MyI@FarNiche

Building an XNA Game Studio XBox360 Indie Game.

[page 0080] ~ Terrain Rebuild:

Updates: –  Firefox 40.0.3 to 41.0.1, UEStudio 15.10.0.8 to 15.30.0.14, MayaLT 2016, Windows Shutdown Updates.
DownLoads: –  .

Well, …
It seems to me that I have missed my October blog post.  And why might that be?

 I’ve been working on a Basic Environment Template (BET) and was overwrought with iterations, deletions, prefabs … the list goes on, so a bunch of superfluous reiterations that were more “mind fuzz” than scribable discernment.  So this BET(Basic Environment Template) has become what I would like to set down at the onset of nearly every build.  As I start another game solution I incorporate other Unity Asset Store assets into the current game build and have found that there is a propensity for things to break, like shaders and scripts, or for other things to not work quite right.  So again, why might that be?

 I have found over the years that people do what they do because they are not me.  If they were me, I would come to find that things have moved along at a pace to where I wouldn’t be where I am right now, more than likely, even less so but no further.  But, as that others have been building many things to work as they would have them, they now, at least, are built in a way that facilitates their own ease of use, connectivity and ease of understanding.  So what I’m getting at here is, while I try to not reinvent the wheel, and so use others assets to incorporate their way of proceeding into my game build, I find that they have learned things differently.  Each contributor has found that their own way of ascertaining workability in some aspect of game building has actually facilitated a slightly different workflow.  This does not necessarily introduce errors or erroneous ends, but does open up another aspect of game building that has to do with “dialing in” assorted assets so that they congeal within my game.  Surface normals may be flipped, the X,Y,Z, Up or Forward vectors may not align, the position, rotation or scale might be off somehow, the Camera might be expecting a specific culling type or there may be some other tweak that must be addressed.  And that’s just for starters.  So I felt that in building a Basic Environment Template first, if everything else is going to fall into place, simplistically later on, I should then have a stable base to place all these newly incorporated assets.  And that is where the BET (Basic Environment Template) comes in.

 Way back when, life was simple, the ground was down and the sky was up.  But now there are angles and slopes seen as hills and valleys, rivers and lakes.  There is the sky that changes from sunny to cloudy, dry to rain, day to night where lightning flashes and rain splashes.  Further on, there is now an underwater where it gets more murky, the line of sight is shortened, the sounds are muffled and although not yet implemented, an Avatar will need to swim, above and below water.  And in that environment, not breath in water lest one die.  So there is now a whole slew of intricacies that need to be dealt with before any real game play can be set into action.  Of course the Avatar must be built along with the environment, being able to run around the terrain in conjunction with the environment.  There is also a perpetual test with each run of the build to watch how movement around the environment is evaluated in live game play.  Doing so affords an increased immersion into what game experience is trying to be achieved.  And so I’m rebuilding my Map, my Terrain, my Environment.  This should give me a place to begin working on my next great adventure, Avatar Animation.

Until then,
G’day.

November 30, 2015 Posted by | 2015 [0073] to [0???], The Process | Leave a comment

[page 0079] ~ Intro-Trailer :

Updates: – Autodesk® Application Manager v5.0.142.0, uScript v1.02964 to 1.0.2969, Windows Shutdown Updates .
DownLoads: – Substance Designer 5.2.1, Final Draft 9.0.6 B179, .

Well, this isn’t going to be as easy as Plug N’ Play.  Just like back in residential carpentry, the idea is to build the old into the new.  The products from the Unity Asset Store are going to be a lesson in understanding of how all these differing parts work and play well with each other.  As I build my game using these differing assets, I have found that there are many more ways to do things.  Each as numerously varied ways to get those things accomplished while utilizing the many types of unit “systems” that bring specific tasks to fruition.

Right now, my main concern is to find cameras that perform in certain ways to provide the best coverage while being used as the “eyes” and perspective of my Avatar, as a player.  The camera is connected to my character through different means and is the vehicle that affords a new vantage point within the game.  As a builder, the options I have seen thus far can be summed up as three types.  The first is viewing the game from a third person perspective.  With my Avatar seen in its surroundings, at ground level, in an adventure style camera type, the game play moves along with the camera following the main character.  The second is from a detached overhead point of view, being a strategy game type camera.  The third is of a first person camera where I don’t see my own body in the game world, only what is in front of me, or possibly my hands holding a tool, manipulating a switch or wielding a weapon.  These are the three aspects that I am most concerned with now during this point in my game building process.  Only until recently have I found that a first person camera does very well for “dramatic” game play, but in general, I prefer the other two types, the third person follow and then the over the head strategy, as the mainstay camera types in my games.

