  

 

T5

 

Let’s start by quickly paint our entire map with a grass tile.  Click a grass tile in the tile sets window, like so:

 

T6

 

Now in the left hand window, select the Fill Tool ( or hit F ), then click in the window, and it will be filed with the tile selected filling our level with a nice grass base.

 

T7

 

Now lets say we want to quickly fill in some roads.  The road tile is actually composed of four separate tiles.  This is easily handled in Tiled, simply click the top left tile in the tile set window, then holding SHIFT, click the bottom left, like so:

 

T8

 

Now you can draw with all four tiles at once by simply clicking on the map.  First select the Stamp tool, then draw out the tiles as you desire:

 

T9

 

So, what about the tiles with transparent sections like these ones?

 

T10

 

Well these are designed to be layered over top of other tiles.  Which leads us nicely to layers.  If you have ever used Photoshop or GIMP, you probably already have a pretty good understanding of layering.  Basically layers are drawn over top of lower layers.  So for example, what you draw in Layer 2 is drawn over top of what you draw in Layer 1.  

 

Right now, we only have a single layer, let’s add another one.  In the top menu, select Layer->Add Tile Layer.

 

T12

 

Now in the Layers panel you should see a second layer available.  Clicking the checkbox to the side of the layer shows/hides it’s contents.  Clicking the layer itself makes it active.  Click Tile Layer 2.

 

T11

 

You can now paint “over” the grass and road layer, like so:

T13

 

Congratulations, you’ve just created your first map.  Now we simply save it.  

 

T14

 

 

Next we will take a look at using this map in code in LibGDX.

Programming ,




Maya LT 2015 coming to Steam next week

14. April 2014

 

This press release just arrived from Autodesk:

 

Autodesk Maya LT 2015 to Launch on Steam

 

Today Autodesk announced that Maya LT 2015 is coming to Steam, Valve's popular entertainment platform. Maya LT brings its powerful animation and modeling feature set to Steam's active community of over 65 million gamers, developers and artists to help them create 3D game assets to personalize their games and bring them into popular Steam titles like "Defense of the Ancients 2" (DoTA 2) or to create assets for use in their own games.

"The Valve community is unique, because it includes a very engaged mix of both gamers and developers working together to mod titles and generate content. We hope Maya LT will further that creative spirit and help a Steam user of any skill level to create high quality 3D game assets," said Frank Delise, imagedirector, games solution, Autodesk. "We're engaging with the community on day one by participating in forums, answering questions and offering custom tutorial content for DoTA 2 fans. We can't wait to try new things with the community and see how they push Maya LT to its limit and beyond."

A unique solution for professionals and hobbyists alike, Maya LT boasts a targeted feature set developed from the ground up for the indie game industry, like powerful modeling tools to help create and alter 3D assets of any size and a simplified workflow with the Unity 3D Engine. When purchased on Steam, developers will have access to a full commercial Maya LT license, allowing assets created in the tool to also be exported for use in any game on PC, console and mobile.

An online entertainment platform, Steam hosts over 2000 games in all genres. Users can not only instantly download and play games, but also create and share content through the Steam Workshop.

Available April 22, 2014, Maya LT term licenses will be available monthly for $50 USD and will be available in select countries. To learn more or purchase the product on Steam, visit: http://store.steampowered.com/app/243580 .

To check out all the custom DoTA 2 content and Maya LT 101 tutorials, visit the Autodesk Steam community hub: http://steamcommunity.com/app/243580/ .

 

Steam is quickly becoming the online hub for game development tools.  Maya LT is becoming much more feature complete from when it was originally released, much of it based on user feedback.

News ,




Quixel dDo 5.3 texturing tool free for commercial use

23. March 2014

 

This tidbit comes care of reddit.  Quixel dDO 5.3 can now be downloaded (that’s a direct link) and is free for commercial use.

Here are details of the release from Quixel:

Yes, we are now making dDo as we know it free. Not only that but we have also spent some love and care on improving features, stability and UI. This version will have limited support but will still be updated as per your needs.

We sincerely hope that you who own dDo will not feel let down that you paid for something that will now be free, but rest assured we will do our best to make it up to you with a free upgrade to the all new, arguably more bad-ass, DDO.

So what exactly is dDO?  Here is the official description:

DDO empowers artists with tools to make better textures. DynaMask unlocks extreme masking control over ultra-real wear & tear and shape based coloration. The 100% customizable Smart Materials empowers artists with the easiest PBR workflow to date. And Fusion lets you plug DDO right into any app.

 

Perhaps of more use is actually seeing dDo in action.

Just a bit of a heads-up... dDo works in Photoshop, and thus requires Photoshop. Without Photoshop dDo is of no use to you.

Art