Your perfect 3D content creation tool?

Discussion in 'Game Development (Technical)' started by LetterRip, Dec 23, 2007.

  1. LetterRip

    LetterRip New Member

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    Hi all, first time poster.

    The Blender Foundation (developer of the open source software Blender) Apricot Team (who will be making a 'open source game using Blender as the content creation tool, and Crystal Space as the game engine) would like to know what sort of features you feel would help improve your work flow for those of you that either use Blender currently, or are interested in doing so in the future.

    http://apricot.blender.org/

    Some of the requests and suggestions already made can be found in this thread at blender.org

    and this thread at Ogre 3D

    Personally I'm especially interested in feedback from Sysiphus and others who have used it seriously.

    You can either post in one of the above threads, or here, and I'll be sure to forward the information to the Apricot team.

    Thanks,

    LetterRip
     
  2. Coyote

    Indie Author

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    Well, this isn't exactly a workflow request, but some things that I'd really like to see improved importing of different formats. I'm frequently working with people who are working with such-and-such a version of 3DS Max or Lightwave, or I buy stock content that has been exported only to a subset of formats. Sometimes Blender either doesn't support the format to import, or it loses animation or texture data. Anything that will smooth out the communication between different modeling packages may really be to Blender's advantage.

    Now, I haven't messed with importing third-party models in different formats for a couple of versions, now, so maybe a lot of improvements have been made that I have missed. But I keep Milkshape installed mainly as a format interchange tool. I'd like to get rid of that step.

    Animation-wise: There's a lot that comes out to me being ignorant and inexperienced here, but either I'm missing something, or it can be cumbersome and error-prone to try and get keyframed animations set at exactly the right time point if you get off by, say, .1 frame or something like that. Is there the equivalent of a "snap to frame number?" I remember trying to do something like that and failing. There were also a lot of times when I found myself kinda "stuck" during the animation, having somehow lost the root pose or something. Again, I'm inexperienced, and this might not be making much success, but additional tools or hints to try and help those doing keyframe-based animation would be handy.

    Otherwise - I'm pretty happy with Blender. It's an awesome tool. Just keep in mind us poor low-poly guys as you are implementing features. :)
     
  3. Sysiphus

    Original Member

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    Pitty is I need to leave the flat now, will pick up later, then. I have a few considerations to offer, tho the criteria of Blender Team is very solid.

    I have done some toon render anims with Blender, for a project of my own, and was amazed by the result it allows with some tweaks. Also am always playing with workflow and helped quite with its exporters for real time 3d games.

    And...btw, I PMed you, :) :)
     
  4. Sysiphus

    Original Member

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    BTW, LetterRip is a key person in all what relates Blender, I consider a honor , and really generous move, to give freely this attention and work towards game development, always with a free tool like blender.

    [ Finally I have some time now, so I'll put some bits here, but i'd like if we can do this in a more elaborated manner, ie, by mail, or the like, only if you would be up to it. ]

    I'd agree with formats are key in game development (and exchange with other packages in other worlds) . I'd say ensuring formats like *.obj, *.lwo, *.md5 , *.b3d , *.fbx , *.x , collada, to work smoothly. There are many people yet using engines with md3 export, this could be nice for some RTS games. yet though the future is probably clear with all those other mentioned.

    Obj and lwo as said, work really well and has very solid support. One important thing is that new comers don't know where to find or if even exists, or in which version did they work, certain external plugins... So, der_ton wonderful md5 work, is probably unknown to the vast mass of people...a pitty :) . In my experience, apart from sett8ing th etexture name in the shader part of the asci .mesh file, the export was done perfect, with all the constraints taken in consideration and no bake keyframes needed... sweet as I hadnt experienced in a bone weights formats. And this includes other tools as well.

    OBJ is extremely important, is that universal. The pitty is it's old and lacks ways to import other features, there was a non standard way to port reflection maps, which I used with successwith an engine, but was a trick. Is also key for exchange with other tools, so , key for all blender fields. Same with LWO, tho the advantage of OBJ is the ascii settings so easy to change. Even so, LWO saved my neck where OBJ couldnt. And Lightwavers are an important comunity, too.

