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Creating Interactive walkthroughs with hotspots for an overwhelmed beginner

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Dear Experts I am trying to create an interactive museum display where visitors can wander unrestrained through a 3D model of a large house that I have built and textured using a CAD package. I also need to add 'hotspots' so that people can interrogate the interesting features of this house (i.e. by selecting an object that might flash to show importance, a new screen appears telling the user about the object). I have no idea about how to get from the 3D model to the finished interactive, not having done anything like this before, but think that using some sort of game engine might be the way forward from what I have seen described on this and other sites, but am very confused as to the best engine to use. I am aware that you can import models created outside of the game engines for use, but that's about it. I have no experience in programming, so the ideal solution would be software that has pre-defined commands for this sort of thing. Just to make matters worse, I have about a month to do this in, which I'm sure sends hands flying to foreheads if they haven't done so already. If anyone can suggest anything that might help I would be extremely grateful, even if it doesn't happen to be a game engine! Thank you for your time. Heather

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What platforms need to be supported? And what platform will you be developing on?

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Something like Unity would seem the best solution. For most 3D model formats, you can just drag and drop, then add a basic camera to the scene to provide the walkthrough. It has a simple trigger / event system for basic interaction, as well as more complex interactivity using scripts.

The only down-sides with it at present are that the editor itself is currently Mac-only , though they are working on a Windows version. (That refers to the editor itself: you can *build* for Windows, iPhone, Wii and the web with the current version, though the Pro version is needed to build for non-Mac platforms).

(Unity is already used by architects for walkthroughs, as well as for installations and even live DJ visuals, so you'll have no trouble finding someone to help on their forums.)


Another option is GarageGames' "Torque" products, but I've not been overly impressed by those. Still, this may be the best fit if using a Mac isn't an option. (Or if you have a tiny, tiny budget.)

Otherwise, you're probably stuck with using one of the (admittedly free) 3D engines out there and learning to program.

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Thank you both for your replies. I am using a PC running XP, so any Mac software is out. Would something like dx studio or blitz 3d or daz be of any use, do you think? Either that or perhaps something like Director?

Thanks for taking the time to reply.

Regards

Heather

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Quote:
Original post by Heather_Bear
Thank you both for your replies. I am using a PC running XP, so any Mac software is out. Would something like dx studio or blitz 3d or daz be of any use, do you think? Either that or perhaps something like Director?



I'm not personally familiar with DX Studio, but it seems like a good candidate for your needs, and not a million miles away form Unity (albeit lacking most of Unity's support for multiple scripting languages and build targets). It looks like you'll still need to look at javascript for the interaction.

Download the freeware version and try it out. This is easily the best way to determine if something will fit your needs and skills-set.


The "Blitz..." products are based on the venerable BASIC programming language, so you will need to do some programming to get anything out of them. I'm primarily familiar with BlitzMAX, which is more focused on 2D. Blitz3D is a little older, but is similar in concept and seems to have a solid community support base.

Again, try downloading the Blitz3D demo and give it a poke and a prod. You might find it fits your workflow better.


(BASIC was originally designed specifically for beginners -- 'BASIC' is an acronym: "Beginners All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code -- so it's relatively easy to get to grips with it. There is no recognised standard for BASIC languages and even the "Blitz..." products vary.)


I'm not sure if DAZ produce anything that would meet your requirements. They're focused on content creation, such as modelling and virtual landscapes. I don't see anything on their site that lets you produce interactive walkthroughs.

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