The time I’ve had this past week as been focused on animations and characters in Nebula. There is a big difference between exporting characters in the new installment of Nebula compared to the old. The biggest feature is the fact that one can have several characters in one Maya scene, and have them exported as several individual characters! There is a pretty big difference between characters and ordinary static objects in Nebula, mainly in their model files (.n3). You see, a model file describes a scene, which is usually initiated with a transform node describing the global bounding box for the entire scene. This node then holds all meshes in the scene, with all their corresponding values for material, texture and variables. However, characters are much different! They have another parent node, called CharacterNode, which describes the character skeleton. All meshes described within the CharacterNode are counted as skins to the skeleton, which in turn means they have to be skinnable! This means that having both characters and static objects in the same scene is impossible with the current design. One might as why I don’t just add a root node which contains both a CharacterNode with all its skins, and then have all the other nodes parallel to that node. Well, you see, Nebula has to decide whether or not a MODEL is a character or a static mesh. So combining both static meshes and characters would cause big problems. This also means every single skeleton needs its very own model. Currently, the batcher decides whether or not a Maya scene should be a character in Nebula, or a static mesh. There wouldn’t be a problem if one would just take all static objects into one model, and have every character in their separate ones, except if it wasn’t for giving them a proper name! So one has to chose if they want to make an ordinary static object scene, or a character scene, so that’s that!

And of course, the biggest problem is getting the skeletons, animation curves and skinning to work properly, seeing how many variables there are that can go wrong. Currently I think I’ve managed to get the skeleton working properly, seeing as I can have a box using three joints, unanimated, and it looks correct. However, as soon as I apply an animation, it breaks. The image to the left shows how it looks after animation, and the right one before animation.









I also realized that Nebula only accepts skins which use 72 or less joints, which means that more complex models needs to be split into smaller fragments, where each fragment can use 72 or less joints. I should have this done by the end of the week unless something very time consuming turns up.

I’ve also been collaborating with my colleagues and we’ve started wrapping our programs together, mainly by designing a central class for handling settings. For example, if I set the project directory in Nody, it should be remembered by all toolkit applications so that one doesn’t need to reset it everywhere if one is to change the working directory.