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22. March 2015

 

For those of you that like living on the bleeding edge, RC2 of the upcoming Blender 2.7 is now available.  If nothing else it gives you an idea of what is coming in Blender 2.74.

 

Splash 274.png

 

 

Cycles Rendering

Rl pointiness.png

  • Several improvements for BVH like making it watertight, solving several precision issues and reducing noise
  • Optimizations:
    • Black world backgrounds are now removed from the shader graph, resulting in great speed improvements
    • Various (and great!) memory optimizations

 

  • Nodes:
    • New Pointiness attribute for the Geometry node
    • Control texture space of one object by another

 

 

User Interface

Viewport FX release notes.png

  • New Viewport Compositing brings Ambient Occlusion and Depth of Field right into the Viewport!
  • View-depth can now be picked using an Eyedropper
  • Outliner:
    • An Orphaned Datablocks Mode was added for datablock management
    • Deleting of entire object hierarchies
    • Drag&Drop objects to groups

 

  • The Node Editor can now show text-blocks in frames
  • Customizable camera safe areas
  • And more!

 

Modeling

Rl split normals.png

  • Support for Custom Normals was added
  • Transferring data layers between meshes is now possible thanks to a new Mesh Data Transfer operator and modifier
  • Tools:
    • UV handling for Edge- and Vertex Slide was improved
    • Inverse-square blending for proportional-edit-mode
    • "Fit Camera View" now works for orthographic cameras as well
    • A "Split Concave Faces" tool to ensure a convex geometry was added

 

 

Particles

07 shape cut AFTER.png

  • Hair dynamics and editing tools were improved massively:
    • Support for hair collission with meshes
    • Simulation no happens using volumetric calculations for more realistic results
    • Strand bending uses a more realistic approach
    • Controlling of child hair shapes using curve widgets
    • New "Spiral" kink mode to generate spirals at hair ends
    • Toggle buttons for render and viewport visibility were added to the particle settings in the Properties Editor
  • And much more!

 

Sculpting/Painting

Release notes cavity.png

  • Brushes/Strokes:
    • Improvements to rake and random mapping
    • Line strokes now support constrains to 45 degree increments
  • Texture Painting:
    • Support for dithering for painting on byte images
    • A new tool "Cavity Mask" was added that creates masks based on mesh cavities or hills
  • And more!

 

Freestyle NPR Rendering

Blender 274 Freestyle BNPR NY2015.png

  • A great memory consumption optimization in stroke rendering was done
  • And more!

 

Animation

Rl anim.png

  • Grease Pencil:
    • New Editing tools like copy & paste strokes, duplicating active layer, ...
    • Enable eraser on the fly while drawing with "Continuous Drawing"
    • Various UI tweaks such as color swatches for Stroke and Fill colors
    • Grease Pencil data layers are now shown in the Outliner

 

  • Improvements to the action management to reduce the cases where unused actions are deleted
  • Pasting keyframes can now be done flipped
  • Using a new "Follow" option, the animation editors can now follow the time indicator
  • And more!

 

Game Engine

  • Physics:
    • The first contact point of colliding can now be accessed from Python
    • Usability improvements
  • New option "Lock Z Velocity" to avoid micro-jumping
  • And more!

 

Add-ons

  • A new Auto Tile Size Add-on helps setting up the fastest tile size for Cycles rendering
  • Import images as planes now works for Cycles as well
  • POV-Ray Renderer now supports volumetric rendering
  • FBX and OBJ now support custom normals import
  • New Python API functions
  • And more!

 

More Features

There are a lot more features that are new in Blender 2.74, so make sure to check them out!

 

It may be a minor thing, but that “fit camera view” fix is certainly going to make my life a happier thing.  Full release notes are available here.  You can download the RC2 release here.  Or wait 2-4 weeks for the full release.

Art News


3. March 2015

Allegorithmic, makers of the popular Substance 3D painting suite among other products have just announced an excellent new way to purchase their products.

 

They announced a new program, Substance Live, details below were taken from this forum posting:

 

NewImage

 

Basically, like many other packages, you can now subscribe to Substance Designer/Painter for a monthly fee. Then the cool part… once your subscription hits the purchase price… you own the product!

 

Yes folks, rent to own has come to the game dev world, and it’s an awesome thing!  Let’s hope this catches on!

Art News


2. March 2015

 

At GDC this week, Autodesk is announcing the release of Maya LT 2016.  Maya LT is a stripped down version of Maya aimed at the indie game market.  It also comes with a massively stripped MayaLT 2016 SplineIK Clusters 1920x1080down price tag and a monthly subscription option.  When Maya LT was first announced it had a number of glaring limitations.  In the time since, many of those have been removed and several new features have been added.

 

 

 

The full press release follows:

 

Available March 26, 2015, Maya LT 2016 is packed with new features and advancements that accelerate modeling and animation, enabling indie developers to seamlessly deliver standout visuals for their games. 

