What are your wish items for Blender 3D content workflow?

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LetterRip2
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What are your wish items for Blender 3D content workflow?

Post by LetterRip2 » Sat Dec 15, 2007 6:12 am

Hi for the 'Apricot Project' the Apricot team would like to hear game content creators wishlist items for Blender 3D that would enhance your workflow,
In the Apricot Open Game Project real planning will start in the January. We have already nice wishlist, but we want to ask about your ideas ! Let's start brainstorm without judging what is sane, what insane.
Like in topic :
What are you missing in your gamedev toolchain ?
What do you think that should be improved ?
Say about bottleneck or annoying process in your project.
http://www.blender.org/forum/viewtopic.php?p=65016

So this is your chance to possibly get Blender to be the 'perfect tool' for your game content creation, please post your wishes at either the Blender link above (preferred) or here and I'll pass them along.

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jjp
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Post by jjp » Sat Dec 15, 2007 12:41 pm

- A more convenient way to control smoothing. Currently the only way I know to achieve this is to split an object and that is not exactly great if you want to continue working on it.

- Better performance with high poly count so the sculpt tool becomes more useful for creating high res art for normal maps.

- An enhanced uv editor. I feel this is the place where Blender lacks the most and for me it was the main reason why I switched back from Blender to 3DS Max.

- Better support for baking normals, ambient occlusion and other things one might want for textures.

- "Nice to have" would be something similar to the biped skeleton / footstep tools. To have a ready-to-go skeleton that fits a lot of characters and the ability to have walk animation cycles created automatically save a lot of time.
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LetterRip2
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Post by LetterRip2 » Sat Dec 15, 2007 10:18 pm

jjp,
- A more convenient way to control smoothing. Currently the only way I know to achieve this is to split an object and that is not exactly great if you want to continue working on it.
Try the Edge SPlit modifer.
- Better performance with high poly count so the sculpt tool becomes more useful for creating high res art for normal maps.
What sort of poly count are you getting currently - but yes definitely a wish for me as well.
- An enhanced uv editor. I feel this is the place where Blender lacks the most and for me it was the main reason why I switched back from Blender to 3DS Max.
Hmm what specifically do you feel is lacking - Blenders unwrapping is arguably the best available in any of the 3D packages - many artists use either Blender or Roadkill (a plugin based on blenders uv unwrapping).
- Better support for baking normals, ambient occlusion and other things one might want for textures.
Agreed.
"Nice to have" would be something similar to the biped skeleton / footstep tools. To have a ready-to-go skeleton that fits a lot of characters and the ability to have walk animation cycles created automatically save a lot of time.
Yep agree those would be nice.

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Post by jjp » Sun Dec 16, 2007 2:21 am

LetterRip2 wrote:Hmm what specifically do you feel is lacking - Blenders unwrapping is arguably the best available in any of the 3D packages - many artists use either Blender or Roadkill (a plugin based on blenders uv unwrapping).
The automatic unwrapping of Blender is great and most of the time by far superior to what other 3d packages can do in this regard.

My trouble starts when I am not working on characters but on more complicated mechanical objects, e.g. buildings for a strategy game. Say I want to tweak things manually because the automatic unwrapping (smart projections) has given me lots of small islands. There's a few reasons for me to do this:

- Group islands that should have the same "material" in the texture so the texture layout can be more logical
- Merge small islands to use texture space more efficiently
- Merge islands when I find that a seam would be visible because of normal mapping
- Re-scale or even distort unimportant islands

And that is what I can't find in Blender so far to help me do this:

- Highlighting in the uv editor islands that share borders with the current selection
- Non-uniform scale in the uv editor
- Weld selected vertices if the distance between them lies within a certain threshold
- For "pack charts" be able to choose an "island margin" as well
LetterRip2 wrote:Try the Edge SPlit modifer.
Thanks, didn't know about that :) (Some page in the Blender wiki I read prior to posting still suggests to use YKEY for that purpose.)
LetterRip2 wrote:What sort of poly count are you getting currently - but yes definitely a wish for me as well.
I don't have any numbers on that. I just toyed around with it a little bit and it looked too slow to me to really integrate it into my workflow. Improvements in that area would be welcomed a lot I guess - from what I know there is at this time no sculpting software around that offers at least some sort of affordable educational licence.
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Post by CryptoQuick » Sun Dec 16, 2007 3:38 am

