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15. December 2015

 

Via BlenderNation a great collection of Blender materials came to my attention and I figured I would share.  Blender user Mackraken is a bit of a hoarder of materials and this certainly works to our advantage!  He has made a complete collection of shaders available for our use, all nicely organized using matlib.

 

To install, if you haven't already got git installed, install git and make sure it is available in your path.  Next in a terminal/command prompt, change directory to your Blender’s addon folder.  On my system it was D:\Program Files\Blender Foundation\Blender\2.76\scripts\addons

 

Next run the command:

git clone https://github.com/meta-androcto/materials_library.git

 

Now load up Blender.  Go to User Preferences…

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Switch to the Add-ons tab, search for “mate”, click the enabled check box for the entry Material: Material Library Cycles, then click Save User Settings if you wish this setting to persist the next time you load Blender.

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The materials will now be available.  First make sure the Cycles renderer is selected:

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Pick an object you wish to apply a texture to and navigate to the Materials tab:

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If the plug-in install worked properly, you should now have a new field named Material Library VX available:

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In the dropdown, select the category of material you want:

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Next select the actual material you want, then click the indicated icon to make that material active:

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Tada:

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Now keep in mind that Cycles materials will NOT export correctly to any game engines.  Instead you will have to bake your textures for use in real-time.  Don’t worry though, I already got you covered there!

 

Here is a video of the entire process.  Thanks to Mackraken for sharing the results of his hoarding nature!

Art


4. December 2015

 

SideFx software just announced the release of Houdini Engine for Unreal.  Houdini is a long standing procedurally based 3D modeling, animating and rendering application which was until recently a fairly poor fit for game development.  With Houdini 15 they added the following game oriented features:

To enhance the creation of procedural game assets, Side Effects recently released Houdini 15 with new modeling and texturing tools. Modellers now have access to a new tweak edit workflow, edge sliding, soft selection highlighting and new tools such as PolyBridge and PolyExpand 2D – ideal for road generation. For working with hi-res models, new retopology tools make it easy to build low-res geometry by drawing right on top of high-res geometry.

“All of the modeling and texturing improvements in Houdini 15 have been developed with game artists in mind,” says Judith Crow, Director, Games Segment, Side Effects. “These tools can be used for interactive modeling in the viewport or to create procedural assets which can be loaded into the UE4 editor using the Houdini Engine plug-in.”

Houdini 15 also includes texture baking and viewport support for UDIM textures, world-space normal maps, UV mesh boundaries and overlapping UV regions. Game developers can now import and export tangent-space normal maps and convert bump and displacement maps to normal maps. For a complete list of Houdini 15 enhancements, go to www.sidefx.com/H15 and for tutorials go to www.sidefx.com/start_here.

h15_model_polyextrude.jpg

 

Houdini Engine for Unreal is available now in Houdini Indie, Houdini and Houdini FX versions.  You can read more about the release here.

GameDev News Art


3. December 2015

 

Having never used or even heard of sketch based animation you can’t help but feel like a “someone changes something in the matrix” moment, when not one but two stories cross your desk in the same week.

 

The first was release of VPaint Beta 1.5.  It is in their own words:

VPaint is an experimental vector graphics editor based on the Vector Animation Complex (VAC), a technology developed by a collaboration of researchers at Inria and the University of British Columbia, featured at SIGGRAPH 2015. It allows you to create resolution-independent illustrations and animations using innovative techniques.

Or you can watch the SIGGRAPH video:

I checked out the free download, and it is interesting, but I decided not to do a story about it.  Then…

 

Just today, Autodesk announced they are looking for beta testers for Project Draco, which is an iPad app that sounds a hell of a lot like VPaint.  Here is their (year old) SIGGRAPH video:

 

Well now Autodesk is officially ready for testing, so if this looks interesting to you head on over to Autodesk labs to sign up.

 

Are there any other sketch based 2D animation packages in the works?  Anyone excited for this technology to mature?

Art GameDev News


30. November 2015

 

 

 

This entry in the Closer Look series is a bit different than normal.  First, Blade Engine is very much a work in progress, so expect bugs and flaws and minimal documentation.  Second, it’s actually built over top of an existing game engine, LibGDX.  Finally, it’s a game engine focused on one very specific genre – adventure games.  Given the popularity of hidden object games on mobile these days, there are no doubt a number of people looking for an appropriate engine.  So without further adieu, I present the Bladecoder Adventure Engine, an open source cross platform LibGDX based game engine and editor for creating adventure games.

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As always there is an HD video version available here.

 

Meet Bladecoder Adventure Engine

 

Blade engine consists of two parts, the underlying game engine and the editor that is layered on top of it.  It is designed in such a way that you can work entirely in the editor and never once right a line of source code.  You assemble your game from a collection of Chapters, Scenes and Actors and added events and actions in the form of verbs.  If you want to modify the fundamental structure of the game itself, you are going to have to jump into the underlying source code.  Fortunately that is an option, as Bladecode Engine is hosted on Github and the source is available under the incredibly liberal Apache 2 license.

 

Blade Engine Features at a Glance:

  • Multi platform support: Android, IOS, Desktop (Windows, OSX, Linux) and HTML
  • Several animation techniques: sprite/atlas animation, Spine (cutout) animation and 3d model animation
  • 3d character support
  • Multiresolution to deal with different densities and screen sizes
  • Multilanguage support
  • Open source and free (as in beer and freedom)
  • Code free game creation possible

 

The heart of Bladecoder is ultimately the editor, so let’s focus there after we cover getting started.

 

Getting Started

 

To get started with Bladecoder you need to have Java and git installed and properly configured.  Bladecoder uses the JavaFX ui library so you will have to use JDK 8 or newer or be prepared to have to configure JavaFX manually in the build process.  You will also require an internet connection for the build process to succeed the first time. To start, from a terminal or command line, change to the folder you want to install Bladecoder and enter:

git clone https://github.com/bladecoder/bladecoder-adventure-engine.git

cd bladecoder-adventure-engine

gradlew build

gradlew run

 

There is an example repository, including the work in progress game The Goddess Robbery available in the repository https://github.com/bladecoder/bladecoder-adventure-tests.  You should probably clone this repository too, as this is perhaps the single biggest documentation source available right now.

 

The Editor

 

Assuming the compilation process went without issue above, you should now see the Adventure Editor, where the bulk of your work will occur.

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Your game is composed of a collection of Chapters, which in turn contain Scenes.  Scenes in turn are a collection of Actors and organized in layers:

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Game Props enables you to set global properties of your game:

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Resolution enables you to quickly create scaling modes for supporting multiple device resolutions ( think Retina ):

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While Assets enables you to import multiple defined assets include audio and music files, texture atlases, 3D models, images and more.

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You organize your scene using the editor available in the center of the window:

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You can place actors on different layers, define walk paths, etc.  Click the Test button to preview that scene in action.

 

The actual logic of your game is defined on the right hand side of the editor. 

Here you can set properties of your actors:

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Create and edit dialogs:

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Define sounds and animations:

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Clicking the edit icon will bring up the appropriate editor:

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While selecting an animation will preview it in the scene:

GIF

 

Finally Verbs are the heart of your application:

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You can think of verbs an analogous to event handlers, and they can be applied at the world, scene or actor level.  There are also default verbs that will be fired if unhandled.  Think the generic “I don’t know how to use that” messages from adventure games from the past.

 

Let’s look at an example from the Scene, handling the Init verb which is fired when the scene is ready.

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This verb causes the sequence of actions shown at the bottom part of the above image to be fired when the scene init verb is called.  This causes the player to move, a dialog sequence, the player is scripted to drop an item, a state value is changed, etc.  You can create new elements by clicking the + icon:

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And filling out the resulting form.  Each element has a different form associated with it.  Here for example is the result of the Say element:

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Once complete simply click the play or package button:

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Play launches the standard loader:

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This screen can obviously be customized to each individual game.  While package brings up a form enabling you to build your game for a variety of platforms:

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And that essentially is it.

 

Help and Community

This is certainly a weak point of the Bladecoder engine, it’s the result of a single coder, there is minimal help available and if you don’t know how to debug Java code, you will probably end up in trouble, at least at this point in it’s lifecycle.  There is currently no community or forum available for this engine but perhaps that will change in the future.  I spoke with the developer a few times however and he was very responsive and quick with fixes and answers.  He is also on twitter at @bladerafa if you want status updates on the project.

For now documentation consists of a minimal wiki although for the most part the best source of documentation is going to be from following the examples.

 

Summary

Make no mistakes, this is very much an under development engine so expect things to blow up spectacularly at any time.  When it does, you are probably going to be on your own figuring out why as there is no community to fall back on.  All that said this is a surprisingly robust tool that makes the process of creating an adventure game exceedingly simple.  Once the engine matures a little bit it will be an excellent tool for even a non-programmer interested in making adventure games.  For now though if you are competent in Java and interested in making an adventure game, this engine takes care of a hell of a lot of work for you and provides full source code for when it doesn’t.  Plus at the end of the day, the price is certainly good too!

 

The Video

Design Art Programming


27. November 2015

 

Quixel just released version 2 of their suite of products.  Quixel Suite is composed of:

 

You can currently purchase the entire suite for $99 on an indie license or $409 on a commercial license, which represents a 25% savings.

 

As to what Quixel actually is, it’s a texturing solution that bring PBR (Physically Based Rendering) to Photoshop.  Their own promo video probably illustrates it best… just turn your speakers down before pressing play!

If you are thinking to yourself, hey, that looks a heck of a lot like Substance Painter that you just looked at, you'd be right. They provide basically the same functionality for a very similar price, but Substance is a stand alone application while Quixel integrates within Photoshop.

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