Monday, July 11, 2011

Blender 2.5, Planning

I've spent this week doing some planning. One of the things I'm thinking about is how to streamline the process of putting new things into my game. Being able to author the physical parts of them in a modeling program is one way the process could be improved. Yes: the dreaded art pipeline approaches. (Some of my friends who have been involved in startups say that the art pipeline took a lot more engineering resources than they anticipated.)

I have worked extensively with 3D Studio Max in the distant past (I used it for versions 1-3 or so), but the last eight years I've worked with Maya. Of course they're both owned by the same company now. A legitimate copy of Maya runs about $3500, so I'm going to pass on that for now. Blender, the open-source equivalent, looks like it ought to fill my needs. I've been spending time learning how to get around in it.

Blender 2.5 switches to Python 3, with considerable API rework at the same time. This makes a lot of the example code on the net obsolete. Documentation is still a work in progress, so get comfortable with the dir, list, and help commands in Python.

There are a couple of possible ways to export geometry. I'm going to experiment with having the makefile detect when a source Blender file has changed and run Blender at the command line to export it to an intermediate file. The command looks something like this:

blender -b input_file.blend --python


Mark said...

Good luck. I found the experience of using existing tools so agonizing that I ended up just drawing my art assets on graph paper and typing them in by hand. :-/

owen said...

blender has got to have the most god awful user interface I have ever seen on a computer. I could not make heads or tails of how to draw anything and doubt i'll even try using it again.

James McNeill said...

Thanks, Mark. I've certainly done a fair amount of that, and maybe it would be prudent to stay on that course. I've started sketching spacewrecks now and I don't have a clear idea of how I would model them in a modeling program. I'll probably take some programmatic stabs at them first.

Owen, have you tried Blender 2.5? They did another big overhaul of the interface. I don't know if it could be classified as "good" yet, but 3D modeling programs in general have steep learning curves. The only one that seemed fairly logically put together to me was Wings 3D, but it's focused on a limited area.

owen said...

I was talking about the latest build. Google Sketchup has a pretty good interface.

James McNeill said...


OK. Yeah, I watched a tutorial video that had all the keystrokes overlaid on it; I picked up one or two things there. It is going to take a lot more of that to get to any level of proficiency, though.

I did try Sketchup once, a long time ago (before it was bought by Google). I remember that it was a fairly good interface.