Friday, June 12, 2009

The tools of the trade

Hi everyone! As my first post in the blog, I feel like I needed to do a little introduction. I'm Luis, I'm not that known compared to the 2 visible heads around here :P but I'm the other programmer here at Frictional, maybe some of you might know me from the forum, but I kinda vanished from there a while ago... But I'm here again, and this time I promise to be a little more constant than before, which shouldn't be that hard :)

As you might already know, I'm pretty much developing the game tool suite myself, and a lot of stuff has been going on for over a year now. Up to now, this suite is composed of a Level Editor, a Model Editor, a Particle Editor and a Material Editor. All of these use the HPL engine built-in GUI system, which makes it real easy to use the renderer along, that means I can actually do real time in-game previews of stuff.

I'm sure you already know about the Level Editor, and I know you have had a glimpse of the Model Editor in the last workflow demonstration video. But what's this Model Editor for anyway? I'll explain.

Outside the HPL engine realm, a model is just geometry: vertices and edges, textures and texture coordinates, maybe animation data... That's cool, and enough if you want to use it ingame as a static object (part of the world, that is)... but what if you want something to interact with?
That's where the Model Editor comes in, to actually give some "life" to that inert geometry. In a nutshell, what you do in it is pick a mesh, add physical bodies and joints (if needed), attach sounds, particles, billboards, edit animations, and then you are ready to go!
It may sound like a great deal, but the tool makes these tasks really easy for the user to do. Ever tried to mod Penumbra? Then you are gonna love this. In fact, you are gonna love it whether you tried or not :)

One of the nice features this editor offers is to test the model "ingame", meaning you can test the physics and animations of the object just like it's gonna be like in the actual game. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so a nice video must rock then :P

Well, that's been enough for a nice post. I bet you're now wondering why I didn't mention the Particle or Material Editors, and you don't need to worry, I'm just saving them for later :)