Tilt Brush export to Maya and V-Ray

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Tilt Brush export to Maya and V-Ray

I drew a bushy manface in Tilt Brush on the HTC Vive, and realized that they had added a way to actually export the drawing into a 3D file!  

So I used the python script that Tilt Brush comes with to export it into an OBJ file. And after punching my head through a wall to figure out how you run python scripts, I finally got an OBJ file out of it. I then took this OBJ into Maya and rendered it with my production renderer, V-Ray.

The results were quite nice!

I didn't get the textures and alphas of the brush strokes, so you end up with long flat planes that represent the strokes. 

Here's the screenshot from Tilt Brush, complete with proper brushes w/ alpha

The exported OBJ file in Maya in wireframe mode

Maya's Viewport 2.0 with lights and a VrayMtl shader

Maya's Viewport 2.0 with lights and a VrayMtl shader

The first clay render in V-Ray

The SSS skin shader had some...issues.  Sparkly issues.

The SSS skin shader had some...issues. 
Sparkly issues.

Here's the same view with a VRayCarPaint shader. Much nicer!

And here's a close-up with some DOF

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Started working on my VR title "Woeful Woebots"

I just started the work on Woeful Woebots with the HTC Vive Pre devkit! 

I finally have hand interactions working, and I am prototyping one of the first levels.
It's amazing how simple interactions with things can be the basis of a really fun game in VR. Really excited about working on WW!
 

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The HTC Vive Pre arrived!

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I was incredibly lucky and was chosen by HTC / Valve to receive a HTC Vive Pre devkit to make my next game (Woeful Woebots), and it suddenly arrived! It is a thing of absolute beauty, the HTC design team are some very talented people. 

The package! 

The package! 

Even the logo's pretty!

Even the logo's pretty!

These controllers were surprisingly big, but felt excellent in my hands. 

These controllers were surprisingly big, but felt excellent in my hands. 

Lighthouse tracking system

Lighthouse tracking system

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The HMD from the side

The HMD from the side

Foamy!

Foamy!

The lighthouse system only requires a power connection.

The lighthouse system only requires a power connection.

These little things actually look pretty good in the corners of a room.

These little things actually look pretty good in the corners of a room.

Big thanks to Valve and HTC for sending me this amazing piece of kit. Looking forward to making my next game with it! Follow me on twitter @hellobard and on Facebook !

 

 

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Greenlit on Steam!

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Greenlit on Steam!

Hooray! 
Animal Drivers has been Greenlit on Steam!
Hello Bard is now officially a Steamworks developer.

The game will be ported to PC and Mac with some hefty graphical advances, a new upgraded physics system for the cars and two new levels! I am really looking forward to getting this game for sale for the PC and Mac crowd.

Check it out here!
 


/Bard

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Getting Ready for VR Development

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Getting Ready for VR Development

The end of 2015 is nearly here, and it has been an eventful year filled with exciting things in my life. Our second child, Isolde, was born and I finally managed to release Animal Drivers! The last few months have mostly gone to bug-fixing the game, and carrying a (mostly screaming) baby around the house. This week I even had myself some rather lovely appendix-killing surgery which I am currently recovering from.  

In between these epic life-battles, I've been working on a couple of prototypes and ideas for new games. Suffice to say, I have become extremely excited about the prospect of working on virtual reality games and have been doing a lot of interesting research lately. So if you're an indie developer like me, you might be considering how to gear up for development in VR. 

DESKTOP VS. MOBILE VR

First of off, you should probably decide whether or not you're going to enter the desktop-VR market or the mobile VR market. You can do both of course, but focusing down on one effort will probably be ideal if you're a lone developer. Personally I want to have a little more power available to me than I'm used to from mobile, and I will be hitting the desktop-VR market. This market will be smaller initially, but it will also be more hungry for new software.
 

Soon you can look like a dork too!