I've never really been satisfied with the bevel tool (it can't select individual edges, and the other bevel script screws up pretty bad 70% of the time), and also, when selecting faces, it would be cool if it acted like in Modo, where you select two along a line, then, using the arrow keys, you selet the rest; it's sort of like the Select Loop tool and Control+NumPlus... That would save me some time.

Also, integration with a version control repository would be sweet. A script that could take the render of the object as well as the 3D model and export them in a couple of different formats, then upload to an SVN repo, then some sort of integration with Trac so that this could all be tracked in a sort of integrated digital asset management environment... Heh, I can dream, can't I? :D
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Post by LetterRip2 » Sun Dec 16, 2007 5:00 am

Updated beveling was one of the summer of code projects, not positive if it has been committed to head yet though.

jjp,

will pass the suggestions along - for sculpting - one artist is able to get poly counts similar to ZBrush 2 on linux (but of course we are still quite a ways behind Z3 and Mudbox...). So while it isn't the current fastest - it should be possible to get similar results as to what was the best available tools prior to about a year ago.

CryptoQuick - improved bevel was a summer of code project that should be in the next release.

Agree about SVN integration for asset management - you are the third person to suggest it :) I think it would need a different storage format though since blenders isn't easily parsable to see what parts have changed...

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Post by lf3thn4d » Mon Dec 17, 2007 8:22 am

  • 1. Tangent space normal map baking! I've been waiting for this for a while already.
    2. User customizable Hotkeys. (mainly for transitioning artist)
    3. Better mesh exporting API. The current one doesn't keep vertex sharing and thus produces over bloated mesh data.
Talk about the sculpting tool, the reason why it's slow now, is because of memory fragmentation. Sculpting now ends up swapping memory to my harddrive after a few minutes of brush strokes and switching between resolution. So yeah, this is prolly not a feature, but I'll want to request for a memory fragmentation fix for the sculpting tool. With that fixed, it'll be super fast already.
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Post by Horizon » Mon Dec 17, 2007 12:27 pm

Integrated physics and a couple of exporters. For example, look at with the Nima and PhysX plugins for Maya and 3ds Max do. Actually once the basics are there it would be easy to surpass the functionality of these plugins.
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Post by CryptoQuick » Mon Dec 17, 2007 6:45 pm

Horizon wrote:Integrated physics and a couple of exporters. For example, look at with the Nima and PhysX plugins for Maya and 3ds Max do. Actually once the basics are there it would be easy to surpass the functionality of these plugins.
Doesn't Blender already have built-in physics?
http://www.blender.org/development/rele ... t-physics/

Also, thanks, LetterRip2, now I don't feel entirely off-base.

Blender is still a very sweet program, though. I wouldn't use anything else.
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Post by Dalek Kommander » Tue Dec 18, 2007 5:23 pm

LetterRip2 wrote: Try the Edge SPlit modifer.
That looks like exactly what I thought was missing the last time I played around with Blender, which was only a few months ago. Is that a very recent feature, or did I just miss it?

In any case, I have some models I built in Wings3d that I'd like to import to blender and export to ogre. I couldn't find any way to import the model that preserved the hard edges from Wings3d.

I suppose I could just re-mark the edges as hard by hand after the import, but if it isn't too much trouble, a way to import a Wings3d model that automatically preserves hard edges would change it from adequate to perfect in my book.
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Post by LetterRip2 » Wed Dec 19, 2007 2:43 am

Dalek,

what format are you exporting too and from? Does the format you are exporting from Wings3D support hard edges (and is it supported within wings for that exporter)?

