3D characters- Poser/DAZ or 3D Max/Maya?

Discussion in 'Game Development (Technical)' started by DaveGilbert, Aug 13, 2010.

  1. DaveGilbert

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    This was kind of discussed in this old thread but I wanted to bring it up again. My wife and I are in the midst of making an isometric style game engine. Usually I'm all about the middleware but we can't seem to find an engine that will do what we want. Anyway, we've managed to create a pretty solid level editor, but now we've moved onto the character creation phase and we are a bit overwhelmed by the options.

    Our first thought was to use a system like Daz or Poser – rendering out a character at the right size/angle and spitting it out to individual frames. Since the characters are small, the fact that we use Daz/Poser won't matter so much. Unfortunately, it seems a lot of the clothing/outfits available for those systems are not… quite what we want. If we were making a fantasy or sci fi game with lots of women in stripperific clothing, we’d be in clover. But we’re making a 1930s era mobster game, and finding outfits from that era has proven to be impossible! Plus we’ll need animations – basically walking and dying, plus a few combat animations. (The poser animations over at Eclipse Studios look great, but we have yet to try them)

    So our question is mostly to do with cost. Considering that the end results will be small characters without a lot of intricate detail, would it be cheaper to:

    1 – find a 3D artist who can create the clothing and animations we need for Poster/Daz so we can render it out ourselves.

    or 2 – find a 3D artist who can do the same in Maya/3D Max (which we have no idea how to use).

    Maya/3D Max is obviously a heck of a lot more complicated than Poser/Daz, so we’re not sure which direction to go. In the end, we’d probably lean in the direction of “which is cheaper!” So… any guidance is appreciated.

    Thanks, and sorry for the wall of text!

    -Dave
     
  2. Wrote A Game or Two

    Wrote A Game or Two New Member

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    Dave,

    OK, now I don't feel so weird - I thought *I* was the only one being a "cheater" and using DAZ/Poser for characters. :D

    I'm joking of course about the cheater part. There's nothing wrong with using DAZ for game art. I needed a rotating sparkly gem for our latest game and had a dandy looking sprite made in no time thanks to DAZ. Once you get the hang of setting up lighting, shadows, etc it's a really great way to crank out assets in a hurry. It also renders to transparent-background PNG's, which will make creating animated sprites super easy. And since your engine is isometric, it's a perfect candidate for "canned 3d" art, as I like to call it.

    As for the animations, it's wicked easy in DAZ. It uses a keyframe editor, so if you create keyframe poses along your timeline kinda like this:

    Standing-----------------gets shot------------leans forward---------dead on floor

    with gaps in between each pose that span several frames, you'll have some convincing looking animation. It takes practice but it's really simple once you get the hang of it.

    Some tips - create a base model first with no animation, just the character in the default "T" pose, then save as "yourcharacter-run" and add the run animation, then save that off and reopen the original as a starting point for walking, dying, or shooting - keep each action as a separate "scene" in Daz. Render PNG on a black background - seems to blend better.
    Create a separate camera for each direction of movement rather than rotating the character - this prevents corruption in the timeline where your character starts running north then suddenly turns west because of a keyframe you set up while creating the run cycle or something.
    Render from Render Settings instead of the render button - it's easier to remember to change the image series parameter so you don't overwrite your renders that way.
    That's it for now - if I think of more, I'll update the thread.

    As for props and clothes, there's some 30's gangster stuff out there. I've got a few things that I've collected over the years. Check renderosity and daz3d.com - both have large freebie sections and reasonable prices on the paid-for stuff. ShareCG is another good freebie site and google is your friend for finding poser content.

    Another option is some ready-made assets. TheGameCreators has some prerigged and preanimated models that can be imported into a variety of engines and 3d programs, plus there's the artist portfolio section here which might point you to someone with a pack or two you could use. DAZ won't play nicely with those models though, which is a pity because it's such an easy and intuitive pre-rendering/sprite making solution.

    Best of luck with your project!
     
  3. Applewood

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    I'm not familiar with either Poser or Daz, but I've very familiar with trying to use Max for programmer art.

    Simply put, if you need to ask "Is Max right for me?" Then the answer is no. Doubly so given the cost of the thing. It's professional level only and there aren't any magic buttons.

    If you can't somehow get what you need out of cheaper tools, pay an artist to just do it for you. You might be pleasantly surprised how cheap and hassle free that option can be.
     
  4. ionside

    ionside New Member

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    I've never used Poser or Daz. But I wouldn't call it cheating; if it gives you the results you're after then go for it.
    I've worked with visual effects houses that use Poser models quite often.

    Using Maya, Max, Softimage etc. Aren't only expensive but also a huge amount of time is needed to learn how to use them. And then the cloth tools in them are a whole learning experience again.

    I'm not sure how you can get the cloth you're after, sorry I'm no help there. But if you're pre-rendering the character art, you'd want the cloth to be keyframeable anyway. This might sound like a crazy idea, but what if you 'painted' the cloth over your character renders?
    Not saying it's an easy job (it'll take some patience), but it's hella cheap!
     
