Pre-release modding starting package! (or at least the 3D parts)

mostly its about me learning to model in 3D but I figure you'd benifit.

By on August 9, 2009 1:22:50 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

landisaurus

Join Date 06/2008
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I am taking my first steps to having the resources to start a mod, and I felt I should share it with the rest of you.

 

Wall of Text Warning:   Feel free to skip to the bottom if you don't actually care.    There I have the "Landisaurus Package of Elemental Modding Supplies" for free software to start working on Elemental mods, even BEFORE the game's beta comes out!

 

 

In terms of coding, somebody beat me to the punch.  So for learning python, look to that thread.   The beta should provide us with oppertunity to start modding some code.  

 

However, I'm hear to talk about 3D models and animation!    Coders may want to brush up on their Python, since it seems it won't be until beta 2 at the earliest that we will have access to the 3D parts of Elemental.

As some may know, I enjoy making art.   However, learning to make 3D models with something other than clay for whatever reason kept not happening.  3D models were outside my comfort zone, so I would shy away from them.  While in School, if I had a conflict of schedules in classes, the Max or Maya class consistantly lost.  I wanted to learn, just I could not find a chance that did not see to have a better use of the time slot (like a required courses, or courses my school did not often offer and I really wanted to take).   

Well, I want to work on Elemental Mods, as I'm sure many of you do.   And for that I am sharing my progress of learning 3D modeling with you.  

To start I watched all the basic interface videos to become used to Blender.

Dispite never "learning to 3D model", I have used 3D max and Maya before, though mainly for texturing and fixing models other people have created; not to mention several game editors with similar interfaces such as Unreal (which you should NEVER use as a 3D modeling program.  Something I learned the hard way) and Torque 3D.  All of this provided me with some basic understanding of how it works, but for those who seriously just have no clue how 3D modeling works, then "check this out" (either you, the reader, or somebody near you must say it in the same voice as Nash from Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete when he casts a lightning spell).

After watching the tutorial videos (its ok if they are very boring, I thought so too, but they are insightful) I looked at a few of the the begginer tutorials on the python website.

Now one thing I must point out, thete tutorials apparently were all created in an older version of blender from the most current version, and in this version the defaults are a little different (in case it takes a few moments to realize that the tutorial expects it to default.  You have ta switch between wire-frame and solid view.  You also need to be used to switching between 'object mode' and 'edit mode' just because the instructions don't accomidate for the new defaults.  Its not a problem, just watch the intro videos as they teach you how to switch between views and helps you know how the different views look)

 

Generally speaking you're going to be working with meshes (somebodoy correct me if I'm wrong) but I felt it was a good idea start with with "nurbs" (In truth, it was mostly because I had no clue what they were, and did not understand they were different from meshes until I had already started).    So I created a dolphin through the related tutorial.   I actually restarted the tutorial once because I I had created something of a mutant and didn't want to go through the trouble of fixing it.  It didn't actually take that long, I just set aside an afternoon.

 

Fantastic... well, like I said, its not a mesh.   So I found another tutorial.
I then went ahead and decided to make a snow scene.   The tutorial was fairly straight forward, and it provides the texture used for the trees.  I went ahead to make the "arms" sticks rather than snowballs as in the tutorial, but again thats because I know modeling interfaces.  But as you can see, even if you don't do that it looks alright.    (Also remember that the tutorial was created in an older version of Blender, and as a result the last step changes because the "sun" does cast shadows)

 

Below is the "official" picture.  I'm mainly showing it because of the lighting.  You might notice that the snowman doesn't have a full shadow, and this is because they had to use a spotlight, rather than the "sun" lighting.   Its the most significant change (other than the default viewing mode) I've found from the tutorials.

And below are a few others pictures that I stole without permission from their forums (obviously they wanted them to be seen, or else they would not have posted the images in the forum)

Being that I am an over achiever, I did go through the trouble of ruffling the ground a bit and changing the top of the trees to have a different image.  I did that using a full steps I stole from the "make a hillside" tutorial.   I also added a few "nurbs" and molded them into bizzar shaped in the way I learned in the dolphin tutorial to make stones that would be good for a mouth.  Below is the result.

