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  Model Editors & File Formats  (Read 1222 times)
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Offline Alan_W

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Medals: 8
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Java tames rock!

« Posted 2005-09-01 07:45:25 »

I'd like to have better 3D graphics in my next game and am having a look at the options.

My current code uses a subset of the wavefront .obj format, using a separate custom script file to animate the various groups in the file.  In many ways, I'm happy with it (animation is easy).  Unfortunately this means using my own laughably basic .obj editor in order to test out the animations.  Since there's quite a few decent modelling tools already out there, it's time to take a step back and have a rethink.

The file format needs to support triangle lists, with associated texturing information, grouped in some fashion to support animation.  It should be possible to mode animation based on model state (walking, attacking etc.)  Transition from one state to another should be smooth.  Ideally animating the model should be a function of the chosen Editor and the animations contained in the file format.

There's quite a few formats out there: .obj, .3ds, .md2, .md3.  Since I'd need to write (or modify existing) loader, the ideal choice would be the simplest format that meets the above needs.

Then there's the choice of Editor.  It has to be free or cheap so Maya or 3DS are out.  Blender or Milkshape look a good possibility.  Blender appears to rely on 3rd party python scripts for import/export.  Are these reliable?  What modelling information survives intact in each export format?  Milkshape appears to have lots of game oriented file format I/O built in.  Again, has anyone experience with exporting in these formats.  Are there any other Editors worth considering?

Assuming both Milkshape and Blender provide the desired functionality, is there any advantage in one over the other in the User Interface?  Are there more tutorials for the artistically challenged (me) for one or the other?  Are some features better in one and other features better in the other tool? (Arghhh - I hate this my tool is better than your tool stuff)

I may stick with using .obj and my animation scripts, but then maybe not (decisions decisions).  Any advice appreciated.


Time flies like a bird. Fruit flies like a banana.
Offline kevglass

« JGO Spiffy Duke »

Medals: 319
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Exp: 22 years

Coder, Trainee Pixel Artist, Game Reviewer

« Reply #1 - Posted 2005-09-01 07:57:56 »

Transitions between states is your only tricky bit there really, you either need lots of animations or bone based animation to make this right.

.obj - good for simple static data, or multiple if you want animation.
.3ds - good for complicated rendering information, pain in the rear to write a loader/reader tho. There is a 3ds lib hanging around but you've still got to render the sucker...

.md2 - Single mesh key frame animation. Simple but well used and appreciated. Code for reading is immensely simple - I accidently wrote a loader for this as my first ever venture into Java3D.
.md3 - Multiple mesh MD2 - with support for linking up models (i.e. gun/torso/head/legs etc). Essentially an extension to MD2 though a bit harder to work with (there is some matrix math).

All of the above formats will happily support texturing information. You might consider going for md5 (doom3 models) there a loader for JME that might not be too hard to rip off Smiley If you want really nice looking stuff you're going to want bone based models - I think this is where collada comes in though I don't know much about it.

Blender - hard to get into due to dodgy UI, immensely powerful and quick once you do.

Milkshape - cheap, simple to work with. Has problems working back from non-milkshape models, i.e. working with an existing MD2 isn't great.

If you're going to use milkshape your best bet is to write a loader for MS3D (the native Milkshape format). There are quite a few resources round for how to do this and its a well known fully featured format.

However, if you're going to the trouble - have you considered using a scenegraph with this sort of thing built in?


Offline Alan_W

JGO Knight

Medals: 8
Projects: 3

Java tames rock!

« Reply #2 - Posted 2005-09-01 17:57:24 »

Cheers Kev

Just the sort of information I needed  Grin

I'll give Milkshape a go.  Format to be determined.


P.S. Scengraphs are Ok, but I'm looking forward to writing the renderer.

Edit: md3 looks like it does pretty much what I'm already doing with my .obj groups - interesting Smiley

Time flies like a bird. Fruit flies like a banana.
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