Those are the camera points of view formats I’m trying to blend and incorporate, for now, but another camera type has been recently brought into play.  That is, the 2D UI camera used for showing the menu systems and the storyline text which guide the conversations and direction of the game.  There are also other ancillary cameras that have come up as more graphics are added to the game like health bars, inventory systems, quest markers and waypoints.

Too much is going on, code wise, right now to write further.

One last note:
I have finally started up my main game direction and have posted the Intro-Trailer of it on my Steam Profile,
FarNiché – “The Game” [000]

Until then,
G’day.

September 30, 2015 Posted by | 2015 [0073] to [0???], The Process | Leave a comment

[page 0078] ~ A New Video Series :

Updates: – Windows ShutDown Updates, Apex Path 2.2.1,  Inventory Pro 2.1.4, Inventory Pro 2.1.5 .
DownLoads: – NVidia GeForce driver from 352.86 to 353.06, Unity5v.0.2f1, Unity5v.1.1f1 .

What comes next:

Here it is, the first video of my next series, “PLAYTEST“.  This new playlist series will be a playtest run-through of my latest game build.  Here, I will self-critique my work to see how it plays in concern to what I have newly implemented.  The idea is to try and figure out what works well and what needs improvement.  The format for “PLAYTEST” is, waiting a while to forget what I have built, then, I play through the game a couple of times, I test those points and pick up ideas of what could come next.  Finally I make a video capture of the game, while playing.  I then talk myself through the captured video, a couple of times, to settle on, in words, what I was working on as I played the relevant implementations.  This semi-freeform process helps me realize, as I continue to build and expand, the content, context and concepts, in, of and about this ever evolving game.  So what this new playlist series is, is of what I have accomplished thus far, a milestone.  From there I realize a more clear understanding of what needs to be revisited, what is good enough for now and what new aspects of the game can now be incorporated into the build.

Holy Cripes!  Here we go again.  Yes, I was a carpenter.  So what.  What’s my point.  Well, if you’re going to build a house you need some tools, (unless you’re planning on building your house with just a pencil and a scissors).  So let’s talk saws.  Ok, what kind?  Circle saws, sawzalls, reciprocating saws, coping saws, hacksaws, miter saws, the list goes on.  Each saw does something different with differing amounts of finesse.  If you just want to rough cut some studs to length to build a wall you could use a standard handsaw or a circle saw if you’ve got some juice, (electricity).  Let’s say you want to cut some studs out of wall to put in a doorway or maybe a window, (don’t forget that loadbearing walls need to be reinforced when taking out the studs that support the upper floors weight, if that can be cut out at all, but partition walls are just fluffery to enclose otherwise open spaces), so a sawzall will do, zip-zip, done.  Then lets say it’s winter out and the “outside” season for building is coming to a close, so instead of “not working” you break out the coping saw or scroll saw to make some furniture or a miter saw to make some cabinets.  OR, if you think that you would like to work “across trades” you might help out a plumber with a hack saw as he works on some pipes in the bathroom or kitchen, inside winter work, mmm warm.  And don’t forget that to hang a toilet to a wall, it doesn’t just hang from the drywall, there are wood supports cut to fit in between the studs so there is some actual wood to screw/pound/fasten that toilet tank onto.  So yeah, find your simple screwdriver, onward, and build that house!

So what’s the point of this reflection?  Well, it’s off to see the Wizard the Wonderful Wizard of … Actually now its off to a different tool store, the Unity Asset Store, a wonderful place of wizardry.  Why?  I’ve done my time trying to build with the XNA Game Studio using only C# to put together video games.  It works, but its very wispy, too many references to classes that aren’t much more than an inheritance stub to a yet to be created, at runtime, connection needed to further something along that should be understood as to where to find what is needed next to make something else happen in some other class, as it is a dependency for, … ,whew!  So it’s do-able but too wispy or ethereal for this carpenter that is used to grabbing a circle saw and ripping a 4×8 sheet of plywood to fit in the valley of a dormer on the roof of a second story, well third story because the roof is above the second story, house.  We won’t get into talking about being buried in pea gravel outside in a ditch down by the drain tiles while water proofing a basement, (maybe another day that scary story will fit into some other part of building a video game, maybe a story arc or quest).

