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Animation Pipeline


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#1 Gen.Kenobi

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Posted 13 January 2012 - 11:16 PM

OKay guys.

I really want to get some info about how it's done, because I want to do something in that field :)

-> How this work, and what we should know.
-> Rigs. Rigs. Rigs. There must have been some rigs already. I just can't seen to find them. (Hopefully they could be Blender format compatible :P - Rigging is a pain)
-> Random Questions:

--- A that soldier is holding a sword or a spear. I would animate it with the sword, or the empty or the coordinate where the prop would go?
--- Is it possible to make integration with the animation of 2 different objects? I mean... A fisherman in a boat. Can I make the boat be floating in the water and the fisherman inside it trying to balance himself? Or I would need to rig the boat and animate it separatly from the guy, since he would go where "propped"? And If i do a new rig, I guess i'm gonna need to update the skeletons.xml, right?


I'm kinda unsure about it. About the whole process of animation and how it actually works whithin the engine.

Thanks everyone.
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#2 Wijitmaker

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Posted 14 January 2012 - 12:06 AM

I'd be happy to help, but I fear my advise would be outdated and it is 3ds max specific, not blender. The blender guys could help you I think. All the old 3d max animation, rigs, and original files are in the SVN art repository.

for your questions... if you create a sword, you put it's origin at the handle of the sword. When you define what prop point the sword is attached to in the actor.xml file - the game engine will do that for you. You don't animate the sword, it simply moves with the actor's hand.

for your boat and fisherman... I would create two seperate rigs. One that animates the boat. The boat would include a prop point that would be the bottom of the foot location of the fisherman. The fisherman and his movements would be his own animation that shares the same skeleton as all the rest of the humanoid characters in the game. This would allow you to perhaps use that fishing animation by a guy who isn't on a ship, and maybe on shore.

There isn't anything super fancy about the skeletons.xml file. I think one of it's main purposes is to allow cross compatability of .dae files and different software packages and their unique rigs. For example, a standard named rig out of XSI software can be common with a rig out of 3ds max (biped).

The heierachical bone structure between animals could be shared by the skeletons as well. For example, a goat and a deer could have the same skeleton because they would likely have the same number of bones and joints. Elephants and camels would be different because they have unique bones for things like an extra long neck or a trunk. Boat rowing skeletons could be shared across all boats. Siege units, and chariots could each be common... etc. Alas I fear I'm not explaining myself well... let me know if I can provide more guidance.
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#3 Gen.Kenobi

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Posted 14 January 2012 - 12:19 AM

Thanks for the answers Jason. I just received a word from Kimball and looks like that there's not a Blender rig around. I'll need to get my hands dirt them - the Blender's rigify add-on shouldn't be a probleman. :P

I also noticed that the head is separated from the body model (working on dude.obj right now)... How would I animate it them? Would I need to rig the head separatly?

So all I need to do is to animate the hand and the object will follow it, right? - That may be something study... abstract animation FTW :D

About the boat... I understand it...but it would be quite hard to make something seamless, and looks like it's integrated betwen different objects. Something that I'll have to look into. Maybe i can dump them in the same scene and export them separatly... That could work... hmm...

I'm atm rigging a generic male mesh, dude.obj. Once I'm done, I'll upload the rigg, and the probleman is solved ;)
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#4 Gen.Kenobi

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Posted 14 January 2012 - 02:11 AM

Here it is! :)

My first rig ever :P - Actually, It would be unfair calling it mine, since I just used Blender's add-on.
Posted Image



It is still a little bit rusty and unpolished in some areas, but I guess I'll be figuring out, as I learn more - the model didn't help much, anyways :P



Here you go! (I hosted it in my server, I would reccomend uploading to somewhere more accesible ;) )
http://www.ds3d.revo..._male_rig.blend

PS: The Mozin Nagant is not included :P
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#5 Wijitmaker

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Posted 14 January 2012 - 03:49 AM

I think it shouldn't be to difficult to import a .dae into blender. I know that there is some issues getting the .dae animations into blender... but does that mean that the file doesn't open at all? Or, can it at least load up even if none of the animations work? These things I don't know.