If so let me know and I'll ask if the import supporter can look into that.


Horizon and CryptoQuick,

yes Blender has the 'bullet' physics engine integrated, and its Collada exporter I believe has support for physics properties.

Horizen,

could you add some more detailed information on what you want to be exportable? I can ask Erwin if it is something he is willing to add. Also what formats - Collada and FBX? (Don't know if our FBX export has it yet, but will ask).

If3thn4d,

I think there has been a commit to SVN since 2.45 that improved memory management - you might want to check a recent SVN build and see how it performs for you.

If3thn4d,

Tanget baking is now included in SVN.

Custom hotkeys should be in shortly - our lead coder has taken a 'two week coding vacation' to work on the tool api refactor, which is planned to include among other things custom key bindings.

For the mesh exporting API - could you be more specific? Do you mean the Ogre exporter or some other exporter?

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Post by Horizon » Wed Dec 19, 2007 11:07 am

LetterRip2 wrote:Horizon and CryptoQuick,

yes Blender has the 'bullet' physics engine integrated, and its Collada exporter I believe has support for physics properties.

Horizen,

could you add some more detailed information on what you want to be exportable? I can ask Erwin if it is something he is willing to add. Also what formats - Collada and FBX? (Don't know if our FBX export has it yet, but will ask).
I myself am working with PhysX for the moment and the lack of a decent editor has got me looking at building one myself. Because I'm absolutely not interested in redoing all the basic 3d editor work, I was looking at the available software. Both 3dsmax and maya already have a physx plugin, but the one from 3dsmax at least is very very limited and both pieces of software are to expensive for me. Blender is free, plus I prefer it over 3dsmax at least, so I am now looking into adding PhysX information to Blender and creating an exporter.

However, I think in general Blender could add alot more support for editing scenes of all kinds, including physics scene, and exporting them. Also, the Blender Game Engine is a good step towards even testing your scenes from inside blender. However, with the currect setup, I think it isn't too easy to add a new physics library to blenders toolbox, especially one that has as many parameters as PhysX. The same would hold for adding Ogre as renderer for the game engine, or just as a preview of your scene.

Adding support for non-open-source software isn't going to sit good with Erwin, though, I suspect. Especially 'competitors' when it comes to physics. (I'm not making this up, I actually read a post along these lines on the blender forum, just search it for "PhysX" it's in one of the 5 threads, don't remember which one).
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Post by Horizon » Wed Dec 19, 2007 12:40 pm

More specifically, the object class currently specifies a very specific set of rigid body properties, which might not match all physics libraries and which for some applications are not specific enough by far.

For example you can currently only assign box, sphere, cone and convex polytope shapes (maybe concave as well).
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Post by Dalek Kommander » Thu Dec 20, 2007 10:07 pm

LetterRip2 wrote:Dalek,

what format are you exporting too and from? Does the format you are exporting from Wings3D support hard edges (and is it supported within wings for that exporter)?
This was a while ago now, and my memory isn't perfect, but I think I tried all the obvious formats that wings3d supported, and for whatever reason, none of them preserved the edge hardness when imported to Blender.

Here's a list of formats wings3d claims to export:

http://www.wings3d.com/

* Nendo (NDO)
* 3D Studio (3DS)
* Wavefront (OBJ)
* VRML (WRL)
* Renderware (RWX)
* FBX (on Windows and Mac OS X)
* Yafray
* Toxic

I think I remember my experience at the time was that Wings3d is most compatible with NDO format. That's the format that seems to preserve the most data if you export a model from wings and then import it right back in. I'm pretty sure it preserved edge hardness, I'll try to verify tonight.
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Post by Moohasha » Thu Dec 20, 2007 11:05 pm

I appologise if some of the things I mention already exist. I'm still a new Blender user, so I may not know about some features.

