handcircus

Games and Interaction design

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Hippo Collada Party

I've been trying to get stress out of my system from the big project Ive been working on for past months (finally launching on 5th April) by making some more recreational personal stuff, one of which is a tranquil scene if hippos-on-ice, a vision conveyed to me though my iPod while shuffle provided me with Tchaikovky ballet piece. I thought it would be fun to try and turn that into reality to its been something I've been tinkering with on and off for a few weeks. This time I thought I'd take a bare-bones approach and try to put almost everything together from scratch rather than using something prebuilt, so that hopefully theres no areas that are a bit grey in terms of knowledge, so I'm doing the modelling, texturing, rigging, animation, AI behaviour, scene rendering, and particles.

One of the key components that I've always found challenging is finding a decent solution for getting artwork into my framework without using an entire engine like OGRE. I've tried using OBJ and numerous other formats and always found it a pain. I wanted decent texturing and nested scene nodes, plus full support for skinning etc, and finally it seems that Collada covers pretty much everything I need in the open-source Collada DOM and free exporters for Maya.

Had a bit of a play last night trying to export some stuff from Maya and get it rendered in OpenGL, and despite finding it all a bit odd, it seems to be working very well! Shame theres not an open-source viewer that might go through the process of rendering the geometry but I guess the DOM hasnt been out long. I'm slightly afraid of implementing skinning but hopefully that won't cause too much of a problem. The bonus is that the format seems to be be supported by a *lot* of people (Max, Maya, XSI, Nvidia etc) and even includes support for shaders assigned to materials. The other tasty part is that you can fully create from scratch a complete scene in your application and then export to Maya - it has full saving capabilities. It seems well placed for a lot of geometry processing / procedural generation of static content work.

Hopefully this means that I can spend more time with pen/paper and in Maya, and less time in Visual Studio :)

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