Tools used for 3D assets?

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Samuel_Beard
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Tools used for 3D assets?

Post by Samuel_Beard » Wed Nov 28, 2018 11:49 am

(Disclaimer: I'm not entirely sure whether this belongs here but I don't know where else to post. I'm just looking for guidance, so don't kill me, please...)

Hello, I'm Samuel and I'm new here and I'd like to ask some basic questions to look into to help me work here some day. Little background first: I'm an aspiring future 3D modeler and programmer and would very much like to see Daggerfall become modded into 3D for people like me.

I see that there were people converting the game for 3D. The background assets such as shelves, tables and benches seems to be taken care of by someone so I guess I'll not be working on that? I was specifically enchanted by rhymer's work but he/she seems to not be so active on converting NPCs into 3D? More horrifying is the fact of reading him/her stopping his/her work on the characters so I was wondering if I could pick up on that area? I have Daggerfall Unity installed and I will be downloading the mods and all to see what's missing in terms of what I want to see in the game.

Now, I'd like to know what tools they were using or what tools this community uses for 3D primarily so I could look into it and start studying/working in the future. My conversion priority being what NPCs have made it into the latest Unity build. I'd like to know what software I should be looking to model, texture and rig to recreate NPCs in the style of this: http://pic.fullrest.ru/XTnbTiQz.gif -- In case this is the agreed style this community is going for in terms of 3D characters.

I'd also like to know where to look into these NPC rigs, this made me so excited https://forums.dfworkshop.net/download/file.php?id=722 -- and would like to see free model creation/rig software to make my work easier and more efficient.

I would also like an update on this community, if possible. I've visited here for about half a year or more before joining so I'd like to know an update on the attitudes of this community or even rhymer (I'll could just be messaging him). Primarily how 3D characters and monsters should be tackled. Are we going for the cartoony disney -like aesthetic or something more realistic but faithful for the Daggerfall look and feel? Also, can we use existing bodies like Roberts Bodies or existing ready made bodies/body proportions from some gameplay studio/asset store to make my work more efficient?

Thank you.

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MasonFace
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Re: Tools used for 3D assets?

Post by MasonFace » Wed Nov 28, 2018 3:44 pm

Hi Samuel,

You seem very passionate about the project, and that kind of drive can be contagious! I'm a long time lurker and new poster myself.

In terms of modelling software, the most popular choice seems to be Blender. https://www.blender.org/ It is free, open source, and there are plenty of tutorials covering just about everything. Just a word of caution: try not to get overwhelmed by the interface. Follow the tutorials and only concern yourself with the buttons they cover and ignore everything else until you learn what they do.
. . . In case this is the agreed style this community is going for in terms of 3D characters.
Take a look at this post: https://forums.dfworkshop.net/viewtopic.php?f=22&t=466

There has been some discussion about what style to pursue, but it doesn't appear as if a consensus was ever reached. If recall correctly, it seems like the prevailing ideas for higher quality characters (including 2D) were:
  • Upscaled Sprites (Waifu2x/xBRZ/AI, etc.)
  • Low Poly Models in the style of Thief 2
  • Med/High Poly Models in the style of the original source models used by Bethesda to generate the sprites
  • Med/High Poly Models that fit the style of the hand-drawn sprites
Lots of good points were brought up, but the main take away to me was: "This would be a mod, so you have the freedom to pursue the style you want." But it also brought up the point that: "any of these routes is probably too big of a task for one single person to do on their own."

I'd suggest that you first get a concrete vision in mind for how you think you want the 3D characters to look, then start a MOD in the forums and try to recruit other talented people to join you. Make sure you have good solid examples for others to try to follow so you don't end up with a disjointed mess with 5 different styles cobbled together. Create a standard with clear guidelines to help direct others' efforts toward the same unified vision. Just keep in mind that the original Daggerfall sprites were a bit disjointed too, with many of the enemies being sprites baked from 3D models, and NPCs being hand-drawn, so... just try to keep the style as consistent as possible and you will likely have already improved over the originals.

