Back in the game!
So after starting my new job (which still isn’t what I want to do) I have finally settled in to a routine where I can once again dedicate my spare time making my game. So without further ado, let’s take a look at my new production pipeline.
So I realized that I was constantly trying to get around problems with the creation of my game instead of learning to overcome them, which at the time felt like I was stopping myself from getting in to a rut, but then a few months go by and you have nothing to show for it except loads of half skinned meshes and empty game engine projects. So to actually start making something I decided I needed to stick with an idea and get a pipeline going.
So step 1 is creating my 3D meshes in Qubicle. I have used the StoneHearth style character meshes to begin with but obviously they will be reiterated a few times to come up with something a little more unique, but as a starting point they are brilliant as they are simple, look great and are easily customizable (which is perfect for my game as there will be more than a few classes and variations). I have also created the characters using an individual matrix per body part for animation purposes further down the line.
Once I have exported the FBX file from Qubicle I import it in to Maya and get to adding materials for each individual colour, for example, the hair variations are each separate materials etc. Then I add the UV channel for lightmapping which I have now conquered thanks to this tutorial (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gMXye-JhCyQ). What should have been a simple fix took me months to figure out even though I am positive I heard the phrase “Snap UV edges to the grid” before, I never really listened until I learned why I should be doing it, which is because only half of the pixel will have information in it so the rest will appear black and cause shadow bleed.
So, once the materials and UV’s are all set, I then begin animating. Now I don’t animate with armatures as I don’t need realistic movements because of the stylized nature of the characters, plus it would involve having some bones inside the mesh and some outside like where the elbows are, which becomes messy. Plus the hassle of having the weight paint the mesh seemed like wasted effort when I could just parent the objects together in the order the bones would go, and just rotate and keyframe the animation. I also figured out that all of the animations (idle, walking, jumping) should just follow one another on the timeline and be exported as one file, as Unity can separate them into their own animation files which use the same mesh in the engine.
Once I’m all done in Maya I import it all to Unity and then once the animations are all in a state machine and the character and camera controllers are scripted (In Progress) that’s me ready to start having someone run around a small piece of imaginary grass. I guess I’ll need the actual gameplay and story eventually, but I am just counting this as a huge win by a non-scripter so let me have it!
Completing the character controller is my next immediate goal, currently I have the character moving and the camera following but there are no linked animations and the character can only rotate if simultaneously moving forward or back.