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New default character discussion


Duion
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I started a new thread about making a new default character, it has been obvious for many years now that we need a replacement for the default soldier and make a new better usable more generic default character people can use.


This topic was already worked on like 5 years ago, when the steering committee still existed, but the person working on it bailed out and after that the steering committee was abandoned as well as most of the plans that were worked on till then.


I already started the progress of making a new default character, but then I figured out it may not be good enough and may not be the best workflow.


If you just make a dummy character as a placeholder, people will use that and will have a hard time replacing it with something usable later, since you likely cannot re-use anything of it.


Then I figured out making a new default character is not so much about the character itself, but about the implementation, so the new default character should not be something fancy, just a placeholder, but what will be important is that the implementation is made well to show people how it is done and that it can be extended upon, so people can use the prototype to turn into a fully usable character later.


So here was my idea so far:


1. Use Makehuman for the character generation entirely, the advantage with that will be that everyone will be able to create a new character to their liking in Makehuman, so anyone without any modeling skills will be able to replace the character in an instant.


2. Use good settings in Makehuman, in Makehuman there are many types of mesh and rig you can use, but I figured it is best to use the high polygon model as well as the high bone rig. Those will be not good for performance, but it is far easier to remove polygons and bones as it is to add them. I think the model will be around 15 000 polygons, which is roughly the same as the new default soldier anyway, the default soldier has a lot of junk on him, like armor platings, weapons and such which increase the polygon count. So even using the high polygon mesh Makehuman will not increase polygon compared to what we have now. From then on everyone needs to use the same settings when making their characters in Makehuman.


3. Do the implementation, give people a Blender file with everything already set up, like LOD levels, animation editor and all the other stuff you may need. The problem with Makehuman is, it has all kinds of export options, except one that fits Torque3D. What Torque3D needs is metric system and character facing the positive Y-axis. I already made a feature request on Makehuman, but no idea if they implemented it already, until then we have to rotate it manually, which can be tricky, since rotating a skeleton can go wonky if you do it wrong and turn your character into a giant blob.


4. Now we should have a character in Torque3D, without animations, so now we need to add a default set of animations using the default rig, so everyone having made their individual character in Makehuman should be able to link the pre-made animations to his character. The animations should be exported individually, like it is done in Torque3D now, so we can build a library of them and everyone can use them.


5. We need to figure out a way to optimize the models, meaning a way to put the textures on one atlas texture, since Makehuman exports them on many individual textures. What I did was to bake all textures on one atlas texture, but what that does is, it makes it unusable for other people, since everything is already fixed and slight changes on the character would mean to redo all the textures. Therefore I suggest keeping the character naked and overlaying the clothes, this adds polygons, but makes things much easier to use.



So I think that is some kind of ideal workflow and it does not having to do any actual modeling work, which is probably the hardest part. The problem with characters however is, you need to get the initial system right, since if you have to change it later, you have to change everything. Imagine having a rig where bones are missing and you need to add them later and then you need to do the weightpainting again and need to do all animations again. Or is just use rename one bone, you may need to do it in every animation as well and/or retarted the animations.


The most important part of the new default character is not the character itself, but to decide on a standard on how to do it, so it can be used modular, which is not possible with the current one. I already had some supposed dummy default characters opened in Blender that others made, but even having many years of experience in Blender and modeling I had absolutely no idea how to use it and in most cases probably even the creators themselves did not know how to use it, since they did not even had it implemented into a game where it was in fully working state with scripts animations LOD etc. I downloaded almost every free player model there is already and almost everything was completely useless garbage to me, since it was not how I do modeling and it was not how it has to be done for games. Therefore having a default way of doing things ist most important, as well as having it modular, so not everyone who wants to do a change in the character has to know every skill there is to make a fully functioning character.


So what do you think? If possible keep this discussion within people who actually know how to make fully working game characters, otherwise we will not get anywhere like in previous attempts.

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Yes,...this would be great ... are you already working on this?...any pictures from the development?

...there will be no problem with character base mesh? - faces flows with Makehuman model?.... i know it is not ideal for use for a realtime....many useless Ngons.

