I also took some time to stand back and look at the state of my engine, and I've decided my biggest problem is trying to work out how the game world relates to the 3d scene graph. You see, right now, I have a relatively nice interactive scene graph. It allows you to bring in a bunch of objects, attach behaviours to them, play animations, simulate things like physics, define connections between behaviours (e.g. doors, position sensors, switches, etc) ... but it's still just a scene graph with some smarts bolted onto it. And while you can get a certain degree of interactivity by just assigning behaviours to objects - at some point, there needs to be a more semantic model which says "This isn't just a collection of meshes - this is the bakery, and you come here if you want to buy bread" (not a very exciting example, but hopefully you get the idea). So my current slow burner design task is to work out what the game world objects should look like, and how they relate to the scene graph that represents them. If anyone knows of any good articles or engines that have good model for this - I'd really appreciate a pointer.
While I slowly mull all this over, I decided to tick off a few of the hundreds of todo items off my list. This week, I finally connected the last few missing dots on object network export from Maya. To test it out, I tried assembling a game-engine particle system in Maya and attaching it to an object. Here's a quick movie of a simple particle system attached to the fan. The particles just have some decay, Newtonian physics, and colour fade, but it's enough to give a nice blue plasma effect: