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J306

High-level question about modelling

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I've never actually created my own characters or vehicles using a tool before. Here's my understanding of how it works: you make your models in maya or 3ds max or whatever, and export them to whatever format that program uses. Then you write some kind of conversion software to convert them to a format of your choice, and use them in your engine. I understand that in maya, etc. you can animate the characters/vehicles to make movements like walking, etc. But I've always assumed that any interaction with other objects, like your terrain, must be coded in the engine. e.g. to make an object with multiple points-of-contact with the terrain, like a horse or a car, you must write the code to make it settle etc. yourself. Or to make a car where the wheels have some degree of independence from the body... my guess is that you would only use maya to create the LOOK of it. You would make all vertices of the body local to one space, and the vertices of each wheel local to their own spaces. Then in your engine you would plug a separate matrix into the body and each wheel, and write the code yourself to have it bounce on the suspension when it goes over a bump, etc. The only part of the animation done in maya would be things like making the wheels turn. Is my assumption correct? Or is there such thing as physics, etc. built right into the model by the modelling program? it would have to somehow work regardless of your engine's specifics, so I'm guessing the answer is no... I just need to know how this generally works, I don't actually have to learn maya or 3ds max right now (long story) so I don't want to waste my time...

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You are pretty well spot on in both cases. Some physics middleware (Havok and PhysX come to mind) allow you to use their plugins to set up a joint between the wheen and chassis, or an arm and shoulder from within the model package. Other custom formats will require some kind of data linking. Quake3 for a simple example uses a tag which is just a triangle to signify the joint between legs and torso.

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