One choice was already made for me, Unity is the program that is used to made Fury. So I’d being using Unity documents to learn about what the iPad can and can not do. This would also help me keep the challenging project less complex.
My original choice was Maya since I’ve used it for a long time but my friends suggested I take a look at 3D Max and the CAT tool.
I did a few tutorials and then did several experiments trying to find the ideal bone setup for the characters I would design. I ran into a few issues that slowed me down but it was a great tool that out weighed the issues.
Here are somethings I ran into that slowed me down.
The CAT tool works best with centimeter than it does with meters. This had to do with the grid size. The CAT bones work better if they are significantly larger than a single grid unit.
The weight tool replaced removed weigh automatically which can be difficult when it makes the weight on a left foot for example end up linked to the right leg.
I have not been able to figure out a way to make an IK for the head. I’d like to be able to have the head not react so much to the torso and spine.
However, the bonus is the layers. It took me a few days of playing around with this before I got the hang of it and found ways to make it work to my advantage.
During all these experiments I was also exporting my primitive model and animations to view them in Unity. I wanted to learn the work flow as well as see if any issues come up and how to resolve them.
A few things to be aware of. Unity uses meters so while it was fine to work on the characters in centimeters I’d need to export them to meter scale. This can be done easily in the FBX export options.
Unity also prefers that the origin axis be with the Y axis up and 3D Max only works with Z axis up. There is also a setting for this in the FBX exporter.
I had trouble getting my textures to work correctly and after a lot of research and experiments found that TGA textures with or without alpha seem to be the better option for working in 3D Max and Unity.
I want to challenge myself but I also need a project that is reasonable in scope.
I’m a 2D and 3D artist so I needed to decide on the best medium. With 2D I could create and animate the book with vector or raster images. Doing it this way would mean making sprites and with sprites means lower quality resolution. Doing it this way also requires two databases of art one for print (high resolution) and video display (low resolution). Also worth mentioning is that it would limit the number of frames in animation that could be used.
Another option is to use 2D art on 3D planes and animate it with bones. This is done exceptionally well by Mike Mobile. http://www.mikamobile.com/game3_1.html They use more than just one image for the legs and arm movements. Using a switch to change from a bended knee to a straight or kicking position. Do a search on them to learn more if you are interested. This option would free up more space for animation and make it possible to do more than a simple looping animation movement.
Also possible, would be to model and animate the characters and some of the sets in 3D. This would mean the animations could be more elaborate. The sets could also be more immersive and I could play around more with camera angles and find interesting views. After talking with my friends this seemed like the more interesting choice.
Most of this and last year I have been working on an indy game with David Ayers and Nik Billings with the spare time I have available. You can see more about this project here http://wwflgames.com/
After working on Fury I had a good idea of how much of my spare time I could reasonably offer to make a quality children’s book. So at the beginning of April I had completed the art for the Fury game and began the pre-production on a personal project. I spoke with some talented and intelligent friends and with some good advise decided to make an interactive book for the iPad that could also be made for print.
I will be posting some of my experiences here and I hope that despite my poor typing skills I can explain what I have learned and help anyone who may run into the same issues.