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Gillissie
04-07-2011, 11:01 PM
I'm wondering when Newtek is going to get serious about game development. Do they realize how far behind they have fallen in that area? Everywhere I look 3DS Max and Maya are supported in game engines, while Lightwave users struggle to export simple models as FBX or Collada that actually work in game engines.

I'm most recently working in Unity, which imports 3DS Max and Maya models natively. I own LW 10, but I am forced to revert to LW 9.6's FBX exporter because the results from v10 don't work properly. I can't get a static model to export properly from Modeler, so I'm forced to load it onto a stage in Layout 9.6 and export from there, causing unnecessary light and camera to be included in the resulting FBX file when imported into Unity. Sure, those camera and light objects are ignored, but they clutter the hierarchy.

It's just so frustrating that after 10 versions LW still doesn't support game dev properly. I'll probably end up getting Max or Maya just for game dev, but that's a shame since I've been using LW since version 3.

warmiak
04-07-2011, 11:29 PM
Lightwave works just fine ... as long as you write your own exporter which is what most game engines do anyway ( Unity being an exception but that's because it is more like a game builder for dummies rather than a real game engine )

GandB
04-08-2011, 05:36 AM
I agree with the OP; NewTek has never given game developers any serious attention. Why should we write our own exporters, when the other major packages do so without problem? This has been brought up here numerous times in the past. It's obvious that they aren't interested in becoming serious about being a contender for game development.

bpritchard
04-08-2011, 07:20 AM
Well its more about developers (aka engine developers) adopting the format vs. newtek doing anything specific to support it.

Using the unity example... we work on iOS projects using unity and while unity natively supports things like PSD's and ma files, we absolutely refuse to use them for a bevvy of reasons. I have all my animators use fbx as our export format.

Now, i think it IS important to support the interchange formats better. There's nothing to say lightwave can't be a great game development tool... i've used it for years. But having an modest interchange format that isn't 100% compliant does create some issues specifically in the realm of animation where i seem to have constant issues w/FBX and lightwave. We still do all of our animations in maya...

Gillissie
04-13-2011, 09:56 PM
Now, i think it IS important to support the interchange formats better. There's nothing to say lightwave can't be a great game development tool... i've used it for years. But having an modest interchange format that isn't 100% compliant does create some issues specifically in the realm of animation where i seem to have constant issues w/FBX and lightwave. We still do all of our animations in maya...

Very true. If and FBX exporter worked correctly and consistently from version to version, from both Modeler and Layout, it really wouldn't be an issue. I have found that using Ultimate Unwrap 3D is a great conversion tool for static LWO files to FBX. Unfortunately it has issues with properly importing animations from LWS files.

Sensei
04-14-2011, 07:53 AM
Serious game development means you have dozen of programmers, which do anything you want. Writing exporter and importer is a couple hours, and it will fit all your needs! If something is missing- then update it.. When relying on NT, you would have to wait until the next release in the best scenario..

Lamont
04-15-2011, 07:32 AM
OP - Don't hold yer breath. Take a look at Maya or 3DS Max. I've tried start to finish using LW with UDK and Unity (mostly UDK). Would like to stick with LW, but I don't think LW wants to stick with me. Too many small things that add up to one big problem.

GraphXs
04-16-2011, 11:26 AM
Max does take it's .max file to unity, but Unity is converting it to FBX. So it's no different then saving an FBX. FBX does work to Unity from LW as well. Both do require extra steps in Unity. FOr example shaders need to be recreated in Unity from a Max file or a LW file. Character animation works better from Max, but I really haven't tried LW to much in that regard.

newfan
04-17-2011, 06:07 PM
Very true. If and FBX exporter worked correctly and consistently from version to version, from both Modeler and Layout, it really wouldn't be an issue. I have found that using Ultimate Unwrap 3D is a great conversion tool for static LWO files to FBX. Unfortunately it has issues with properly importing animations from LWS files.

LWS files need special attention for most external programs to read their animation properly.

LWS files may be using IK animation or may be using Lightwave style weight maps which don't translate
very well outside of Lightwave.

All this needs to be fixed before exporting it. IK animation can be baked, but weight maps may have
to be completely re-calculated by the external program. Simply because LWS files may only be providing
parameters, and not actual values.

Best solution:
Use another file format other than LWS.

Sensei
04-17-2011, 06:27 PM
newfan, LWS doesn't store weight maps- it's LWO where weight maps are stored..

If you want to bake weight map to image map, which can be read by anything you can use TrueArt's Modeling Pack VMapManager tool http://modelingpack.trueart.eu

newfan
04-17-2011, 07:17 PM
newfan, LWS doesn't store weight maps- it's LWO where weight maps are stored..

