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poigwym

where to find models ?

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You can find them for free at opengameart.org... If you're willing to pay you can find really good ones on 3dmodels-textures.com and turbosquid.com in lots of formats.
Prices for paid models vary from $1 to $1000 depending on quality, complexity and license. All on opengameart.org are free of cost but usually creative commons licensed.

Have fun!

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I can also recommend the Unity Asset Store, they have a lot of free stuff and even more cheap stuff in there.

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My experience is that you're best off learning to use Blender. It's an ugly road to follow, but you're never short of the model you need if you need it.
 
You're talking about developing a skill that's probably more difficult than game programming: sculpting and texturing. But you don't have to be world class.
 
The problem, in my experience, is that the model you want or need is never out there.
 
One of the reasons I like Unity is that it has such a great assets store. But after playing around with it for 6 months, I found I was finding it impossible to find what I wanted at any price. I bought a great model as a main character model and it was not rigged and thus largely useless, for example.

 

And I think that also creates a problem with learning, because you have no idea what the problem is as a beginner. Game development in Unity or any platform is very confusing at first in terms of "What is it I am supposed to be doing here?" When you have art assets that are not fully functional (ready), it just makes it that much worse. If you become the artist, then you know what it takes to make a piece of art fully functional.

 

So, maybe this path isn't the right one for everyone, but I decided to just bite the bullet and learn Blender. Even if all you can produce is very crude models that are functional, that's exactly what you need for learning. Your code doesn't care whether your models are pretty.

 

And it's just unrealistic to think you're going to go from knowing nothing about game programming to making the next Skyrim in two years or less. And I'm not talking about game development time. I mean you won't have the knowledge level for well over two years no matter how great your teachers or how much you apply yourself. It is going to take time to learn these skills. Build them up slowly, one by one, and eventually you will have thousands of these skills because they add up over time. And after years of doing this, you may impress yourself with how much you know how to do.

 

But anyway, being able to produce crude models in Blender (or Max or Maya or whatever you want to use for tools) is pretty much a requirement to 3D game programming in my opinion. You not only are then able to produce crude but usable game assets, but you learn the process of producing game assets which gives you a deeper knowledge of what you need to code.

 

It's my opinion that you are better off producing your own crude models in Blender, than buying models. I've heard it said you need to budget probably about $2,000 for game art assets at a minimum. But so far my own personal experience is that if you are going to go that route, you probably need to look at the art assets available and choose your game based on the art assets instead of the other way around. In other words, look at the art available and let the art make the decision about what type of game you are making. (Likely the same game everyone else is going to make that has any success buying art assets because they are buy the same art assets you are. I'm seeing a lot of zombie games here.) Because if you decide what game you are going to make and then go looking for art, you simply will never find it until you get an artist to agree to produce whatever you want. Which you can probably put an artist on retainer for maybe $40,000 a year; I don't know.

 

On the other hand, if you had a fully functional game with crude "stand in" art that was very functional. You might have a project that you could go to an artist with with a demo and say, "Look at this game I've produced. I think it's a lot of fun, but it's got my crummy stand in art. Would you be willing to partner with me in this game and produce the art for it?" If it's a fun game, a good artist might jump at that, although one person producing all the art for a game might be a bit much unless the game has limited scope. But then again, if you produced all the crude art, then you have a pretty good idea of how much work it will be for one artist. And so, that scope would be limited enough for one artist to redo all the art.

 

A couple of quick pointers for game programmers learning 3D modeling:

Model files like .fbx are not made to store game models. Many of them are made to store all the data for your project. And these modeling programs are not designed to make game assets. Max, Maya, and Blender are artistic tools made to support a broad range of art projects including making movies and still art images. There's just a ton of stuff in there you will never use both in the programs themselves and the model files they produce.

 

So, what you need to learn is to produce a single model rather than an entire scene. Maybe learn to form parent-child relationships with sub-meshes.

 

A big mistake that you are likely to make is to think that the shaders and materials in these programs can be used in your game. When you make your game models, you may export vertex colors, although this is a crude form of art that probably never gets used on high end games because it gives you 1980's style 3D graphics. Or, you will UV unwrap all your models, produce a texture (color map), and that will be it as far as shaders. When you get more advanced, you will use that same UV unwrap to produce bump maps, specular maps, etc. But going down the path of learning about shaders and materials in these programs is largely a waste because you are highly likely to never use that. Focus, on coloring the model with UV wrapping and textures, period. Later learn to bake textures and do things like normal maps.

 

Box modeling is where you want to start. Find something that teaches you box modeling. That basically means you start with a box, and you push and pull on it, while adding vertices, until it eventually is sculpted into the shape you want.

 

No part of your scene other than your model and it's sub-meshes (formed in a parent-child relationship) are going to be exported. None of the cameras. None of the lights. None of the materials and shaders short of producing a UV map and much later baked textures. Even your textures will be done by producing a UV map, exporting it to your paint program, painting it, and then re-importing it to the art program to see it, and your game so it can be used. Animations may be exported along with any armature used for animation, but skinned animation is a very advanced topic if you get any further into it than superficially. In Unity for example, you may not have to get into it more than superficially. Rigid animation is far more simple and straight forward and all that really needs exported is the parent-child relationships from the sub-meshes; you don't do armatures or rigging and skinning for that.

 

Also note that the x,y, and z axes may be different in your art program than they are in the game, which is a problem you'll have to solve.

 

Ideally, scale all your models before you export them rather than trying to scale them in your game.

 

A lot of game programmers want to jump in and make the game of their dreams from day one, rather than learning to crawl before they sign up for the marathon. They are anxious to see modern cutting edge graphics, which tend to be a fairly advanced subject, rather than learning step by step like the industry did. If you can slow down and learn to do 3D graphics from the 1980's, then the 90's, and so on, you'll have an easier time of it. If you can start out using models that are vertex colored, rather than textured and then as you get that figure out, work with low poly textured models, then work up to higher poly textured models, then normal mapped higher poly textured models and so on, you'll have less to learn all at once. It just means your models are going to look extremely dated while you're learning.

 

But the industry itself did not start out with high poly models with parallax mapping, secular mapping, and ambient occlusion. The industry learned new techniques that became increasingly complex over the decades. Maybe cut yourself some slack and allow yourself to learn with lower end graphics. The important thing is you are learning new things every week, not what the graphics of your game look like.

 

Of course, if you are using a game engine like Unity, rather than programming the game from scratch, Unity makes it a lot easier to avoid learning the inner workings of what's going on because you can buy high end art and it tends to just handle high end graphics for you to a certain extent, and just plop it in your game. Still, it seems to me beginners would benefit from producing their own crude 3D art in Blender and learning to work with that along with learning to make their art better by learning things like UV wrapping and unwrapping. One of the real dangers of using an engine like Unity in order to learn the craft, is that it allows you to skip so many steps that you may not learn things that you really actually needed to learn; then latter you get stuck because you failed to learn an important step that you were allowed to skip. What happens for example, when you reach a point that you need to play with UV coordinates (to animate a texture or something), but because you skipped that whole part about learning UV mapping, you don't even know what a UV coordinate is? So, you don't know what question to ask, and maybe there's no tutorial to show explain to you what you should have learned in a previous step? But regardless, I think it's beneficial to learn to produce your own crude art work.

Edited by BBeck

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Sign up for mixamo.

It can take any 3d humanoid model, and rig it and apply animations.

For now it's completely free to anyone, just create a free Adobe account.

Enjoy!

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