    Md5, as I said, a nice way to port featured animations, and key for shareware, downloadable games...Don't know if you already saw that: the *.anim mfiles are *extremely* small , only a very few ks for an animation, plus a very light *.mesh file. This is...well, such a winner for downloadable games. That besides being ascii , and still fast, and the possibilities that offer to a programmer (am told)
    B3d is ehavier , and in animation maybe less advanced, still, very useful. Generally less suported than md5 in what is animation packages. Blender counts on a working one, and is one of the few right now allowing that. My favourite tool to do this exports tends to be my Ultimate Unwrap, but that user made plugin may cut that need, as seems works very nicely (somebody with a nick like 'Gandalf'). Another plugin that maybe is interesting to talk, like with md5, with the author to see if can be reached an agreement to include natively and try to keep it always fail safe. Cambo made often a call to plugin authors to see to add to Blender distribution, to me, b3d and md5 are a very strong, clear case, and a people bringer, really.

    Sadly, the most interesting thing now with b3d, would be to add lightmaps, but seems the plugin is maybe stopped in development; maybe help there the guy if you'd decide so. Usually helping the authors in these cases ends well.The thing is you'd have in b3d a very solid format for blender and games, compact in the matter that from blender you could output all content in that way, if wished so. That is, both levels and and character animation, and othe rmany things. the format has a limit of 4 uv channels, but hey, allows quite a lot and many pipelines are based on that. Is a better choice than x, which has many many problems surely for the format as is. While being so, x is so extended...that I include in the list as so many engines only use that. Rarely will find a format with more requests of help than that in all tools. be it Max, blender... ben suffers of that a lot. And is usually the format itself, is very complex, and has some issues in any tool. I see critical to maintain it, and also as problem free as possible, surely to give less work to Ben and Cambo ;)

    I mean, now we have a non yet very explored great power in Blender with bake options. I jumped in my chair when saw first builds. Now is getting very solid. The key is use that for game engines, through file formats. Imo, is the last but important step. Has a power that reminds me of rendermap of xsi. B3d is imho, quite a nice format to start adding that. Many engines use it already, and is usually very problems free and compact. What is more, the available tools to output a lightmap have a strong issue in outputting lightmaps that consider well the curved surfaces: the free slimshady, yal, mapple, etc, etc. Giles does a great work, but is comercial.The plugin for max in this stopped development in max 6, so you can imagine...
    I mean, a mass of people would fall on Blender for simply this reason (I'd be guilty of that too ;) )
    An engine very open source based and cross platform, is irrlicht, having now a solid loader for b3d and its lightmaps or character animation. There are *many* Blender users there.

    A format to port very rich featured scenery, be it with reflection maps, lightmaps, multitexturing, cameras, lights, animation, (also of scenery) , shaders even...is probably the future, to make easier and powerful the workflow, so to avoid always if possible, the need of extra editors, as you'd be porting much of what's required direct to the engine. Surely Collada is a format to reach there. The forum sections of the free plugins seem to have dissapeared, so I am fearing some move to comercial. yet tho, if the format keeps open source, and the author of collada plugin, continues working as till now, I see a nice thing there.

    I don't know how much info can port fbx, I know is native in most packages now. But imho is most for character animation, not probably as scenery rich as collada. JME, a great , very powerful engine, uses both collada and md5 with success (I know well) . Irrlicht had a loader for md5, I hope it gets a final one some day.

    About texture painting...I usually use some external tools to make my textures(several 3d painting, and/or 2d tools), yet though, arised from that thread, tested more deeply the paint solutions as it have evolved lately in Blender. There's a way on which you can figure the wacom to paint in the smooth way with it, no issues, and and paint very well with 4096x4096 pixels textures (rather big for indy games, butjust to test).Perhaps this depends on card hardware limits, havent tried to go beyond. I'd only miss...that In Uv Window (you can paint both in 3d window and 3d, with the two windows only splitting teh screen) , where finer detail/control seems to be possible, as hapens in many tools, the color chooser was allways fixed as a transaprent window like the others. And that the sampler to pick any color was not only a button there, but a modifer key like alt or ctrl, or whatever, to make the only useful way I know in any 2d tool: converts brush tool to picker only whilst pressed, key released-> goes back to the preceeding tool (brush) .Usually is alt, but no issues if is another. that is, you while painting game textures, need often to pick a color from the actualdrawing as faster and more flexible way. The chooser/color wheel is also used, but in less degree. Imo what allows more pro work now is the painting system in the Uv window, so is why I am talking on this feature in there, while also in the 3d window, would be very nice, but maybe not as important.

