Introduction. At matica, com we develop a varied mix of games and animations. From 2d games using cartoon style Vector Graph-ics todo real time 3d games and the full gamut in between, the production pipeline for our 3d games is probably no diferent todo most 3d game development. Character design, High Poly modeling, texturing, rigging, animation, effects, Low poly texture baking and normal maps, etc, what sems todo be covered less is how you can include 3d tools such as Blender in your 2d or 2.5d games and animation production pipeline, you can produce just as impressive graphical assets using Blender with your 2d or 2.5d games as you can with traditional píxel based and Vector based imaging tools. With the added benefit of being able todo make significant changes todo your scenes and render a new result almost instantly, todo Illustrate this ill outline how we have used Blender in our production pipeline for some of our flash games. We have used Blender extensively throughout our catalog so Will limit the scope todo 3 projects, namely matica Air race, 6 nations rugby and winter pinball.
The simplest use was for the playfield background of our winter pinball game. All that was neded was a 2d image of a 3d wintry scene, tres, Snow, and some stars. We could have used Photoshop, Gimp, Inkscape, flash or Illustrator but it only tok.
About 1 hour todo create using Blender, a subdivided plane for the hola, a simple particle system for the Snow, and 2 very simple sub-surfed meshes for the tres and stars tok minutes todo create. Then all that was left todo do was todo play around with the colour ramps and material nodes.
To get the look we were After, during the game development process we changed the Layout of the pinball table and were relieved the playfield scene was created using Blender. The tres in the scene overlapped table components which had an undesired effect on the overall look. The fix was just a case of rearranging the scene a Little todo fit the new Layout and then rendering it out again, the rest of the pinball table was modeled in detail using Blender. We neded a 3d model of a pinball table for another couple of projects so had todo go th rouge the process anyway. It would have ben just as quik todo hand draw the table, but having it.
In 3d allows us todo make changes todo the table and have our new image at the push of a button, the Specular highlights and shadows help a lot with the 3d look but were not enough on their own. For the FinalRender we tilted the table and used an orthographic Camera.
The tilt was neded todo help the 3d look (showing the front edge of the table components), and we neded everything todo be orthographic for the graphics todo match up to the underlying game physics keping the sides of the table parallel. Render layers allowed us todo render everything below the ball and everything above the ball as sepárate images. This bien in the final game we could have the ball passing over and under the correct table Items adding todo the realism, we tried using a sepárate shadow layer todo add todo the.
Realism. It made just a subtle diference as it only efected shadows on the ball which was moving so quickly you could hardly notice them. It would add todo the final file size of the game so we went with just 3 layers and merged the shadows todo the base layer rather than using 4 layers, without straying from the main topic and going into great detail about how we modeled and textured each component, that pretty much covers the use of Blender the pinball game.
Matica Air race.
Matica Air race was the first game we developed using Blender in our production pipeline. Therefore, it tok much longer todo produce the graphical assets than pinball due todo the learning curve, what we wanted was essentially the same as for the pinball game, 3d sprites. The diference being that we neded an animated 3d sprite for the aeroplane. So there was no real diference apart from rendering out an animation rather than a static scene, we rendered the aeroplane doing a 360 degre roll, and rendered the propeller animation separately as we could get away with a lot fewer frames of animation for the propeller and put everything together in the game.
Id modeled the aeroplane using very roughly sketched blueprints id drawn by hand. I did this while watching video footage from the Red Bull Air race, so the final aeroplane had pretty realistic proportions. This would have loked perfecto in an animation but didnt sit well when it was put into the game as it was todo long and Thin.
It something that is dificult todo get across in an article but when we played our first prototypes of the game it was very clear something wasnt right, having the model, animation, and textures waiting for us in Blender, we could scale the model on one axis and render again todo have a fully animated shorter and faster.
Versión in minutes. We quickly had a more cartoon like aeroplane which suited the movement and look of the game, we had planned for the aeroplane animation todo be used as a guide todo produce a Vector drawing but it was so god we stuk with the rendered images. At the small size we neded for the game the Raw render loked SIG-nificantly better than our Vector tests and there was very Little overhead in terms of filesize, we went on todo model other Items for the game, rings, Air Gates, blimps, Hot Air ballons, Even the 02 arena all of which were very quik todo create. We got a Little carried away and modeled tower bridge which tok an age todo model and texture especially as it was our first Blender Project. We could have certainly drawn that quicker using traditional 2d imaging software, Many of our games and animations are not on our website as we are often hired todo develop a bespoke Project for a particular client. The games that make it up on our website are games we developed internally for fun and we often Rembrand them for clients which helps us todo recoup our costs. It clear todo se the benefits todo using tools such as Blender in these cases. We can add a client logotipo todo the Air race plane, ballon, or blimp very quickly by chang-ing the textures or Even giving the textures todo the client and letting them make the changes. We can totally re-brand our games in hours rather than days.
Our rugby game has existed in some form or another for a decade and all graphics were initially hand drawn using traditional 2d imaging software-ware. This game gets a refresh every couple of years and during our current refresh we have re-placed our hand drawn 3d assets (goal mensajes and a few other assets) using the same process that we have already outlined, more interestingly, one of our cli-ents wanted the game re-branded, and requested the addition of an.
Intro todo the game. They wanted a ball todo fly onto the screen then go into a mode of spinning around, estopping, showing a message, spinning again, showing another message, etc, we estimated 125 frames of animation would be neded (around 5 seconds) adding 2 or 3mb todo the game which until now was under 120k. We had todo somehow add the introducción without introducing this additional overhead.
The game would be promoted at events on plasma screens so had todo scale up to 1920 por 1080 píxeles. Not a problem for most of our games, as they use Vector graphics, but quality would be lost if we used bitmap images at a lower resolution, we used Blender in the same bien we had used it in the matica Air race game todo model, texture, and animate the ball. Blender allowed us todo export the animation as a series of (*.png) files with transparency, and at the cor-rect resolution todo match the game, todo achieve a result that would add just 80que instead of 2-3mb, and that would scale todo any size without degrading we rotoscoped the animation which has worked well for us on past projects, we had actually planned todo rotoscope the matica Air race aeroplane but the original render results loked much bet-ter than our rotoscope tests and as i mentioned earlier the file size was pretty god anyway, the images ive included in this article are thumbnails of the final rotoscoped Vector images not the original rendered images, we loaded the (*.png) files we had rendered in Blender into flash and traced the 125 frames by hand, we played fast and lose for most frames only spending 2 or 3 minutes per frame as it gave a god visual result without being todo accurate. The last frame we tried todo get close todo perfecto as that was the only frame that would be in view for more than 1/25th of a second, the resulting animation was just 86que and loked indis-tinguishable from the original animation when playing at full speed, ive animated 3d scenes by hand in the past with just a few reference images and my imagination, and ive used this rotoscoping technique working with Blender animations as a template dozens of times. Id ned a very god reason not todo use the latter as it sabes much more time than it takes todo create the Blender animation, and the result is a lot smoother, you can stray from the original animation if you change your mind and want todo get creative (which we do more often than not), but it always there as a guide todo help avoid your animation getting todo Jumpy, todo give a guide todo maintain the volume of your object, and as a guide todo where the shadows and Specular highlights fall, it would be easy todo go on describing more examples were we have used Blender in other creative ways in our projects, but hope what has ben covered so far is of suficient use todo those planning similar projects.
We have articles on our website covering the making of a handful of our games, and have started recording game development video tutorialesfor our game univer-sity section. https://www.matica, com- the games.
How we make the games.
Our new games university section on how todo make games.