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Alright! Now we're onto something. As I eluded to in the other thread where this discussion started, I'm already knee deep in a tutorial about all of this stuff so I will be putting that out there real soon. More on that in a minute. For now, I'd like to thank you for taking an interest in this topic and going so far as to provide an outline of ideas. I can already see that you will be a valuable ally in the struggle to document all of this for our beautiful new peoples!


Now I do have a small difference in opinion about the method by which we should present this information. I really feel that we need to present the information in a smaller, bite-sized fashion(which is exactly what I'm typing up now) so that it is easier to digest. I do think you are all over this, Duion, and what you are suggesting here all fits hand in glove with what I'm proposing. While we may have a difference in opinion and workflows(and honestly you have some great ideas around workflow), the point here is that the relevant information is reaching newcomers in an easy to read fashion. Let's not allow small things like this create a barrier between us, because when it's all said and done we both want the same thing for this Community: an easy way to approach the existing Player object system in Torque.


Now I know when I proposed this idea https://forums.torque3d.org/viewtopic.php?f=10&t=1737&start=10#p12631 I suggested a new Default Soldier model. Honestly I still DO think we need this, but now that I've gotten deeper into the documentation creation process I have realized that not only do we need that replacement Soldier but we also need a kickass series of tutorials that build up to the level of expertise that you have to offer. This means that while I'm here pegging away at this series you can be preparing all of what you are suggesting at the same time and allow me to lay a little bit of groundwork for you that leads into that new Default Soldier.


It's not really a proposition at this point, since I'm already hard at work this weekend on this new tutorial series(Part I), but I do want to emphasize here that readability is key. Rather than taking all of these advanced things into consideration when first starting out with Torque, I feel like the information should be super fun for the newcomer to start out. Advancing through the tutorials, the information gets more and more complex, until ultimately the new user is ready to tackle this here what you are talking about. See there how we can work together and make this something bigger than we would have each by ourselves? I am confident that this will fit together very well, leading the newcomer through a series and then ultimately engaging them full on with the Blender and new Soldier process. This way the user is having fun and seeing right away how easy it can be to get animated Players moving in Torque and THEN when they are full well and ready they will be prepared to tackle the more advanced things you are talking about. Make sense?


Please let me reiterate that I want to work together with you on this. I also believe that you have a wealth of knowledge just bleeding to be shared so please let's try and see eye to eye on this. When it's all over with, we'll have all of my ideas AND all of yours in a readable format for our Community!


1- I'm starting out with mixamo. I'm going to show people how to straight up use the entire library there as an introduction to the Player animation system. What we'll end up with here is a system for newcomers to follow that is super easy and fast and fun to get rolling with.


2- As the user's level of experience improves(because we are actively teaching, as it were), we will slowly introduce topics such as movement triggers, weapon states, nodes, and so on.


3 - Eventually, once the user has been prepared by this process, they will be able to digest all of the stuff you have above. Which I agree with all 100%.


Anyways, as stated, this tutorial is already in motion. I'm going back to it now ;)

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@Bishop


There is not so much anything to work on, but to decide on how to do it, I already explained that, everyone will be able to create their own character in Makehuman or use a default one someone else made with generic features.


I may add that those people who did not already make characters, they should try getting one from Makehuman into Torque and see where the problems are. It actually is not that hard, anyone should be able to do it, but the bigger problems arise from the implementation. We are not going to do any modeling for now.


You can use my character as a tutorial if you want: https://duion.com/temp-stuff

But as you can see I removed the mesh and textures except maybe the hands and feet and made my own, you can use it, but it is a paintballer and not a generic character. The floating bones on the outside are helper bones for inverse kinematics, it helps you animate, but they are not necessary I also forgot how exactly I used them or intented to use them.

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@TorqueFan

I strongly advice against using any proprietary third party that has to be paid for or registered for or anything like that. Even if it is "easier" and has more animations etc already, that is not going to be what we need. If we use Makehuman we have a free and open source solution that anyone can use and based on that we can interchange out progress.

Animations are not that big of a deal anyway, animations for FPS games are not what most people think, they often only consist of a few frames that get interpolated. My most complex animation is the run cycle, which is 11 frames, some animations are even as simple as 2 frames and they often need to be exactly symmetric and looping, meaning that the 11 frames animation is in reality 12 frames, but the first and the last frame are identical. Most animations from libraries are useless, since they are not perfectly symmetric and not perfectly looping, so you spend more time fixing that as it would take to make a new one from scratch. Of course motion captured are more realistic, but it depends on your end goal and for the most part hand made animations using a few frames are just fine.