    Yet tho, usually all game artists have already their workflow for textures, as is is already very useful to make marks of where the fine work will go (in my tests the other, day, also to make full textures there. I'd tho have allways the need to do retouchs in Photoshop, PSP, Paint.net, Pixia, ArtWeaver,Art Rage or Gimp. All these have each its advantages) .This is clearly very valuable, as in game art workflow, specially low pol, really good texturing is part of the key. But...What imho is stopping some, be it hobbysts or pros, is...Surely formats (these guys already had an strong intention to use it) , and some mor edirect ways in UI (these probably for some pros very tied to their $$$$ tool; they'll only skim over the UI and if dont find fast their way, wont use Blender. ). Probably only in the very every day things, like asigning a texture, setting a light and material, generating a lightmap, exporting it in a well known and used format which supports lightmaps.

    There are more considerations in the animation(and probably weighting) workflow, may be some other tips, (yet tho some exhcange of info could be cool, few ppl knwos every trick in bledner with any area, and myself, I tend to master tools in what is neeed, though skim all features I wish) , but don't want to make this post even longer. Reply my pm if you wish so, and we can chat more by mail or something, as fits you better. :)
     
    #4 Sysiphus, Dec 23, 2007
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2007
  5. Sysiphus

    Original Member

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  6. Coyote

    Indie Author

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    Actually, that looks like EXACTLY what I was looking for. I think I was struggling under an older version of Blender when I ran into that problem with some more complex animations, and haven't played with it a whole bunch since upgrading. Thanks Sysiphus!

    Figures they'd solve my problem while I wasn't paying attention :) Blender rocks.
     
  7. lennard

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    Barely, barely scratched the surface with blender but have noticed a couple of things.

    1. When I import a model it would be great if it could remember the import directory so that next time I don't have to hunt down the assets directory again.

    2. When loading a file the dialog is non-standard. Would be nice if you could double click a file to load it.

    3. Would be good if, after loading a 3ds model with textures if the render mode/Draw Type could be switched to textured.

    Anyhow, looking forward to playing more with Blender in the coming year, thanks for making a great tool.
     
  8. Sysiphus

    Original Member

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    Cool to be of help, Coyote. :)

    It stores the path during that session, if you (dont have blender in this family machine) click on certain top left button in the open file dialog. Still, I think I read recently the dialogs may be worked out, may be. Could be a rumor. And 2.5 involves some GUI improves, I think. Few people know you can configure Blender a lot, and then save settings in file menu, so it even always open same scene every time. (can be no good in several cases, but general settings, yes) You should have a look on blender prereferences whole section(and "i" icon in the dropdown).


    I know, as a windows user I miss this, but I suspect would need heavy work for the internals, and I can live with it :)

    hehe...well, I guess this is harder...tho...Probably you can store as I said once in that mode your base settings, so it always loads so, I dunno . Try it, I never did :)

    Extremely good artists, with many years of epxerience achieve wonders, so, is capable, is a fact. And for free ;) . http://www.blender.org/features-gallery/gallery/images/
     
  9. Luis

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    Normally, when it comes to modelling, i'm using Wings3d.
    Two weeks ago, I played around with blender a little bit. I really liked it, but I couldn't find any "virlual mirror" function, which is necessary for me, when it comes to subdivision or low-poly modelling. But maybe I just didn't find it and it is there. :rolleyes:
     
  10. gamerdude

    gamerdude New Member

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    I've only modelled in 3d with Google Sketchup. It's very easy an intuitive to use. The learning curve is wonderful.

    However, I'm not sure if it's useful for making models for 3d games. Polygon counts seem important. I've never coded a 3d game before, so I'm unsure of the qualifications.

    So the question is, is sketchup a good tool for 3d games modelling? It can export to other 3d formats if needed.

    If not, are there any other 3d modelling tools that are easy to learn and are also great for making models for games?
     
