Building an XNA Game Studio XBox360 Indie Game.

[page 0073] ~ My Morpheus :

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I’ve been out of action for a bit.  So to get myself back online and into the groove, I thought about what I have been previously up to by just trying to remember what I was up to, no look ups, no rereading my blog or perusing my old files, just remembering.  And to keep it simple (stupid), KISS, my basic thought was that I have a terrain, that is it.  I got a biped character to move around on the terrain I built, with the game starting somewhere with the winning scenario being to find a way to the storyline goal.  Find the goal and you win the game, ta-da, simple, done.  With this in mind I went back to my website home page and clicked on some of my links of the auxiliary sites I had just recently built which have helped give me more definition of what my direction is as an Indie Game builder and what this video game building means to me.


While surfing the net I came across a video of something that used and is called MakeHuman.  Then, going to that site, I found something that would take me from what I was trying to accomplish just before I left off earlier this summer, to ideas of new accomplishments that send me onto the next steps of my game building venue.  Long Pipeline seems to be how I will be utilizing the outputs from this .org application.  This applications’ interface uses sliders to configure biped characters, created in MakeHuman, to be used in a pipeline process where the exported .obj and .fbx, in my pipeline instance, files are imported into other applications like ZBrush, Substance Painter and Maya LT to finally end up in the game engine Unity.  The full process is still more than a little up in the air right now, but all of the pipeline apps are in place, so it’s just a matter of tweaking every plausible configuration to find the best practice avenue of build construction.  Then, per usual, after going through that time and again, I’ll start to write down some sort of coherent notes that are finally consolidated into a list of procedures and in the end are put into my HTML Help exe, which is the in-house HOW TO: Wizard for the process that I follow to build consistency across my game asset library.

But then in so doing, I began to remember other things that I had forgotten about but are pertinent to what I was and am doing, but forgotten as to its importance or had pushed off to where they had yet gotten around to the “doing”.  So not having performed any action nor had the opportunity to make a path towards such action, but in looking about the web, I found a piece of the puzzle that actually was built to fit into that very puzzle to make the connection more relevant and apparent.  The initial piece of the puzzle that I had been struggling with, on and off, was Toon Boom Storyboard Pro, a piece of software built to aid in the consolidation of the practice in drawing out plots and plotlines, mostly as a graphical documentation outline.  Then after some digging I found one and then another complimentary program.  The first being Final Draft, a story-writing aid that promotes a technically valid and  acceptable format used by the story telling industry.  The second is Power Structure, another program that is closely aligned to Final Draft but digs deeper into the actual power structure of the characters in the story.

The main impetus for this is that I have a game that consists of a terrain, and now, a character that is animated which is capable of moving about that terrain to some generic and simplified goal.  Now, unless every other character in this game, of which there are none so far, is being run by another or other person(s) wielding a game controller, there is going to be a need for some type of AI within the game.  And this is where the persona of the story comes into play.

Hero’s are the driving modus that promote the conveyance of change in a story.  So these programs, MakeHuman, Power Structure, Final Draft and Storyboard Pro make up my pipeline for what I will be using to find this illusive AI in my game to become an interactive story.  But the main allure of this pipeline setup is that of the exported files.

Power Structure can be directly imported into Final Draft and fill that programs interface structures, then once validated, the export file from Final Draft can be directly imported into Storyboard Pro to fill that programs interfaces.  So it starts out in Power Structure where the characters persona are more meticulously fleshed-out within a story, as this is more of a hierarchical data-base consolidation application that promotes the thickness of the plot in concern to the characters attributes.  From there, the export is imported to Final Draft were that program has a more stringent syntax to align it with the industry standards of screenwriting, and being so, the story itself is more easily expanded as the characters have already been de-amorphous-ized, i.e. personified.  Final Draft is also a more specialized type of word processor, something akin to MS-Word, where the structure and layout of the types of entries are made more clear by the use and ease of consistent formatting.  This Final Draft story file is then imported to Storyboard Pro where the visualizations can be drawn out from the character/story files that were built up and sent in from the previous two applications.  In Storyboard Pro, the outline of the story and characters therein are set in a framework that consists of an initial “Scene” which is made up of a “Panel” where a series of panels are considered a “Sequence”.  When drawing out the story, a panel is the container and in that container are “Layers” of bitmap, vector and 3D objects.  These layers are something like that in Adobe Photoshop or Autodesk SketchBook.  In fact PSD files, along with their layers can be imported into Storyboard Pro.  These layers of drawings in each panel become parts of many panels to form sequences of scenes that conform to the story where characters are taken from the imported Screenplay captions and are viewed in whole as an “Act”.  I will leave this now, as is, for the time being.

This then is the start of my AI for my game building venture, and so, takes me back to MakeHuman.  This MakeHuman program builds 3D meshes that take the shape of bipedal male and female humans.  These humans are of any shape, size, age, race, etc. that make up a majority of the humanity seen on this earth today.  This pipeline builds human forms, in MakeHuman, which also has the capacity to set a skeletal animation structure inside, one type of which conforms to a setup for Maya LT.  Once configured in MakeHuman, the .fbx file is opened in Maya LT and can be plugged into their HumanIK, (Inverse Kinetics), validation editor.  Here, the bones are assigned to a generic template that affords to the game designer a consistent layout so that animations, such as walk sequences, running, jumping, evading or falling dead can be distributed among other characters, bipeds, therein making the MakeHuman form and the Maya LT HumanIK animation sequences transposable between all other created characters.  This process can be easily adapted to the many other characters in the game, giving each their own persona.  A Control Rig is also a large part of the animation process, but I am still researching the possibility of incorporating my own, user-designed control rig into this validation process.  This is the start of the AI I need for my game production model.  Seeing this, of course, I not only need characters but also a story, in whole, and those of many small stories for the “environmental” characters to participate in and with to expand the ambiance within the game, and that only comes from recollections of ideas of games I have enjoyed playing in the past.

It sounds like I’m back into the swing of things.


January 31, 2015 Posted by | 2015 [0073] to [0???], The Process | , , , | Leave a comment