If you use Makehuman you already should be able to use my animations and the more people use it, the more of a library we have to share and eventually we can contribute back to the Makehuman community and in return get some more support from them.

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Mixamo is free, with optional paid services. Additionally all of that is used as an introductory process to Torque animation, which is exactly what mixamo was designed for: learning.


Again, I find you speaking to me as if I am unaware of the material involved with the topic of discussion. It's unfortunate that you really do make it so very hard to work with you. You throw around terms like 'useless' and always introduce things to folks as if they had never heard of it before and you are shedding light on something that was hidden.


I'm not attempting to throw a new user headfirst into a character modeling and Torque hook-in process. The mixamo step is for everyone to get moving right away(again as a beginner) and get to the point that they can do those things. THIS is the underlying issue with the existing documentation that is scattered about, there is no mediator between the experienced user and the new one.

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"Free" means "not free", we have an open source engine and additions to the engine also need to be open source, which is what proprietary software cannot provide. The main point is, that anything done with Mixamo can not be integrated into the open source engine, since their models and animations are proprietary. Stuff exported from Makehuman however is public domain, means you can do anything with it.


I'm not trying to sabotage anything, I just did my homework. Sure you can use Mixamo to show people, but you cannot actually use anything from it, because of their copyright. So if you make a character and animations with Mixamo, it can never be added to the main engine repo. The licenses for tools are different and some actually allow to use their export, but the last time I looked there was no proprietary software that allowed that.

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I believe you might be misinterpreting my intentions with using mixamo here. The mixamo workflow I wanted to introduce was for exactly what I am doing, making a tutorial and introducing folks to Torque in a fun and engaging way. I've repeated myself on this point many times above and really don't think you've grasped it yet. The mixamo process is an INTRODUCTION. Not meant to be kept or cherished or integrated into the engine. Used exactly as it was designed to be used, as a learning tool. I went over all of this above, how this learning process could ultimately lead up to creating your own model, which then yes you wouldn't want to include mixamo at all for.


If you can have fun doing something, chances are much more likely you are going to stick with it. But if you can't get to the point that you are able to model/animate/script a character just jumping headfirst into that process can be a huge deterrent.


I also wanted to add, once again, that I am not trying to say let's use one over the other. Read carefully my wall of text above. I want both!

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We are talking here about something people will be actually able to use, not about fun or making a tutorial and also not about creating your own model.


We will be using Blender and Makehuman, that's it, that is what most people will use since it is free and open source and there competitive open source tools out there other than those.


I already made a fully working character in a fully working game that is released on the market and I gave you the source files, so we already have something to show people how it is done. The debate now is about deciding on a standard so we can exchange our progress and Mixamo is definitively not an option for that.

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Also don't spread misinformation. Mixamo really is free, unless you want to use Fuse, which in our case we won't.


Additionally, yes this IS 100% full well about learning and a tutorial.


I find it hillarious how I took the initiative to begin a new tutorial series geared towards helping newcomers, posted on the boards I was being proactive on this front, and you ran off to try and 'head me off' and put up a post about it prior to me releasing the tutorial. Now that has evolved to you pasting up a link of some old model you created and calling that a tutorial. That is underhanded to say the least. I've tried to be civil with you and invite you to join me on this path so that we can share your ideas and mine with the Community but you have made it clear that won't be possible. The evidence is in this thread. Your reputation precedes you, Duion, so I'm just gonna let that be that.


I'll release my tutorial, if not but for the simple fact that you are attempting to discourage it.

Edited by TorqueFan
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Mixamo is not free see here:


https://community.adobe.com/t5/fuse-beta/fuse-and-mixamo-how-are-the-licenses/td-p/10082857


The answer is: It is definitively NOT free as in open source, meaning when you repackage the models and animations you created and redistribute them this is actually illegal, therefore we cannot use them, therefore we cannot use it as a new default character, debate closed.

