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




Autodesk announced 2015 versions of products and silently kill off Softimage

18. March 2014

 

With GDC going on it’s no surprise to hear a number of product announcement.  Today Autodesk announced the annual refresh of almost all of their game related technologies including Maya and Maya LT, Max, MotionBuilder, Mudbox and Softimage. 

 

From the official press release here are the major new features for each product:


Autodesk Maya 2015 software adds new capabilities to the toolset such as the new Bifrost
procedural effects platform which provides an extensible, artist-friendly workflow for complex
simulation and rendering tasks, initially applied to near photorealistic liquids; XGen Arbitrary
Primitive Generator for the easy creation of richly detailed geometry such as hair, fur, and foliage; 
Geodesic Voxel Binding method for skinning characters; ShaderFX, a new node-based visual
interface for shader programing; support for Pixar’s OpenSubdiv libraries; enhanced polygon
modeling tools; and expanded UV options;

Autodesk 3ds Max 2015 software has been extended and redesigned to help improve
performance, ease-of-use and management of complex scenes. New in 2015 is ShaderFX, a new
node-based visual interface that allows game artists and programmers to more easily create
advanced HLSL viewport shaders; point cloud dataset support for reality capture workflows; new
viewport performance optimizations; a redesigned scene explorer to make it easier for artists to
manage large scenes; ActiveShade support for the NVIDIA mental ray renderer; and new Python
scripting support – a highly requested user feature for pipeline integration; 

Autodesk MotionBuilder 2015 provides several features that advance motion capture workflow
accessibility such as: a new plug-in for Microsoft Kinect to help capture body movements for use
in MotionBuilder, Animatable Depth of Field and Follow Focus camera options to recreate
elements of real-world cinematography, a robust content library with 100 commonly required
character animations in the Autodesk FBX®
format and flexible marker assignment to adjust
character positions;

Autodesk Mudbox 2015 software boasts streamlined mesh refinement for retopologizing and new
Sculpt Layer and Paint Layer groups for organizing and identifying particular layers in complex
scenes. The release also has advanced interoperability with Maya 2015, an enhanced texture
export and updating workflow, new caliper tool and support for Intel HD graphics 4000 on
compatible Windows 8 operating system hybrid tablet/PCs;

Autodesk Softimage 2015* software helps streamline 3D asset creation and management with
Alembic caching, enhancements to the ICE platform and animatable weight maps in Syflex cloth.

Autodesk Maya LT 2015 Software  Streamlines Indie Game Development

Maya LT 2015, the latest iteration of Autodesk’s cost-effective 3D animation and modeling software for
professional indie game makers, introduces a series of rich new features and integrations that help
advance the 3D content creation process for indie game development.

The updated application has:

  • Cloud integration allows artists to browse, open, modify and save Dropbox or Autodesk 360 files to the cloud directly through the Maya LT interface. Leverage 123D Catch or 123D Creature files saved in Autodesk’s 123D cloud storage as a reference for creating game assets in Maya LT;
  • Unfold 3D helps facilitate the seamless creation of UV maps from 3D models;
  • Substance Material Integration allows users to apply materials created in the Allegorithmic Substance Designer procedural texture creation tool to 3D models

 
In addition to the new features, Maya LT 2015 also has the extension releases of Maya LT 2014, such as:
support for MEL scripting, a send-to-Unity workflow, uncapped polygon export to Unity, the ability to
export models or scenes up to 65,000 polygons in the FBX or OBJ formats, Human IK and IK Handle
Animation, and Boolean operations on polygon geometry.

 

Notice the little asterisk beside Softimage 2015?  Well, here is the fine print.

* Editor’s Note: Softimage 2015 will be the final new release of this product.

 

So there you have it, Autodesk finally killed it off.  I think the writing has been on the wall for a long time, but it still sad to see an old friend go.

News ,




Autodesk release Character Generator. Cloud based tool to easily create textured and rigged character models.

21. February 2014

 

 

Indie developers are increasingly purchasing “off the shelf’ assets to ease the workload on their game project.  The popularity of resources like the Unity Asset Store, Turbo Squid and Mixamo are certainly proof.  These resources are especially useful for the artistically challenged developers amongst us.  Now, Autodesk is throwing their hat into the ring with Character Generator.

 

AutodeskCharacterGenerator

What is Character Generator?  In their own words:

Drastically reduce the time needed to create customized, rigged and ready-to-animate 3D characters with Autodesk® Character Generator; a new, easy-to-use, web-based service. With Character Generator, users have control over a character’s body, face, clothes and hair, and can then generate their customized character for use in popular animation packages: Autodesk® Maya®, Autodesk® Maya LT™, and Autodesk® 3ds Max® software as well as in game engines like Unity.

 

 

Basically you use a number of pre made components to generate models for export to Maya, Max and Unity.  ( Why no Softimage love? )

 

So, you pick a character:

2

 

Refine the body.

3

 

Add details/accesories:

4

 

And export as an FBX or Maya file:

5

 

It is available in two forms, paid and free.  The cost seems tied to the complexity of the model you’ve created.  Free versions obviously have some limitations, as shown on this (somewhat odd) chart below.  I am assuming the lack of checkmarks on the paid side was a mistake on Autodesks part. :)

6

 

Exported models are rigged with a HumanIK rig.  Perhaps the most noticeable difference between Free and Paid is the free version is limited to low quality models.  That’s a bit of a loaded expression, as what do they mean by “quality”?  If they simply mean polygon, for many people that isn’t a huge drawback. 

 

Then again, you can try it completely free, so what have you got to lose?  I glossed over a great deal of functionality in this post, so if you are interested, you should check out the Autodesk product page.

 

A few questions still remain for me.  If you are using an Autodesk toolchain, trying this out is a no brainer.  But if you are using other tools like Blender or Modo, how well does this slot into your pipeline?  How well does a HumanIK rig work in Unity, or does it work at all?  Im going to try and get back to you.  If you’ve tried it with a non-Autodesk toolchain, how was your experience?

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