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15. March 2016

 

Nearing the end of last year, SideFX software released Houdini Engine, which brings procedurally based modeling to Unreal and Unity.  Previously the Indie version had a $99 price tag.  Now however, that price tag has been removed.

From the announcement:

SideFX is pleased to announce that Houdini Engine Indie is now available for free (previously $99). Independent game devs and CG artists can now freely load Houdini Digital Assets built using Houdini’s procedural node-based workflow into apps such as Unity, UE4, Maya and Cinema4D.

"This is exciting news for indie developers who want to enhance the procedural features in Unreal Engine 4," said Epic Games CTO Kim Libreri. "Houdini Engine Indie brings amazing power to the table which makes it possible for smaller teams to more easily achieve AAA-quality results."

Houdini Engine Indie works with all of the Houdini Engine plug-ins including Unity, UE4, Autodesk Maya, Cinema 4D and Autodesk 3DS Max. These plug-ins let game devs load Houdini Digital Assets which can be created in Houdini Indie or downloaded from the Unity Asset Store and the Orbolt 3D Smart Asset store.

 

There is one major limitation on the indie edition of Houdini Engine, namely you must make less than $100K USD a year and is limited to 3 licenses per organization.  You can see Houdini Engine in action in Unreal Engine in the video below:

Houdini Engine for UE4 from Go Procedural on Vimeo.

GameDev News


13. March 2016

 

BDX is a 3D engine that is hosted inside Blender and uses Java and the LibGDX library for programming.  For more information I took a pretty in-depth look at an earlier version available here.  Basically BDX installs as a Blender add-on, which you use to create your games content and levels, but you use LibGDX and Java to program your actual game.  BDX exposes several Blender features to your game, such as physics properties.

 

Details of this release are available on /r/gamedev, but the heart of the release are:

  • Saving the meshes from Blender has been optimized, which can make the starting process a ton faster.
  • Rendering to a depth texture for depth-based 2D screen shaders is now possible.
  • Additional built-in screen shaders include: Outline, Invert, and Depth-Of-Field shaders.
  • You can now color, tint, and otherwise alter individual materials on a GameObject.
  • Camera functions have been added to allow for view changes (i.e. changing the viewport width of the camera view).
  • Various bug-fixes.

It’s an interesting project, especially if you are working with Blender and Java, and is one you should consider checking out.  It is complete free and open source, released under the Apache 2 license.

GameDev News


7. March 2016

 

It’s not very often I am surprised by the existence of a previously unknown to me 3D application, as I tend to pay attention to these things.  It’s even rarer that such an application is free, as I am a huge fan of free tools.  It’s almost a blue moon scenario when its TWO applications we are talking about!  Well, that’s exactly what just happened, I learned of the existence of two, completely free, 3D modeling applications and I figured I would share them here.  Both apps are very different in scope and what they are trying to accomplish.  Both are also fairly young in their development cycle, so expect crashes and unexpected behavior from either application.

 

Dilay

Dilay is probably the easier of the two applications to explain, so I’m going to start with it.  Basically, Dilay is an open source sculpting application such as zBrush or Pixologic.  As the later is no longer being developed and the first one is quite expensive, this is without a doubt a good thing.  Of course, Blender has sculpting features, but there are certainly flaws in it’s implementations.

The interface in Dilay is extremely straight forward.  You essentially work in one of two modes, sculpting and sketching.  Here is the sculpting interface in action:

image

 

If you’ve used zBrush/Sculptris/3D Paint/Mudbox at this point, you have a pretty good idea what to expect.  Generally you start with a simple mesh like a sphere and then sculpt as if working with virtual clay.  The sculpting can easily be mirrored across the center axis for symmetric objects.  The tools are pretty straight forward, you can carve, crease, grab, drag, flatten, smooth and pinch your object into the desired shape.  Nicely, you can also reduce, which enables you to dynamically reduce the polygon count of the mesh you are creating.

The other mode of operation is Sketching.  Essentially you shape your base model using a series of spheres.  Somewhat confusingly you need to delete your sculpt before you can sculpt.  Now it’s mostly a matter of painting a series of spheres that will compose your base mesh.

image

 

When you are done, simply click Convert Sketch, and it will be ready for editing in the sculpt interface.

When you are done, objects can be saved as obj files, a format that is supported in pretty much every single 3D application created in the last decade.  There are some glitches, I experienced a couple of crashes (for example, don’t enable wireframe!), but it is certainly a usable tool at this stage.  Dilay is open source and released under the GPL license.

 

PolyBrush

Polybrush is a much harder application to explain.  I think the easiest description is, it’s a 3D sketch modeler.  The entire idea is to create 3D models quickly using a combination of sketching, user generated brushes and symmetry.  The results are actually pretty astonishing.  The application is more stable and complete than Dilay but the interface is also extremely obtuse and will require a much steeper learning curve.

image

 

Here you either create your own 3D volume brush or use one of the included brushes, then either paint on the construction plane, or one another existing object.  Brushes can in turn be applied to the surface of an existing model, giving you rapid sculpting abilities with dynamic brushes.  You can also work symmetrically across a number of different axis.