If you want to bake weight map to image map, which can be read by anything you can use TrueArt's Modeling Pack VMapManager tool http://modelingpack.trueart.eu

I never said they did. :)

Lightwave may not export them at all, which is why LWS files are not ideal for file conversion.
They need special attention.

FBX was designed for file conversions, so that's what I recommend.

MentalFish
04-18-2011, 03:18 AM
Lightwave works just fine ... as long as you write your own exporter which is what most game engines do anyway ( Unity being an exception but that's because it is more like a game builder for dummies rather than a real game engine )

Out of curiosity, what do you consider a proper game engine, and why is it more proper when compared to Unity?


I'm most recently working in Unity, which imports 3DS Max and Maya models natively. I own LW 10, but I am forced to revert to LW 9.6's FBX exporter because the results from v10 don't work properly. I can't get a static model to export properly from Modeler, so I'm forced to load it onto a stage in Layout 9.6 and export from there, causing unnecessary light and camera to be included in the resulting FBX file when imported into Unity. Sure, those camera and light objects are ignored, but they clutter the hierarchy.

I don't experience much trouble when exporting from Modeler, neither with FBX nor OBJ. Also consider using OBJ, as you can easily open the OBJ file to change names inside it so instead of the mesh being called Default, you can rename it to something else.

It is also possible to customize the import process by creating an AssetPostprocessor script:
http://unity3d.com/support/documentation/ScriptReference/AssetPostprocessor.OnPostprocessModel.html
This way you can iterate through the model and delete what you don't want to have in there.

For those who are experiening problems, please make a video explaining the problem so we can pass it on to NewTek, and if it is something that can be fixed by a postprocessor script, I can write it (most likely :)).

MentalFish
04-18-2011, 05:42 AM
This one will delete any lights and cameras when importing an FBX:

using UnityEngine;
using UnityEditor;
using System.Collections;

public class AssetProcessing : AssetPostprocessor
{
void OnPostprocessModel (GameObject gameObj)
{
Apply(gameObj.transform);
}
void Apply (Transform transf)
{
if (transf.name.ToLower().Contains("light"))
GameObject.DestroyImmediate(transf.gameObject);
else if (transf.name.ToLower().Contains("camera"))
GameObject.DestroyImmediate(transf.gameObject);
else
{
foreach (Transform child in transf)
Apply(child);
}
}
}

Chuck
04-18-2011, 08:29 AM
Actually we're very interested in the game development segment and many of our developments have that in mind. The improvements to our interchange tools, including a lot of work going into the FBX I/O are among them, as are a number of the options we are working on for normal export and for baking tools. Game development is a major consideration in our future development planning as well. Many of our development staff talk regularly with game developers and game engine developers as input for our own planning and development relative to game development support.

Lamont
04-18-2011, 08:43 AM
Actually we're very interested in the game development ** snip** and development relative to game development support.It would be great if the videos showcased this, or there was more talk about it. It's why I haven't upgraded to 10/Core.

safetyman
04-18-2011, 09:37 AM
Thank you, Chuck.

GandB
04-18-2011, 12:33 PM
It would be great if the videos showcased this, or there was more talk about it. It's why I haven't upgraded to 10/Core.
That's pretty much my view as well. Serious Sam, is about all I think of when I think of LW and Game Dev.

BigHache
04-18-2011, 12:50 PM
Massive used LW on World in Conflict. You can import an LWS right into their scene editor. It's been ages since I've looked it but it was pretty cool.

GandB
04-18-2011, 01:00 PM
Why don't they do anything with them then; an interview or something?

Dracorat
04-18-2011, 05:40 PM
The biggest problem I have found is that everything supports import from Maya / AutoCad, etc ... but nothing supports import from LightWave.

I've been trying to get a project together for the Ogre3D Engine and I can't even find a good export that preserves animation. (LW to Blender to Ogre works if you don't need animation). And I've looked around at others and cant find a single engine that supports LWO.

GraphXs
04-18-2011, 06:06 PM
That's great news Chuck, but some work flow examples of LW 10 to Unity or any game engines would be great! Last time I tried a LW v10 OBJ's to Max the UV's were broke! (worked in 9.6) Not that Max is a game engine, but that doesn't help my pipeline if I want to use LW in it.

