Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Learning More in Maya

So far, for our game art essentials module we have been working a lot in Unity and exploring its features. Unity obviously works as a game engine, and is also useful in the design process for blocking out level designs. The software however does have its limitations. With the ability to only place basic polygon shapes, Maya is an essential tool for immersive level design. For this reason, we have spent the last three weeks or so working with Matt (the tutor from our animation module), who has been showing us more interesting features in maya.

Firstly, we received an introduction to rigging. Before our maya tutorials, I had a very vague understanding of rigging and its use for character animation, but wasn't aware of the applications for it that were shown. We were shown the joint tool (along with binding and weight painting), the IK handle tool for inverse kinematics, and also the hair dynamics tool in order to create a waving flag animation, which required baking in maya to achieve an animation as oppose to a dynamic polygon plane.

We also looked at advance UV mapping. Using planar projection, we cut edges the of a tree model and unfolded the planes. Here is my UV snapshot:

I also created leaves and branches for my tree. Because Unity uses backface culling, I had to find a solution to make a flat image visible from both sides. To achieve this, I created a cube, vertical projected the image on the polygon shape using the planar mapping function, deleted the unwanted sides and scaled the vertical planes close together. However, Matt shared with us a more efficient solution, using the 'Nature > Tree soft occlusion' shader in unity. This eliminates backface culling, meaning it was also useful for my waving flag plane. After creating both an advanced UV textured tree and a baked flag animation, I created a test room in unity. Unfortunately, I built my level on my free version of Unity I have at home, and the real time shadows feature is only available in Unity Pro. This means that my assets do not cast shadows.

Unity Web Player | Tree_and_flag

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