Like Dilay, Polybrush also exports in OBJ format.  The exe weighs in at a paltry 4mb with the included brushes and at 2mb without.  It’s also remarkably fast, I made some fairly complicated scenes while running on my integrated Intel GPU and never experienced a slowdown.  The application is quite robust and vast, offering layers, 2D and 3D sketching, 3D primitives, the ability to define your own brushes and much more.  It’s a cool application once you get past the somewhat confusing interface.  It does however have a community behind it, so getting support is a heck of a lot easier than Dilay.  Polybrush is closed source software.

 

I will actually be posting quick videos showing both applications in action shortly.  Both are small downloads and completely free, so if you are in the market for a modeling or sculpting application, I recommend you check both of them out.

 

EDIT – A video of Dilay in action is now available.

Art


2. March 2016

 

Sp3 for 3ds Max 2016 has been released, updating the popular 3D content creation package.

The service pack makes the following changes:

Animation

  • MAXX-24066 Changing Frame Rate Breaks Default AutoKeyframe When Greater Than 0
  • MAXX-27784 CAT Motion Editor Spinner Y and Z are buggy.
  • MAXX-29434 Program error when user saves bip without extension
  • MAXX-27484 skinOps.ReplaceVertexWeights not working

Core

  • MAXX-28752 Customer Error Report: Program error on File Open in UpdateSnapDisplay
  • MAXX-28406 Memory leak with Animation playback

FileIO

  • MAXX-24692 No mapping during import of Autocad
  • MAXX-29250 Program error while exporting a scene created in 3ds Max 2014
  • MAXX-29125 FBX: custom attributes lost while importing fbx from MotionBuilder
  • MAXX-28897 DWG Import of dwgs containing negatively scaled blocks displays incorrectly.
  • MAXX-29186 Program error with Container Operation
  • MAXX-26606 Scenes with many xref objects take exponentially longer to load

Materials ShaderFX

  • MAXX-29612 Undo break connection Program error
  • MAXX-27846 ShaderFX in Max 2015/2016 doesn't receive Shadows

Maxscript

  • MAXX-28959 Add filename being imported/exported to NOTIFY_POST_IMPORT and NOTIFY_POST_EXPORT

Modeling

  • MAXX-28623 Linked Objects Inherit Parent Object Scaling
  • MAXX-29452 Customer Error Report: Program error with Mesh Optimize

Rendering 

  • MAXX-28428 Arch & Design templates not working anymore
  • MAXX-28958 Expose RenderElement from OpenEXR Layer

Text tool

  • MAXX-25232 Object Scaling / Frame #0 seems to not being transferred to the preset.

Viewports

  • MAXX-23386 Nitrous reflection display buggy/partly broken

Service pack 3 for 3ds Max 2016 can be downloaded here.

GameDev News


1. March 2016

 

jMonkeyEngine is a popular open source 3D game engine written in Java.  I did a “Closer Look at” jMonkeyEngine earlier last year if you want more information.  The big part of this release isn’t really all that flashy, but it is smart.  You see up until now, jMonkeyEngine has been heavily tied to the NetBeans IDE, an IDE used by about 4 people.  (Yeah, hyperbole...).  This has advantages, it makes for a turn key package but at the cost of tying the two together making for slow release schedules from the jME team, as well as adding a lot of complications for developers that want to work in a different IDE such as Eclipse or IntelliJ.  jME 3.1 is all about seperating jME the SDK from jME the toolchain.  This means jME should be easier to get started with for non-NetBeans developers and that future releases should come at a quicker pace.

 

From the announcement:

New Features

  • jME3 Maven artifacts are now available on JCenter! (thanks @davidB and @pspeed42) Note that Nifty-GUI and JBullet still require using the jME3 private Maven repo. Please see the wiki page for more information.
  • LWJGL3 support (beta) (thanks @DannyJo)
  • Improved OpenGL 3.2 core profile support
  • JOGL backend improvements to support new unified renderer backend
  • New constructors for lights: #297
  • Ability to toggle lights on or off: #393
  • Allow to set min / mag filter in J3M files: #295
  • Support bounding spheres with light culling: #362
  • Allow overriding dead zone per joystick axis: @46794e2
  • Add support for non-public constructors in networking serialization: @50b2f76
  • Rendering performance improved (less GL calls)

Fixed Bugs

  • Fix physics angular factor deserialization: #383
  • Fix GImpactCollisionShape for native bullet: #188
  • Fix BetterCharacterControl flickering: #391
  • Fix crash on ARM8 android devices: #378
  • Fix framebuffer crash on some OpenGL drivers: @78d2d6e
  • Fix regression in Node.collideWith(): @31cab67
  • Fix native bullet ray cast / sweep test crash: @86439c2
  • Fix clone method for lights: @6c4e801
  • Fix collideWith method for BatchNode: @1073eba
  • Fix broken culling when using negative scaling: @495e0cf
  • Fix FXAA quality regression: @4a37a8f
  • Fix lighting color ramp feature: @01227d3
  • Fix network client and server running in same JVM: @2c33712
  • Fix various race conditions in networking
  • Blender Loader various fixes

Other

  • ColoredTextured.j3md is now deprecated

GameDev News


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