Substance Designer 4 texturing tool currently on sale on Steam

26. December 2013

 

Substance Designer is a visual texture creation tool which is currently 66% off on Steam, selling for 33.99$.  It’s a flash sale and only 2 1/2 hours to go, so you might want to act quick.

Substance 4 integrates with most 3D modelling applications including Max, Maya, Modo as well as engines such as Unity and UDK.  Of course you can generate a texture in SD4 and use it in any application.

Think it may be a late Christmas gift for myself.

Art, News




Autodesk release Maya LT Extension 1. Polygon limits more than doubled

23. October 2013

 

I just received the following information from Autodesk about Maya LT, an indie focused version of the Maya 3D software we covered back in August.  Today’s release adds some new functionality and addresses one of the biggest complaints, the low polygon limit.

 

Autodesk Releases Maya LT Extension 1 for Indie and Mobile Game Developers


Advances asset export and 3D modeling through enhanced interoperability with Unity3D and increased polygon count


Today Autodesk launched the first extension for Autodesk Maya LT - the company's recently released 3D modeling and animation tool designed specifically for independent and mobile game developers. With new features such as improved interoperability with Unity3D, an increased polygon count and more, Maya LT Extension 1 simplifies the export of 3D content into artists' desired game engines and expands 3D modeling capabilities. Extension 1 is available today to as a free download for customers on subscription and pay-as-you-go plans.


Key features in Maya LT Extension 1 include:
- Improved Interoperability with Unity: A new “Send to Unity” workflow allows artists to export 3D assets with unlimited polygon counts from Maya LT directly into the asset folder of a Unity project.
- Increased Polygon Count for Export: Export high-resolution models or scenes up to 65,000 polygons in the Autodesk FBX asset exchange format to the desired game engine.
- New Retopology Toolset: First integrated in Maya 2014 and now part of Maya LT, NEX modeling technology streamlines the retopology workflow. Artists can optimize meshes for cleaner deformations and better performance using a single toolset within Maya LT.
- Advanced Booleans: Maya LT now employs a robust and efficient new library for faster and more reliable Boolean operations on polygon geometry.
- FBX Export Improvements: Advanced support for exporting accurate geometry normals (binormals) facilitates consistent surface shading when assets are rendered in-engine.


More information about Maya LT and a free trial of the software are available via http://www.autodesk.com/mayalt and http://area.autodesk.com/mayalt .

 

Is 65K polygons a better limit, or still to low for your games?  It’s certainly an improvement on the old 25K limit.  One of the big flaws of a polygon limit is if you are using Maya as a level design tool, which is nicely solved if you are working in Unity which no longer has an limits.  If you are working in UDK or Project Anarchy on the other hand, there is still a problem. On a somewhat off topic note, I am not sure what I think of the “extension” versioning system.  It makes sense and its nice to see a fast support cycle but there is something about that I find off-putting.

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 ,




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 ,




A closer look at Project Anarchy

3. July 2013

 

Now that Project Anarchy is out, I’ve decided to take a look at what you actually get.  If you’ve never heard of it before, Project Anarchy is a collection of Havok game development tools made available completely free for mobile developers.  In this post, we will look at exactly what those tools are composed of.  To get started, head over to the download page and download the installer.  The initial download is just a downloader, the actual install is a great deal larger, just shy of 5GB on my system.

 

 

When I started this post, I expected it to be rather short… boy was I wrong.  Let’s just say, you get a LOT in this package.  This post will give you a pretty good idea of what you get in Project Anarchy and should give you an idea of it’s capabilities.

 

 

Getting started and help contents

 

After installing, you should have a folder structure like this:

image

One important thing to keep in mind, to develop for iOS you need a Mac and need to perform a different download.  Also it is important to note that the vast majority of Project Anarchy’s tools do not run on MacOS.  So basically, you will need a Windows and Mac machine if you want to do iOS development.  That’s pretty much normal at this point in time though.

