The Tech Artist

Archive for September, 2011

Rendering Marathon Maps with Panda3D

by on Sep.28, 2011, under Panda3D

I’m still making strides with the editor, but I’ve been pleasantly distracted with something recently. One of my favorite games I used to play years ago was Marathon – a first person shooter I played on my Mac. By modern standards the game play is pretty simplistic, but at the time I was hooked – especially by the computer terminals which exposed the story to the player gradually as they progressed. For a time I got into creating maps and painting textures, but the limitations of a 2.5D engine eventually got to me and I moved onto other things. Several years later I noticed Marathon Rubicon, a rather ambitious 3rd party scenario, which quickly became my favorite scenario to date.

The Marathon community is still active, and many of the old tools have been revamped and updated. One of these, a project called ‘Weland’ is open source and available on SourceForge. I grabbed the level loading code, pythonized it, and plugged it into Panda. There are a few texture issues but the level comes across pretty well.

I’m not exactly sure what else I’m going to do with this; I might just shelve it for now and call it a fun / useful exercise / great way to kill some time. I will say that it’s hard not to imagine converting more content across to the engine – switches, platforms, terminal text, etc – then to light the entire thing with pixel lights and go exploring… :)

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New Project

by on Sep.20, 2011, under Panda3D, Panda3D Scene Editor

I’ve started working on a new project, one of the main reasons I wanted to start this blog in the first place. Since starting off in this industry as an environment artist I’ve always loved the idea of building a space and then exploring and interacting with it. I’ve also been looking to start on something which would allow me to work on something with both artistic and technical elements.

The idea for my project is to use the Panda3D engine to build a scene editor, then using that to build an interactive space. Panda also has a web browser plugin, so I can publish these spaces on this website so people can explore these spaces I create. I figure that this ties a number of areas I want to continue pushing forward – my Python skills, my ability as an artist and a tools programmer.

The idea of developing a complete game editor is not something I’m entertaining at the moment; all I require is to be able to drop models and lights into a scene and then be able to serialze that out to xml. Running the scene on the game side would use the same loader code as the editor.

So far I have some basics working:

  • Mock-up UI done in wxPython, with nested Panda viewport
  • Adding models from file
  • Adding point lights
  • Selection and transform gizmos
  • Saving / loading scenes to / from file
  • Toolbar icons from the awesome Fugue set

With the editor in this basic form, the next step will be to create a simple environment with it. I’m planning on implementing the excellent ODE Middleware written by one of the Panda community members to take some of the load off the player camera, controls and movement so I can concentrate on the editor and making scenes with it.

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Site Update

by on Sep.05, 2011, under Musings

As much as the default WordPress theme appeals due to its simplicity, it did strike me as a bit boring after a while. After browsing some of the themes available I finally decided to use Pixel, which caught my eye due to its colour scheme and clean look. Unfortunately after installing I found some of the buttons to be in the wrong place, the sidebar too wide and the RSS button looked ghastly and didn’t seem to fit with the rest of the theme. Thankfully WordPress allows you to edit the theme code directly, and I fixed these issues with a little tinkering.

Aside from the new look I’ve reorganised some of the content. The art gallery is now split into three sections: 2D, 3D and the environment work I did for the video game, LA Noire. I’ve also added a code section which I’ll hopefully be adding to more over the next couple of days.

Hope you enjoy!

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