Project Eternity - Update #42, Pretty and Technical
Art Director Rob Nesler brings us the latest Project Enternity update about the work their technical animator Antonio is doing and an image of a godlike made by Polina.
The godlike are the children of humanoids (most often humans) who have been "blessed" (or cursed, depending on personal or social view) with the physical manifestation of a divine spark granted by the gods. Godlike manifest their divine heritage in a variety of ways: wings, horns, strange birthmarks, talons, odd eyes - but they always manifest it somehow. BTW, in case you missed it, this is a playable "race".
And on the work of Antonio:
If you recall, in the last update, I wrote this little nugget:
"Antonio Is our Technical Animator. He makes rigs, writes scripts that make rigs, and rigs the rigs. It’s all very technical. You wouldn’t understand. He’s a professional."
So, specifically ROB, what does Antonio do that will make Project Trenton/Eternity awesome?
Generally, technical animators program scripts using languages like MEL or Python to extend or enhance the functionality of existing off-the-shelf apps like Maya, Max, or Softimage. These scripts are often programs running within the larger app, but sometimes they are utilities that exist outside the application to assist in conversion or batching operations. These often can be purchased, but sometimes they themselves don’t have all the features our animators want so...
NO! Specifically ROB! What the hell does he do???
Okay, okay, for Project Trenton/Eternity Antonio has written, a few, and re-written a couple times the following, and it's all called DNA (Design New Actor).
Firstly, there is the Export Rig, and this is not so unique to 3D character animation. This is a highly optimized skeleton that represents only the bones that the actual actor mesh is weighted to. For a humanoid character these bones would be named: Pelvis, Femur_Rt and Femur_Lt., etc. Vertices of the visible textured geometry, that the player sees, are all attached to these bones with various amounts of strength, so the character will appear to bend and flex more naturally. Sometimes these bones will have physics applied to them, like pony tails. This is less a rig and more of: simply the skeleton that the other rigs interact with, but these are the only bones that go into the game, and we call it the "export rig". Antonio builds this skeletal hierarchy to fit the expected proportions of the character, and character modelers build character meshes to match visible body parts to the locations of bones, so that -- for example -- the bendy part between the upper_arm_rt and lower_arm_rt ends up being where a humanoid creature, as designed, would expect an elbow to be.
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