Sign in to follow this  
Dark Matter

Advice Wanted: A complete solution for game development?

Recommended Posts

After researching for a game engine, and sitting down to learn level design, I've come across a problem. I thought to decide on the Torque Game Engine. It seemed to offer the simplest solution for engine, gui, and level design. I figured I'd use Blender for modeling (for now since its free), and I already have 3D World Studio where I've been learning for the past year how to design simple levels. The problem is, all of this software has to be ported here, exported there, converted to this format there ....I am looking for a complete solution. Preferably a suite of game development software which works together nicely as a unit. I don't want to have to download 50 different plugins and bridges and exporters just to put my models and maps into the engine. I am willing to spend a few hundred (or charge a few thousand) to get a better working solution to this, but prefer a cheaper solution. As it is, it's quite a headache having to port all of these files and such just to get things running. I realize there will be some porting to a degree with any solution, but right now this seems ridiculous, and it is eating up more time than I want it to. I've been saving for Maya for the past year as well, but am now a bit foggy on the differences/preferences between it and 3ds Max (again, I've only been studying 3D World Studio and Maya 8.5 PLE the past year ...I am a self-studying student). So some light being shed on that would be great if anyone has the knowledge. Thanks in advance.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Have you looked into automating these processes? Manually converting and moving around files is indeed pretty tedious, but a few batch files here and there can do miracles.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
What needs to be ported and converted? Usually, you just have certain file formats that your engine can read, and you export from your development tools in that format. It's pretty smooth, once you get it all stitched together. If there's something taking too much time to get into the right format, then it's likely that your exporter isn't doing its job.

Automation is definitely your friend. My own project uses a custom biped animation format, and I wrote a tool to convert from .X file format to that format. Rather than manually browsing to a folder to convert each file after I export it, I modified my game engine to read the first few bytes of the file to determine if it is X format when it loads it in, and if so, to launch the conversion tool automatically in the background to silently convert it. I even went so far as to use the same X extension so that it was easy to overwrite old animations without remembering their names when exporting from the modeling program. Yep, very lazy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
Original post by Kest
What needs to be ported and converted? Usually, you just have certain file formats that your engine can read, and you export from your development tools in that format.
That's more of a pipe dream than reality in a lot of cases though. Importers and exporters can be very flaky, especially when the features between formats are very different, or the exporters or importers themselves have bad interpretations of the data.

Moving data around between programs for me is one of my biggest hurdles. A lot of programs can't read a file of the same type exported by another program, or if they do, they look nothing alike.

For instance, none of my 3d programs can export an .x file that XNA's built in content manager can read. It's a good thing that my copy of Carrara has a FBX exporter, or I'd be screwed.

MeshLab can't read a 3DS file exported from any of my programs.

And sometimes program 1 doesn't export to a format that program 2 can import. And you need to introduces program 3 into the mix and hope for the best.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Writeing file conversion utilities isn't that hard. There is even an extensive archive of file formats to help you (IIRC: http://www.wotsit.org )

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
Original post by Daaark
Moving data around between programs for me is one of my biggest hurdles. A lot of programs can't read a file of the same type exported by another program, or if they do, they look nothing alike.

Hmm.. That's something I'm not required to do with my project. All resource files go straight from one tool to the game's data.

Quote:
For instance, none of my 3d programs can export an .x file that XNA's built in content manager can read. It's a good thing that my copy of Carrara has a FBX exporter, or I'd be screwed.

Isn't Microsoft responsible for XNA, the x-file format, and a few x-file exporters? Surely, they work together? Or is it that you use a unique 3D application?

Quote:
And sometimes program 1 doesn't export to a format that program 2 can import. And you need to introduces program 3 into the mix and hope for the best.

If it were me, I would rather learn to write my own exporter than go through a ton of mindless medial work.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
Original post by Daaark
Quote:
Original post by Kest
What needs to be ported and converted? Usually, you just have certain file formats that your engine can read, and you export from your development tools in that format.
That's more of a pipe dream than reality in a lot of cases though. Importers and exporters can be very flaky, especially when the features between formats are very different, or the exporters or importers themselves have bad interpretations of the data.

