Blurb (3D Game Character)

Blurb was created as another fun project, the model consists of about 5,000 polys, and 11,000 tris.

The model is fully textured, rigged and skinned, and animations were created in MotionBuilder, and then finally imported into a Unity3D scene, and all animations were hooked up using Unity’s Mecanim animation system, a Skyrim like 3rd person camera was then created and attached to control the character. It is important to note that Blurb’s animation’s were created with this camera in mind, so Mecanim will blend between Blurb moving in certain directions, by rotating his upper body, and his face will always be facing the direction of the camera, when Blurb is not moving, the camera will orbit Blurb, and also detect and avoid any geometry intersections, as shown in the accompanying YouTube upload of the demo for this character.

This character does not have facial animations, nor eyes, a it was not required for this demo, there is however, another project currently underway, which will use Unity3D’s Mecanim system, along with a facial bone rig, to finally produce a playable game, that will be released by www.ifthenelsegames.com . Although this project is still underway currently, so there are no releases or screen shots available yet!

Suffice to say, Mecanim fully supports facial (and any other custom) animation, including adding weapon bones for guns, swords and shields, with absolutely no problem whatsoever, we will publish more details on that soon. Out tests done so far have proven that blending any custom bones, that is not traditional biped (but still FK/IK), will work seamlessly with Unity’s Mecanim, without having to import or export them in any special way whatsoever.

We will also showcase our character’s ability to wear different sets of clothes and/or armor, and any combination thereof, and still only having a single character mesh, and keeping all skinned meshes original skin info, bound to the biped, without any scripting required whatsoever, using only standard Unity, we have proven and tested this already, so exciting times ahead. 😉

On with this showcase.

The initial concept art stage, absolutely nothing fancy about these drawings, but they serve as the basis for the model. The character is much less human, and contains very disproportionate limbs, as he is not really from this world 😉

 

The modeling process is fairly standard by now, no special attention required for poly count, as long as after MeshSmooth applied does not go over 20K, which I think is just a lot for a single mesh at this time for use in a game.

 

Once the Modelling and UV Mapping and Texturing was completed, the model was Rigged for Biped, and skinned.

Here are some animation joint tests

done, using only Max, and grounding the Hands and Feet while the Bip01 root bone is manually moved around the editor.

 

Then Blurb would require quite advanced animations, these were not created from Mocap, and were simply created to develop and test the 3rd Person camera, which would rely on the model having certain animations, which would need to be blended as the model rotates his upper body, while moving forward, *this movement/camera/animation would then be tested with a Logitech Dual Joystick controller, as well as the normal mouse and keyboard.

 

The animations were created using MotionBuilder, the animations were created as Takes using a Biped (FK/IK) control rig, and once done were baked into the skeleton using Motionbuilder, and exported to binary FBX, and imported into Unity as Humanoid and animated using Mecanim.

and the following animations were required:

  • Walk Forward, Walk Left, Walk Right.
  • Walk Backward, Walk Backward Left, Walk Backward Right.
  • Run Forward, Run Left, Run Right
  • Jump from standing still, moving upwards.
  • Falling.

The head will always look in the direction of the camera, so the walk and run left/right animations contain no rotations, as this would be directly controlled by the YAW/Horizontal axis of the 2nd Joystick Axis or the Mouse Horiz, camera while the character is in motion, so the character could spin on a dime, while the 1st Joystick Axis, Horiz movement, or A and D keys, would cause the Mecanim animation system to Blend between right and left animations for walking forward, backward or running. No backward running animation was required.

The jumping animation only needed to jump up, and would then automatically transition to Falling via Mecanim, and from any locomotion if the character was deemed to be falling, by the character controller script *(custom created Unity C# script), the falling animation would kick in, until the character was detected to have “landed” or hit the ground.

Here are some screen shots of the MotionBuilder animations, they will all contain XZ translation values, meaning the animations created in MotionBuilder, were also used to move the character in the Game Engine, and this was not done using a custom script, while all Game physics would still apply as the animations work together with Unity’s physics engine, this is also clearly demonstrated in the video, as Blurb jumps and runs around, the boxes around him move out of the way, the Jump while in motion was handled via a custom script, that simply asks the Unity Physics engine to apply force in the same direction he was walking or running in when the jump button is pressed, thus also forcing Unity to calculate and handle any Physics collisions.

 

Blurb was then imported into Unity for 3rd Person camera development and further animation testing. All throughout this process, even before Blurb was UV Mapped, the model was imported into the Game Engine, to make sure there were no Mesh/Rendering errors. Constant Reset X-Form and STL Checks were also done in Max, to help fascilitate this.

Once the Skin modifier is placed on the Mesh, there can be no more changes done to the top of the stack, and any changes done below, will cause problems out of this world, as you may have to re-skin the entire model. Luckily, this has not happened yet, but who knows…

Blurb was imported into Unity, and using Humanoid/Biped , Mecanim was then used to transform/blend etc.. and control the character’s animations.

A pretty complex AnimationController setup was required to blend on controller(Joystick/Keyboard/Mouse) input, but this setup takes no longer than a few minutes, after some trial and error!

 

Once the basic setup was done, a test bed was created using Unity, with a HeightMap created from a Greyscale photoshop image *also created by me, the terrain was textured with 2 texture splats for more detail *will be shown in another texture showcase, and a few simple boxes were created to test the 3rd person camera and controllers with animation.

Finally, the video to demo the 3rd Person camera, along with Blurb’s animations.

The video demonstrates all his animations, walking running and jumping, as well as the transitions between walking and running left and right, which will cause the upper body to rotate, while keeping his head focused in the same direction as the camera, as the camera rotates while the character is in motion, the character will spin around the world Y axis, allowing him extreme control over movement. As there are no fight or combat animations, there was no need to create the shimmying, or strafing or turning animations, those will be required when the camera rotates, and the player is in combat mode, that will be demonstrated with our release of our first Game.

 

Which is currently in the pipeline!

 

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