Vincenzo
04-18-2011, 06:30 PM
Pixel Light Studios LLC Immortal Engine imports LW Objects and Scenes directly. Its importer fixes VMAD issues and calculates weights appropriately. It also has the feature of combining surfaces into a single surface. Here is a link showing the importing of a scene of a character skipping. The character was made frome Spline Gods character modeling, texturing and riggings series. It was frozen before importing. The scene doesnt have any weightmaps. It uses LW natural bone influences.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rgGd9K9XZa0

Here are some videos showing the creation of troops from LW.http://www.pixellightstudios.com

If any of you went to the Game Developers Conference, you would know that autodesk has a lock on the Game market. All the game companies got to pay 4-5k per seat. I feel LW has a faster and cheaper modeling and animation. Games need more and more content. Its a big untapped market for Newtek.

Lamont
04-18-2011, 08:30 PM
If any of you went to the Game Developers Conference, you would know that autodesk has a lock on the Game market.Because they made huge efforts to get to that point. And it shows with the tools and support and by companies who make the engines and content. LW had the momentum in version 6.5 (Doom, Quake, Unreal had native LWO import), since then it's faded.

I don't think NT needs to make exporters for any of these engines, just need to fix the pipeline. Hopefully it comes around.

DeanoC
04-19-2011, 10:36 AM
The improvements to our interchange tools,

And credit where credit due, LW 10 FBX import is getting seriously good. And am actually able to use it, its not perfect yet (particular pita is that it doesn't handle multiple joint/object imports properly yet, but thats also possibly the exporter doing things wrong as well).

Using a combination of Carrera 8 Pro and LW10 I can pretty much convert most assets now (for some reason they both can't handle some imports but can export in a form the other like, so C8Pro I have mostly as a pipeline tool into LW10).

Vincenzo
04-19-2011, 03:57 PM
Most companies develop there own exporters to export model/riggs etc from 3DS max or Maya into their own custom format. I dont think anyone wriites importers for 3ds or .ma or .mb files. Autodesk provides methods for plugin developers to make it easier to export out of an autodesk product to their own format. This is of course requires the ownership of a seat of an autodesk product to convert a 3ds or maya object to the games custom format. I do believe autodesk FBX exporter is fubared also. Thus Newtek is actually doing more for game developers than autodesk. Its just that every game company has already built their pipeline on autodesk (by building their exporter plugins and buying autodesk seats) that they wont be easy to get off.

bpritchard
04-19-2011, 04:30 PM
Right on Vincenzo... i've not worked at a company yet that used any off the shelf exporters (not saying thats the RIGHT way to go by any means!!) and i've worked at a # of game companies. Even the engine developers are writing their own plugins for their engines... they pick and choose the plats that best serve their needs. In a lot of instances most engine developers were actually just developers who made a great engine... so they support application x because all their artists do.

Unity is a great example of a newcomer who IS supporting multiple platforms but alas i think that creates a whole other ball of wax. As i've stated in a previous post we stopped using ALL native format files (.ma, .psd, etc) because they are a) ridiculously slow to process and b) requires each developer (not just artists) to have every version of software to make it work. And on top of that if you look at what the guys are unity are doing under the hood.. they are basically just forcing applications to run in command line mode, load the file, export it as an fbx and then close the file (specifically in the Maya example). Its a pain..

So long and short of it imo is that Newtek is indeed working in the right direction by building a "generic" pipeline that can work in a lot of scenarios. If the SDK is accessible then there's no reason anyone couldn't write a good suite of exporters for any game engine... just gotta know how to code that up. :)

Outside of that the FBX support has been a life save on my current project... right life saver.

Greenlaw
04-19-2011, 06:36 PM
Actually we're very interested in the game development segment and many of our developments have that in mind.
That's cool! In recent years we've been doing more work for game cinematics, and it's becoming common to have to create assets and animation for various game engines. It would be nice to be able to go directly from Lightwave instead of having to pass everything through Maya, Max, or XSI.

G.

Lamont
04-19-2011, 11:28 PM
Fixing FBX will be a good start and allow multiple UV's to show up right.

zogthedoomed
05-05-2011, 04:59 PM
yeah, I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong but exporting FBX loses multiple UV's and all texture assignments other than colour. Equally, importing an FBX from Max only imports the colour channel.

If anyone is using LW to export FBX's with colour, spec and normal info could you possibly throw out some hints?

tburbage
05-07-2011, 10:31 AM
The primary issue I've heard mentioned on game engine forums for LW is that LW doesn't support edge hardening/smoothing groups. You don't have low level control of vertex normals. Since models destined for real-time rendering tend to always be on a relatively low polygon count budget, game modelers want low level controls over mesh shading and and appearance.

VonBon
05-07-2011, 10:41 AM
im geussing you mean that we need to be able control
the smoothing for each individual vertex.

maybe if we use weight painting some how then we could.
but we gotta "translate" weightmap data to other programs correctly.

im noob at this so bare with me. i been going back and forth tryn to catch
all whats going on when going from LW to Maya. i figure if i can get everything
into Maya right then im sure i can get it into the game engine.

