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jonathanplumb

Where to start for rigging and animation?

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Hey guys, I've decided to step into the realm of 3D programming and have hit a road-block. I am a decent 3D modeler and have taken a few 3D modeling and animation classes in college now. There was even a small segment on game assets, but it was all solid mesh stuff with no animation. So here's my problem: I need a good tutorial that covers what I need to know to rig and animate a character for a game asset. I can model a character, and I can texture it, no problem (although not exactly professional quality yet). I can even rig and animate using Biped (I use 3DS Max 2010). From what I've been reading though, it sounds like rigging with bones using an IK solver or something like that is the best for rigging for a game asset. Also, as for animations: how do I do multiple animations? I can do a simple running animation no problem, but it uses my keyframe bar up. If I want to store that animation and do another, what do I do? Then the final issue I haven't been able to resolve: how do I use all those animations and what-not in my 3D game? If I export to .FBX does it automatically export all my animations too and I just have to identify them by name and keyframe? Am I way off base? I've read dozens of tutorials and they are all about "low level poly modeling" or "basic rigging" but none of them really put it all together. None of them say "this is how you will package up your model and animations to deliver to the programmers" followed by "this is how you implement a rigged and animated character into your game and how to identify and play animations." Any help would be great. Thanks.

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I speak with little experience here but:

I am using blender for my models/animations, in blender theres not only frames but also "actions" that is each action has its own frames so I can put a walking animation into a "walk" action, a reload animation into a "reload" action etc. If this is not possible (been a few years since I used max) then you could just put every animation one after another (when exporting with the Ogre3d exporter it lets you specify the range of each animation, e.g. "run" 1 - 30, "jump" 31-60), I'm sure there is a way to add more frames (or just to view more that are alreaady there) as if you used all availible frames for running then thats rather odd/limiting.

Exporting and using the models in your game is entirly up to what your game is using. I'm using Ogre3D, it comes with an exporter for blender (and others) so I can export my model along with animations/skeleton etc and load them into my game. Playing an animation is quite simple then, just call the relevant function giving the name of the animation to play.

I would suggest using an already existing lib to do your animation as it is quite a big thing to code yourself. I came across Cal3D while looking for somehtign that dealt with animations and it seemed ok from the sdk (it doens't use its own rendering like Ogre3D does so it might integrate easier with your game). MMy only problem with it (and what stopped me from using it) was the terrible trouble triying to get a blender exporter working with it.

The last two questions (packing up a model/loading it and using it in a game) entirly depend on what your going to be using to play your animations in game.

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Thanks for the info. I know in 3DS Max I can extend the time to as long as I want, so I guess I could do animations back-to-back. However, I also know 3DS Max has all sorts of gadgets and windows and tools and what-not, I'm sure there's something similar to what you're talking about built-in, I just need to find it. I know I can save/load animations, but what you mentioned as far as having them all in a single list is what I really want.

As for what I'm using, I'm currently trying to dive into the XNA framework. I'm not completely sure the capabilities of XNA by itself and how much external libs I'm going to need at this point. I'm sure the more I toy with it the more I'll learn what its capabilities are.

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.x files allow you to store animations within them. I've never used them with animations though.

There is a video here how to do animations with XNA:
http://blogs.msdn.com/dawate/archive/2008/02/05/building-a-3d-game-in-xna-from-scratch-free-video-tutorial-series-now-available.aspx

Tutorial 6, I've not checked it myself.

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