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Thread: Best 3D character Management and Development, Ideas?

  1. #1
    PGDCE Developer
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    Question Best 3D character Management and Development, Ideas?

    I am looking for concepts on how to manage characters in a 3D game. I am using GLScene and they have a large set of importers which is awesome. Currently I am just using MilkShapes' MS3D format as it supports animation and skeletons. I am not hard presed on any format. I would like it to support skeletal rigging or keyframe animation.

    My current Idea is that I can have a list of items and attach them to the bones in the ms3d file (not sure if this is possible as I am at work and haven't had a chance to test it yet)

    So for what I am planning on testing tonight is:
    I will have my base character which will actually just be torser, legs, and arms.
    base_male_human.ms3d

    I will then have different heads that I can attach to the bone in base character "bone_head"
    male_human_head1.ms3d
    male_human_head2.ms3d
    male_human_head3.ms3d

    I will attach a head to the base on the Bone "bone_head", I assume that it will follow the skeletons animations. I am not even sure if this will work as it is theory at the moment. I plan on testing it when I get home.

    If I am missing something, or there is a better way to go about this please reply. Also if there is a better format let me know. I am even thinking about writing my own format that handles multi body peices and animations more easily but I don't want to if there is one that already does.

    Thanks,

  2. #2
    In basic animation only 1 model file contains all body parts. Weapons and carryable equipment are separate objects attached to bones. Each vertex is assigned to bone structure and you can use different looking heads by changing the texture. You can also move the vertices around if you want customization on different facial features, they can still follow the bones movement same way.

  3. #3
    PGDCE Developer
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    Well, I have taken your advice to some degree. I have decided that just textures will be enough definition for the characters face. I did some testing last night and I couldn't figure out AttachToBone (or even find a function like it) in GLScene.

    I have made the decision to use the SMD model format. It is from VALVE's Source Engine used by half-life and compiled to an MDL file. The basic concept that I have for this format is that you can store the Skeleton(Joints included) and Mesh information in one file, and then have an animation file separate. This allows me to make multiple models that have the same rig and not have to animate them.

    Currently I have tested the following and it seems to work without any real impact on the FrameRate.
    I have the mesh & skeleton files
    zombie1.smd
    zombie2.smd

    And I have the animation sequence in
    zombieAni.smd

    When I load in the mesh I do the following
    Actor1.LoadFromFile('media\characters\zombie1.smd' );
    Actor1.AddDataFromFile('media\characters\zombieAni .smd');

    I then Create the animation segments for the Actor1 object. This allows me to call a simple
    Actor1.SwitchToAnimation('AnimationName');

    Also this method allows for animation blending. GLScene can convert the absolute position of the vertices to a relative position. This make is possible to blend RifleFireAttack and Kneel animations without making a special KneelRifleFireAttack animation of its own. (This does affect the FrameRate, not sure how it will affect it with 20 zombies being blended)


    This method seems to have the most potential for what I am trying to do. However I still feel that there could be a more efficient or even better way to achieve similar results.

    My plan is to develop my own binary format based on the SMD files. So I will be able to develop all of my models and export them to my own format to be loaded. This should also make the files smaller as SMD files are fairly large.

    Any comments or suggestions are appreciated.
    Last edited by gasdeveloper; 02-12-2010 at 05:40 PM.

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