Moving data around between programs for me is one of my biggest hurdles. A lot of programs can't read a file of the same type exported by another program, or if they do, they look nothing alike.

For instance, none of my 3d programs can export an .x file that XNA's built in content manager can read. It's a good thing that my copy of Carrara has a FBX exporter, or I'd be screwed.

MeshLab can't read a 3DS file exported from any of my programs.

And sometimes program 1 doesn't export to a format that program 2 can import. And you need to introduces program 3 into the mix and hope for the best.


This describes my situation as well.

Alot of you aren't really giving ...useful responses. So please, keep it clean if you have no detailed information to give :) "make a file" or "code the engine to batch" or "use automation" are really vague responses to give to an admitted amateur at the process. Elaborate.

To those of you who provided links, thanks.

To clarify the heart of the matter I am asking if any of you knows of a software suite that is cross compatible, with little need for 3rd party exporters/importers/batch files, and which is designed to work together. For example, a game development suite which includes an engine, modeler, mapper, etc. They don't have to come as a package together, but rather some solutions that are designed to work with one another, to avoid these hassles I have encountered. I want as smooth a pipeline as I can have, and avoid as many software pitfalls as I can.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
Original post by Dark Matter
Alot of you aren't really giving ...useful responses. So please, keep it clean if you have no detailed information to give :) "make a file" or "code the engine to batch" or "use automation" are really vague responses to give to an admitted amateur at the process. Elaborate.

I live to serve.

Automation:

1. Find any tool.
2. Find any game engine.
3. Find any exporter for your tool that saves to a simple format that has the features you need.
4. Write your own tool that reads that format as input and re-saves the file as you see fit, into your own format. Or find an existing tool that converts from the exported format to one that you need.
5. When you open the file into your game engine to use it, check to see if it is the non-engine format before you read it in. If it is, go to 6. If it's not, go to 7.
6. Close the file, launch your conversion tool that opens and re-saves the file as the new format, then re-open the file.
7. Read the file into your game engine with your custom format.

If you need any specific step explained, just point it out.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
Original post by Kest
Isn't Microsoft responsible for XNA, the x-file format, and a few x-file exporters? Surely, they work together? Or is it that you use a unique 3D application?

Unfortunately the bolded part is a big fat no. About two years ago I did a bunch of research into working with Microsoft's DirectX exporter for Maya and it is a horrid abomination. If you head over to the Visual Arts section you'll a sticky that discusses some of my (rather undocumented by Microsoft) findings.

As far as I know, though, Torque has custom exporters for the major 3d packages out there for exporting to their own proprietary format, so I'm not really sure what the issue is here. Torque has its own integrated asset management and world building tools, you just need a coding IDE and a modeling/animation package.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
Original post by Dark Matter
Alot of you aren't really giving ...useful responses. So please, keep it clean if you have no detailed information to give :) "make a file" or "code the engine to batch" or "use automation" are really vague responses to give to an admitted amateur at the process. Elaborate.


As the old saying goes, you'll get a lot more flies with honey than vinegar. "Can you explain what you mean?" or "Can you tell me more about how to do that?" would go alot farther. When people see responses like this, they're far less inclined to help because, regardless of intent, your response sounds vaguely insulting or thankless noob greedy.

I use Torque as well, and go from a free 3D modeller (Wings3D) to Milkshape to export my .DTS files. I'm not all that experienced yet in using Constructor for exporting levels, but the few I've done drop into Torque Advanced pretty quickly. If you have the luxury of 3DSMax, I believe the .DTS exporter is more robust and has many more features.

Quote:

For example, a game development suite which includes an engine, modeler, mapper, etc. They don't have to come as a package together, but rather some solutions that are designed to work with one another, to avoid these hassles I have encountered. I want as smooth a pipeline as I can have, and avoid as many software pitfalls as I can.


I can't help you here. In my experience the most common pipeline is using one of the big packages like Maya or Max with custom exporters, maybe run though custom data massaging tools that append whatever info you need (like camera positioning stuff) as a last step before you put it into your engine. There are middleware solutions out there, but I haven't used them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

Sign in to follow this