 

So anyway, I wanted I wanted to give other a similar chance to do the same.   I'm going to be bloging about this a bit more on the fan site ElementalGame.info in their mod forums, because I want to get started on the first mod *I* want to see.   So I'll be modding this guy.  

He's obviously not done yet.  (hints the lack of shading or pupuls.)  He's supposed to look like somebody you know.   Though I took some liberties.  Namely because there were two characters I'm basing this guy upon.  

<insert pictures of Touran from MoM>

If somebody wants to see a block on my creation of it, then it can be seen here.

I plan on completing 2 intermidate tutorials now.   The Mine train tutorial, which I might also see if I can animate (have the camura actually moving through the mine train)   and then the "model a head using subsurfaces", which I will use to create my mod prototype.    Now, again... we likely won't be able to actually see them working in a game until Beta 2 (and maybe not even the 1st version of that.  Since I think its confirmed Beta 1 will be cloth map only.   Beta 2 will likely start the Multiplayer heavy cloth map, then possibly add 3D to see if it causes crazy desyncs or something.  At least thats how I'd bet it to happen)    However, I expect to have the above guy modeled (and perhaps one that looks like a wrinkled old man, see below) by Septmember 3rd!   (I set deadlines for myself, otherwise I procrastinate and it never gets done)

<insert pictures of Merlin from MoM>

 

 

 

 

 

Final Word=  "travail" (a noun meaning the pain of child birth)  But seriously, sorry about the wall of text above.  If you don't want to read all that just read the below:

 

So the Landisaurus Package of Elemental Modding Supplies is here:  (Landisaurus does not in any way promise that any of the following will actually be compatible with Stardock's mod tools or Elemental's Engine.   But you should be able to at least brush up on your technique.   Also note, these are direct links to the download pages)

Python:   You can't go without this (blender requires it, and so does Elemental apparently)  A powerful programming language.

Blender:  Maya and 3D-Max cost a ton... here is a free and powerful 3D modeling and animation program.   It can output to most formats, and it uses python scripting so it should work just fine with Elemental. 

Gimp:      Photoshop and Illustrator cost a ton (though I think cheaper than max or maya) so...  Here is a free and powerful art tool for creating textures and figures for the cloth map.

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August 9, 2009 1:30:07 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Nice. Looking forward to the blog, Landi!

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August 9, 2009 3:05:59 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Most of the game modding tutorials I've run across focus on Photoshop for 2D work and Maya or Max for 3D modeling and animation.  The cost of entry for any those packages is prohibitive, as you noted.

Thank you for kicking this off using the free (yet full-featured) Blender and GIMP programs.

While not quite as feature-rich as Photoshop or GIMP for 2D work, I can suggest Paint.NET (Windows-only) as an easy-to-use and easier-to-learn alternative for a good portion (if not full majority) of any 2D design work that may be necesary for certain Elemental mods.

I would also mention that the link provided for GIMP is for source code only.  I believe the GIMP project team distributes only the source, and does not distribute binaries for the various operating systems GIMP runs on.  Which means that you'd need to compile it first in order to run on your system.  This is a non-trivial task for non-programmers.  As I'd expect most Elemental gamers and modders to run Elemental on Windows, here's a link to a precompiled Windows binary and installer (Windows NT and newer required):

GIMP for Windows

GIMP documention (I don't believe this is included by default)

 

 

 

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August 9, 2009 10:17:04 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

EXCELLENT! I would throw away my old PhotoShop3 and go streaght to GIMP if it wasn't for the fact that GIMP apparently has no shape-making tool..... which my style of art creation relies heavily on. If anybody knows where it is (and I've looked everywhere), please tell me....

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August 9, 2009 12:29:38 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

A quick google shows you're not the only person to wish for this.  That same search netted some ways people have (manually) developed shape libraries and stored them as GIMP extensions for later re-use.

The better/easier to understand one I found is:

Drawing Shapes with the Path Tool

It shows that you can draw shapes using the path tools and save those shapes for reuse later.

There are several references to using scripts (Script-fu, for example) to create shapes using paths, with the next logical step being to save those as a GIMP xcf extension for re-use later.  I won't link these because I don't understand the technical aspects, and there are many ways to skin the scripting cat, so I'm not sure which method would serve you best (or at all).

