Reza Dolatabadi’s 2008 graduation film from The University of Dundee in Scotland, consisting of 6,000 hand-painted frames which were then animated by his classmate Adam Thomson…

“Over 6000 paintings were painstakingly produced during two years to create a five minutes film that would meet high personal standards.”

Machinima Expo changes announced

Major changes for Machinima Expo, announced today. A larger group effort, supported by volunteers; a two-day weekend event; sequential programming of films; a website for the programme’s films, so you don’t have to use Second Life; higher-quality video files, possibly via TMOA Radio hosting; an earlier deadline.

Royalty-free 3D game engines

Quest 3D looks like an interesting, if expensive, real-time 3D application. It’s a little difficult to pin down a succinct description, but I guess… “a real-time 3D game development engine, with heavyweight scripting” comes close. It was used to make one of the most interesting recent art-house games, The Path. Also the children’s multiplayer “be a deer” game, The Endless Forest. Prices start at $2,000, which appears to be a standard sort of price for an 3D game engine aimed at indie developers.

I guess the free and royalty-free alternative would be Unity. While apparently not a real-time development environment, it claims to be able to scale down the game-world on-the-fly, to quickly show playable game-worlds in its neat web player. Another free alternative would be the mature and well-documented Unreal DevKit (pay 25% royalties after your first $5,000 profit), even though it will never be forgiven by me for being used to make the dreadful Unreal Tournament 3 🙂 Perhaps even Blender’s games module will become a viable alternative, in a few years.

Above: Unity screenshots. It all seems rather complicated just to get a few iClone video-backdrops, unless you could buy pre-built off-the-shelf royalty-free levels for it. But it seems that the free Unity might have a place in the ambitious machinimator’s toolkit? Apparently the $1200 Pro version also does toon cel-shading.

Unity’s showcase natural environment is impressive, delivered with great speed over the web and in a browser — but we’ve recently seen Google’s in-browser game demo using HTML5, which suggest that’s the Unity Player’s edge may not last more than a year or two. The other problem is that the game-world just doesn’t look as good as the superb photorealistic natural environments which can be produced by the Avalanche engine (TheHunter). I guess the ideal for machinimators hankering for real-time Vue-like environments would be to get a low-cost royalty-free non-commercial Avalanche construction kit. A kit which would have the speed and ease-of-use of the Far Cry 2 Map Editor. I’d buy that. Or I guess the Avalanche developers could just formally declare that non-commercial machinima use of TheHunter and Just Cause 2 is fine with them, along the lines of the ground-breaking Microsoft statement.

TheHunter, which is free. Equip your character with the camera, to get the silly “GPS for deer” device off the screen.