But this is to become the justification for, and a comparison of, what I had previously used as my game engine, the Microsoft C# XNA Game Studio to the Unity 5 Personal Edition game engine.  In actuality they are able to do nearly the same thing, but with the XNA Game Studio, where everything or nearly everything, except for the *.fbx soft and rigid body things like characters and buildings that are put together using code in C# classes are all done in code.  So it’s “All code, all the time.”  Actually it was a great place to start because it sets a game creator right into the deep water.  And that is why I am going to stick with Unity 5, and the Asset Store, not quite the kiddy pool, but more visual for continuity’s sake.  In going the XNA route first, it was all about learning how code makes games work, what makes up the constituent whole, what are the complimentary parts, and the most wonderful part is that it wasn’t C++ and Direct X, (I really can’t say “been there, done that”, but I had dabbled in that “way”). All in all, C# using XNA did become a very nice departure and landing pad from scholastic C++.  But as for getting my “feet wet”, moving away from computer science school assignments to the Microsoft XNA Game Studio, well, it was still a little like walking the plank, exit stage left, here is your off-ramp, being the side of a pirate ship, SPLASH and off you go!  So the move from school into my glorified hobby of video game creation became, best of luck, send a postcard, thanks for flying Edu-University airlines, your departure time is NOW!  And from there came the first stop, the first leg of the trip, this excellent venture into the entrepreneurial deep water of game development.

And that puts me where I am now, working with the Unity 5 Game Engine.  It still is comparable to using XNA , kinda, because the Game Studio is a Game Engine.  It’s an API that consolidates assets and then compiles those assets into one useable blob of “Enter here, play, then maybe save something, but then always, exit”, done, with a feeling of immersive “That was fun!”, hopefully, if it was a good game for the genre that you like to play.  But now, using Unity 5, it’s still only offers the base underpinnings of what is needed to construct a video game, it is still “only” a main hub that reinforces the validity of the given game schema, it is an environment that encloses the useable class implementations of the base libraries of generic programming definitions.  Unity 5 may bubble up from time to time to provide for overloaded classes and game specific intrinsic types like Vector3’s and Quaternion’s with methods for enhancing their usability like normalize and so forth, but Unity 5 isn’t all of what can make for building a full game, easily.  Unity 5 is more like a stove, kettle, Dutch oven, pots and pans, knives, forks, spoons and strainers, with a built-in compiler to cook it all up.  It’s a kitchen for a chef with a plan.  At best, one could say that it is all that plus a really nice spice rack, but the meat and potatoes are missing, the napkins and refined dinnerware, lead crystal wine glasses, candlesticks, invitations and seating placards are still missing.  And that is where the Asset Store comes into play.

Yes, it’s back to the ol’ hardware store to pick up my new “Tools of the Trade” and there are a lot of choices, as always.  So I need a shopping list.  But first I’ll need to think about what I’ll be doing.  Thus far, I’ve put myself into the 3D Third Person category of gaming genre.  But even with that narrowed concept, I will have to divide what I’ll need to bridge the missing gaps in Unity 5.  My favorite games have been Age of Empires and Cesar III which are sprite based isotropic strategy games.  Then there came the Knights of the Old Republic, Tomb Raider and Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition (only the first half, the second half story seemed to be unfinished with no, or less, environmental “roughness”, too much clean shiny), so anyways those games were linear story Third Person 3D games.  Another offshoot between AoE & C-III is that of Total War and Skyrim : The Elder Scrolls V, (of which I had started a video playlist series also), Skyrim Discovered ~ The Movie.  These last two are a pick and choose your destiny from a large map using a strategy/storyline/quest arcs freeform kind of game genre.  Then there is Banished, on Steam, which is something of a simulation/survival/strategy game, a very cool game.  And with that in mind, of those games that I have found intriguing, it’s off to the store, the Unity Asset Store.  Hmm, let me see, potatoes, carrots, onions, beef and chicken stock, some salad, rice and pasta fixin’s, then for the main course, beef, pork, chicken, fish, then some sweets for dessert and of course some delectable beverages of choice for each course.  Then to set the table, but first I’ll need to get those from the store and into the kitchen to use these new potato peelers, cheese graters, blenders, mixers, slicers and dicers to whip, puree, grind and frappé.  Then there’s the bread, gotta’ raise some of that, eventually.  Sounds like a plan with a hefty amount of preparation, cooking and the like.  So for now, I’ll need to let these ideas marinate, stew and simmer in their own juices.  Carpenter, Chef, Game-Dev, it’s not all the same but they’re similar, ya’ still need the right tools to get the job done right.

