MyI@FarNiche

Building an XNA Game Studio XBox360 Indie Game.

[page 0016] ~ Autodesk Softimage and digital-tutors:

All-Hail!

The king ain’t dead.  Some secret atlas rocket mission with a space plane cargo (USAF X-37B) space plane launched to do something, yea, we’ve still got vigilance.  And back in October the not so secret SpaceX Dragon has started its active apprenticeship, no pun intended.  Now, back to our scheduled program, another non-pun intended.

Class Reprise.

An old game, back when I thought I was going to build milestone solutions, has surfaced.  Its name is CameraViewports and it doesn’t quite match up with what was built in HUD On.  It seems that its aim was to facilitate the addition of multiple viewports into games which I am planning to build.  It has two major classes, a model, about two hundred lines of code and a camera, about six hundred lines, which define the assets in those classes.  They are looking very generic but are well formed in respects to the declaration and method structures, simple with concisely defined  summaries and comments.  It seems here, that the idea ‘was’ to build a clean milestone solution.  Eh, good for me.  But . . .

The Actual Issue is.

For the last month, because of a thirty-day trial offering, I’ve been working through the latest version of Autodesk Softimage, version 2013.  Also, I thought it would be helpful to get a thirty-day subscription to digital-tutors.  This combination has proven very intriguing and insightful, and has turned out to be something like doing math homework when it is the only class that is scheduled on the dance card.  The path I followed was that of biped character rigging and enveloping with an overview of animation in Softimage and a gleaning over how a dinosaur and a dragon are modeled in ZBrush.  Having worked in Softimage MOD Tool 7.5, a free for non-commercial use predecessor package of the 2013 model, I found that the similarity has been retained, but that the improvements made to the 2013 version are very substantial, from a users point of view.

It’s not GoZ, yes it is.

Sculptris, sounds like it’s promoted as that of a free offering likened to that of Mod Tool, but with different restrictions of usage.  It has a feature called “GoZ”, pronounced Go-zee, that allows the transfer of mesh assets back and forth from Sculptris to ZBrush.  Also, I found this out too late to test it out, GoZ has an add-on for Softimage, which I was unable to test out, just didn’t see it, I wasn’t thinking, too busy to realize it, just missed it, darn, there’s always next year, guess I’ll have to read about it, whatever.

“No Reason To Cry” – Eric Clapton.

Not to dwell on and on, there is an addition in v.2013 that aligns the model mesh with cardinal and intercardinal directions, in respect to a cube, of course, that snap the mesh to an orthographic Front, Back, Top, Bottom, Left, Right, then the edges and corners view of the the mesh because of the cubes snap-to alignment.  This simplifies things like visually assuring that bones realign and have fallen back into their previous placement after a quick IK/FK quality assurance test and therefore a couple of undo’s.  Yes, loth to dwell, but wisdom comes from the remembering.

The Meat and Bones.

So, using Softimage 2013 while scrying the possibilities from the digital-tutors site, I concluded that creating animated mesh actors for video games seems like a real possibility.  First, a mesh is selected or created in ZBrush.  From there, back in Softimage, the bones are set to lie within that imported mesh character, likened to the bones of a skeleton within the skin of any flesh and blood biped actor.  Then there are primary and secondary controls that are used to manipulate those bones.  FK ( forward kinetics ) and IK ( inverse kinetics ) chains are ordered and formulated so Parenting and Constraints of the bones can be added to insure proper motion when the bones are manipulated.  The bone structure is then Enveloped.  This surrounds the bones with the mesh using weights on the vertices of the mesh to hold their proximity about the bone, thereby affording deformations to the mesh as the mesh follows the bone chains when manipulated.  Finally, Keys are used to set the mesh and bones model in place on a timeline.  These produce posable animation sequences of the character, actor, hero, and the timeline animations are used to produce clips that are further manipulated within the Animation Mixer.  Then, supposedly, an FBX file can be exported where it its then imported into the game solution via the C# XNA Content Pipeline.  From there, as a model asset, the camera asset is able to reproduce the actor in the game environment, hopefully with clip animation, inside a Windows and Xbox360 solution, as in my game in my namespace.  Easy Pease, whatever that means.

“The Road Goes Ever On”, Bilbo Baggins.

The only solace I can fathom, at this point, is that the Skinned Model Extensions Tutorial from the APP HUB education catalog loads and is playable on the Xbox 360 console.  So something of this nature is possible to create, and the initial path for doing so has been prepared.  Hmmm, I never got the chance to . . . No glomming!  So anyway, in the Skinned Model Extensions Tutorial there is an .fbx file named dude.  And the dude has an animation clip that represents a walk cycle that will run in Mod Tool, actually walks, the walk runs, in the timeline,  in Mod Tool, on the screen, yep.  That FBX file is a Crosswalk Import so I may need to build any and all animatable assets that I would like to be animated in my games as an fbx file, just to follow suit and produce the same effect.

And so, like my old Master Carpenter would tell me as his Apprentice, “It doesn’t get done by just lookin’ at it.”  So this is what’s going to happen.  Ta-da!

Until I’m sidetracked again, in about a month.

G’day.

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December 12, 2012 - Posted by | 2012 [0006] to [0018], The Process

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