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11. May 2011

 

After just completing a list of 3D Apps for this site, I just came to a pair of realizations.  First off, the demo is all but a requirement these days.  Second, and this is the point most missed it seems, but these days integration with other suites is perhaps the most important feature. Therefore, if your application’s demo doesn’t support saving, importing and exporting, testing it’s ability to slot into your pipeline is almost impossible.

To use an example, if I want to test how well Cheetah3D works with Unity, I simply cannot.  Given the horrifying number of problems and artifacts that occur when moving from various programs to programs, this is extremely important information as part of my evaluation process.

Art

11. May 2011

 

The following is a list of most of the available 3D applications, links to their websites, current MSRP and a link to the downloadable version if available.  If I have missed any applications, please email me at mike@gamefromscratch.com and I will rectify that.

 

 

 

Autodesk 3ds Max

The program most often used for creating game graphics, 3DS is probably the gold standard of3ds-max-logo_thumb[2] 3D applications. In recent years Autodesk has been snapping up all the competition and slowly they are becoming very similar. Package does just about everything you could imagine, as well as having perhaps one of the easiest IK systems ever created.

Operating Systems: Windows

Cost (MSRP): 3,495$

Demo/Trial Available? Yes

Download Link: Click here for download page

Download Type: 30 Day trial

Sample Titles: Rockband, FarCry 2, Assassins Creed

 

 

 

Autodesk Maya

The ultimate evolution of Alias Sketch. Re-written for Windows as Alias Wavefront Maya in Autodesk_Maya_ruukasu_thumb[2]1998, then simply Maya it was acquired by Autodesk in 2005. Responsible for the now nearly universal QWERTY control system as well as the visual move/scale/translate gizmo.

Operating Systems: Windows, Mac, Linux

Cost (MSRP): 3,495$ without subscription, 4,090$ with

Demo/Trial Available? Yes

Download Link: Click here for download page

Download Type: 30 Day trial

Sample Titles: Deus Ex Human Revolution, EA Sports MMA, Resident Evil 5

 

 

 

Autodesk Softimage

Softimage is another commercial package with a long history, starting as Softimage|3D in XSI6_thumb[1]1988, to become Softimage XSI in 2000, then purchased by Autodesk in 2009 to become Autodesk Softimage. In the middle there was a brief stint where it was owned by Microsoft. Softimage has been used to create numerous films and games. Since being acquired by Autodesk, the price has increased substantially, with the elimination of different tiers being available.

Operating Systems: Windows, Linux

Cost (MSRP): 2,995$ without subscription, 3,790$ with.

Demo/Trial Available? Yes

Download Link: Click here for download page

Download Type: 30 Day trial

Sample Titles: Lost Planet, Metal Gear Solid, Bayonetta

 

 

 

Softimage Mod Tool

Back before being acquired by Autodesk, Softimage released a free version of Softimage modtool7_thumbbased on Softimage 7.5, designed for mod makers working with Source Engine ( Halflife2 and others ) powered games. When XNA was released, ModTool was also available for XNA Creator Club subscribers to freely make commercial games. Since these days, Autodesk seems to have abandoned ModTool.

Operating Systems:

Cost (MSRP): 3,495$

Demo/Trial Available? No

Download Link: Click here for download page

Download Type: Full featured, non-commercial license (unless working with XNA)

Sample Titles: Unknown

 

 

 

Nevercenter Silo 2.2

This program is extremely polished and intuitive to use, with a price that is extremelysilo_logo_white_on_black_thumb[1] appealing. Silo is a dedicated modeler, with only minimal UV editing features. I highly recommend you check out the 30 day download, but caution you that the developer support is incredibly iffy. When evaluating your purchase, ask yourself if the version you are evaluating is worth the price of admission WITHOUT any further patches or upgrades, as there may be none!

Operating Systems: Windows, Mac

Cost (MSRP): 99$ Core, 159$ Pro

Demo/Trial Available? Yes

Download Link: Click here for download page

Download Type: 30 Day full featured, after 30 days limited save functionality

Sample Titles: Unknown

 

 

 

Luxology Modo

In the beginning there was Lightwave and all was good. Then something happened and mostmodo401logo1_thumb[1] of the Lightwave went off and started Luxology. Frankly I think we are lucky they did. It started off as a pure modeler but now it is a modeler, sculpter, texture/painting and rendering suite. There is now animation support but it is relatively primitive. Up until recently they have only had a paid demo, which was really really really stupid, but fortunately they have rectified that, somewhat.