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Also LOL that thread you linked only indicates that repackaging it for resale is not legal. You can actually still use the stuff for your own projects, even commercially.


Here is a quote from the OFFICIAL mixamo FAQ: https://helpx.adobe.com/creative-cloud/faq/mixamo-faq.html


You can use both characters and animations royalty free for personal, commercial, and non-profit projects including:

Incorporating characters into illustrations and graphic art

3D printing characters

Creating films

Creating video games


Stop spreading misinformation. I hope you succeed with a new default Soldier using MakeHuman and I'm not attempting to discourage you from doing that. PLEASE do that. Just don't go around like you are learned in things you aren't and try to discredit others who are.

Edited by TorqueFan
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If you create a tutorial how others can do their own character this means everyone will need to do the tutorial and create their own characters. Also it forces everyone to register at Mixamo and use their product and the result will be incompatible with everything else, therefore making it useless for anyone not using Mixamo and not using your workflow. This problem is exactly what I'm trying to prevent.


If you create a new default character people won't have to do anything, you can just distribute it to them and they can just use it right out of the box. Doing anything in this case is optional. Ideally we add it to the main engine and then everyone will benefit from it automatically.


@Bishop

We have not done anything yet and I will not do anything until we can agree on something. I created multiple example and prototype assets before, just for people refusing to use them and complaining that they were not good enough, even though there was no alternative and they themselves could not do it any better.

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As somebody who constantly rips out the overcomplicated soldier to replace it with either kork or the blue guy for every project even minutia testing of new versions... I'm all for something more generic and usable, I haven't read links, I'm too lazy but if you cannot distribute mixamo then it serves little purpose for this particular discussion. it is, however, another tool in the toolbox, and if a new default character and modified underlying structure are implemented then any tutorials with other tools need to blend in with that system.


One of the complexities of the system is the issues around first-person and third-person with first-person being more about weapons(or tools) than it is about character, this is not really discussed anywhere in any useful documentation, the discussion may well be had about how this two interoperate, which I guess is also useful but they still need to be documented distinctly.


Animations are key here since they are also hardcoded sections of this in the engine, not sure how other engines handle this, but I have often heard people complain about flexibility, whether these are based on actual lacks or perceived lacks I don't know, never really used any other engines, nor have I ever used any non-torque provided animations, even with non-torque models I have rigged a torque skeleton to the models, just because of the masses of animations available for me the mega animation pack, the mack/fack pack and of course the CMU released animations (yeah I know there's a lot of useless animations in there but maybe some people might use them).


I'm slightly concerned about the open-source zealotry, while there are open source tools and often the best choice and everyone is entitled to use those, they are NOT the only tools and not always the best choice, any contrary opinion is precisely that opinion... this is why annoyingly the current character model is supplied in a completely (a piss poor IMO) non-partisan format, there are other formats, which are far more commonly used and stable which could be used, and this should also be discussed, limiting to blender just because of the software is open source is a poor reason for choice.

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Here I've been building a tutorial for people to use as a learning tool. The fact that this entire idea originated in another thread where I was attempting to help a newcomer to begin with has been lost here. Originally I proposed that a new Soldier be created, and I'm still on board with that 100%. However, as I'm designing these tutorials I'm realizing that a clear and concise and easy to follow introduction is a must.


The issue here is that it's largely being overlooked that mixamo is intended to be used as a learning process for people to enjoy. For entry level users and up to learn and see right away results so that they can build excitement around using the engine. Not to mention when they are done if they choose they can keep that character for their game if they want to and it can be legally redistributed in that way.


I just feel like I'm trying to offer an extremely positive thing here, that will ultimately help a lot of people learn in an easy way, and it's being shot down before it gets off the ground because of differences in opinion. I mean, when it's all said and done this thread wouldn't even exist had I not taken the initiative and started being proactive and suggesting all of this in the first place. If the help isn't wanted, why do I spend the weekend trying to help?

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@TorqueFan

Mixamo sells 3D character models and animations, if you create a tutorial for that all you teach people is to import their already made 3D characters including the already made animations into their game, they will not have learned how to create characters nor how to make animations all you teach them is how they use a commercial product.


We need something we can redistribute, which is not possible with Mixamo, therefore this has no place here at all, so can you please stop it?