Until next month …

G’day.

July 7, 2015 Posted by | 2015 [0073] to [0???], The Process | , , | Leave a comment

[page 0077] ~ Reading The Tea Leaves :

Updates: – Substance Designer 5.0.3, Substance Painter 1.3.4, NVIDIA Driver v352.86, FireFox 38.0.1 .
DownLoads: – Unity5 v.0.1f1,  Unity5 v.0.2f1.

So there was this sale on Unity Assets and instead of reinventing the wheel, I gave some thought about where this game creation adventure would best lead me next.

BIG Environment Pack and BIG Environment Pack Vol.3 seemed to offer the most scenery for my nearly barren maps created thus far.  After installation, both are working well and have added a lot of content and context to the different biomes that I had set out to express.  Initially, I used stratification layers mapped to my terrain height map using a texture/diffuse/albedo color gradient map.  Now, on those layers, I can add from the two packs which include: Skyboxes, Grasses, Plants, Flowers, Bushes, Trees, Rocks & Stones, Underbrush, Out Buildings, and Misc Props to name a few.  This should be more than enough to flesh-out the places that my RPG characters will be running about, in and through.

And … , that brought up another thought, and another search, and another sale item that caught my eye.  Apex Path was also seen soon afterwards on sale, and after looking around at other AI offerings, this also seemed to be the best and most robust package for my needs.  This content is used to build intelligent paths for moving objects in the game, usually bipedal characters.  I’m sure I could configure the, as yet to be created, animals that will roam through the Flora and Fauna to add to the Biodiversity I’m seeking to grow.  But what I find intriguing is that the creator also built many Apex Path Video Tutorials that explain each function with a use case.  The written documentation that explains the script elements comes in a .chm HTML Help and PDF file format also.  The code is well formatted, commented and easily understandable, from a prior C++ students point of view.

Then, while watching some of the videos, it came to my attention that the creator of Apex Path, while scripting, was using something that looked like Visual Studio Community 2013.  So that turned into another search and find mission because I had become accustomed to using VS Express 2010 to build XNA games and am familiar with the interface.  I have also realized that the MonoDevelop IDE, installed with Unity, for writing scripts perpetually uses an exceedingly annoying brace placement to enclose its function body.  One is at the end of the function definition in the first line.  The other at the end of the empty function body on the second line.  Most preferably, line zero is the function definition with a single opening brace on line one, then lines x to y are the nested/indented body logic ending with an outdented brace, by itself, as the last line.  But every time a new code page is created in MonoDevelop I need to move the first brace back under the function definition so the XML region format, the collapsible sidebar grouping lines, align to each other and match as an enclosing set of paired braces.  It is still aggravating just talking about remembering it.

So once again I installed VS Community 2013, and also found Visual Studio 2013 Tools for Unity (download), and Visual Studio Tools for Unity (documentation), yet to be installed.  This article Microsoft partners with Unity to bring full Visual Studio integration was what set me off in this search, and I’m glad it did.