WHAT GEAR TO GET

You'll need a fast PC. Like really fast. My 6-core i7 from a few years ago is apparently still rocking some serious CPU juice, so I'm all set on that account. You'll also need 16 GB of RAM and probably an SSD drive or two. But most importantly, you'll need to get a new graphics card. 
 

WHICH GRAPHICS CARD TO GET?

I am an Nvidia fan-boy, so I will only be considering their products for my VR needs. Oculus seems to think similarly and has set an Nvidia Geforce GTX 970 as their baseline requirement to have a good VR experience. So as a developer, this should be my baseline too and I will need to make sure that anything I make runs really smoothly on this card. But what are our options?

With the current 900-generation of cards, your options are
Nvidia GTX 970 (Oculus baseline requirement) 
Nvidia GTX 980
Nvidia GTX 980 Ti
Nvidia GTX 970 SLI (two 970s)

Benchmark from PCGamer.com. Notice how the 970 SLI kicks the 980 Ti's butt!

Benchmark from PCGamer.com. Notice how the 970 SLI kicks the 980 Ti's butt!

In 2016, the new Nvidia Pascal cards will be coming out with some serious juice, but it's hard to say just when they'll arrive. I would bet my money on that the first line of GTX 1000-cards will be released along with the launch of the Oculus Rift Consumer Edition. But that's no good for us as developers, those cards are way too fast in comparison to the baseline that Oculus has defined with the 970-cards. We need to know that our products work on the lowest spec, as well as the highest spec. 


THE RIGHT CARD(S) TO GET AS A DEV

What I think is the smartest solution is to buy two Nvidia GTX 970 cards and bridge them together with SLI. It's the cheapest option too because you can buy one card first, and get the second one later down the line. You'll get the top line performance that outrivals the 980 Ti, and have the ability to turn off one of the cards to test your baseline performance making sure everyone can play the game. Both your super rich players and the rest with less hardcore cards will be happy. Everybody wins! 

SLI is also an interesting choice now that Nvidia has announced their Gearworks VR API. With it comes their new VR SLI technology, that lets the two GPU cards render one eye each to "to dramatically accelerate stereo rendering". So I believe this is this 970-SLI solution will also be popular for a lot of gamers, even after the newer 1000-series cards come out.


OCULUS VS. HTC VIVE VS. PLAYSTATION VR

Next up, let's consider the options for desktop VR HMDs (head mounted displays).
The Vive is the first room-scale system, and seems to be technologically more advanced than the others given it's two laser-sighted lighthouse solution for tracking the player. However, it does require a lot more room in people's houses and probably a higher PC-spec than Oculus.

Oculus on the other hand have described themselves as a "seated experience", and I am guessing Sony Playstation VR will be going the same route. It makes a lot of sense, because most people's houses or living rooms aren't easily converted into play rooms. Who has a spare room available these days with current housing prices? Walking around in your living room, tripping over your coffee table and/or cat/baby isn't going to be possible for most people. You can do standing-in-one-place type experiences, but walking around is very unlikely in the Oculus/PS VR market. So if you choose to go for a room-scale experience, you are essentially cutting down your market quite a great deal. On the other hand, you'll be creating a much more immersive experience that players willbe much more involved and engulfed in. Tough choice!

WHICH HMD TO GET AS A DEVELOPER

SO! DAMN! BIG!

SO! DAMN! BIG!

The HTC Vive will be the first one out of the door and it will also have the first hand controllers. 
Oculus's Touch controllers won't be released along with the headset, so the choice for developers who want a head start is simple. The HTC Vive is the best HMD to get because you will have everything you need to develop for the Vive, Oculus Touch and the PS VR in one headset. You can create seated experiences as well room-scaled experiences, and don't have to buy several systems to do it. The Vive let's you author both types of experiences. Oculus will not, at least not initially. Converting your game from the Vive will be pretty painless too. Especially if you use SteamVR's OpenVR system! 


So there you go, those are my thoughts on what gear is the best to get to start a VR development career. Now I just need to start saving my pennies to be able to afford all of this stuff... 