 

A bit of a warning, Project Anarchy isn’t the only thing you will need to install.  To do Android development on Windows, you will also need the Android SDK and NDK installed, Visual Studio 2010 or higher ( Express works, but lacks Android debugging), as well as the Java 1.6 JDK.  Notice again, 1.6, not the newest version!  Seems a common trend for developer tools to require Java 6 instead of 7.  If developing for iOS, you need to have XCode and the iOS SDK installed.  There is a document specifically about getting start with Android and iOS that walks you through the process in more detail.

 

Documentation and learning resources

 

The documentation shipped with Project Anarchy is in a word impressive.  A great deal of the documentation is installed locally.  The directories that will be of immediate interest to most developers are \Docs\Vision\windows, \Docs\Vision\android, \Docs\Vision\ios, although confusingly enough, they seem to contain only slightly modified versions of the exact same documents!  So, if you want to shave 600MB or so from your install, you can probably start here.    The VisionEngine_Documentation_platformname.chm file is the master index, pulling all the other documents together.  Project Anarchy includes the following documents:

 

image

 

As you can see, a pretty comprehensive set of documentation.  The Startup Guide is the most logical place to start.  It gives you an overview of the various tools, a short Lua scripting primer, etc.  Perhaps coolest of all, there is a full sample project with assets that you can play around with.  These assets are referenced multiple times in the documentation.  There are actually a ton of assets for anyone to get started with, especially if you dont have immediate access to Maya or 3DS Max.

 

In addition to the documentation installed locally, there are a series of video tutorials available, covering vForge, Animation and the basics of scripting.  The quality of the videos varies massively from very good to… not.  There are also a series of courseware, which you can think of like tutorials that are targeted towards school curriculums.  The course ware series all revolve around the sample project you can download here (direct link, 100mb in size).  Additionally they have a StackOverflow style question and answer page as well as a remarkably active forum, considering the age of the project.

 

All told, the information available is quite good.  That said, I’ve done a fair bit of jumping into the documentation and it’s a mixed bag.  It’s well enough written and generally useful.  That said, it has some serious legacy issues, as much of this obviously was inherited from Havok tools, and they’ve been around for a long time.  For example, I found configuration details for Metrowerks Codewarrior… a compiler that might be older than some of the people reading this right now!  So there is a huge amount of documentation, but figuring out which parts you need might be a bit of a challenge.  In the end though, it’s much better than I was expecting and a very well documented and supported SDK.  You can tell they put some focus on documentation/new user experience, and it shows.

 

vForge

 

In many ways vForge *IS* Project Anarchy, in the same way Unity Studio is Unity.  This is where you create your levels, write your scripts, create landscapes, etc.  Basically it’s the glue that holds all the other pieces together.

 

Here is vForge with the RPG project loaded and the Arena scene open.  FYI, the RPG project is available at Data\Vision\Samples\Engine\RPG

image

 

You can navigate around the scene using the mouse.  Aiming with mouse, left mouse button to move in the direction your are looking, right mouse button to change your look direction.  You can also configure it to use WASD keys for navigation if that is your preference.  See where it says “Default Layout”, this is where you can change the layout between the various things you might want to do in vForge, such as script editing, particles, etc.  You can also define your own custom layouts, or use almost every panel as undocked, which is nice on a multi monitor setup.

 

In Engine View, this is where you can place items in the scene.  Here for example, I instanced a BOSS shape from the Shape Creators tab by dragging and dropping onto the Engine View.

 

image

 

Press the Play icon in the Engine View toolbar, and your game will start playing, UI and all ( animated obviously… ):

 

image

 

So, vForge is where you place game objects, but that’s just scratching the surface.  There are a staggering number of tools embedded in here… see:

 

image

We will look at many of them shortly.