“In setting up an indie studio and producing our first independent title, Maya LT provided us with a games making application second to none in terms of 3D game asset creation,” said Oliver Clarke, director, co-founder, Modern Dream. “For us, Maya LT is now an irreplaceable part of creating unique and vibrant games that stand out in a super competitive marketplace.”

The new release includes: 

- Integrated Sculpting Tools and UV editing tools: Brush-based sculpting in Maya LT now facilitates high level sculpting on models, without the need to export to a different tool, while new UV brushes (interactive cut/sew edge tool, automatic projection, pinning, weld, split, and unfold brushes) provide an intuitive, artistic-driven workflow.
- Advanced Animation and Game Exporter Tool: New Spline IK and cluster deformation help users easily animate non-humanoid characters; a Game Exporter update simplifies the management and export of multiple animation clips, making it easier for indie artists to export multiple animations for use in a game engine simultaneously.
- Physically-Based ShaderFX Nodes and user-submitted improvements: Physically-based shading material allows artists to design more realistic and high quality materials, for higher-quality assets. User submitted enhancements include: background texture loading, allowing artists to begin working without waiting for an entire scene to load; a customizable default lighting environment that standardizes the appearance of imported assets; and a fog effect in the viewport to focus on the object closest to the viewport camera.
- Creative Market content storefront: Last year, Autodesk acquired Creative Market – an online content marketplace serving more than 690,000 artists and designers. On March 26, Maya LT users will be able to purchase 3D content from a dedicated content landing page curated specifically for game makers. Users can visit the page directly from within the Maya LT app or by visiting: https://creativemarket.com/apps/mayalt .

Maya LT is available as a Desktop Subscription with pay-as-you-go monthly, quarterly and annual options. For more information about Autodesk’s GDC 2015 lineup and other activities, visit: area.autodesk.com/gdc2015 .


Will be interesting to see how the content store approach works. It seems like everyone wants to be in the online store business these days! Regardless, so pretty exciting new features in this release. As stated in the press release, Maya LT 2016 is released March 26th.

Art News


12. January 2015

 

Ok, I’ll admit, this topic isn’t the most incredibly gamedev related thing I’ve covered, but I figured enough of you might find it useful that I should share this.  Like many other things, Blender has incredibly powerful text manipulation and rendering features built in, but working with them isn’t always intuitive.  We work with text for a variety of reasons… pre-rendered title screens, menus, credits, etc… so knowing how to do this could be quite useful.  So let’s take a look.  There is also a video of this process available here.

 

Creating and rendering text in Blender

 

Add The Text Object

 

First you need to add a text object to the scene.  Text is a first class object and is added using the Add->Text menu:

image

 

Editing the Text

 

Text will now appear in your scene like so:

image

 

I want it facing the front, so I simply rotate the text using r + x + 90 to rotate 90 degrees on the X axis

Now switch in to edit mode either by hitting tab or selecting the edit option:

image

 

Now a cursor (caret) will appear beside your text:

image

In this mode you can edit your text like using a word processor.  Switch modes or press tab to stop edit mode.

 

Modifying your text

 

Now that you’ve got your text set to whatever it is you want, you can now modify it in the Properties panel.  With the text selected, locate the F icon:

image

 

Now you can set a number of properties:

image

 

A few of which are critical.  Probably the most important is the Extrude option, which gives your text depth like so:

image

 

And offset, which gives a nice bevel effect:

image

 

Changing the Font

 

Blender ships with and uses their own font BFont by default.  However you most likely want to import a TTF font from your system.  You import the font based on the type of text… regular, bold, etc.  Simply click the Open icon:

image

And load the font you wish to use.  If you are using Windows, fonts are stored under Windows\Fonts.

 

Text Positioning

 

Like a word processing tool, there are also text alignment options:

image

 

These values are set relative to the objects Origin:

image

 

The Origin can be set using menu options in Object->Transform menu

image

 

The Results

 

As I said earlier, Blender text can be used to quickly and easily make in game menus, like so:

 

image

 

Although ideally, yours will be a bit less ugly!

 

The Video

 

 

Here is the video, again there is an HD version available here.

Art


9. January 2015

 

I needed to create a sprite sheet for an upcoming tutorial series and managed to throw one together in an amazingly short amount of time with almost no artistic ability.  Good looking art with no ability is something many indie game developers are screaming for, so I figured I would share the process.

 

During the tutorial we use the following programs:

Mixamo Fuse (Free version available, MSRP $99USD)

Blender (Free and Open Source)

TexturePacker (Free version available, MSRP $50USD)

 

If you want more details on Mixamo, I extensively review it here.

 

The ultimate output from this entire process is the sprite sheet powering this animation:

bigguy

 

And here is the resulting sprite sheet, click it for the full resolution version:

a

 

Now finally, the video.  You can watch it in full 1080p on YouTube.

 

Coincidentally, if you want more information on how I created the above animated gif, I used a program called Cryotek Animated GIf Creator, and document the process here.  It’s a very cool program and completely free.

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