Well, bang goes my XBox LIVE Indie Games Role Playing Game salvage idea.  Once again Microsoft has proven industrial bureaucracy is the “Middle Man” whose fingers are always in the proverbial pie where nothing is sacrosanct about sustainability and only brings a dreadful demise, a dead end to a lineage, a pruning shears to another branch.  Just like Visual Studio 6.0 w/ service pack 3, Unsupported and then Non-supported with the Y2K troubles, and so the start of the dot NET Framework.  And again like Windows XP with the cutoff date of, “Please use before but don’t use beyond April 2014”, done, “These are not the drones you are looking for, move along : ‘Move Along’.”  So anyway, “Error initializing Games for Windows – LIVE.” in “base.Initialize();” is what happens at the beginning, the start of the debug run, a dead halt.  Apparently the compiler needs to call that function, somehow, lest catastrophic failure of said build process ensues, and it does, so it doesn’t, oh joy.  In layman’s terms, it will neither build nor compile and subsequently it will not run the game, “NONE shall pass!”  Soooo … seeing all that is left are code pages from the husk of an ungrowing kernel of programmed wheat solution, the (RolePlayingGame), I will very briefly glean through the last remnants of what was thought to be of some help, my supposed next step in recreating an RPG.  This old technology may still have a trickle of use yet but my venture in recollection seems to have quickly turned into a Bob Hope song, “Thanks for the memories” and a sigh.  Next idea?

As for my desired RPG venture, it looks like I will be doing some more research about another add-on, Dialogue System for Unity.  This asset adds the capacity to have a written storyline incorporated into the game.  Heroes and NPC’s are given a way to converse with one another so the story, beyond the hack and slash, can solidify with character buildup and story arcs where recollection of an Avatars previous interactions can sway the storyline.  This guides the players through story specific waypoints set throughout the game as quests.  A menu system that uses the new Unity 5 canvas model drives the Graphical User Interface which affords for the building of selectable dialog messages within the game.  So for a Role Playing Game this will also become another, “Don’t reinvent this wheel either” kind of investment.  I think this might be the case for many of a few more things to come, in the future.

Then, the lynchpin of the above Dialogue System, the selection logic that drives the next decisions, the next conversations to be had, is, or seems to be, a companion application to the afore mentioned add-on.  And as of now, it may or may not probably not, but at some point in time may also be available through the Unity Asset Store, but at this point in time is not , called Chat Mapper.  Chat Mapper uses the Lua language to build conditional scripts that direct the conversation through triggered choices through the given menu options built with Dialogue System.  So one is the faceplate on the screen and the other is the conversal automation, the part that configures what is said next.  But these last two will be seen by me some time off.  I need a Hack & Slash before the niceties of civil discourse can evolve.

In other news, the BETA program is over and the full release of FL Studio 12 is finally out!  Maya LT 2016 is also out and the upgrade has many changes, so more research.

Once again, that is all.

G’day.

June 5, 2015 Posted by | 2015 [0073] to [0???], The Process | Leave a comment

[page 0076] ~ All New Again Mostly :

Updates: –  .
DownLoads: – TopoGun 2.0, MayaLT 2016, UltraEdit v22 , UltraCompare v15.1, UEStudio v15.1.0.8 .

Now that I’m getting comfortable with my new computer rig, I’ll need to come up with a long playing game idea to consolidate all of my GameDev skills.  I think I have found a source to build off of from my old Microsoft XNA Game Studio days.  There is a game from the XBOX LIVE Indie Games education catalog that I had previously played around with called “Role-Playing Game“.  It is an Xbox 360 and Windows RPG Starter Kit, a full game, all the code and art assets, music, dialogue, menu creation for game state management, save/load functions and methods, character upgrades with up to five other NPC party members to help out in the adventure, so everything needed to understand what makes up a simple RPG.

That’s the starting idea, now how to get there.  XNA Game Studio is more of a code page validity and compiler API, Application Programming Interface.  So it’s not really a game engine, it’s a “you name it and so you define it”, solution builder geared towards game creation with C#.  Seeing that I’m now using Unity 5 to consolidate my game assets, I’ll need to figure out how they built it there using only C# code and just use huge leaps of faith to best guess my translations back to here in Unity.

This month has been somewhat thick with new stuff, so I’ve just been going over what is pertinent in Digital Tutors and Safari Online Books.  Also, while trying to keep up with my GameDev Series, I got into the groove and got a couple weeks ahead of myself.  That should open up more time to dig into this Role-Playing Game transfer from XNA to Unity.

Besides that, I’ve noticed that this must be the time of year that the software “upgrades” are coming out.  That’s not a bad thing, it just means that I’ll be spending a little more time installing new software and learning what’s new, on top of everything else.  That is all.

G’day.