 

Script Editing and debugging

 

For example, opening the Script Panel, brings up a script window.  Here is the Boss script:

 

image

 

As you can see, the script editor has full intellisense support, well if that wasn’t a trademarked Microsoft term that is.  What’s the non-trademarked term… code hints?  Anyway… it has them, and I love ‘em.  It’s not as detailed as you might be used to in Visual Studio, but its a great help.  That ? icon to the right brings up context sensitive help too, so highlight a function name and click that button and it will open the reference help to that entry if found.  Handy.

 

Each of these floating panels can also be docked within the main editor, here is the script panel docked below the Engine View for example:

 

image

 

The script editor looks remarkably simple, but there is a great deal of functionality hidden in there.  For example, there is a full snippets library:

 

image

 

In addition to the Script Editor, there is also a full script debugger:

 

image

 

With all of the traditional components you would expect, breakpoints, watches, type inspection, it even allows you to connect to a remote device for debugging.

 

Perhaps coolest of all, by clicking the highlighted debugger, you can invoke the code profiler.

 

image

 

Allowing you to identify performance bottlenecks in your scripts. 

 

 

Terrain

 

Creating Terrain in vForge is a straight forward process.  In the Shape Creators tab, simply drag a Terrain over to your scene:

 

image

 

You will then be prompted with this dialog:

 

image

 

Then its a matter of configuring your terrain:

 

image

 

And presto, our landscape, using the default settings and sand texture:

 

image

 

Now fire up the Terrain Editor and you can raise, drop, smooth, paint, etc… your terrain.  Select the tool, and hold down SHIFT or CTRL and Left Click to paint.

 

image

 

And after playing around for a few minutes:

 

image

 

Obviously I am just playing around and using a fraction of the tools.  You can paint mesh (instances) directly on to the terrain, paint billboards ( textures that always face the user, useful for grass and similar effects ) as well as set up sky boxes including full day/night cycles.

 

In fact, there are dialogs for editing the sky:

 

image

 

Editing time of day, including the effect, sunset and sunrise times:

 

image

 

As well as fog editing and post processing effects ( glow and tone mapping, two settings you chose when initially creating your project ).  So the terrain editing tools are fairly comprehensive.

 

Particles

 

Of course, particles are a heavy part of almost every modern tool and of course, vForge includes a suite of tools for working with/ creating particle systems.  In the form of the particle editor:

 

image

 

This is one of those things I have always sucked at, so it was comforting to see the templates when I clicked the Create a new particle effect button:

 

image

 

The actual editor has a few hundred different settings for your particle system, if you create a particle system, then set it to your newly created system, you can press the play button and watch your change in real time.

 

 

Physics Integration

 

As you can see, Havok Physics is also directly integrated into vForge

 

image

 

Of course, that is only part of the physics equation…  the global part.  You are of course going to need to add physics to your scene.  This is accomplished by means of components.  Add an entity to the scene, define its model type, then you can add a component easy enough.  In this case, i’ve add an entity with a ball model.

 

image

 

Here we selected then entity then added the Havok Rigid Body controller.  As you can see, there are a number of parameters you can play with for Rigid Bodies:

 

image

 

Of course, rigid bodies aren't your only option when it comes to physics.  There are a number of constraints you can add as well ( under the Shape Creators ), such as adding a Terrain constraint to the Terrain object, which will then cause our Rigid Body Ball in interact with the terrain.

 

Mobile Helpers

 

Mobile development has it’s own special difficulties, two of which Project Anarchy has a nice solution to.

 

The first common issue is the deploy cycle.  Generally what you do (on Android) is create an APK, which is your application and all of it’s data bundled together into a single package.  So what happens when you change a few small things then want to test it on device?  Well, you create a new APK file and deploy it.  As your application grows in size, this process gets more annoying.

 

Enter vFileServe, which can either be run in vForge or as a stand alone application.

 

image 

 

Essentially it acts as a virtual file system.  You deploy an application to your device ( using the Prepare Devices Button), which then syncs files between your device and vFileServe using wireless.  This allows you to make changes and do rapid on device testing.