If you import a .dae head from the game, you should be able to snap him to the position of blender's head bone. We seperated the head from the body because the body uses the alpha channel in it's map for player color, while the head uses the alpha channel in it's map for random object (hair) color. The game engine can only use the alpha for one thing at a time.

Anyway... Once you import a head, snap and attach it to the head bone. When you animate the head bone the imported head should follow. I'm using 3ds max terminology, but I'm sure Blender has something similar.

About the boat, it isn't as difficult as you think to sync them. Just ensure that the number of animation frames in both the boat animation and the fisherman animation are the same. Also ensure that the animation speed defined in the actor file are the same. If those 2 factors are identical they should be sync'd. You should be able to work with them both in the same scene in blender. The only trick is to select what you want to export when it is time to export to .dae and then "export selected" to separate them from each other into different .dae files. At least that is how I would do it in max.

Your blender rig looks pretty good, but something is going on with the hands there... perhaps the hand bones are rolled over or twisted and it is distorting the wrists?

When your creating a rig, note when you import a .dae file from the game. It should come into blender with some dummy objects that are being used as nodes to define prop points. These nodes are linked to the skeleton, but are not exported with the mesh/skin so they aren't rendered in the game.
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#6 Gen.Kenobi

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Posted 14 January 2012 - 02:23 PM

Hmm... I see. Thanks for the imput Jason! :)

I'll take another look into the Rig, maybe I'll re-rig it. I also noticed that the hands are out of place, as well the elbows aren't working properly, must have been something that I deleted (since the model doesn't has actual fingers). ;)
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#7 Ykkrosh

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Posted 14 January 2012 - 04:12 PM

If you want to use an animation from Blender with the existing biped meshes (mostly from 3ds Max), which I think would be a good thing to support, you'll have to be very careful to ensure the skeletons match correctly - same bone hierarchy, same bone sizes, etc, and then set up skeletons.xml to map the new Blender bone names onto the old 3ds Max bone names so the game knows they're the same. (Importing one of the existing biped mesh .dae files should give the right skeleton shape, which could be used as a template; I presume it's not usable directly since it won't have all the movement constraints and IK etc that are necessary for creating animations.)
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#8 Wijitmaker

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Posted 15 January 2012 - 12:08 AM

Agreed. If you could make a blender version of the default humanoid then any animations make in blender would be able to be applied to the existing .dae models and vice versa - any existing animations of humanoids could be applied to new blender humanoid models.
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#9 Gen.Kenobi

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Posted 15 January 2012 - 01:24 AM

Hmm... I'm not very good with codding, but I'll give it a try.

Anyways... I was wondering. Is it possible to animate the nodes for the prop points? I meant, an animation something like that, but with a spear would be cool as iddle:



:)

BTW, I just made a simple fisherman paddling animation (I think it'll be used of RotE mod) Now I need try to get it ingame. (I'll update the thread with the video once it's done)

EDIT:

My first animation ever :)
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#10 Wijitmaker

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Posted 15 January 2012 - 03:04 AM

I think it may be possible to animate the prop point nodes. I've never tried it. Only one way to find out though :)

Nice work with your first ever animation!

This shouldn't require any coding, what do you think you need to code?
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#11 Pureon

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Posted 15 January 2012 - 10:53 AM


My first animation ever :)

Looks great Gen.Kenobi!

I see you're animating the fisherman for RotE :)
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#12 Mythos_Ruler

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Posted 15 January 2012 - 11:13 AM

Or a Venetian gondola! ;D

BTW: there are also a bazillion unused animation files in the Art SVN. Maybe Wijit can give some insight on how to use these or modify these.
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#13 Ykkrosh

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Posted 15 January 2012 - 11:53 AM

I think it may be possible to animate the prop point nodes.