April 30, 2015 Posted by | 2015 [0073] to [0???], The Process | Leave a comment

[page 0075] ~ Up to speed Back on track :

Updates: –  FireFox 36.0.1. , FireFox 36.0.4
DownLoads: – ZBrush 4R7, In-line FL Studio BETA3, Allegorithmic Bitmap2Material v.3 & Substance Designer 5.0.1 & Painter 1.3.2,  Unity v.5.

I almost had a blog post for this WordPress Series earlier this month, but it turned into a Gamasutra Blog instead, Life as an Indie Game Developer.  It is a synopsis of what I’ve gone through for the past couple of months after my old computer rig failed.  I learned a lot, so any Indie Game Builder might learn a thing or two from that blog post.

But now that I’m mostly back in action, I have been trying to figure out how to use my time effectively while pressing forward in my game building expedition with One Game A Month.  A major change with this new rig came from my acceptance of an offer from Unity where I am now using Unity 5 as my preferred game engine.  Unity 5 is now free, as the Unity Personal Edition, so this is where I will be consolidating my time, effort and game assets.  With the Unity 5 game engine I will be perpetuating my own form of continued education in the field of computer science through game building.  Previously, I had been working through a Computer Major and Business Minor in which I threw my extra time and effort, when I could, at the University.  Now, I’m on my own, still no degree, with only the actual education that I have taken away.  But to move forward with these new tools, technology and knowledge recently acquired as an Indie Game Developer, I must also build my own curriculum and chart my own progress.  The entrepreneurial drive to continue building is what keeps me going.  But to keep from spinning my wheels I need a plan, and this is where my website comes into play.

I have kept my FarNiche website as simple as possible.  It has three main places of focus, Home, Research and About.  The Index page is the Home page.  This is where I start off to begin going somewhere.  The Home page holds most of my links to the ancillary accounts I use.  The connected services are found via links to the internet.  These links are representative as the icons of the providers.  When I click on an icon I’m whisked off to where my participation is within their service.  Next, the Research section of my site is slightly different.  Research is split into two major divides.  The first half consists of a main page with a list of the programs, the tools that I use.  The second half is formatted in the same way but is a collection of knowledge based concerns.  This second Production Pipeline section holds links to what I need to know and become familiar with to use the tools from the first half.  The last section, the About page, is the final section of the three main divides.  This is mostly about me, what I like, where I come from, how I got here, what I’ve been up to.  It is my memento box, for the most part and holds my mission statement of what makes me, me.

A while back, when I first started my FarNiche website it was mainly derived by my previous works which became the focus used to center my About page.  I tried to figure out what my mission statement should be from what my ideas of game building were, and from there the About section solidified.  Then, because I had previously built games for the PC and XBox360 using C# and the XNA Game Studio, the direction of the Research page was formed around that platform.  But shortly after I began building my Research section to showcase my XNA game building venture, I started in with my participation with One Game A Month.  But I had no realistic way of getting any C# XNA XBox/PC game submitted to One Game A Month.  So my initial Research section quickly faded out of sight and out of mind.

Now I have finally gotten around to my Research section again and it also has taken on a new format. It has also taken on its new shape from all of the new and varied provider directions as I branched off from a strictly XBox C# XNA game building format.  Because I signed up with many services to keep in the loop with different activities of other “Indies”, I found other ways in which participants were building games, each geared towards their own way of expressing Game Development.  Everyone there at One Game A Month was building with what suited them best, any platform, any tools, whatever was capable of making and playing a game.  So although I had some work moving along for a while, from my XNA days, once I jumped in with One Game A Month, I found many other possibilities to gamify the computer technology as a game developer.

So I have been putting a lot of time into the Research section of my website and have completely rebuilt it.  It is back and continually evolving where it has become something of a scheduler, bookmarker, thought keeper and wish list of sorts.  It has become more like a menu of searches consolidated under various game development topics.  The Production Pipeline Research section has its focus where concepts find instruction in concern to the tools that are used.  To implement the tools and facilitate their use in the construction of those concepts, the ideas must become objectified and in turn become assets built from the tools where they then make up the game.  And that is what the Research is now all about.

Lately, its been mostly testing out the new rig along with its performance issues to see what it is capable of.  From there comes learning how the different programs’ exported assets fit from one part of the production chain into the next.  Finally the record keeping of all the progress and brainstorming that is done is fitted into this WordPress blog.  Also, now, through a newly created Game Dev Series on my +Farnicheé YouTube Channel I have a Vlog.  This newest creation, my video blog, chronicles an aspect of my most relevant progress as a Video Milestone. That’s it.