 

Another common problem with developing for mobile devices is emulating the controls.  Multi-touch and motion controls specifically are often difficult to replicate on a PC.  For this Havok provide the vRemoteInput plugin, which enables you to use a mobile device to control vForge.  It is enabled in code however, so there is very little I can show in terms of screenshot.  Basically once enabled, when you go into “play” mode, your game can be controlled using your devices touch screen and motion sensors.

 

Shaders

 

There are also comprehensive tools for dealing with shaders.  The first and easiest to use is the Visual Shader Editor:

 

image

 

This tool enables you to create shaders by linking items and operations together.  For those that prefer direct access to their shaders, there is also an editor:

 

image

 

On top of this, there are panels for creating and managing shader libraries, property inspectors and more.

 

Havok AI

 

AI is obviously a big part of game programming and the user is often left to roll their own.  Not so in Havok, Project Anarchy includes the Havok AI suite.  This is a combination of a set of tools integrated into vForge, as well as many AI related functions available to the programmer.

 

Here are global AI settings:

image

 

In vForge, you have the ability to set up Nav meshes, which consists of geometry that define the navigable portions of your game:

 

image

 

You also have the ability to makes paths ( bezier splines ) for AI to follow, triggers and more.  The majority of Havok AI seems to be on the developer side, with a large number of api calls for things like determining the best path, etc.  I need to look into Havok AI in greater detail later.

 

Havok Animation Tool

 

This is another entire application, seemingly for making animation state machines, so basically for “gamifying” your rigged animations.  Yeah, I think I made that word up.  Truth is, I am not an animator, so this is way outside my pay grade…  anyways, here is Havok Animation Tool running an included example project ( located at C:\Users\Mike\Documents\Havok\Havok Animation Tool 2013.1.0.0-r1\GameAssets\Hero on my PC ).  You can control the characters animations using a game pad.

 

image

 

Again… not my realm of knowledge, so I know very little about this tool.  I believe this was a good part of the product known as Havok Behaviour.

 

Other Tools

 

There are a collection of other tools that are part of Project Anarchy as well.

 

One is the Visual Debugger

image

In Havoks words:

The Havok™ Visual debugger (VDB) is a very convenient tool to monitor the physics representation of a scene in real-time. By watching the physics objects in the visual debugger, you can quickly locate any potential errors, which may not have been located by viewing the scene in vForge alone.

 

vFontGenerator

image

For creating fnt bitmap font files.

 

vSceneViewer for viewing scenes (outside of vForge)

image

 

vModelViewer the name pretty much says it all, for viewing Project Anarchy model files:

 

image

 

vAnimTool You can load a model and anim animation file preview and edit animation sequences:

 

image

 

Art Pipeline Tools

 

There are plugins for Max and Maya for exporting 3D content.  I don’t have either currently installed, so I can only show this screenshot taken from the documentation:

 

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So then… what happens if you don’t have Max or Maya?  Well, you are out of luck.  There is a 30 day fully functioning trial available, but unless you are a student there is a 5000$ pricetag at the end of that trial.

 

Fortunately, that is just a temporary problem, from the ProjectAnarchy answers website:

 

Based off the community feedback we are currently working and testing an FBX importer. We realize that many users in the community use other modeling packages and the FBX importer will help those users with being able to get their assets in.

 

Once that importer is available you will suddenly be able to use tools like Blender, Cheetah, Poser/Daz, Silo, etc.  Basically any tool that exports FBX, which is just about every modern app.

 

Summary

 

There’s tons of functionality packed in this engine, and this is just looking at the tool side of the equation.  Of course there are dozens upon dozens of APIs behind the scenes as well.  In the future I will look closer at how you actually put it all to use.  Let me know if there is anything you specifically want covered.

 

I will say, I am a lot more impressed than I thought I was going to be.  I thought it would be a bunch of poorly documented tools mashed together with minimal documentation.  In reality, it’s a remarkably cohesive and powerful package that covers almost all of the bases.  They certainly have my interested piqued.  Good job Havok!

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