Follow me on social media:

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Building for Android TV with Unity

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Building for Android TV with Unity

So you're porting your game over to Android TV using Unity 4.6. And it's not working and not getting approved by Google you say? And you've tried everything? Even sacrificing a goat in the name of the dark lord, you say? Well, the latter won't work! That's just silly!
You should be sacrificing a pig, not a goat. Geesh.

So anyway, what you need to do is write a proper manifest with all the right permissions. Unity 5 does most of this for you, so it shouldn't be a big problem. For those of us temporarily stuck in 4.6 though, it's a big problem. So here's the manifest you need:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<manifest xmlns:android="http://schemas.android.com/apk/res/android" package="com.unity3d.player" android:theme="@android:style/Theme.NoTitleBar.Fullscreen" android:installLocation="preferExternal" android:versionCode="1" android:versionName="1.0">
  
  <uses-permission android:name="android.permission.INTERNET" />
  <uses-permission android:name="com.android.vending.BILLING" />
  
  <uses-feature android:name="android.hardware.gamepad" android:required="true"/>
  <uses-feature android:name="android.software.leanback" android:required="true" />

  <uses-feature android:name="android.hardware.touchscreen" android:required="false"/>
  <uses-feature android:name="android.hardware.faketouch" android:required="false"/>
  <uses-feature android:name="android.hardware.telephony" android:required="false"/>
  <uses-feature android:name="android.hardware.camera" android:required="false"/>
  <uses-feature android:name="android.hardware.bluetooth" android:required="false"/>
  <uses-feature android:name="android.hardware.nfc" android:required="false"/>
  <uses-feature android:name="android.hardware.location.gps" android:required="false"/>
  <uses-feature android:name="android.hardware.microphone" android:required="false"/>
  <uses-feature android:name="android.hardware.sensor" android:required="false"/>
  
  <application 
        android:icon="@drawable/app_icon"
        android:banner="@drawable/banner" 
        android:label="@string/app_name" 
        android:debuggable="true" 
        android:isGame="true">
    
    <meta-data android:name="isGame" android:value="true" />
    
   <activity android:name="com.unity3d.player.UnityPlayerNativeActivity" android:label="@string/app_name">
  
      <meta-data android:name="unityplayer.UnityActivity" android:value="true" />
      
          <intent-filter>
      <action android:name="android.intent.action.MAIN" />
      <category android:name="android.intent.category.LEANBACK_LAUNCHER" />
    </intent-filter>
    
  </activity>
    
</application>
</manifest>

 

Note: remember to add a banner.jpg to Plugins/Android/res/drawable-xhdpi/  (if you're on Unity 4.6.X)

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Making a trailer (while carrying a baby around)

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Making a trailer (while carrying a baby around)

June saw the birth of our beautiful daughter Isolde, and with it came a very natural drop in productivity in regards to Animal Drivers. It's been an emotional rollercoaster for us as a family, especially with the stress and worries of an imminent C-section. It was all suddenly over, and then we had a new person in our little family! 

My deadline for this whole Animal Drivers project had been "before the birth", but I totally missed that. I knew once she was born, I'd have very little time to work on the game. In between nappy changes, crying fits that require constant carrying and walking around, etc; I still managed to get a trailer cut and out on YouTube.

AE_Timeline.png

Recording it in 60 FPS required a workhorse of a PC, and I couldn't do that on my Macbook Air. But I finally got it all done, and started cutting the best moments together. I think it came out quite nice in the end! 


Trailers. Man. So much work.
— Aristotle

Rare occasion - both of them sleeping at the same time!

Rare occasion - both of them sleeping at the same time!

So here it is, the trailer, in all of it's glory. Music by the amazingly talented LIEKE (who also did the soundtrack!)

 

As always, please follow me on the Instaface Tweets!