* To expand on what jjp said, it would be nice to have some built in animations (walk, run, crouch, jump, die...) that can be retargetted to easily fit most "normal" humanoid skeletons
* Motion capture export script.
* Improved weight painting options. I don't know about other people, but sometimes I have the darndist time getting the vertices and ONLY the vertices I want painted. Maybe some sort of bucket paint, or an option to paint all linked vertices the same value.
* The ability to change the coordinate system from right-handed to left-handed, as well as changing which axis is "up". The reason I mention this is because Blender is setup with a right-hand coordinate system where Z is up, and Ogre is left-handed with Y up (from my observation). Makes exporting from Blender a headache.
* An option to automatically generate a heightmap from a plane.
* The ability to export images (specificly heightmaps) in a 16-bit raw format.
* Unless I've overlooked the option somewhere, the ability to select a group of vertices in an object and create a seperate object out of them.
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Blender improvements.

Post by Malkyne » Fri Dec 21, 2007 2:20 am

1.) I agree with jjp on UV-mapping. While unwrapping may be great, editing UVs is a huge hassle. I can't even figure out how to lasso a group of points. If there's a way to do it, it's not consistent with how anything else in Blender works.

2.) I find the controls in the IPO graph editor very inconsistent with the controls int he rest of Blender. I keep trying to do things wrong, because of this.

3.) Is there a way to save a keyframe for multiple bones at once? I seem to only be able to save one at a time.

4.) Often, I move the mouse pointer away before I even see the ridiculously tiny save verification dialog, and it goes away, without saving my project. Then, I think I've saved my project, but I didn't, and that's extraordinarily bad. I find the roll-off on menus and dialogs very frustrating in Blender, but it's the save dialog that drives me the most insane. I'd love to just disable it.

5.) Configurable controls would be great. If there's something I do frequently that has a weird key combination associated with it, I'd love to map it to something easier to press.

6.) I'd love more control over my materials, and in particular, shaders, when I export for Ogre, but that's really an Ogre exporter issue.

7.) The retopology tools are groovy, but they're still pretty immature and under-documented. They could definitely use some love.

8.) I agree with Moohasha on the weight painting. I often can't remember how to get the bone I wanted to associate weights with selected properly, and no amount of clicking on it with either button seems to select it, and no matter what order I try to select things before going into weight painting mode, I can't seem to get into the right mode to make it work. Moreover, while I've sometimes figured out how to select a section of my mesh to paint, I've still often had the problems Moohasha describes with painting vertices I don't want to paint. The worst is mouths.

There's more, but I've got to go now.
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Post by Kojack » Fri Dec 21, 2007 3:08 am

The biggest turn off for me in Blender is the non standard open / save panel. It should use the standard system dialogs for whatever OS you are running it on. In it's own open/save panel, you can't even double click on a file to open it! It's usability and features are inferior to the default win32 open/save dialogs.
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Post by twilight17 » Fri Dec 21, 2007 4:30 am

QFT yeah the blender open/save dialogs SUCK!! :twisted:
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Post by lf3thn4d » Fri Dec 21, 2007 11:08 am

LetterRip2 wrote: If3thn4d,

I think there has been a commit to SVN since 2.45 that improved memory management - you might want to check a recent SVN build and see how it performs for you.
Cool, ok i'll check that out. :)
LetterRip2 wrote: If3thn4d,

Tanget baking is now included in SVN.
Yeah. So i noticed after posting that post. :-P

LetterRip2 wrote: Custom hotkeys should be in shortly - our lead coder has taken a 'two week coding vacation' to work on the tool api refactor, which is planned to include among other things custom key bindings.
Nice~ :-) My artist is going to be quite happy for this one.
LetterRip2 wrote: For the mesh exporting API - could you be more specific? Do you mean the Ogre exporter or some other exporter?
I meant for all of the exporter. At least it seemed to me that all exporters seemed to have problems exporting. Unless there's something I missed, all exporters are exporting individual vertices for each triangle face. Hence no vertex sharing. This causes file bloats and long export execution time. Especially so for meshes around 10k poly count.
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Post by Moohasha » Fri Dec 21, 2007 3:45 pm

Kojack wrote:The biggest turn off for me in Blender is the non standard open / save panel. It should use the standard system dialogs for whatever OS you are running it on. In it's own open/save panel, you can't even double click on a file to open it! It's usability and features are inferior to the default win32 open/save dialogs.
So true! It also drives me crazy that the window in which the open/save panel and export scripts (Ogre, in this case) seems to be random sometimes. At times it opens in the 3D viewport, other times it opens in my button window on the bottom. Very annoying.