Neither method is out-of-the-box as I'd expect you're thinking of when you mention Photoshop.  But I guess technically it's feasible if you're able to put in the time to develop your own shape library.  Perhaps you'll find that others have already done such a thing and posted their libs for others to use.

 

 

 

 

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August 9, 2009 12:56:29 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Good info and tools. Thanks mate.

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August 9, 2009 6:37:45 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

*Bookmarked*

Thanks for the information. I'll read up on this stuff later.

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August 10, 2009 2:16:24 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I sure hope they take their time releasing the modding tools. I can't afford to be distracted at the moment.

 

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August 11, 2009 11:00:01 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I sure hope they take their time releasing the modding tools. I can't afford to be distracted at the moment. 

Don't say that.  I want to play with them.

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August 25, 2009 4:44:25 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Sorry to anybody actually checking on it, the blogging took took longer than I expected, and then was further delayed by family business.

 

 

However, it is up now.   If somebody wants to look.

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August 26, 2009 8:06:54 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Great to see this.  Between this one and the Python topic, now all we need is somebody savvy on the Audio side of things for the trifecta.   Considering I'm starting from zero on all fronts, all things will hopefully be handy.

 

(Well, I expect somebody will eventually also muck about and wrangle a way to get the game playable with a Wiimote or some other device)

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August 26, 2009 9:42:46 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Great to see this. Between this one and the Python topic, now all we need is somebody savvy on the Audio side of things for the trifecta. Considering I'm starting from zero on all fronts, all things will hopefully be handy.

Google Audacity. It's a free sound editing peice of software that works quite well, and has a pretty good interface. Granted, we have no idea what the sound format will be yet, but it should allow you to add in your own music, sound effects, and you can record sound from youTube videos, movies, etc.

Now, what I really want to know; What format will Elemental use for the models. I'm currently working on a secret project of something I want to put in-game (I'll give you a hint, it's big ) and I want to know how much work I have to go through to get it from XSI into Elemental. Sins is a bit of a pain, so I'm hoping Elemental will make it much easier.

But anyway, excellent blog

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August 27, 2009 6:13:32 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Excelent blog indeed. I fancy myself a decent computer artist. I've done some custom skins for my old UT Clan but that was years ago. We're talking about Unreal Tourney 1 here folks... But indeed this will be very helpful. Well done.

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September 12, 2009 8:40:16 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I just wanted to show people where I ended up with that face.   Since enough people here should know a bad MoM reference when they see one.

 

"Old man, I hear you seek the Spell of Mastery."

 

I'm still working on the blog, though I've turned to working on something more functional as a model in a game, rather than the above which is more fit for some sort of pre-rendered scene.

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September 13, 2009 11:06:26 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

EEEP!

Seriously, looming zombies aside, anybody who hasn't learned about it already is going to want to take a look at this.

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September 17, 2009 12:41:35 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Also take a look at Wings3D for modeling.   It's another free tool, and I've heard generally good things about it.  (And if nothing else, it's probably more intuitive than Blender...)

It's *only* modeling though, so you'd probably need to take the model into Blender for UVing, texturing, and rigging/animating.

For those willing to lay out some cash, Silo is another well regarded modeling program, and won't break the bank ($100-$150, I think the $150 one's main difference is that it will let you work with UVs).  Silo (www.nevercenter.com) is very well regarded as a modeling program.

Once you start spending more than that, I'd take a strong look at Modo (www.luxology.com), which is a really nice suite which does modeling, UVs, texturing, and non-character animation quite well.

For character animation, you'll have to either go with one of the Big 3 packages (3ds Max, Maya, or XSI), Blender, or an animation specific program like Messiah Studio (www.projectmessiah.com).  Blender, being free has some obvious economic advantages here, but it can be a bit of a pain to get the models out of the program.  I believe they're doing a big update to the backend that handles Character Animation for the new major version release of Blender, so this could change.

One last program to mention here is ZBrush, which is a digital sculpting program.  This is a great alternative to some of the modeling programs, and tends to function in a way that is less technically oriented and more artistically oriented.  The most recent version makes it much easier to originate a model in ZBrush, but you're still going to need to use another program alongside it to take a ZBrush model and make it ready for use in a game.

 

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