With all the hub bub lately around the highly anticipated release of the CryENGINE 3 FREE SDK the need for a modeling tool with a low cost and low barrier of entry is greater now than it ever has been. In a previous article we explored a elegant plugin for Sketch up called PlayUp. If you missed that PlayUp is a very nice exporter for SketchUp that makes getting your models from Sketch up into the Sandbox 3 editor a snap. Now, thanks to the very well done work of CryDev member Bac9-flcl we have a top notch tutorial series that makes using SketchUp even more useful. Read on to discover what this writer thinks will be an invaluable tutorial series for the Indie game crowd here on CryDev.
Golden Rules Of SketchUp
1. Google SketchUp learning curve is extremely easy.
2. Lots of SketchUp users started modeling straight away, prior to learning about any optimization techniques, general modeling rules, and so on (which is generally not a bad thing unless it involves someone else trying to use the resulting models). Which brings us to the following:
3. Google 3D Warehouse is not your prop library.
4. Most of Google 3D Warehouse models are not properly optimized, textured and structured, and are literally far beyond rescue to suit any game engine.
5. Default collection is not your material library, never use these low-res JPEG images.
6. If you need something (from a cardboard box prop to a skyscraper), it's always easier and usually faster to create it yourself. Sometimes so faster that you'll get lazy to give a task to 3D modelers from your team, - as you can already create the required object in the time required to formulate the description itself.
7. SketchUp is a modeling package, just like the others, and all the general rules of 3D modeling are still applied there. You must keep an eye on surface orientation, you must optimize your model, keep neatly organized component hierarchy, etc. The program won't magically solve all these issues for you.
8. Always use tool snapping (axis-based, point-based, midpoint-based, parallel/perpendicular-based, and so on), it is extremely well made and is the one of the most important features of SU that is allowing you to work solely in the 3D viewport while producing clean and straight models.
9. Always type values manually while working with the tools to keep your geometry proportional, regular, and clean.
10. Always use components instead of groups.
11. Take your time to study at least the basic concept and tool tutorials there.
As indicated by the author this section is focused primarily on setting up your work space in SketchUp. As a new user it cannot be streesed enough that familierizing your self with the menu structure and getting good starting baseline will directly relate to your success with a tool. Bac9-flcl does an excellent job of helping you through this thus setting you up for success with his tutorials.
General advice on modeling
This section of the series goes though a number of modeling tips, tricks, and best practices when using sketch up to create your models. The author goes through a series of good examples and presents them well. This helps readers understand how to achieve a well set up model so when it comes time to export with PlayUp your models transfer cleanly.
Materials & Textures
With this tutorial Bac9-flcl helps us understand all the nuances for setting up your materials and textures for application to SketchUp models. There are some basic assumptions in this one around Photoshop knowledge and having a texture library but as a reader its always good to bring some fundamental knowledge to the table when learning a new tool. That being said he does a very good job breaking things down into understandable chunks sighting several examples of what to do and what not to do when working with textures and materials in SketchUp all with the final export to Sandbox 3 in mind.
Asset creation guidelines
This is a nice walk though of the larger asset creation guidlines that are published by Crytek. Again Bac9-flcl puts them in context and offers an nice workflow that drives home the requirements behind asset creation for CryENGINE 3.
Export to CryENGINE 3
Now we find our selves at the final goal. This is what it is all leading up to exporting to the Sandbox 3 game editor. Once you have gone though all the tutorials and invested countless hours getting your model perfect, setting up the textures and materials just right, you are now ready to put it in your game. Thanks to one industrious CryDev member Nintari that task is a very simple with PlayUp. But you probably want to read this first just to make sure your up to the task.
Must have SketchUp plugins
Finally Bac9-flcl gives some good suggestions for other tools for use with SketchUp to make modeling with SketchUp all the more useful. This is a nice icing on the cake for a very well done set of tutorials.
The past week has been an exciting time on CryDev. The release of the FREE CryENGINE 3 Sandbox tool has been long awaited and now that it's here we can all start work on our ideas. The Sandbox 3 editor is a very powerful tool but it alone does not a game make. Indie game development is complex but rewarding and fun work. When CryDev members like Bac9-flcl and Nintari take time to contribute to the CryDev community we cannot help but say thank you for the hard work... Until next time.
~ Have fun making games!
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