Another thing I thought of this morning: When adding objects to a scene, it's difficult sometimes to get things directly on top of the ground, especially if it's uneven terrain. It'd be nice to be able to snap an object to another so that if you translate it, it remains attached. That way you can move trees or buildings along the ground, for example, and then not have to worry about adjusting their height so they're not sunken or floating. Not sure if that makes much sense.
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Post by Auria » Fri Dec 21, 2007 5:37 pm

Kojack wrote:The biggest turn off for me in Blender is the non standard open / save panel. It should use the standard system dialogs for whatever OS you are running it on. In it's own open/save panel, you can't even double click on a file to open it! It's usability and features are inferior to the default win32 open/save dialogs.
yeah I must say that too!! I'm having such a hard time navigate, and I don,t have my bookmarks, etc. Also it should just appear in a new window, non-overlapping is cool but if you insist on using it absolutely everywhere it gets annoying


I've always been telling myself that when I have time I'd build blender from source and hack a native dialog in ;) [ never had free time for that though so maybe the devs will make it before I even try ;) ]
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Post by machinimist » Fri Dec 21, 2007 7:48 pm

lf3thn4d wrote:I meant for all of the exporter. At least it seemed to me that all exporters seemed to have problems exporting. Unless there's something I missed, all exporters are exporting individual vertices for each triangle face. Hence no vertex sharing. This causes file bloats and long export execution time. Especially so for meshes around 10k poly count.

hm... how did you come to that conclusion? i didn't use the ogre mesh exporter yet but i think most supported formats and their exporters actually use vertex sharing.
So true! It also drives me crazy that the window in which the open/save panel and export scripts (Ogre, in this case) seems to be random sometimes. At times it opens in the 3D viewport, other times it opens in my button window on the bottom. Very annoying.
i agree! i don't mind the file window itself that much but that it seems to randomly open in any of the current windows is extremely annoying. is there a system behind this?

i also agree about uv-editing. unwrapping is great but there should be functions like "move and sew" and such stuff other applications like maya and modo have.

i really would like to see motion retargeting features. reusing animations on different characters has to get easier in blender.

all exporters should have scaling and coordinate system conversion options. (i don't think that blender itself needs options for different coordinates systems or custom units. it's fine if this gets handled by exporters.)
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Post by Moohasha » Fri Dec 21, 2007 8:07 pm

[quote=machinimist]all exporters should have scaling and coordinate system conversion options. (i don't think that blender itself needs options for different coordinates systems or custom units. it's fine if this gets handled by exporters.)[/quote]

But then again, if you're modeling something for the sole purpose of exporting it to an engine that uses a different coordinate system, wouldn't it be easier to model in it? Since the y-axis is "up" in Ogre, I have to turn all my models on their side while modeling. It'd be much easier to just change that in the modeling engine from the start.
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Post by machinimist » Fri Dec 21, 2007 8:21 pm

you should model with z-up and the exporter can convert to y-up by simply doing a matrix multiplication during export. why doesn't the ogre exporter do that?

i just guess that making blender's coordinate system configurable would be much more work than adding a simple multiplication which achieves the same goal.
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Post by Kojack » Fri Dec 21, 2007 11:17 pm

It's usually not enough to just do a multiply to change coordinate systems. You also may need to change the order of vertices to maintain the same winding order (otherwise changing between left and right handed coordinates will make your mesh render backfaces instead of front faces) and modify quaternions (rotations could be in the wrong direction).

Having the modeller let you work in any coordinate system would definitely be cool, so artists and programmers are talking about the same coordinates.
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