So it’s been awhile since I’ve tried my hand at 3D modeling and animation.  I started way back when on my trusty Amiga 2000 when I ran a bunch of different 3D goodies (VideoScope 3D, Calligari, imagine, etc – I couldn’t afford LightWave, but a friend of mine had it). Since then I’ve also tried 3DSM and Maya at local “night school” type environments – I can’t afford those either. I could afford POV-Ray, and actually built quite a few “still scenes” with that tool.  But now I’m trying my hand at Blender.  Mainly because of its excellent price-point – FREE.

First impressions – the interface is just about the worst I’ve encountered, not just for 3D programs, but for ANY programs out there.  Coding in COBOL is easier.  Actually, if you’re just going to make models and textures, I’d recommend POVRay, then import the object to blender to create the mesh/animations. Blender can’t handle the procedural/complex iterative type textures you can build in POVRay, so you’ll have to export those separately, as tga or dds files or something to add as skin later – at least that’s the impression I’ve got.

Anyways, it’s been frustrating.  In fact I’ve ended up using other tools to mod the meshes (like NifSkope to mod the nifs from Oblivion or DAoC) then export them as .obj so I can import them to Blender where I can use Blender’s animation tools – which is where Blender really shines – if you can figure it out.  Good luck with that.  I’m projecting it will take me at least 6 months to figure out how to make a mesh “walk” realistically.  And that seems like an overly optimistic projection.  We’ll see.

Why use NifSkope?  ‘cuz the NifTools Blender scripts won’t even install for me.  I think they were written for older versions of either Python or Blender, or both.  But they (Blender Nif Scripts 2.5.5) certainly don’t install with my Blender 2.49b, Python 2.7 configs (32-bit versions running on a Win7 64bit OS).  Later today I’ll probably try downgrading my installs of Python and Blender to see if I can get the Nif Scripts to work.  I’ll post any results there.

On a related tangent.  Once I started playing around with these tools and the various assets from different games, it got me thinking about the uproar that so many game company’s have about resource sharing.  I can see both sides of the port/don’t port argument but I can’t reconcile the two positions, esp. when I see a really cool item in one game that I really want in another.  I dunno, people love to mix assets, look at the whole Predator vs. Aliens thing. And wouldn’t it be cool to see the Babylon5 Universe bump into the Star Trek Universe?   With all the various tools hitting the interwebz lately (and often included with the games themselves), I think it’s inevitable that we’re going to start seeing a lot of these kinds of mash-ups regardless of what the law and game companies protest.

It also makes me wonder how much does one have to tweak or change a model/texture in order for it to be “legal” to use across platforms. I mean, a sword is a sword, is a sword – how different, really, are all the various sword models out there in the gaming universe?

Now I’m really starting to ramble, so I’d better sign off.  I hope things in your world are going well and that you can find the time to – “Enjoy!”

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