G’day.

March 30, 2015 Posted by | 2015 [0073] to [0???] | , | Leave a comment

[page 0074] ~ MakeHuman IK and FL Studio 12 :

Updates: –  .
DownLoads: –  .

Alright.  I’m finally back to my Doctor control rigging and animation.  Now, what I am trying to do is transpose the HumanIK Control Rig and accompanying HIK Constraints harness from the Doctor onto a MakeHuman mesh.  That skeleton needs to be validated in the HumanIK character definition structure template in Maya LT 2015 using their Character Controls.  Then, once this is done I should be able to start building animations for different characters that can be played in Unity.

But all this is not understood yet, but much has been done, FarNiche HowTo GameDev Series CHARACTER CREATION.  It may take some time to get my hand built skeleton chain and control rig reconfigured to align with the prefab skeleton given by MakeHuman.  That MakeHuman character comes along with the biped mesh within its .fbx file.  The biggest problem here is that the model from MakeHuman is given as something closer to an “A” pose while the animation validator in Maya LT uses a strict “T” pose.  There isn’t a huge problem taking their “A” pose and manipulating it to align with the required “T” pose format.  But this needs to be done so the animations can be transferred easily between other human bipedal model mesh characters.  The problem stems from differing source providers when it comes to the Control Rig being used, or designed, or rebuilt in Maya LT.

The Doctor mesh I built in ZBrush with the skeleton, from my June 2014 Game, built from a tutorial on Digital Tutors, Character Rigging for Production.  I used a Maya 2011 schema where a lot of that functionality, for animation purposes, has been incorporated into Maya LT 2015.  So the tutorial is actually compatible with and able to be followed in my version of Maya, the indie version, LT.  This tutorial builts a valid control rig, but, that rig does not match up correctly or exactly with the out-of-the-box MakeHuman asset.  The control rig, from the Doctor, that I have right now is not overly complex, but it is not simple by any means and does give enough feature bending and manipulation.  Any bipedal character from MakeHuman, once harnessed in the Control Rig, will “act” or behave with to then have the capacity to perform with more realistic movements.  One thing that further drives me is that from 2009 to 2012 I built similar control rigs in XSI/SoftImage.  I have some idea of what it takes to build control rigs, but from then until now, I have had no means to build, and save, them.  Incorporating these into builds that do something useful, like character animation outside of the construction application is where the Unity Game Engine comes into play.

So now, the way it looks, after doing a Smooth Bind of the MakeHuman mesh Skin to the Skeleton, I will be continuing work on this, to hopefully, finalize a Universal Control Rig for all of my Character assets built in MakeHuman or from other sources.  It will be a slow and meticulous series of incremental saves, full of research, test and try again before the next save and hopefully improvement in design.

In the mean time, I have finally gotten to the point in my game development and studio construction process where I have found a program to help me in creating music for my games, FL Studio 11.  And a day after I loaded it onto my machine, they came out with FL Studio BETA 12.  So being the good internet citizen that I am, I of course, downloaded the new FL Studio 11.5.13 Beta which will be FL Studio 12 when it is finally released sometime in 2015, which makes me a Beta tester… again.  This program is a midi controller, automation data and .wav sampler where music is formulated by building Patterns within a step sequencer and Painting those patterns onto tracks to make up playlists which become songs.  This new BETA 12, immediately looks and feels different than that of the FL Studio 11 I had initially purchased.  In 11, all of the modules were hard coded to be a certain size, so it was like a Tetris game placing different midi and .wav sampler/modulators of differing sizes onto the workspace.  Now, nearly everything is vectorial , sizable and scalable so placement is less of an issue as it can snap into place and the clarity of the interface forces less squinting when sitting back from the monitor, which is definitely a greatly appreciated plus.

G’day.

February 28, 2015 Posted by | 2015 [0073] to [0???] | , , | Leave a comment

[page 0073] ~ My Morpheus :

Updates: – Adobe Flash Player (15.0.0.189) , QuickTime v7.7.6, Allegorithmic Substance Painter Version 1.0.1-Build 505, Windows Shutdown Updates .
DownLoads: –  .

***

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.

G’day.

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