Friday, 29 June 2012

Google Sketchup

Google Sketchup is something I have heard about a lot as being an effective tool for game concept work but have never inquired to try it out for myself. Having glanced at an article for it in a magazine the other day I decided to take the time to investigate and I am very pleased that I did.

Immediately as I started it up I was able to get to grips with it within 5 minutes, baring similarities to most other software with basic shape drawing tools and movement controls. With the entire thing being snap controlled it is very easily to make a simple shape quickly and then using the variety of other controls to edit it future and turn a box into a house or other shape. I really enjoyed using the software as I found it simple to achieve something and with just time and a plan can see it being a much preferable alternative for me to produce basic models, rather than 3Ds Max, which at sometimes I find to be fiddly to produce some things.

The only gripe I currently have with Sketchup and I assume, one that can be easily solved through further exploration, is the lack of precision. I find myself undoing something repeatedly to get a line in just the perfect position as it will never quite want to go where I want it to.

A quick 10-20 minute session with it allowed me to produce what I would hope resembled a barn house, something that would take me an hour in 3Ds Max from simply, second guessing myself on every aspect of it as I went along.

In essence the main reason I really enjoyed using Sketchup and will most definitely use it again, is its basic. Whilst with 3Ds Max and other software I try to make each part perfectly modeled and shaped, Sketchup removes this necessity and just allows me to make the basic shape of a structure and build on it as I go.

The final point about Sketchup is its community sharing feature that allows you to quickly search for a particular model and find hundreds of examples made by other users that can then be downloaded for your personal use, or just as reference if you are working on a similar model.

Overall though I will certainly use Sketchup again and see what is possible with the models once one is completed, e.g. importing it into Photoshop to add a backdrop and produce my own concept art piece.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Ghosttown 3Ds Max Plugin

Having a large amount of spare time now until October when I start my second year of university I intended to get stuck in with 3D work and learn the software inside and out to have a good head start when I went back. Whilst not being as motivated as I had hoped I have had time to look into a few things and brainstorm some possible future projects for when the time is right.

In particular I was interested in looking into plugins and extras for 3Ds Max that would help me produce things in a much more efficient manner, for instance, procedural generation addons.

Ghosttown is one of these. With a few button clicks you are able to produce a very nice city block complete with high poly facades and textures. All inbuilt into the program there is also a lot of room for editing where you can add your own textures as well as completely edit the generated model, as with any other in Max.

I only had a brief look at this, but I could see the potential for using it to make a simple backdrop for a scene in a shorter period of time or a fully detailed cityscape usable in a multitude of situations.

It is currently a work and progress with it being updated regularly and shows a great amount of promise. The latest test video shown by the creator displays the amount of flexibility and detail achievable from small amounts of fine-tuning along with the future inclusion of road generation.

I will hopefully be able to look at this more and gain a much better understanding of it over the next couple of months.

You can download Ghosttown 0.317 Lite Beta here to try out for yourself :