Static Characters for Maya

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This is an advanced level tutorial for artists, explaining how to create Static Characters in Maya. 3ds Max users can follow along on the Static Characters Tutorial page.

Static Character for Maya

Note: this is the manual way to setup a character. This is a good page to read for maintaining a character, however, there is a faster initial setup method by using the Hero Character Tools that will export, setup the sub-folders, and write out basic text files.

Build the geometry

Maya statc char model.png
First thing to do is to build yourself a piece of geometry that resembles some sort of critter in Maya. For this example we'll be using a generic human. Remember to name it and reset transforms and scale back to 0.

Feel free to use the vertex paint to get additional detail on your character.

Use a HeroMaterial

Maya statc char material.png
Next add a HeroMaterial to your Geometry. Materials are added within 3dsMax using a custom material, The HeroMaterial. If you need more than one HeroMaterial that is fine, you can assign a multi-sub object material with as many hero sub materials as you want or you can just assign individual HeroMaterials directly to the appropriate polygons. This is a common set up for a static creature. It uses a diffuse .dds texture as well as a normal map .dds with the specular derived from the alpha channel.

Build the skeleton

Maya statc char rig.png
Some things to keep in mind when building rigs.

Add the SRB

Maya statc char AddSRB.png

The SRB (Synthetic Root Bone) is used by the engine to keep track of a character location as well as syncing animation. Detailed information on the SRB can be found on the SRB page.

You can add a new SRB or delete an existing one, by using the create and delete SRB button on the HeroTools shelf.

Add Animation Masks

Maya statc char Add masks.png

Animation Masks are used if you want to play a second animation on part of the rig. A good example is if a character is running and needs to play an impact animation. Since you won't want to stop the character from running, you can play the impact on the upper torso of the character while the lower half continues to run by adding an impact animation mask. Additional information can be found here on the Animation Mask page.

  1. Select the Anim Channels button from the HeroTools Shelf
  2. Type a name into the input field - Impact in this example - and click add
  3. Select the channel from the now created list in the same window and click "Tag Selected".
  4. Close Mask Editor
  5. Select each bone and adjust to the desired weight. Values are between 0 and 1 with 1 being 100% of the channel on and 0 being completely off.

Skin the Geometry to the Skeleton

Make sure all joints have had their scales reset to be uniform 100%. Non uniform scaled joints can cause eventual animation problems in engine. You must have at least 2 joint influencing a vertex. HeroEngine supports up to 4 influences.

Export Your Character

Maya statc char export.png
Last but not least, export your asset through the Hero Export. Set the mode as Static Character and make sure that post processing is always on. Export visible is the most common way of exporting whats viewable in your view port. Remember to hide any unwanted locators or rigging objects. They will only add weight and confusion to your file.
  1. Hide any unwanted objects/locators in the background before export

Animate your Character

A guide for animating your Character resides on Animating Characters Tutorial

Set up a .DAT

A .DAT file tells the engine about your Character Specification. It has information such as where the Characters skeleton and animations are located. It's easiest to just copy one of the sample characters .dat files and edit it to suit your new character. The .dat file needs to have the same name as the character folder that it resides in. In this case, Bob.

More information on the .DAT can be found on the Character Spec page.

! Character Specification for Character\Bob\Bob.dat
  Model=Bob_skeleton.(file extension)                               


Until you've gone through the Animating Characters Tutorial and done all the appropriate work you will not be able to move on. Once you have done all the appropriate animations and associated files, continue forward.

Now that your Character is exported and your animations are all done, it's time to upload your resulting character_skeleton file,.dds textures, .dat file, animation files, .aas file, animationset.dat file, and animation sequence .asq files using the Repository Browser and then add your asset into HeroEngine.

Start Heroblade

Register Character Specification

The remainder of the character pipeline takes place in Heroblade. After all the appropriate files have been uploaded, we now must register the characters specification with the engine to let it know that the Bob exists. After our Character Specification is created, you can make as many instances of that character as you like or use whatever systems your scripters come up with to move characters around.

After you enter an area (any area will do), open up the chat panel within Heroblade. We will use two /henpc commands to get us going. All /henpc commands are given through the chat panel.

Since we need to register the character first, we will add a specification to the engine.

Enter the following into the chat panel. spec is short for specification.

/henpc add spec Bob\character\Bob\

Create an Instance of your Character

Now that the character is registered with the engine, you can make an instance of it in the world.

Enter the following into the chat panel

/henpc create Bob

See also

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