It's not - the only thing you can animate is bones. (The .psa animation files store position and orientation for every bone every frame, and pretty much no other data. The .pmd mesh files store each prop point's position/orientation relative to some bone as a single static value, so that can't be animated.)
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#14 Wijitmaker

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Posted 15 January 2012 - 04:19 PM

It's not - the only thing you can animate is bones.


There you have it! I haven't really had a need in the past to do such an animation, so I don't think you'll find baton twirling to be frequent motion ;)

there are also a bazillion unused animation files in the Art SVN. Maybe Wijit can give some insight on how to use these or modify these.


Yes, there are numerous motion capture files in the repository. I forget the format, but I believe some of them could work with blender (though most were intended for max and it's Character Studio software). These aren't perfect, but they provide some great fluid animations. I used many of them with slight alterations (to get them to repeat and loop properly, shorten to one action per animation, etc...).
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#15 Gen.Kenobi

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Posted 16 January 2012 - 02:09 PM

This shouldn't require any coding, what do you think you need to code?

I don't know. I'm not very confortable messing around the skeletons.xml file :P (Still need to figure out what to do.) Any help would be really appreciated. :)


It's not - the only thing you can animate is bones. (The .psa animation files store position and orientation for every bone every frame, and pretty much no other data. The .pmd mesh files store each prop point's position/orientation relative to some bone as a single static value, so that can't be animated


Is there a reason for that limitation? With COLLADA now, shouldn't we try to let things be animated without the need for bones/rigs? I remember whem Modding C&C Generals, just the name you give to the object within the model - Like a Turret - it would move and act like a turret. If the game is to be mod friendly not all animations should be required to work with bones.
Animating the prop-poins could really look interesting. I would even say that they are quite a priority. Let's say... what about a guy holding a riffle. Where his hand would be holding it, wouldn't be the place where the trigger is. (Remember the Musketeeer in AOEIII?) It's up to you guys, but for me it really should be taken in consideration.
Unless there's a way to animate the prop itself (rigged) and just use the node as a relative position. Of course this would require much more tweaking and work to make it look right :)

Or a Venetian gondola! ;D


Hehehehe. I actually used the Gondolas as reference videos for the animation. ;)


Now a design question - I guess that you go for you Michael. How are we planning to man the sieges? Semi realistic, like EE II and AOE III. Or realisticaly like Total War?
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#16 Mythos_Ruler

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Posted 16 January 2012 - 02:47 PM

Likely like AOE3.
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#17 Ykkrosh

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Posted 16 January 2012 - 06:46 PM

Is there a reason for that limitation?

It's a natural way to do the technical design and it keeps things simple - animations are specified entirely by the bone positions/orientations and we don't need anything extra in the file formats or the engine code. If you want to animate a prop independently of the skin, you can add a new bone into the skeleton and attach the prop to that and animate the new bone - that might not be perfectly convenient but at least it's possible.

(Making things more convenient seems a very hard problem, since it's unclear what would be a good design from the perspectives of engine programmer and tool programmer and artists. Hacking extra features incrementally onto our current design would probably not give a good result, but I don't know what would.)
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#18 Wijitmaker

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Posted 16 January 2012 - 07:54 PM

I don't know. I'm not very confortable messing around the skeletons.xml file :P (Still need to figure out what to do.) Any help would be really appreciated. :)


It is hard for me to give you instructions because I don't know enough about blender to see what your seeing. I guess I could install it and try my theories myself, but I'm a total noob with the software. It would be worth a start though perhaps. Could you point me to a download of the same verion of the software you are using?

Also, here this might be worth take a look at. This is the basic structure of the dude:

http://trac.wildfire...nDocument#Tools

The portion of the file you would be looking at is:

1 	<skeletons>
2 	    <standard_skeleton title="Standard biped" id="biped">
3 	        <bone name="root">
4 	            <bone name="pelvis">
5 	                <bone name="spine">
6 	                    <bone name="spine1">
7 	                        <bone name="neck">
8 	                            <bone name="head">
9 	                                <bone name="DUMMY_headnub"/> <!-- kept for binary compatibility with PSA files -->
10 	                                <bone name="l_clavicle">
11 	                                    <bone name="l_upperarm">
12 	                                        <bone name="l_forearm">
13 	                                            <bone name="l_hand">
14 	                                                <bone name="DUMMY_l_finger0">
15 	                                                    <bone name="DUMMY_l_finger0nub"/>
16 	                                                </bone>
17 	                                            </bone>
18 	                                        </bone>
19 	                                    </bone>
20 	                                </bone>
21 	                                <bone name="r_clavicle">
22 	                                    <bone name="r_upperarm">
23 	                                        <bone name="r_forearm">
24 	                                            <bone name="r_hand">
25 	                                                <bone name="DUMMY_r_finger0">
26 	                                                    <bone name="DUMMY_r_finger0nub"/>
27 	                                                </bone>
28 	                                            </bone>
29 	                                        </bone>
30 	                                    </bone>
31 	                                </bone>
32 	                            </bone>
33 	                        </bone>
34 	                    </bone>
35 	                    <bone name="l_thigh">
36 	                        <bone name="l_calf">
37 	                            <bone name="l_foot">
38 	                                <bone name="DUMMY_l_toe0">
39 	                                    <bone name="DUMMY_l_toe0nub"/>
40 	                                </bone>
41 	                            </bone>
42 	                        </bone>
43 	                    </bone>
44 	                    <bone name="r_thigh">
45 	                        <bone name="r_calf">
46 	                            <bone name="r_foot">
47 	                                <bone name="DUMMY_r_toe0">
48 	                                    <bone name="DUMMY_r_toe0nub"/>
49 	                                </bone>
50 	                            </bone>
51 	                        </bone>
52 	                    </bone>
53 	                </bone>
54 	            </bone>
55 	        </bone>
56 	    </standard_skeleton>
57 	   
58 	<!--
59 	
60 	The <skeleton>s must specify all the bones that may influence vertexes of
61 	skinned meshes. The <bone name> is the name of the bone in the relevant
62 	modelling/animation program. The <identifier> name is used to determine
63 	whether this <skeleton> applies to the data found in a given model file.
64 	
65 	<target> must be the name of a bone in the standard_skeleton identified by
66 	<skeleton target>.
67 	
68 	The hierarchy of bones is mostly irrelevant (though it makes sense to match
69 	the structure used by the modelling program) - the only effect is that
70 	the default <target> (i.e. when none is specified for a given bone) is
71 	inherited from the parent node in this hierarchy.
72 	
73 	-->
74 	   
75 	    <skeleton title="3ds Max biped" target="biped">
76 	        <identifier>
77 	            <root>Bip01</root>
78 	        </identifier>
79 	       
80 	        <bone name="Bip01">
81 	            <target>root</target>
82 	           
83 	            <bone name="Bip01_Pelvis">
84 	                <target>pelvis</target>
85 	               
86 	                <bone name="Bip01_Spine">
87 	                    <target>spine</target>
88 	                   
89 	                    <bone name="Bip01_Spine1">
90 	                        <target>spine1</target>
91 	                       
92 	                        <bone name="Bip01_Neck">
93 	                            <target>neck</target>
94 	                           
95 	                            <bone name="Bip01_Head">
96 	                                <target>head</target>
97 	                               
98 	                                <bone name="Bip01_HeadNub"/>
99 	                               
100 	                                <bone name="Bip01_L_Clavicle">
101 	                                    <target>l_clavicle</target>
102 	                                   
103 	                                    <bone name="Bip01_L_UpperArm">
104 	                                        <target>l_upperarm</target>
105 	                                       
106 	                                        <bone name="Bip01_L_Forearm">
107 	                                            <target>l_forearm</target>
108 	                                           
109 	                                            <bone name="Bip01_L_Hand">
110 	                                                <target>l_hand</target>
111 	                                               
112 	                                                <bone name="Bip01_L_Finger0">
113 	                                               
114 	                                                    <bone name="Bip01_L_Finger0Nub"/>
115 	                                                   
116 	                                                </bone>
117 	                                            </bone>
118 	                                        </bone>
119 	                                    </bone>
120 	                                </bone>
121 	                               
122 	                                <bone name="Bip01_R_Clavicle">