Now, to throw in my own 2 cents on the subject of style. I mostly agree with Rhymer on the matter. I don't think there is any reason to limit ourselves to the constraints of the original Xengine, and the preference of some towards the graphical standard of 1998-2000 models seems arbitrary to me. I personally believe it would be most beneficial to begin with source models that are high polycount with the body proportions and material styles matching Daggerfall's aesthetic as closely as possible, then scale the polycount down for various LODs (level of details), with one of these LODs being the "Thief2" style low poly model, and perhaps one more LOD beneath that which is a high-resolution sprite baked from the source model. If modding hooks were implemented, then people could configure theirs to set the max LOD to whichever style they preferred, all from the same source material.

One last thing on the topic then I'll move on, but first I have to make a shameless plug of my own work. I'm creating a Unity asset that converts meshes into sprites in real-time. If we had a collection of high quality models for all the characters, then this would give those in the community who want the look of higher resolution sprites exactly what they crave, but with all the benefits of 3D rendering (real-time shadowing, custom animations, swap out clothing/weapons, etc.). The sprite resolution can even be fine tuned if someone wants a more genuine retro look.
Check it out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RwndXT2K6Ms
Sorry the video is so dark. I was trying to show off the dynamic lighting, but I think the contrast was a little overkill.
I'm working on another scene to better demonstrate how this might look in DFU, and I'll post a new video once that's done. So to paraphrase: with a collection of high quality models, we could configure derivatives to suite darn near everybody's taste. I personally believe this is a more elegant and universal approach.

Okay, back to your questions:
Also, can we use existing bodies like Roberts Bodies or existing ready made bodies/body proportions from some gameplay studio/asset store to make my work more efficient?
Someone else (I can't remember who) mentioned using ManuelBastioniLab (a Blender plugin) http://www.manuelbastioni.com/guide_manuellab_index.php to generate the humanoid models to start with. It also rigs the model for animation. I just started tinkering with it myself (I'm no artist by any means), but I think you can alter the mesh after it's generated to get the proportions you want and reduce the polycount as needed. Models generated with the algorithm are under either the GPL or CC licenses, so my understanding is that you should only have to credit ManuelBastioniLab somewhere in the MOD documentation.

Anyhow, good luck and keep in touch!

Samuel_Beard
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Re: Tools used for 3D assets?

Post by Samuel_Beard » Wed Nov 28, 2018 8:59 pm

Just a word of caution: try not to get overwhelmed by the interface.
Oh, have no fear. I know what I'm getting myself into, I've used Blender in the past a little bit so I'm well informed and mentally prepared.
There has been some discussion about what style to pursue, but it doesn't appear as if a consensus was ever reached.... I personally believe it would be most beneficial to begin with source models that are high polycount with the body proportions and material styles matching Daggerfall's aesthetic as closely as possible, then scale the polycount down for various LODs
Yeah, I've been thinking about that.... Uhhh... wouldn't making a high-poly model be extremely challenging for a beginner? Granted, it is my dream to one day make something high-poly, but it seems to be slow and too demanding work for something like Daggerfall. Now, we could eventually focus on something higher-poly in the future if and when the modding takes off and we have a previous version of 3D assets to prove that I can do the job? Wouldn't tackling high-poly assets be 0 to a 100 really fast? I'd want to push out prototypes as fast as possible to get tangible results sometime early to mid next year depending how fast I learn and work? Now, compare my basic Cacodemon experiment: https://i.imgur.com/asWobRY.png to a finalized, ID's work: https://doomwiki.org/w/images/thumb/d/d ... bimage.png -- Does that seem like something I'd be able to handle in a reasonable timeframe?

I propose I continue to an art style similar to rhymer's and have this "dishonored" -like simplistic style at first, with correct proportions to the original Daggerfall assets and work from there. Once I have concrete work under my belt and familiarized myself with the tools, could I then start working on higher-poly models and assets with several LODs, the whole nine yards. This is a mod we are talking about so I have some room to experiment and fail should things not go exactly as wanted, collectively and individually. I think that is more reasonable for me to do. I saw that you gave me a link to that Manuel Bastioni character creation tool to help me make characters as seen in that tool but I would have to stick with that standard with everything I do from weapons to armor or even animations and I'd be swamped in a learning curve more steep than dwarf's fortress and I just don't see progress in that just yet. If this Daggerfall Unity Workshop thing blows up into this nexus and I actually get to publish some mods, who knows? Baby steps.

