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alceloco

Starting game-dev, collecting software

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Hello everybody, I've been reading these forums for quite a time now and it's been interesting and entertaining, too :) I think I even learned a few things just from reading questions and the answers. I consider myself an experienced programmer, I did a lot of commercial web-apps, desktop (office and scientific) applications and a few 2D games for fun. Now I want to program a 3D game in my spare time (woohoo!), and I think I'll need some advice to avoid starting off the wrong foot. Please comment on my choice of software so far. I'm thankful for any hint I can get. Please don't be too harsh about my idea in general though. I know you get a lot of ambitious startups here (esp. the MMORPG ones). I am well aware that this is not going to be too easy. The time frame is 6 months, for completing at least a small proof-of-gameplay level. The game itself is going to be a 3rd-person Adventure/Action/RPG-type. Hm :) Let's go: Language used: C/C++ (i know it well, and it seems appropriate), IDE will be VisualStudio. --- Most important: Graphics: I've seen OGRE being recommended and it seems to be nice, easy to set-up, have a good documentation and an active community. Maybe I should get that book "Pro OGRE 3D Programming"? Modeling: I'm not very experienced in 3D modeling, however, I consider myself visually talented, so I'll give it a shot. As I am a newbie here, and I need to start work quickly, blender is too complicated. I liked Milkshape when I tried it about a year ago, and I've seen DeleD being used for (static) level design. (If I should be too stupid for this job, I'll make some ugly dummy models and have them replaced later.) Question here: I want independent skeletal animations - hm, e.g.: I'm thinking of having the legs walk or run, while at the same time the hands may hold a gun low or aiming, where the appropriate animations of legs and hands can be selected independently. Is this possible with Milkshape and Ogre? Most important, end. --- Textures: Not sure yet. I don't own any Photoshop-like software at the moment. (Only Flash for vector based graphics.) Maybe I'll try Paint.NET. Sound FX: Not important, until the project is nearly completed. The Free Sound Project seems useful though, and I've seen more recommendations in the FAQ. Music: Not important at this time as well, but I've seen a few talented composers around here, maybe I'll post a "help wanted" when the time has come. Probably handled by DirectSound or OpenAL, or ...? No idea yet... Well, since I lack experience in the field of 3D modeling, and yet want to make a good choice in the beginning, I mainly seek advice concerning my choice of modeling tools and the graphics engine. However, as I said, I welcome any support. Maybe I even missed something very important? Thanks :)

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Blender is fairly easy to use, given the plethora of video documentation and active community at blenderartists.org. Also, it supports skeletal animation, and it's IPO curve editor is very straightforward, making animation relatively simple. I came into Blender with some outdated experience in 3DSMax and found the workflow in Blender to be impressively quick. A day or two studying and you should be able to produce some stand-in assets easily enough.

Quote:
Question here: I want independent skeletal animations - hm, e.g.: I'm thinking of having the legs walk or run, while at the same time the hands may hold a gun low or aiming, where the appropriate animations of legs and hands can be selected independently. Is this possible with Milkshape and Ogre?


Ogre won't have anything to do with your animations, that will all be your modelling software. Ogre will just draw it to screen all pretty :) Support for IK will be based on your game engine, not the render engine.

Unless I'm gravely mistaken, Ogre is just the visual piece, correct?

Quote:
Textures: Not sure yet. I don't own any Photoshop-like software at the moment. (Only Flash for vector based graphics.) Maybe I'll try Paint.NET.


OpenCanvas has a free trial version of its software, but at ~$70 USD for the full version, it's very robust for next to nothing. You can check them out at www.portalgraphics.net (or the first google return on "opencanvas")

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Some more free tools:

For texture work, I'd also take a look at the GIMP. It's got some texturing plugins from what I can remember, and even some to make wrap-around/tiling work. Another potential source for textures (apart from free textures off the net) would be Perlin noise. You can create some interesting stuff by combining a couple of noise functions.

For the musical side, one thing that you really ought to get your hand on is Audacity. You can use it to create some effects, convert between waves and ogg/mp3, and do some basic voice work. If you have any background in writing sheet music, NoteWorthy Composer might be interesting - but it's not free.

For rendering, OGRE or Irrlicht are probably both safe bets. I use Milkshape for modeling stand-in stuff, and it's easy to get started in. Blender is confusing but potentially more powerful, so it will be worth your time learning it.

Edit: Another thing I forgot to mention, there's a little nifty program called HammerHead Rhythm Station which is pretty cool for creating some synth sounds. Could be great to throw together some stand-ins or if you want to create some loops to be part of a bigger piece.

[Edited by - lightbringer on April 5, 2007 7:23:48 PM]

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I strongly recommend Paint.NET for textures - I use it myself and couldn't imagine developing without it. The gradient tool added in (I think) version 3.0 is very useful.

Also, if you're doing this as a learning experience rather than as a job, I'd recommend you write your own engine. It may not be as fast or powerful as Unreal or Crytek, but you'll learn a lot from it. (I'm currently working on the third generation of my homebrew engine, focusing on tweaking the GUI and scripting language.)

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Thanks for the responses so far!

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Original post by BCullis
Quote:
Question here: I want independent skeletal animations - hm, e.g.: I'm thinking of having the legs walk or run, while at the same time the hands may hold a gun low or aiming, where the appropriate animations of legs and hands can be selected independently. Is this possible with Milkshape and Ogre?


Ogre won't have anything to do with your animations, that will all be your modelling software. Ogre will just draw it to screen all pretty :) Support for IK will be based on your game engine, not the render engine.

Unless I'm gravely mistaken, Ogre is just the visual piece, correct?


Well, the Ogre features page says it supports skeletal animation. So I guess I can build my models and animations with Blender or Milkshape and have them played by Ogre. However I'm not sure about this "mixing" of animations.

(You mention "IK", i did not mean inverse kinematics, in case you were thinking about that.)

Let's say I build a walking animation in Milkshape, modifying only the bones of the legs. Now I also build two other animations, e.g. 1.) waving hands, and 2.) shooting, each using only the bones of the arms. Now I want to play either waving or shooting, while also playing (at the same time) the walking animation on the legs.

Thats what I meant by independent animation (cycles).

I hope that's clearer now :) Does anyone know if the combination Milkshape/Ogre would allow that?

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Quote:
Well, the Ogre features page says it supports skeletal animation. So I guess I can build my models and animations with Blender or Milkshape and have them played by Ogre. However I'm not sure about this "mixing" of animations.

Yes, Ogre can mix skeletal animations.

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