  5. Jack Norton

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    I've used Poser models A LOT for my earlier titles :)
    They look a bit bad in close-up (especially if you're not good at setting up light) but in your case, I believe it will be the cheapest and best option.

    edit: so it means we'll see some isometric adventures next? :)
     
  6. Mattias Gustavsson

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    I use it all the time - since version 1, actually :) I'd like to think I've started to get a little better at it over time, but I'm definitely not a natural artist, so it's been slow going. However, I'm purely a hobbyist though, so not making games for selling. And making animations in Poser is really easy - making GOOD animations in Poser is VERY hard! (at least for me)

    Creating clothing for poser is a quite specialized process, but easier now, with the latest tools, than it used to be. To create new clothing for poser would involve modelling it in something like 3D Studio, and then setting it up to be "posable" within poser, plus making it conforming and with proper material settings. This means that to get this working, you need to know both a 3D Studio and Poser really well, and I suspect that finding an artist that does both at reasonable rates could prove difficult.

    It can be very difficult to find enough models in styles other than sci-fi and fantasy (I tend to mostly just do fantasy stuff anyway :p). The places I usually get my stuff from is daz3d.com, renderosity.com, runtimedna.com and contentparadise.com - but yeah, as you say, there's not much for the 1930's era - a couple of guys in suits, a car and a tommy gun is all I came across on a first quick look.
     
    #6 Mattias Gustavsson, Aug 14, 2010
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2010
  7. JGOware

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    If you want to purchase models and mess around with them, to render various angles, animation, etc, which is easier to work with... Daz or Poser? Thx.
     
  8. RichHW

    RichHW New Member

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    OP - Poser would save you thousands compared to hiring an artist to produce 3D characters, clothing and animations in Max. You could probably do the animations yourself as Poser has a lot of built in animations, and Content Paradise sells plenty of different Poser outfits and character mods which may suit your needs.
     
  9. Martini-562

    Martini-562 New Member

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    I got to sat that honestly do not find max to be that dificult to use so I wonder what poser is like : P

    About the clothes, I can not for the life of me recall any game that had any decen clothing animations. Most of them simply modeled the clothes into the biped model and animated them as part of the character model. But of you must have animateable clothes for your game couldn't you simply rig an animate them (perhaps as physicalised objects).


    (AFAIK the cloth modifier was designed for use in CGI films)
     
  10. infocyde

    infocyde New Member

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    Poser/Daz

    I was involved in creating a serious game prototype for a university a couple years back. We used Poser 6 successfully to render out characters for a 2.5D engine. A few things.

    * I think the latest version of Daz Studio as built in Lip Syncing, which is really cool if it does. If it doesn't, one of the 3D magazines had a version of Mimic 2.0 that will work with some Poser characters that you can animate. I think you can back order the magazine (one of the ones from a UK publisher, forget which one) but if you can find it and order that magazine you could get Mimic for less then $15. There are also other utilities like Crazy Talk that you can use to do lip syncing with any picture. Do a bit of research.

    * You probably will not find one outfit that fits what you need, but if you combine outfits, grab a prop here and a prop there, you can get pretty close to what you want. We had 4 business characters, that we rendered in scenes and from an isometric view in 4 different walk cycles that we just reversed giving us an 8 path up down left right angles. For scenes we actually used 3D Max 8 with a plugin that allowed us to import the pozer models in the scene for rendering. This tended to crash a lot, but in the end it worked for us.

    * I think you can get a free cut down copy of 3D Max called Gmax. Gmax is discontinued, but you can still find it on the interwebs in a few places. There are a few programs for scene rendering that work pretty well with Poser, Vue De Esprit, Carrara, Bryce (one of those 3D mags had carrera 7 full version free in its August version), lots of cool low cost utils that work w Poser, though probably all of them are going to have a slight learning curve, a few bugs, and their own set of quirks.

    * If you are going to use Poser for rendering, add lots of lights, slows render times down but seems to increase render quality a bit. I'm not an expert in lighting, so others will help out. Poser had the "FireFly" render engine in v 6, which I couldn't really tell the difference in quality from the old render using a lot of lights.

    * Cheat, render a scene with the basics, then add other items in later w Photoshop.

    * Lastly, thinking outside of the box, you could use Second Life. If you've never been in the virtual world of Second Life, it is a sleazy porn filled place that is buggy and crashes a lot. The platform offers potential though, the latest Beta browser has built in Lip Syncing, and there are 1000's of vendors selling clothers, avatars, and outfits...probably you could get stuff custom done for a few real dollars too. You can build a virtual cinema way up high where there is less lag, do some camera repositioning, and you might be surprised what you can pull off. The rending will be a little toonie, but that might be over comeable if you put all the graphics settings to max, again throw in a lot of lights, something to check out.

    Have fun!
     
  11. Mattias Gustavsson

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    The firefly renderer is a massive improvement to the old renderer, but it does require a bit of configuration to work well. It will do raytraced reflections and shadows, image-based lighting (so you won't have to use lots of lights) and ambient occlusion, and will also allow you to create advanced material using shader trees. I guess it's nowhere near the quality of more professional renders, but you can get quite good results if you fiddle a bit with it :)
     
  12. Bad Sector

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    One or two years ago i used Blender exactly for that.

    I had a custom script which would create an isometric camera at the right angles on a selected object, render it, use some pixel fiddling to make it look more pixelly, remove the alpha channel (i wanted a pixelart-ish look), create an outline using a color selection method which i was constantly tweaking until it looked "right" (although in modern Blender i would simply create a panel for that with GUI controls to assist me), rotate the model 45 degrees for different angles and animate it :).

    And since the resolution was smallish (what you see in most isometric games), i could get away with doing everything with Blender's procedural materials instead of texturing (which i sucked much more than now then), etc and of course not be afraid of using extra geometry (f.e. a fountain i did had its water made out of plain old polys instead of particles - which i didn't knew how to use :p).

    So if you really want a simple solution, i recommend to download Blender 2.5 and try to do just that. It was a "select object -> export sprites" operation. If i was going to make an isometric game (the above was just an experiment which i made after playing a bit too much Fallout 1) i would do that :).
     
  13. DaveGilbert

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    Hah. Fallout 1/2 is exactly the style of game we're going for. :)

    Daz/Poser has always seemed like the right way to go, it's just finding the darn clothes that seems to be the problem. We've checked the Daz store, and Renderosity, as well as several others. There are few vintage dresses and a suit or two, but nothing else. Not even a hat! Maybe we're looking in the wrong places, but since neither of us knows anything about 3D modelling, it's something we'll probably have to pony up and pay for. We've accepted that, but since doing clothing for Daz and Poser is more specialized and expensive, would it be cheaper/more efficient to hire someone to do the whole thing from scratch in something like Maya (or even Blender)?
     
    #13 DaveGilbert, Aug 14, 2010
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2010
  14. infocyde

    infocyde New Member

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    Poser Resources

    I remember getting some great content from a place called poser pros. There were a few Poser sites that you paid like $20 bucks for and you could download all you could for a week or two. Unfortunately I think many of those sites died/got gobbled up by Daz around the time of Poser 4/5, which is a shame, but keep hunting, someone might have archives from those sites. I don't think Daz ported a lot of the content even after they bought the sites, shame.
     
  15. Arkadesh

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    Absolutely possible with Poser

    Fallout style is absolutely possible with Poser. I've been involved in making of (rather lame) Jagged Alliance style game and we used Poser for all sprites. Google for "Rezerwowe Psy" and "The Troma Project" to see how the results looked like.
     
  16. Mattias Gustavsson

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    I've always found this to be the biggest problem with Poser - that I'm sort of restricted to the models that are available for it. I usually just end up adapting my designs to fit what I have or can get hold of for Poser, but sometimes the compromise is more than I would have liked. But there's a lot more content available in a fantasy style than in a 1930's style, and that certainly helps.

    I think it might well be that there's not that much more stuff to be found... I guess it depends a lot on how specific you are in your requirements - if you absolutely have to have a very particular look, it will be very difficult to do with poser.

    I doubt it, but just for reference, I did some looking around for things that I thought would fit a 1930's mobster game, and here's some things I found. However, you might have already come across most of these, but discarded them for not being the look you're after (in which case this won't be all that helpful), but if not, this couldat least give an idea of what sort of things are out there (but possibly difficult to find - let me know if you need some pointers). These things are mostly from DAZ, some from renderosity:

    (click for larger image)
    [​IMG]


    I don't know the answer to this - I guess it depends on what it is you need and who you find to do it, but I would guess that if you need a lot of custom clothing for poser, it might be cheaper to just have your artist do it themselves in max/maya. If you can settle for mostly what's already available for poser, and only custom make a few items, that will probably be more cost effective - but I'm really just guessing here.
     
  17. JGOware

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    @Mattias Gustavsson - So which software do you recommend if all someone wants to do is purchase models and render out sprite strips? Also, some of the models you can buy include animations, would the software be able to support those as well? Thanks for any insight you can provide.
     
  18. Mattias Gustavsson

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    I've only used Poser, not DAZ Studio, so I wouldn't know which one to recommend - Poser works great for me though, and I like it that I can write Python scripts to automate a lot of the rendering.

    As for animations, it's actually quite uncommon for models to come with animations - but you often get single-frame poses, which you could string together to animations, but I personally find this to be a slow and difficult process, to get it to look ok.
     
  19. Nexic

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    I've done this before and I would recommend Poser for that as in my experience Daz studio isn't very good for working with character models.

    As matt said animations can be hard to find, but single frame poses can be gotten and strung together. I made pretty much all my animations that way (apart from the walk cycles which are built in to Poser). Remember that any poses or animations designed for the base model (michael 3 for example) should work with any character also derived from that model. Sometimes animations and poses from other models work too.
     
  20. Reactor

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    I'm also not really a fan of Daz Studio. It's clunky as all heck, and the way it works changes depending on the UI theme. I do like the type of renderer it has, but that's about it.

    For anyone who has a later version of Poser than 5, do the newer ones still have the walk designer? Version 5 is as old as the hills, but it's still an excellent tool.
     

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