Thursday, 20 March 2014

Jenga in CryEngine

To make sure that we didn't get hit by technical issues later on we've all started playing around with CryEngine to get an understanding of how we can achieve various things. I had a bit of previous experience importing assets and arranging them but we agreed from the outset that we wanted to do much more than just put an environment together, we wanted things to interact with the player. A sense of reason for being there or even just a feeling that your presence there has affected this place was key to making the project work as a visual and auditory experience.

With our initial idea cementing itself we had somewhere to start exploring what we could do to make the player feel like the environment was dynamic and tangible. The idea of the forgotten Whitby Abbey really allowed us to play around with erosion and destruction and so the idea that part of an undiscovered crypt could fall in revealing a clear entrance to a new area. This would not only mean the player is far more in contact with the environment but it also meant that our level design becomes a lot more solid as there is a strong journey from starting on the cliff/in the town to finish inside the abbey. The difficult aspect of this is making it feel as if the crypt was unstable prior to your presence and it is just your presence which pushes it over the edge and it collapses, rather than making the collapse feel like it was set up to happen. That aspect is going to be very tough but will have to come later. First the visuals of the crypt collapsing, to achieve this we could either try and rely on CryEngine's ability to effectively calculate dynamic objects and just set up a pile which is intricately balanced and is pushed over the edge when you get there and so it collapses. Or a much more reliable and effective way... pre-bake the animation into the mesh so that we can just trigger the animation to happen.

To create pre-baked animation of dynamic objects from 3Ds Max and put them into Cry isn't particularly straightforward. However its not particularly difficult it is just there aren't many tutorials with 3Ds Max's new physics tool MassFX, there are many from when 3Ds Max had Havoc physics. Unfortunately 3Ds Max no longer has this.After finding a tutorial which animates a box, here, I had the animation working and exporting it to Cry was very easy and it was sorted. I have used MassFX tools to create physics animations before but the issue arises when you try and export the animation from 3Ds Max to Cry, because you have to use certain animation controllers for Cry these controllers can't be used to create the animation of the physics.

When you change the MassFX controllers to TCB you lose the animation...

I spent a fair amount of time trying to find how I could move the animation or the keys to a different controller, no luck. Fortunately I decided to watch a different tutorial on how to export a car animation. They got around the issue that MassFX uses its own animation controllers by exporting the mesh with the animation as an FBX and then reimporting it. This simple process seems to move the animation over to the standard animation controllers which you can then easily change to the TCB controller that Cry uses.



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