  11. Sysiphus

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    @luis
    yes, you have it. It's "Mirror" modifier. You need to go to Edit buttons (F9 or click the button) and there is a modifiers area. Be sure to put the verts in the middle of the grid in X axe(if doing in X).This is easy done if you move the verts with ctrl key pressed: that makes go snapping to grid cells.You can move anything click dragging the needed manipulator arrow, or hitting key G.(I often do a fast gx to move on x, or gxx to move on x local axe). (there are more ways) Once you apply the modifier, it's not mirroring any more, you can then apply diferent changes on each side if wish.

    If want to go back to mirroring, you could have a frontal view (num pad key 1. Have num lock light on) , select the half with a quad selection (B key. A key toggle select all or nothing.After hitting B, middle mouse button drag will deselect the quad you drag.) of one side,delete.Apply again mirror modifier.

    This said by someone who rarely models in Blender (I do it in Wings). if you're like me a Wing modeler, remember you can have in preferences "trackball" in type of rotation, "around selected" pressed, with emulate 3 button mouse not pressed, 'use middle button for rotate', you can have 'select with left button', or at least just activate it during a session with lots of fast tweak-like modeling.

    @Gamerdude. Imho, Sketchup is hard to beat in fast architecture, specially low pol game levels. Still, I would never model a character with sketchup, but with Wings or Blender. I recently imported some level I made in sketchup, into Blender, with an user made importer. It worked great if not saving as ketchup format 4 in that software. Once in Blender you may need more or less work depending on how you exported out of sketchup. In blender then you can do fini detail, materials, lighting, etc, and export to your game format or render.

    So yup, as a complete solution (sketchup is like wings: an specialiced task tool) for games, no way, in my personal opinion. Blender, and for modeling, you can choose among many, I allways model with Wings, but all modeled meshes end in Blender, in personal projects, or nearly all. Sketchup, For anything similar to a building or game level, I think it rocks. But this is quite an opinion. You can do characters if you want with Sketchup. Anything that pushes vertices .

    edit: for the nick...have you made art for an space game very recently ? just curiosity. ;)
    BTW, 3d games are being done for casual market. The polygon count must be extremely low, and you need to trash many card -dependant features. Even some of many years of age. Wether if is 'better' to do 2d, that I cannot answer. You'd better be very experienced to do and sell a 3d real time game, imho. On the other side, several programmers friends of mine say they have some stuff easier in 3d... Am just an artist.
     
    #11 Sysiphus, Dec 27, 2007
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2007
  12. gamerdude

    gamerdude New Member

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    I don't plan on doing any character modelling (if I had to, I think I would outsource it). I was thinking more on individual objects (guns, ships, etc) and parts of levels.

    Thanks for the info.
     
  13. Sysiphus

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    then, for low pol, of course you can. It has been done. With free version at least, I didn't see many in depth modelling tools as I see in Blender or wings. But is only an opinion.
     
  14. Twitchfactor

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    I use Sketchup for a lot of things, but up until recently it was only for documentation or rough collision geometry layouts. Now, I've actually used it for game assets in a commercial/indie game.

    When not using Sketchup, I've taken up XSI (Softimage), 'cause I like simple/robust modelers and Max is still too cryptic & messy, even after the whole Alias/Autodesk merger.

    As with any 3D game, poly count is important to keep track of, unless you're doing it for the 360 or PS3 and even then, no need to be wasteful. And on *any* platform, texture usage is more important than poly count. On every machine I've worked in 3D on (Xbox, 360, PS2, PS3, PSX, N64), context-switches were the killer. Maybe they're not as important on PC/Mac cards, but I doubt it.
     
  15. gamerdude

    gamerdude New Member

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    Ha! When I model in Sketchup, I just make a BMP and stick it on the sides. I haven't learned hardly anything about textures. If the time comes for me to get into 3d game development, I'll have a lot to do! :D
     
  16. LetterRip

    LetterRip New Member

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    Just FYI,

    I forwarded the suggestions to the game team,

    sorry for my lack of response. Have been busier over the holidays than I expected.

    I started a post that will answer some of the questions and such raised, but don't have time to finish it right now.

    LetterRip
     

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