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Renovation of the Player model



One thing I want to redo or renovate is the player model and it's animations.  The first model was on a time limit and was mostly for showing off skills in modelling and character design. The assignment I handed in looks like this in a mandatory position to show that it is skinned:






The body model and skinning I am fine with. It has enough bones and links to be flexible enough for what I want. What I absolutely hated (but got very good grades for anyway) is the wings.
Notice how sloppy the wings are made. The main problem for me is the look, but actually, the look is not the only problem.  Let me show you an x-ray of how I built this model:





Notice the bones going from the wings. For every feather there's a bone controlling it. That means approximately 30 bones, which is not so bad since there's not necessarily a need for every feather to be skinned, but it is a hell to animate. The only good thing about having every feather controlled individually is that you can have 3-5 different feather textures and make them very hi-res without so much memory cost. A good engine would batch the rendering and good performance would not be a problem. 
But. No feathered wing looks like this. If an ornithologist saw this, he would rip my guts out or castrate me on the spot, everyone know how vicious they are.  So to be safe, I wanna change this.

Every bird wing has a number of layers and approximately 90 different feather types and shapes. So to make the wing look more real and voluminous, I wanted to do it "right". 

For reference, here's a drawing of the wing anatomy of a beautiful little bird called a "wall-creeper" (Tichodroma Muraria) 



There are many different feather types and wing shapes custom for the requirements of the specific bird. As you can see, there are the feathers that lift (the secondaries and the primaries) and some covering feathers that help micromanage the flight. 

So I wanted to try and model something that I liked the look of and matched more what a real wing looked like. Here's an initial model:


Here you can see what it looks like in viewport (don't mind the depth errors of the secondaries on the right wing). Here, I have two bones to control the spread of the primaries(the outer-most feathers) and two bones to control the secondaries. The Coverts are controlled by the wing inner bones. There's also an alula on each wing to make it look more like real wings.

These feathers were taken from a reference picture of feathers from a red-tailed hawk, since they have some more camouflage in their colouring. Since most of the hunting is gonna be in desert/Savannah/jungle environment, I wanted something that could blend in when sneaking around in tall grass. 

Please note that I am not an artist and I don't pretend to be. But I mostly know what I want.

Here's a rendering so that you can get a feel without the depth errors in the viewport:

In my eyes, this is much more pleasing to look at and if I were playing this character, I'd be less irritated. 

So the next few steps for me now is animating the thing and then coding some solid but fluent controls for it in a  suitable test-scene. So I'm gonna do that now.
The Next step is implementing a learning system for the creatures using a neural evolution algorithm.
After that I think I'll continue on the world design. More on that later.


Thanks for reading.




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