10-step tutorial on getting Ryzom characters into iClone with animations and textures:
* An unpacked copy of the Ryzom art-assets torrent.
* 3D Studio Max 8 or higher.
* 3DXchange 4 Pro.
* iClone 4.
1. Find the base version of the rigged Ryzom character you want to export. Characters and animations are in the many Stuff | Agents | Actors folders. Open the file with Max to check it’s what you want, saying “OK” to the nagging warnings about the lack of the NEL plugin, and the lack of textures, and the fact that the file is from an old version of Max. We’ll worry about textures much later. Close the file, then copy it to a new named folder. Some characters though, such as the Gibbai, have no texture-area segmentation on export — you’ll need to know how to use Max to make the mesh editable, then segment it by material.
2. Now find the animation files for your target character. These should be in a nearby folder. Animations are .max files (ignore all .anim files), and these have one animation per file. File names are in French (joy!). “Marche” is a walk cycle, “marche frappe” seems to be fast walk, “engarde” is fight, “morte” is death, and there’s also some English words like “idle”, “stun” and a few others. Open the animations you want in Max, test them by clicking play. Don’t otherwise mess around with them or change them.
3. Drag a box around the character, to include all floating skeleton boxes. Now go File | Save Animation. Just give it a useful name and save it as an .xaf file, to the folder where you put the base character in Step 1 (see above).
Note: Often you will get a cryptic error message when trying to export, “Nodes with the same name aren’t allowed”. This means the animation can’t be exported. However awesome it is, sigh and move on to another.
4. Repeat step 3, until you have all the animations you need. You can also try exporting some of the animations for other humanoid characters, but they may lead to things like stiff “goose-step legs” when applied to a different character/race.
5. Now load up your base .max file from Step 1, and click on the little “time” icon in the bottom right corner of the screen. Change the length of the timeline to maybe 2000, depending on how many animations you intend to load onto it.
6. Now click and drag to select and highlight your base figure. Make sure you include any floating boxes around the character (these seem to be the skeleton). Then go File | Load Animation. Load your saved .xaf files onto the timeline in “absolute” mode, making sure you fill in the relevant frame numbers so as not to have animations overlapping. For example — if your first animation runs from frame 1 to 24, load the second animation at frame 25. If you want to experiment with creating new morphed animations, import in “relative” mode and leave a gap between animations — Max will tween between the animations to fill the gaps, creating new hybrid animations.
7. Once all the animations are in the timeline, test them and then save the .max file as a new file.
8. Now export your character as an FBX file, making sure to include the animations. Close Max. Load the FBX in 3DXchange 4 Pro. First, turn all the model’s diffuse colours from black to white so you can see what you’re doing. Test, segment and name the animations. These animations will be automatically placed on the character’s right-click Perform menu, when it’s in iClone.
9. Centre the character, and scale it against the dummy. If there are any white boxes left hanging around the character, do not just untick them on the skeleton checkbox list – instead turn their opacity down to zero via the Modify panel to make them vanish. Otherwise, they will re-appear when you convert the FBX to be an iClone character. When you’re happy you’ve done everything you need, highlight the topmost root node on the left-hand skeleton listing. Then, on the right-hand Modify panel, find the “Convert to Character” button. Save. You now have a Ryzom character in iClone with animations.
10. However, you will still need to retexture with all the correct textures. Go back and open up the original .max file. When Max gives you the warnings about the missing textures, grab a screenshot or note down the folders and some of the key names. You should be able to find these textures in a folder near to where you found the character. Now it’s trial and error to retexture in iClone itself. For some types of textures you may need to slide the opacity down to zero on the Opacity | Modify panel, to make the texture appear normally. Start with the head — “Casque” seems to be French for helmet. Once you’re happy with your retexturing, save the first variant of your character to the library. Now keep in mind that there are usually many variant sets of textures that fit the same figure, so you can make several different versions of the same character. Once finished, share your new characters with the world and include a Creative Commons licence statement.