123 	                                    <target>r_clavicle</target>
124 	                                   
125 	                                    <bone name="Bip01_R_UpperArm">
126 	                                        <target>r_upperarm</target>
127 	                                       
128 	                                        <bone name="Bip01_R_Forearm">
129 	                                            <target>r_forearm</target>
130 	                                           
131 	                                            <bone name="Bip01_R_Hand">
132 	                                                <target>r_hand</target>
133 	                                               
134 	                                                <bone name="Bip01_R_Finger0">
135 	                                               
136 	                                                    <bone name="Bip01_R_Finger0Nub"/>
137 	                                                   
138 	                                                </bone>
139 	                                            </bone>
140 	                                        </bone>
141 	                                    </bone>
142 	                                </bone>
143 	                            </bone>
144 	                        </bone>
145 	                    </bone>
146 	                   
147 	                    <bone name="Bip01_L_Thigh">
148 	                        <target>l_thigh</target>
149 	                       
150 	                        <bone name="Bip01_L_Calf">
151 	                            <target>l_calf</target>
152 	                           
153 	                            <bone name="Bip01_L_Foot">
154 	                                <target>l_foot</target>
155 	                               
156 	                                <bone name="Bip01_L_Toe0">
157 	                               
158 	                                    <bone name="Bip01_L_Toe0Nub"/>
159 	                                   
160 	                                </bone>
161 	                            </bone>
162 	                        </bone>
163 	                    </bone>
164 	                   
165 	                    <bone name="Bip01_R_Thigh">
166 	                        <target>r_thigh</target>
167 	                       
168 	                        <bone name="Bip01_R_Calf">
169 	                            <target>r_calf</target>
170 	                           
171 	                            <bone name="Bip01_R_Foot">
172 	                                <target>r_foot</target>
173 	                               
174 	                                <bone name="Bip01_R_Toe0">
175 	                               
176 	                                    <bone name="Bip01_R_Toe0Nub"/>
177 	                                   
178 	                                </bone>
179 	                            </bone>
180 	                        </bone>
181 	                    </bone>
182 	                </bone>
183 	            </bone>
184 	        </bone>
185 	    </skeleton>
186 	
187 	    <skeleton title="XSI biped" target="biped">
188 	        <identifier>
189 	            <root>Biped_GlobalSRT</root>
190 	        </identifier>
191 	       
192 	        <bone name="Biped_GlobalSRT">
193 	            <target>root</target>
194 	           
195 	            <bone name="Biped_Spine01">
196 	                <target>pelvis</target>
197 	               
198 	                <bone name="Biped_Spine02">
199 	                    <target>spine</target>
200 	                   
201 	                    <bone name="Biped_Spine03">
202 	                        <target>spine1</target>
203 	                    </bone>
204 	                </bone>
205 	            </bone>
206 	            <bone name="Biped_Lshoulder">
207 	                <target>l_clavicle</target>
208 	            </bone>
209 	            <bone name="Biped_Lbicept">
210 	                <target>l_upperarm</target>
211 	               
212 	                <bone name="Biped_Lforearm">
213 	                    <target>l_forearm</target>
214 	                </bone>
215 	            </bone>
216 	            <bone name="Biped_Rshoulder">
217 	                <target>r_clavicle</target>
218 	            </bone>
219 	            <bone name="Biped_Rbicept">
220 	                <target>r_upperarm</target>
221 	               
222 	                <bone name="Biped_Rforearm">
223 	                    <target>r_forearm</target>
224 	                </bone>
225 	            </bone>
226 	            <bone name="Biped_neck">
227 	                <target>neck</target>
228 	               
229 	                <bone name="Biped_head">
230 	                    <target>head</target>
231 	                </bone>
232 	            </bone>
233 	            <bone name="Biped_Lthigh">
234 	                <target>l_thigh</target>
235 	               
236 	                <bone name="Biped_Lshin">
237 	                    <target>l_calf</target>
238 	                </bone>
239 	            </bone>
240 	            <bone name="Biped_Rthigh">
241 	                <target>r_thigh</target>
242 	               
243 	                <bone name="Biped_Rshin">
244 	                    <target>r_calf</target>
245 	                </bone>
246 	            </bone>
247 	            <bone name="Biped_Lhand">
248 	                <target>l_hand</target>
249 	                <bone name="Biped_Lfingers"/>
250 	            </bone>
251 	            <bone name="Biped_Lfoot">
252 	                <target>l_foot</target>
253 	                <bone name="Biped_Ltoe"/>
254 	            </bone>
255 	            <bone name="Biped_Rhand">
256 	                <target>r_hand</target>
257 	                <bone name="Biped_Rfingers"/>
258 	            </bone>
259 	            <bone name="Biped_Rfoot">
260 	                <target>r_foot</target>
261 	                <bone name="Biped_Rtoe"/>
262 	            </bone>
263 	        </bone>
264 	    </skeleton>

