Revisiting Starcraft 2

Of the many projects I put on hold back in 2011 (has it really been that long already?), one was based on Starcraft 2. I did a number of tests with this at the time, but some files have inevitably gone missing over the years. I guess it’s a good thing I documented a lot of my prior experiments.

Since I no longer bother with compositing, the first step to machinima involves creating an environment. I’ve learned through the years that it’s better to move assets to a single engine (such as UDK), rather than trying to master 100 different game engines and their tools (all which may change at any time).

There’s been multiple changes to the Starcraft 2 editor since I last used it. It’s a little more difficult to view and extract content, but I’ve spent the past few days refining the process.

The model previewer has been changed, and is now called the Archive Browser. They ditched the MPQ file format that was previously used (which was easy to extract assets from). Models and textures can still be viewed and exported within the editor, but only on an individual basis. I had to make an AutoIt script to automate the export of thousands of textures, which took many hours to complete.

Screenshot 2016-01-28 13.33.33
Materials can be now viewed using Object > Model Data

Getting everything into UDK is somewhat tedious and time consuming, but I am working on refining the process. Having this all done with just a few button presses may be possible (in theory), but the development of such automation would eat up a lot of time.

I’ve been making progress with the environment despite the challenges. Everything will continue to come together as more lighting, props, and post-processing effects are added. I still haven’t figured out what’s going on with emissive textures yet, it seems their coordinates are not exported.

Screenshot 2016-01-28 13.24.56

The next big challenge will be working with character models and animations again.

A very overdue update

Hey, what’s going on?

It’s been a quite a while without an update. Here’s the short story:

About the time I last posted here, I embarked on obtaining a medical degree. I’m nearly done, so I’ve begun thinking about filmmaking and machinima once again. Lots has changed with all the game engines and their tools since I last used them, and I think one can now produce work without running into so many technical challenges.

I’ve checked out UE4 (on account of UDK no longer being supported).¬† While I’m sure it offers plenty of improvements for game development, it doesn’t seem to offer many benefits for machinima. On top of that, it takes a lot longer to start up on my computer (which is a pain in the butt if you do experimental tests that make it crash often).

I’ve changed the website back to WordPress. I didn’t like it many years ago due to all the spam, but I’m ready to give it a second chance.

I’ve done quite a number of small programming projects over the last few years. I’m still very much a beginner, but I like a medium that allows me to bring my ideas to life.

On that note, I also made a game…or more of a framework for a game (many features were never implemented). I learned a lot and made some cool tools along the way that could be applied to other projects in the future. For now it only exists as a portfolio piece. It was developed in Flash and everyone hates Flash these days, so maybe I’ll redo it in HTML5 at some point.

So what’s next? I’m tinkering with machinima stuff again and trying to catch up on all the new developments. We shall see where it goes from there.

Website Cleanup

Long time no update!

I’ve been reorganizing the website over the past few days. Some of the links have been changed, but all the files are still there. I *think* everything is fixed, but let me know if there’s something that’s not.

I’ll admit I haven’t checked my email in a while, and I let some questions go unanswered. I apologize about that. If you still want to get in touch with me feel free to send another email and I’ll get back to you ASAP.

In other news, you might be wondering why I haven’t released any new movies in a while. The answer is I’ve been working on a game! I’ve been spending my time programming and designing that instead of working on movies. I will get back to movies at some point, they’re just on hold for a bit. I’m really excited about the game however, and I hope to have more details regarding it soon.

Late July Update

Admittedly, I’ve been spending more time working on tools to make movies rather than the movies themselves. The possibilities for machinima are almost limitless, yet the knowledge to do so is often difficult to obtain. I am trying to do my part to advance the medium, which should benefit anyone who wishes to learn (including myself). Here are a few of the things I’m currently working on.

Biped Animation Database
Biped animations can be hugely useful when making machinima. However, there is no easy way to share these with others. I’ve been working on a database that will allow people to upload, download, search, and preview animations. There are many people who just want to tell a story and don’t want to deal with the pain of creating custom animations. Hopefully this will address that.

Machinima Database
While I love watching and creating machinima, I’ve found it can be difficult to find the good stuff. The term “machinima” has been twisted to the point where more people associate it with a company than what it really is. As a result, this has thrown off search results and you get a lot of game commentary with “machinima” in the title. I’m working on a site that will list only real (story-based) machinima, if nothing else just for my own use.

Machinima Tools
If you’ve taken a look at my tutorials you may have noticed I use a bunch of messy PHP scripts to convert data. While it’s not pretty, it gets the job done. I’ve slowly been teaching myself Python with the hope I will be able to create a standalone program that can replace those scripts. Don’t expect it anytime soon though, there’s a lot for me to learn.

In other news, Source Filmmaker looks like a really interesting new tool. I haven’t started working with it yet, but some of the videos other people have created look fantastic. Valve has taken a big step in the right direction by releasing this tool.

Tutorials Section Finished

You may notice there is now a Tutorials section.

Over the years I’ve experimented and done lots of trial and error when working on machinima. I’ve taken many notes and have turned them into a collection of tutorials and reference guides, complete with any custom scripts (maxscript and PHP mostly) that I’ve used along the way.

Machinima to me is all about taking shortcuts. I don’t want to be an 3D animator or modeler, I just want to make movies. With that in mind I’m always looking for new ways to speed up the process, whether it be automating a tedious task, or reusing old assets in a new way.

If nothing else it provides a behind the scenes look at how some of my movies were made.

New Tools Section

Over the years I’ve worked on a lot of small little tools to help with machinima creation. Some of these are web-based and I’ve created a tools section to share them with anyone who may need them.

I’ve been working on a lot of other conversion tools which are currently a big mess of PHP and Windows batch files (a strange combination I know). I hope to be able to recreate those in a stand alone GUI once I learn a little C++, although that may take some time. Regardless, I plan to start posting some examples of the things I’ve been working on so stay tuned.

Tutorials Coming (for real this time)

A long time ago I mentioned I was working on tutorials. I never gave up on them, I just wasn’t happy with how they were coming out.

You see I’m not an expert in making movies by any means. Often times I’ll know what I want to do, but not how to accomplish it. I’ve spend a lot of time learning and taking notes, then trying to turn those notes into tutorials both for my own sake, and for the benefit of anyone else who wants to learn from my experience. Most tutorials are aimed at animators or 3D artists, but my only interest is to make movies, so I like to take shortcuts wherever possible to cut down on the production time. I wouldn’t consider them finished, as I’m always changing and rewriting things as I learn new techniques, but hopefully they will still be of use to someone.

I’ll be releasing what I have very soon, and hopefully other people will join me in the pursuit of furthering this medium.

In other news, I attended Blizzcon this year where I got to see a lot of old friends, and meet some new ones. I had a really great time and will definitely be going next year!

All the dialog you could ever want

Every so often I get an email from someone wanting to translate one of my movies. The problem is they need the dialog before they can start. Rather than making them wait for an email response, I’ve uploaded the dialog from all my movies here.

Any future scripts will be added to this directory as well. Anyone is welcome to translate my movies. All I ask is that the credit remains intact

Change we can believe in

After a long hiatus, I have revamped the site with a much needed update.

I’ve decided to ditch WordPress, since it caused more problems than it solved, and invited lots of spam bots. There’s no longer a way to comment, although maybe that’s a good thing considering all the spam I used to get. If you do need to contact me you can always send me an email.

The plan currently is to ramp up production this summer, with a more regular release schedule. I would like to update this site regularly as well, both to keep anyone reading up to date, and to motivate myself to keep a schedule. We will see how that goes.