Instructor of Simulation and Game Development at Pitt Community College
Bynum Murray is an Instructor of Simulation and Game Development at Pitt Community College in Greenville, North Carolina. He has participated in several independent game and media projects as an artist, animator, and designer. He has a Masters of Fine Arts in Digital Production Arts from Clemson
University in South Carolina.
Character Prototyping Pipeline for the Indie Developer: Adobe Fuse, Mixamo, and Unity
Speaking With Jere Miles
The creation of graphical assets for complex rich games can be a developmental stumbling block for many indie developers. The processes of modeling, texturing, rigging, and animating a character model to use within a game project can put the brakes on other aspects of project development when dealing with small teams. Not to mention the issues that may arise if the character model needs to be altered as the game is further developed and character controls are tested. In this presentation we will demonstrate a character pipeline that can be used for prototyping character concepts and game mechanics with a very rapid turn-around. The process begins with the creation of character prototype within Adobe Fuse, a product that is included with a Creative Cloud subscription. With Fuse, the small team may be able to create a character through the manipulation of sliders and other settings within minutes rather than hours. This character will include a set of base textures for it as well. While the selection may not be as feature rich as the traditional approach of creating custom characters, there are more than enough options available to create solid characters for use in prototyping a game concept to allow development of the project to continue. Following the character creation process within Fuse, the asset can be imported into Mixamo, a suite of tools that will rig the character for us and provide thousands of prebuilt animations that can be attached to the character asset. Mixamo was recently purchased by Adobe and as of now use of its features is still free for all users with an Adobe account. After finding and selecting the animations desired for the project, the asset can be exported from Mixamo into an FBX file ready to import into other applications, such as the Unity game engine. Within Unity we can utilize the MecAnim system to quickly construct a state machine architecture to handle the transitions between animations. We can quickly add simple C# code to our character asset within Unity to call upon the MecAnim transitions for animations while also manipulating the character within the game world. In many cases these pieces can be reused with other characters later on. Through the use of these tools it is possible to get a functional character from concept to player controlled in game in under an hour to allow the development team to focus on game play features, controls, and mechanics before investing a large amount of time in the development of a more customized character asset.