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Animations, oh my!

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Finally got down to the nitty-gritty of the newest project. And since I'm not on NDA with myself, I'll tell you that it's a new Uber-Bulldozer. It'll contain the levels from all three of the original Bulldozers (including the unreleased Bulldozer III).

I also want to make a fourth set of 60 levels that'll add the ability to have more than one dozer on the screen at a time. I'm really trying to avoid "gilding the lily" with Bulldozer, as I've yet to see a sokoban-enhancement that added anything to the game. I did, however, like having multiple ducks in Duck Tiles because it gave you a bit more latitude with what you could design. You could certainly have Duck Tiles with only one duck (which is basically Lunar Lockout), but having multiple ducks did make for some more interesting puzzles. If anything, having multi-dozer puzzles would allow you to have several small puzzles on a single level. Hopefully that'd make the game a bit more interesting without affecting its "diamond-ness".

Read TANSTAAFL's article for a description of a diamond. Sokoban's (aka Bulldozer) is the best example of a diamond you'll find.

So for you Bulldozer fans. Sorry that it's taken so long, but Bulldozer deserves a bit better look than the unchanged-in-five-years version you're playing now. Please be patient and you'll eventually get the finest Bulldozer that I can muster.

On a similar note, I think I've got animations working the way I want 'em to. I wanted to have cutely animated critters like my duck-tiles dancing ducks. The animation was done with the long-discontinued Emotion 3D. I was lucky in that one of the stock-models included with the product was a rubber ducky, so making him dance was just a matter of fiddling with the controls and exporting a pile of PNG files for Flash.

The problem comes up, though, when you wanna work with something other than the built-in models. Emotion 3D will import .X and .3DS files, but their .3DS importer is just broken enough that it crashes when you load up a .3DS file exported from my 3D modeler-of-choice, Carrara Studio. That means that I needed something to either convert .3DS to .X or .3DS to non-Carrara-exported .3DS. And every format-convertor I found was problematic. Either they'd convert the model to a wireframe or they'd convert the model to all-white or something else that made it pretty useless to animate with Emotion 3D (which is strictly an animator and not a modeler).

Finally I remembered that I still had a license for GameSpace from that review I did a while back. I'd since uninstalled the program, though, and that's a BIGASS PROBLEM for Caligari products. You see, Caligari is apparently staffed by people who are so afraid of piracy that their installation must be a twisted morass of serial numbers and order numbers and product keys and such, and it's almost impossible to install the product without a few emails to tech support. So three days and a half-dozen emails to Caligari tech support later I once again had a working serial number (my old one turned into a pumpkin) and could install gamespace. While gamespace's interface is confusing as all get-out, their importer and exporter works very well. So, the sequence is now. . .

1. Draw the model in Carrara Studio (which is the nicest most non-confusing modeler I've found).
2. Export the model from Carrara in .3DS format.
3. Import the .3DS model into GameSpace.
4. Re-texture the model, because Carrara's .3DS export inexplicably makes all the exported textures black. Hopefully that's fixed in the new version.
5. Export the model from GameSpace as a .X file, as .X packs all the textures into the file and Emotion 3D likes that.
6. Import the .X file into Emotion 3D and animate it.
7. Export the animation from Emotion 3D as a series of PNG files, so you get nice transparency and alpha-blended edges.
8. Import the PNG files into Flash, which thankfully recognizes that you're importing many similar files and imports 'em all in sequence, so you don't have to import each frame separately.

I'd show you the end-result of this sequence, but gamedev's web-space doesn't yet allow you to store Flash .SWF files. If that's not fixed by tomorrow, I'll just put it somewhere else. Suffice it to say, it's worth the effort.
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