Operating Systems: Windows, Mac

Cost (MSRP): 995$

Demo/Trial Available? Yes

Download Link: Click here for download page

Download Type: 15 Day trial, have a 30 day trial bundle available for 25$

Sample Titles: Test Drive Unlimited 2, Rage & Doom 4

 

 

Newtek Lightwave

As mentioned earlier, the team behind Modo started off at Newtek working on Lightwave.1294076283_NewTek_Light_Wave_3D_10_HAPPY_NEW_YEAR_thumb[1] Lightwave has been around a long time, with roots on the Amiga in the 80s. Perhaps most famous for Babylon 5, Lightwave has been used in hundreds of games, films and tv series. It’s followers were almost rabidly loyal. Since the team at Luxology split off, Newtek seems to be spinning it’s wheels a bit. They announced a re-write called Lightwave CORE in 2009, and just released Lightwave 10 at the end of 2010. It is definitely worth checking out, Lightwave has always been an affordable option and I believe the current price is as low as it has ever been.

Operating Systems: Windows, Mac OS

Cost (MSRP): 895$

Demo/Trial Available? Yes

Download Link: Click here for download page

Download Type: 30 Day trial

Sample Titles:

 

 

 

 

Blender

Blender is covered in much greater detail across this site, such as here. Its comprehensive, powerful and free, why not check it out? Simply put, it is one of the programs this site focusesLogoBlender_thumb[1] on. As I personally just discovered, it is also a remarkably capable video composition tool.

Operating Systems: Windows, Linux, Mac OS, FreeBSD

Cost (MSRP): 0$

Demo/Trial Available? Not Applicable

Download Link: Click here for download page

Download Type: Full release!

Sample Titles: Ignite PC, others?

 

 

 

Wings 3D

Like Blender,Wings 3D is one of the primary programs featured elsewhere on this site. It’s a dedicated sub-division surface modeler with some UV editing features. Its based on Nendo,4de26d04385328d44115e5724765c61d18ee9f74_thumb[1] its remarkably powerful, a little awkward and completely free. With that price tag, you have no reason not to check it out! I find the workflow on par or better than most commercial packages.

Operating Systems: Windows, Linux and Mac OS. Other Unix OS’s built from sources

Cost (MSRP): 0$

Demo/Trial Available? Not Applicable

Download Link: Click here for download page

Download Type: Full release!

Sample Titles: Unknown

 

 

 

Cheetah 3D

A full featured, extremely affordable 3D suite for the Macintosh, with a very Mac focused user interface. Integration with Unity is seamless. Full modeling, texturing, animating and c3d_logo_thumbrendering support out of the box.

Operating Systems: Mac OS

Cost (MSRP): 99$ ( currently on sale, regularly 149$ )

Demo/Trial Available? Yes

Download Link: Click here for download page

Download Type: No time limit, save functionality disabled.

Sample Titles: Unknown

 

 

 

Cinema 4D

Cinema has been around a long time, first release in 1991 on the Amiga. Full modeling, texturing, animating and rendering abilities are included as well as advanced painting tools.c4d_logo_shadow_thumb[1] Most of the dynamics features ( Rigid/Soft Bodies, advanced particles, hair, etc.. ) are limited to the much more expensive Studio version. Two other versions exists, but neither is geared towards game development.

Operating Systems: Windows, Mac OS

Cost (MSRP): Prime:995$, Studio:3,695$ (All suites currently 25% off these prices )

Demo/Trial Available? Yes

Download Link: Click here for download page

Download Type: 42 day heavily restricted trial

Sample Titles: Warhammer:Mark of Chaos ( cinematics )

 

 

 

SideFX Houdini

Another package that has been around for a very long time, and one I really try to love as we share the same home city. Truth is though, I just don’t understand this program, the workflowhoudini_logo_thumb[2] is just so different from what I am used to. It is a purely procedural package, working on a series of operators. Again, I want to try to explain it, but I simply can’t, I just don’t understand it! It is as full featured as any other suite out there. Even though I can’t explain this package to you, do let that put you off it, as SideFX has some of the best free trial options available, as well as a 99$ starving artist edition! So, please evaluate it for yourself!

Operating Systems: Windows, Linux, MacOS

Cost (MSRP): Apprentice:HD 99$, Houdini:Escape 1,995$, Houdini:Master 6,695$

Demo/Trial Available? Yes

Download Link: Click here for download page

Download Type: No time limit, watermarked renderings and export limited

Sample Titles: Killzone 2/3, Final Fantasy X

Art

9. May 2011

I have published up a list of tools used/to be used, both for creating the game and for authoring the website.  In a few cases, tools that are just bloody useful in general are listed.  This is very much a live document, so I will be adding to it as time goes on.  Each program listing includes a link to where you can get it and a list of strengths and weaknesses.

Without further ado, the list.

General

3. May 2011

In a recent forum conversation, it was brought to my attention a previous work of mine was now unavailable online.  You see, when XNA was a new technology I started writing a free book on the subject, working with the release candidate.  In the end I wrote 4 chapters, then Microsoft released XNA 1 and there were some major changes that would more or less have meant a complete rewrite, which didn’t seem all to exciting a proposition.  That told, all the chapters combined were downloaded well over a 1/4 million time, so it did have an audience.

 

xnaAnyways, the website that hosted these documents is now gone, as is the old mirror I hosted to.  By request, I managed to find the files, dust them off and I am posting those files here.  Keep in mind, these were written in 2006 and target a pre-release version of XNA, so the use is pretty extremely limited.

 

 

 

 

If for some reason you are still interested, here they are:

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

 

Also, of some possible interest, I was in the middle of authoring a complete very simple 2D game for Chapter 5.  The texts are gone, but I have the unfinished source code and assets right here.  It’s not complete, polished and nor does it compile anymore.  It did back in the day, I remember that much, before the final release of XNA 1 this code was 100% working.  I don’t know if it will be of use to anyone, but here it is!

 

Chapter 5 Game Source Code [ 18 MB download ]

 

Enjoy this trip down memory lane.

Programming

1. May 2011

 

Hmmmm, really need to settle on a name for the bipedal robotic characters that isn't Mech/Mecha soon just to ease these conversations! Not my most creative day so I’ll just go with GPR now.

 

Anyways, the GPR is very much fundamental to the game.  One of my favorite things about Autoduel and Mechwarrior Mercs was the sense of acquisition.  Start with a lowly machine and work your way up the ranks.  One of my favorite factors of Chromehounds was the customization aspect.  I intend to incorporate both into our game.

 

The very first Mech, er GPR the character starts with is power_loadervery primitive, like the Powerloader from Aliens that Ripley used.  Very simple bipedal machine with a single weapon forward firing weapon mount.  As the player wins matches, they will have the option of swapping that weapon out for better weapons and eventually with be able to buy better GPR frames.  In the end though, it will entirely be about trade offs.

 

Each frame will have a certain number of slots available, of different sizes to accommodate different sized weapons.  Additionally frames will be able to have different power plants, that will be a factor in speed, battery life, weapon power and charges.  So you could mount a big heavy laser, that really sucks the juice or mount smaller engine which would be lighter and faster but couldn’t power the weapons as well.

 

It is all about trade offs, so you could create a fast lightly armed frame, or a heavily armed slow machine or simply an average all around machine.  You could also use munitions based weapons like rocket launchers or machine guns that don’t use energy from the engine, but once they run out of ammunition are as good as useless. 

 

cci_40All frames start with a certain amount of energy, tied to the type of power plant installed.  Things like the weight of the frame ( from weapons and armor ), firing of energy weapons, running at high speeds, taking damage from certain types of weapons, etc.  If energy goes to zero, you stop dead and can’t fire.  Engines will recharge slowly on their own, so you need to balance speed and weapon use to keep your power levels healthy.  Or, go with a power plant that has a rapid recharge rating.  In my head now, statistically a power plant is rated by:  size ( amount of space needed by frame to install ), weight, power available, recharge rate and frame class(es) ( what size of frames the engine can be install into ) and finally cost.

