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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:

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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.

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There are several different defaults to chose from:

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

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Now there are an absolute ton of configuration options available:

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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

27. September 2017


Aseprite, a pixel based drawing and animation app, just released version 1.2.  New features include pixel aspect ratios, gradients, reference layers and more.  There were also several bug fixes and improvements.


From the release blog post:


Aseprite v1.2 is finally the new stable version (*). If you were already using the beta version, you will not notice substantial changes. But if you were using Aseprite v1.1.13, there are a lot of new features for you (like pixel aspect ratio, layer groups, overlapping frame tags, gradients, reference layers, etc.)

This is a list of the changes from v1.2-beta12 to the final v1.2:

  • Added new Addition, Subtract, Divide blending modes
  • Added support to change theme and UI scaling without restarting (#471)
  • Disable transformation handles in the selection when a Shift or Shift+Alt are pressed by default (reported here)
  • Fixed high CPU usage on Timeline when we copy layers/frames/cels (bug report)
  • Fixed snap to grid bug with selection tool
  • Fixed crash closing all files & opening a new one when preview window was playing an animation
  • Windows: New x64 version (included in the installer and on Steam, it’ll install the x64 version on x64 machines)
  • Windows: New --disable-wintab option to avoid loading wintab32.dll
  • Removed Windows XP support (Please contact us in case that you still need a previous version with Windows XP support.)
  • macOS: Use the native macOS menu bar (#135)
  • macOS: Now ⌘M and ⌘H will Minimize and Hide the window respectively. Use Ctrl+M for Color Curves, and Ctrl+H to change View > Show Extras options.
  • macOS: Fixed bug setting broken mouse cursors in some special cases
  • macOS: Retina support (#903)
  • Fixed other bugs (including #1569, and #1423 thanks to @cebolan)

Several new features were delayed just to create a more stable v1.2 version. So sorry for everybody that don’t get what they asked for :’( Soon I’ll release the first v1.3-beta1 with some crazy new stuff, so stay tuned.


We took a look at Aseprite in action in this video should you wish to learn more.

GameDev News, Art ,

26. September 2017


Do you find that 8/16-bit games aren’t retro enough?  Yearning for an even earlier art start?  Well then, do I have the perfect software for you!  RexPaint, an ANSI painting package.  So, how exactly does it work?  Well just like any other paint package frankly, except instead of drawing with pixels or voxels, you using ASCII characters.  RexPaint supports many of the features you would expect from a modern art package, multiple drawing tools, palette tools, layer support etc.  The end result can then be exported as a PNG or in several text formats.


To see RexPaint in action, be sure to watch the video below.  Oh, and it’s completely free.

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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.

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

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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:

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

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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:

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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.

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Menus have also been greatly streamline:

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While default layouts for common tasks have been added:

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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.


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IntelliJ release 13.1.2 update
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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.

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

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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.

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