So... if you notice in the code above, there are 3 sections (Philip please correct me if I'm wrong here). Rows 1-56 is defining the standard biped. That is a generic biped that the game engine uses.

Rows 75-185 is the 3ds Max version of the biped. It is saying for example... in row 100 & 101 that 3dsmax bone named: Bip01_L_Clavicle equals l_clavicle on the generic biped (see row 10).

Rows 187-264 is the XSI version of the biped. It is saying for example... in rows 206 & 207 that XSI bone named: Biped_Lshoulder equals l_clavicle on the generic biped (see row 10).

Sooooo, what I foresee for Blender is a similar variant that is like the 3ds max and XSI versions that will need to be created. It would have the same number type, size, constraints, etc... of bones (this can hopefully be achieved by importing an existing .dae file) - however you can rename the bones as Blender requires (maybe it doesn't care?). Once the changes are made you need to make a bit of code to tell the game engine what the new bone names equals on the generic biped.

Hopefully that is somewhat sensible... let me know if you need some clarification.

Is there a reason for that limitation? With COLLADA now, shouldn't we try to let things be animated without the need for bones/rigs? I remember whem Modding C&C Generals, just the name you give to the object within the model - Like a Turret - it would move and act like a turret. If the game is to be mod friendly not all animations should be required to work with bones.


In the past we had requested programming to support vertex animations. I'm not sure what the status of that is or ever will be, but that would accomplish the same thing. In the short term, for an immediate solution, we have the ability to create as simple one bone animation/rig that would effectively do what you want to do. It just isn't something as easy for the artist as exporting an unboned vertex based animation.
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Jason Bishop [ aka Wijitmaker ]

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Contact me: jason@wildfiregames.com


#19 Gen.Kenobi

Gen.Kenobi

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Posted 17 January 2012 - 09:26 PM

Hey Jason! I'm using Blender 2.6 (http://www.blender.o...ad/get-blender/)
I'm kinda in a hurry right now, but feel free to download it and give it a try.
I'll try to take a look at the codding too, but if you could help, it would be awesome! :)
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Daniel Schubert [ aka Gen.Kenobi]

Wildfire Games 3d Artist
Contact me: daniel[at]wildfiregames.com



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#20 Gen.Kenobi

Gen.Kenobi

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Posted 18 January 2012 - 07:13 PM

So yeah. Today I started to work on a new rig for the ships. Specially for the Trirremes, as it's a very old request of the players :)

I managed to get almost everything alright, but, for some reason, I ran into some problemans, that i'm unable to identify, nor to correct them. I tried all the possible ways that I know that it could be happening, but I was unsucessful.

I know. A picture is worth a thousand words.

Posted Image

I'm also attaching the .blend file. Maybe someone can give me a light here.

Attached File  rig-trirreme.zip   128.67KB   81 downloads
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Daniel Schubert [ aka Gen.Kenobi]

Wildfire Games 3d Artist
Contact me: daniel[at]wildfiregames.com



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