 

Frames work on a very similar manner, with various weight classes, like featherweight, light, medium, etc…  In addition they have variant number of weapon mounts of different types ( forward facing, 360, back facing, 360 degrees auto tracking, pod based, etc ), maximum weight for all add-ons ( engines, weapons, armour, etc ), maximum internal space for engines.

 

So, in the beginning, machines would be only a few meters tall, with a single weapon and underpowered engines and minimal armor.  By the end though, the player could be piloting a literal titan, several meters tall and bristling with weapons and armor.  Of course then, so will their enemies. 

 

From a developers perspective, this means I need to figure out how to make weapons44784_md-Guard, Imperial, Sentinel, Tank, Walker, Warhammer 40,000 modular.  In the end I imagine this comes down to dynamic parenting of bones, but it is something I need to look into from a technical point of view before continuing too far ahead.  I had been tempted to make frames even more customizable, so different legs, torsos, cockpits, arms and weapons, but truth is I think the level of work is too high to handle right now, especially when it comes to creating the animations.  If the modular weapons end up being not too difficult, I may revisit this concept.

 

You know, the name Frames is starting to grow on me.  BattleFrames?  Battle Frame Formats?  Yeah, that’s the perfect name, BFF!  Oh, wait….  *groan*  Back to the drawing board.

 

For those looking at the various inspirational images in this post, they are from the top Ripley in a Power Loader in Aliens, the Walker from Avatar and finally the Imperial Guard Walker, which is probably the closest in my minds eye to the kind of vehicle the player will start in.  Think of it like the go-cart of Frames.

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Razer Seiren Microphone
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28. December 2015

 

A couple months back I got sick of having to wear a headset when doing video recording.  I had been using a set of Astro A30 headphones which gave solid results, but I found them uncomfortable after extended periods of recording and didn’t like being tethered to my machine.  So I decided to try out the ubiquitous Blue Snowball, which I demonstrated in this video.  Many people love this microphone… I am not one of these people.  There are virtually zero settings available to you, so if your setup isn’t ideal, the snowball fails.  More than a foot or two from the microphone it picks up nothing, to mention nothing of the horrific echo I was getting in my environment.  I ended up getting so many bad recordings that I switched back to my headset while hunting down an alternative.

 

Shopping around at most local stores it seemed the only options were Blue Snowballs and Yetis.  I certainly didn’t want to double down on that particular mistake.  Then I came across the Seirēn from Razer.  Other than the price tag and technical support, I’ve long been a fan of Razer products.  They are one of the few true premium brands in the PC space, from laptops, keyboards and mice and hopefully to microphones.  A quick search revealed mostly good reviews, so I decided to give it a shot.  What follows is an unboxing of the Razer Seiren.  It is not a proper review however as I haven't spent nearly enough time with it.

 

The Specs

Price

@$200 USD MSRP (purchased for $200 CDN)

Microphone specifications
• Power required / consumption: 5V 500mA (USB)
• Sample rate: 192kHz
• Bit rate: 24bit
• Capsules: Three 14mm condenser capsules
• Polar patterns: Cardioid, stereo, omnidirectional, bidirectional
• Frequency response: 20Hz – 20kHz
• Sensitivity: 4.5mV/Pa (1kHz)
• Max SPL: 120dB (THD: 0.5% 1kHz)

Headphone amplifier
• Impedance: > 16ohms
• Power output (RMS): 130mW
• THD: 0.009%
• Frequency response: 15Hz – 22kHz
• Signal-to-noise ratio: 114dB

 

Images

 

The Box

ProductBox

 

Opened

boxOpen

 

Cables and Manual

 

CablesAndDocs

Front

 

Front

 

Back

 

Back

 

Audio Samples

Here are two sets of recordings, one at 1.5” foot range, the other at about 4”, done with the Blue Snowball and the Raer Seiren, both in the exact same spot and with out of the box settings:

 

Blue Snowball

Near Recording

Far Recording

 

Razer Seiren

Near Recording

Far Recording

 

Video Test

The following video is a test recording on YouTube, again with default settings.

General

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