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Unity Quick Tip: Hickups and framedrops

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Unity Quick Tip: Hickups and framedrops

This problem drove me to the edge of insanity, and I couldn't understand what I was doing wrong. Everytime I was playing "Animal Drivers" and turning a corner where new models and textures needed to be loaded to the GPU, there was a very clear 0.5s-1s delay in the editor / on the device (less clear here though).  

So if your game has this issue, here's all you have to do:

1. Create a script or just add it to one of your existing ones.

2. Put Shader.WarmupAllShaders(); in your Start function. 

That's it! Fixed!
Make sure this runs at the start of your level, and all will be well.

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Hello, world from Isolde!

On Tuesday our beautiful little daughter Isolde was born!
Mother and child are both doing very well, and we're changing nappies at a pretty serious level right now ^---^ 

Not much development being done this week, that's for sure!

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Animal Drivers Devlog - May Update

Animal Drivers is getting closer to being a finished game!


Two levels are completed and are being fine-tuned, and a few more tweaks are needed before I can send the game into soft-launch for iPhone and iPad. Hopefully I can get some players in to test the functions and iron out any major bugs before I release it to the rest of the world this summer!

We have a new baby on the way, and she's coming in a mere two weeks so I have no idea how that will impact progression on the game. Hopefully I can get most of this stuff done before she arrives. 
And then maybe those soft-launchers will send some diaper-money our way ^__^  

Man, oh man. Diapers. Again.

Just a dream, but Psssst... hey.... Sony, give me a call ;)

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Animal Drivers Soundtrack

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Animal Drivers Soundtrack

The soundtrack to Animal Drivers!
Music for the game's two first levels and the menu is ready and up on SoundCloud and is made by the excellent and ultra-creative LIEKE. Check out his SoundCloud page here for more of his work.

He got in touch after seeing some of my work, and I decided to give him a try. I have certainly not regretted that choice since! I sent him a bunch of clips from EDM artists like Uppermost, The Glitch Mob, Xilent, Dodge & Fuski, Porter Robinson and Coyote Kisses and told him I wanted something like that and with a lot of energy and F-U-N at the heart of it all. He certainly delivered and has given Animal Drivers exactly the sound I wanted for it. 

 

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Animal Drivers Icons

Ahh... the app icon.

A lost art, some say. An unthinkable pain, other say. 
Right now I'm with the latter crowd. Have been putting this off for quite some time. Ironically, every other app icon I have done has been super simple, made it work and had it stick on the first go. But for Animal Drivers, it is really different. Maybe it's because it's so damn important. The first thing you see in the App Stores, and what you base your decision of whether or not to download on. 
I particularly like the colors and attitude in the first one. The second really tells you all about the game, and what it's about. I think I'll have to make more sketches before this decision falls! 

Until then, I'm going to go roll around in pig fat to get my creative juices going. 
There, that's my secret to staying creative. Pig fat.

Here's this post from the Animal Drivers Facebook page. Feel free to press that Like button! ^___^

Some icon sketches for Animal Drivers , having trouble deciding on the direction of these. Will need to sketch more... What do you guys think?

Posted by Hello Bard on Sunday, May 10, 2015

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Apple Watch Game: Much Memo

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Apple Watch Game: Much Memo

  My brother and I are releasing our first Apple Watch game! It's called Much Memo and is a pretty typical memo game. But you know, it's on your WRIST, so it's like super original and stuff.  We're trying to get this out asap, hopefully within a week or two after the watch is released.  UPDATE: IT'S OUT IN THE APP STORE NOW! CLICK THE BUTTON BELOW TO TRY IT OUT:

 

My brother and I are releasing our first Apple Watch game! It's called Much Memo and is a pretty typical memo game. But you know, it's on your WRIST, so it's like super original and stuff. 

We're trying to get this out asap, hopefully within a week or two after the watch is released. 

UPDATE: IT'S OUT IN THE APP STORE NOW! CLICK THE BUTTON BELOW TO TRY IT OUT:

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