Making Halo 4

Making Halo 4, first look…

Ready for take off… actual Halo 4 release date to be announced in “the not-too-crazy-distant future”.

Above: Halo 4 concept art by Nicolas ‘Sparth’ Bouvier.

CryEngine 3 Free Use

CryEngine 3 Free Use

“Anyone can now download a full version of the best All-In-One Game Development Engine, for free and use it without charge for non-commercial game development.”

If 3DXchange 5 can export complete iClone scenes with animations — not just individual characters and individual props — into a standard single FBX, then I guess they’ll then be able to be loaded with any free game engine, not just Unity. Imagine rendering an iClone scene in CryEngine 3…

“Unity, Unreal, Autodesk and more [my emphasis] software users can import, characterize and animate their characters in real-time with the iClone Animation Pipeline. Create and export actors as custom FBX game-characters and performances using the trio of products included in the iClone Animation Pipeline: iClone5, Mocap Plugin & 3DXchange5. The iClone Animation Pipeline also provides a content solution for game developers with access to Reallusion’s real-time content store of game optimized models including many pre-made and fully customizable thematic character designs, accessories and scene props.”

iClone at GDC 2012

Here’s iClone‘s official presentation video for the major GDC 2012 event. Including a glimpse of 3DXchange 5’s Bone Mapping (at 2:37). Also a look at the pipeline for taking an iClone character into the free Unity game-engine with animations (from 2:45).

I’d guess it’s possible that use in a commercial Unity game might require a payment by the game developers to Reallusion, since the actual models and animation files would effectively be being redistributed? Perhaps an arrangement along the lines of Muvizu’s sensible approach to commercial use, asking for payment only once substantial money has actually been made?

TheHunter for screenshots – how to get the digital camera

The wonderful free ‘landscape free-roaming’ / wildlife photography / animal hunting videogame The Hunter has just added a nice wooden bow (paid version only) and new animal AI.

Here’s how to get the clearest view of the game world, for taking screenshots with FRAPS, to use in machinima. The main thing you need is to get the digital camera in your hand, although it’s difficult for a newbie to figure out how to get this on the screen. This is how you do it. First load the game. Then in the equipment inventory options do this…

Now you can press “3” when in the game-world, to get the digital camera. Then you can capture video backgrounds and stills with FRAPS without having a massive rifle or the huge GPS unit in the way. Remove the digital camera with the Photoshop clone brush, or by cropping the video.

TheHunter‘s digital camera in action (seen lower right).

Mothhead, new showcase art-game for Unity 3.5

It’s always good to see another art-game come along. The art-game for 2012 looks like being Peter Konig’s Mothhead which is due to premiere at GDC in early March. It’s been made with the free / open-source Unity game-engine — the same powerful real-time engine that iClone is rumoured to be going to link up a production pipeline to in 2012. Konig was the lead sculptor / monster-designer on 2011’s pre-production visualization sessions for H.P. Lovecraft’s At The Mountains of Madness, and has teamed up with Massive Black to make his game…

“Based on the eerie mixed-media sculptures of Hollywood maquette maker and concept artist Peter Konig, Mothhead is an art game that defies easy categorization. Made in collaboration with Unity, creators of the artist-friendly Unity 3D game-engine, Mothhead stars an unlikely hero — a bizarre, alien-like creature with a moth for a head.”

Games Radar has a preview profile of Mothhead and its team, and also an interview.

Mothhead will be able to take advantage of the graphical goodies in Unity 3.5 (now in public beta, and looking like it’s kicked Blender’s game-engine into oblivion), such as…

* a new Particle System.

* “high-performance automated path-finding and crowd simulation for characters”

* “new linear space (gamma correct) lighting and HDR rendering”

* “brand new multi-threaded renderer”

* Google Chrome Native Client deployment (play the game in real-time, in your Web browser, without plugins)

All of which may (hopefully) become available to iClone users to render their scenes in, before too long?

Blender updates – better game engine, Second Life exports

A new version of the traditional-but-free 3D software Blender is out. Blender version 2.62, reportly brings…

“notable improvements to the Blender Game Engine” […] “The game engine user interface was polished, editing text objects in the user interface and through the python API has been made easier, full screen and antialiased rendering has been improved, along with various other changes.”

And also of possible interest to Second Life film makers…

“A Second Life compatibility option was added for exporting armatures” [armatures are the basic character-rigging skeletons used in Blender]

iClone to join with Unity game engine in 2012?

An interesting hint on last week’s Wolf & Dulci Hour show. To the effect that iClone and the free Unity game engine and development tool could well be seeing close integration in the future. So, what form might that take? Here are some guesses (which I should stress are complete speculation on my part)…

* import of iClone projects, complete with physics settings and animations, to Unity — in order to add interactive game features for mobile devices and desktops alike. Unity apparently now has a completed port of the Unity engine for the Google Chrome browser’s Native Client. If so, then this would give iCloners a viable low-cost pipeline to create “plug-in free” online Web games. Not many will want to make a full-scale 3D shooter or RPG, but there may be scope for more easily developed niche games like point-and-click 2.5D adventures and interactive children’s story books. And all blissfully free of Flash or Adobe Air.

* import of iClone projects, to take advantage of what Unity’s developers call “the world’s best lightmapper, Beast”, their shadows system, and “god ray” sun shafts and lens effects. It’s a real-time engine like iClone, but it’s more advanced and is having to develop hard in order to compete with the likes of CryEngine and Unreal. And if what’s said about the Google Chrome Unity port is true, then all that eye-candy will play in real-time inside the leading Web browser, supported by the power of Google and without the need for plugins.

* “Render to Unity” option in iClone. Forget rendering to video. Play your movie directly in the Google Chrome web browser, without the fuzzyness caused by video compression.

* I seem to remember that Unity has “starter kit” content and scenes. These might be converted and offered as a nice free bonus to beef up the content library that ships with iClone 5?

* Support for Unity file formats and character rigging in 3DXchange 5?

You just knew this was going to happen…

“Oh, look kids, there’s an old abandoned Skyrim up there on the hill! Let’s put on a show!”

It might sound ambitious, but they’ve already completed all the Lord of the Rings landscapes as a huge quest-free landscape mod for Skyrim‘s predecessor Oblivion. If you’re making Lord of the Rings machinima, and need the landscape video-backdrops, that sound like the mod to have. Controllable weather, lighting, wind-blown trees, moving skies, and more… but you might want to wait until they’ve ported it to Skyrim, which it seems they’re planning now we have the Creation Kit.

Skyrim Creation Kit out next Tuesday

At last, we have a date for the release of the Skyrim Creation Kit, the most interesting and powerful game modding tool of 2012. The Creation Kit for the PC will released for free next Tuesday, via Steam. In the long tradition of Bethesda game modding tools (for Morrowind, Oblivion, Fallout 3), the Kit is the same powerful tool that was used to make the game, uncrippled.

Note the phrase in the video: “Dynamic real-time shadows”. Interesting. Although don’t get too excited. As those who have played the game will know, the shadows are possibly the weakest part of the game on the PC.