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I will release this tutorial on my website for those eager to learn. Where they go from there is entirely up to them. I wanted to put it here, and perhaps create a wiki on it, but if it's unwanted I won't do that.


I'm not going to actively try to suppress a huge wealth of resources and information from those people out there who can use it. My goal is to teach people Torque, not the animation and character creation process. That's an entirely different process, and I offered to build up a platform for users to follow that would lead up to that point. Along the lines of:


Now you have an understanding of how this process works you are now prepared to follow Duion's tutorial about modelling a new character from scratch.


You won't allow me to set that groundwork for you, thus I'll just do what I know is right for those people who are thirsting for knowledge. I am offering relevant and useful information for new users to engage with and enjoy while they learn the ropes. This shouldn't be such a heated discussion if we all want people to learn.


Who cares what can or can't be distributed for a tutorial series man? I've already wasted enough of the day with you about this. I hope anyone who is interested will enjoy the new tutorial when I finish it.

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@TorqueFan I wasn't suggesting you shouldn't, rather suggesting that an eye should be cast towards the resolution of the notion that things could change is all.


As a side note if your tutorials go a long way to explaining the odd complexity of the character system I'm sure they will be invaluable to many.


@duion I know how you like to argue some points, but surely adding makehuman models with animations is no different to adding mixamo models with animations, if provided with a system that allows import of animations, regardless of the source, people will take that because of all things game dev creating good quality animations is the single most time consuming and nitpicky area bar none short of being massively OCD and a perfectionist combined, at which point all of the 9 circles of hell are found in game dev.

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Hey thanks for that @Bloodknight.


I was beginning to wonder if all of my efforts might be lost here. That's what I'm trying to say, regardless of the source this stuff needs to be put out there in an easy to follow format. Just that understanding of 'how' this works is what's under scrutiny in my eyes. It shouldn't be a scattered all about process trying to piece together example source/script etc. just for some kid to pick up the engine and have some fun. That child might meet his full potential one day and develop the next super AAA Torque game. It's not for us to decide. It's for us to give them that ability and wish them well.


Things will inevitably change, with 4.0 on the horizon, and I've already eluded to that in the tutorial Part I. I plan to start with 3.10.1 and then as 4.0 hits back that up with the relevant changes so old school and new school can sing in harmony.

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Now you have an understanding of how this process works you are now prepared to follow Duion's tutorial about modelling a new character from scratch.

Your ignorance is beyond imagination, I stated in the initial post that this is NOT about modeling a new character from scratch and I repeated that before and after multiple times. Can you understand that this is ABSOLUTELY NOT about modeling a new character from scratch?

 

Who cares what can or can't be distributed for a tutorial series man? I've already wasted enough of the day with you about this. I hope anyone who is interested will enjoy the new tutorial when I finish it.

 

This is also NOT about a tutorial, can you understand that? We need a new default character, not a tutorial, especially not a tutorial that will leave us still having no new default character. And who cares? Redistribution is the SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT POINT of all of this. Without being able to distribute the new default character to others, nobody will have a new default character. So everyone who wants a new character and will end up not having one will care. Also I do care since a Mixamo tutorial is useless for me as well as Mixamo generated content, since I'm making an open source product, so for me it is entirely useless, for others maybe only partly useless.


I'm not saying against the general usefulness of Mixamo, but for this specific area of application it is useless. So can you please stop it?


[Moderator's Note: You have been talked to about antagonistic or insulting language before. Phrases like 'Your ignorance is beyond imagination' when someone was merely attempting to make a tutorial/knowledgebase for other users is completely unnecessary. Consider this an official warning in light of prior discussions of behavior and is marked with a 3 day suspension.]

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Your ignorance is beyond imagination, I stated in the initial post that this is NOT about modeling a new character from scratch and I repeated that before and after multiple times.

 

At this point I'm being called ignorant and asking for moderation help. I hadn't been able to locate any means of contacting them as of yet, but I feel like this is casting a shadow on our Community.


I've said I wouldn't post here again but I've attempted to have an intelligible discussion with those who understand the usefulness of tutorial content and it's impossible on this forum. So, yea, I won't post here again.


edited to add quote.

Edited by TorqueFan
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