I also really like VMblast's work, mainly the demo VM put out and his/her work on weapons. It really looks like something achievable and I feel confident that I could be able to pull it off. So I'll mostly be looking for rhymer's and Vmblast's past work as reference and would pretty much like to know if rhymer had a body template to share with me, unless I really have to start creating characters from scratch. Getting some confirmation that rhymer made them in Blender would be nice.
I don't think there is any reason to limit ourselves to the constraints of the original Xengine, and the preference of some towards the graphical standard of 1998-2000 models seems arbitrary to me.
It's practical, efficient and faithful to do so though. I have never worked on high-poly before so creating from low-poly shapes would be helpful for me in so many ways. Baby steps. Also, we'll see if my work inspires a crew to share my load but so far I'm interested in the amount of NPCs and how far long it takes for me to churn out content and then finding that happy medium with quality and content. I want my progress to be reasonable and not be me working for one model for an entire year or 6 months. Again, I just anticipate too many problems starting out with high-poly right off the bat. I know it'd be sweet but I'm not that guy yet.

Anyhow, good luck and keep in touch!


Will do, thanks for replying!

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MasonFace
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Re: Tools used for 3D assets?

Post by MasonFace » Wed Nov 28, 2018 10:34 pm

wouldn't making a high-poly model be extremely challenging for a beginner?

Sorry, you confused me. It sounded like you were wanting a template as a starting point, many of which are fairly high-poly:
Also, can we use existing bodies like Roberts Bodies or existing ready made bodies/body proportions from some gameplay studio/asset store to make my work more efficient?
You also mentioned:
. . .and would like to see free model creation/rig software to make my work easier and more efficient.
So I figured you were looking for a top-down approach of starting with either a generator or template and modifying the mesh to your needs. Really not a bad approach, but maybe not the best way to learn.

Also, I don't think I was very clear about what I consider "high-poly." I forget how much that term has drifted with more and more powerful GPUs. My "high-poly" was more in contrast to the proposed "Thief 2" style models, and in the context of DFU, my "high-poly" is something more like Morrowind I guess? Just in terms of poly count, not necessarily in terms of style.

To your credit, I agree that it would benefit you greatly to start from scratch and learn the fundamentals before tackling higher-poly modelling from the ground up. That's the tried-and-true method to develop real skill. Like you said, baby steps.
So I'll mostly be looking for rhymer's and Vmblast's past work as reference and would pretty much like to know if rhymer had a body template to share with me, unless I really have to start creating characters from scratch.
Wait... so you do want to start from a template rather than starting from scratch?

Hmmm... I'm sure your skill will ramp up quickly either way you decide to go, so just jump in and get going! I look forward to seeing your work!

Samuel_Beard
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Re: Tools used for 3D assets?

Post by Samuel_Beard » Thu Nov 29, 2018 7:57 am

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Last edited by Samuel_Beard on Thu Nov 29, 2018 11:13 am, edited 1 time in total.

Samuel_Beard
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Joined: Tue Nov 27, 2018 12:03 pm

Re: Tools used for 3D assets?

Post by Samuel_Beard » Thu Nov 29, 2018 7:59 am

Sorry, you confused me.
Stick around, there's more from where that came from.
So I figured you were looking for a top-down approach of starting with either a generator or template and modifying the mesh to your needs. Really not a bad approach, but maybe not the best way to learn.
Yeah, there's several ways for me to do this. I found a great tutorial where to create a blender body from body concept drawings so I could do that or using a body generator and start playing with LODs. The problem being that I fear the body generators will have a generic stock feeling to it. I would require that the software would have morph features in it for different body types but I fear I will have to do this for scratch to do bartenders and smiths right. Their sprites seemed to have this exaggerated cartoony aspect to it. I'll figure out something.

To your credit, I agree that it would benefit you greatly to start from scratch and learn the fundamentals before tackling higher-poly modelling from the ground up. That's the tried-and-true method to develop real skill. Like you said, baby steps.
Most likely, the tutorials made it look easy. Making one from the scratch would also give me great freedom to hit those accurate body morphs for those inn keepers and stuff, unless those body generators had accurate morph features, or something....
Wait... so you do want to start from a template rather than starting from scratch?
I'm not entirely sure. There's benefit for using a generator but maybe I should just be making my own bodies and just using a default rig and animation stances. Though I really liked rhymer's work, he just needed to get the proportions right, unless he wanted to distort some of the features on purpose.
Hmmm... I'm sure your skill will ramp up quickly either way you decide to go, so just jump in and get going! I look forward to seeing your work!

Yup. Let's hope for the best.

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