Elmar Moelzer
05-07-2011, 12:57 PM
The primary issue I've heard mentioned on game engine forums for LW is that LW doesn't support edge hardening/smoothing groups. You don't have low level control of vertex normals. Since models destined for real-time rendering tend to always be on a relatively low polygon count budget, game modelers want low level controls over mesh shading and and appearance.
But you can simulate that really easily by simply unwelding the vertices, where you want the sharp creese to be. From what I understand smoothing groups really dont do anything else, though that may differ nowadays, been 11 years since my game engine days. Flat shaded OpenGL in Modeler is actually internally unwelding all the polygons, which is why it is slower than smooth shaded.
We had an in house game engine that was capable of reading LightWave objects and scenes. We did not do any skeletal animation at the time though.
I know that LW has been used for several trippe A game titles and not just for cinematics. There had been a good connection with the Unreal engine in the past and many objects in Doom3 were actually modeled in LW (the Doom3 engine reads LWOs natively).
The LWO and the LWs formats are actually rather easy to support LWO is pretty flexible too, as is LWS. Game engine developers can write their own chunks in to the files (for whatever special features they might need) and the file format still stays readable in LW.

Personally I think that PERFECT FBX support is the most important thing that NT can do. When I say PERFECT, I mean flawless, supports everything and everyone. etc. Test with all the major players to make sure that it works.
This is not just important for game dev.
After that, I think that NT should work with some of the major game engine developers and get their feedback and maybe get a cooperation of some sorts. Unity to me seems like an obvious choice for one of them.
There are a lot of synergies between Unity and LW:
E.g. both are comparably inexpensive and therefore appeal to hobby and indie game developers.
LW is available for the Mac which could be important for the iOS developers out there.
Both are independent players in a pool full of sharks. There could be some sympathies there.

Sensei
05-07-2011, 04:46 PM
Why do you care whether you have to click unweld tool or some "hard edge" tool? In OpenGL everything is unwelded anyway, that's how VBO works.

Elmar Moelzer
05-07-2011, 06:28 PM
Why do you care whether you have to click unweld tool or some "hard edge" tool? In OpenGL everything is unwelded anyway, that's how VBO works.
Exactly, just cut and the things that you want to be in the same smoothing group and then paste them back into the object.
OpenGL does the same thing for smooting and flat shading.
If you were getting upset about the need to unweld UV maps and that is indeed not pretty and I would agree with that emmediately.
But for something like smoothing groups, it really is the same thing as an unweld (or cut and paste). This is what the game engines do internally anyway.

Lamont
05-08-2011, 12:19 AM
Why do you care whether you have to click unweld tool or some "hard edge" tool? In OpenGL everything is unwelded anyway, that's how VBO works.Because I like to keep my models as whole as possible because editing can be a pain. Passing off assets to other artist like that is just lame. I hate it, I'd hate to get a file like that, merge something and loose the hard edges. Vert lighting doesn't come out, makes more work to go through and select the whole object and edit, no, it's split into a half dozen shells because of the "hard edges".

Even if the two shared verts are in the same space, chances are the color might be different. On small scenes, yeah, I can deal. On large scenes. No, not the least bit.

So yes. I care. It's 2011, not 1999. I don't care how it's processed on the card, how VBO works, I just want to work on my stuff with as little frustration as possible and look the way it's supposed to look on target.

Cliffs: Waah wahh!! Make it freakin' work and fix this stuff.

funk
05-08-2011, 12:45 AM
Someone posted a tip on the forum once which helps keep hard edges even after using the merge tool.

1. Select the points and unweld them to make a hard edge
2. create a new relative morph
3. on your morph, highlight the polys and move them slightly, so the hard edge points no longer share the same co-ordinates.
4. go back to your base morph and do a merge points

You'll notice after a merge, your points dont merge (because they cant be merged on the relative morph!).
It's pretty handy for those doing low poly game models!

Lamont
05-08-2011, 12:50 AM
Someone posted a tip on the forum once which helps keep hard edges even after using the merge tool.

1. Select the points and unweld them to make a hard edge
2. create a new relative morph
3. on your morph, highlight the polys and move them slightly, so the hard edge points no longer share the same co-ordinates.
4. go back to your base morph and do a merge points
That's so 2000.:D

funk
05-08-2011, 12:51 AM
That's so 2000.:D

Hey I know its not perfect... but its better than just unwelding then forgetting later and accidentally merging points!

Just trying to help :)

Lamont
05-08-2011, 01:25 AM
Hey I know its not perfect... but its better than just unwelding then forgetting later and accidentally merging points!

Just trying to help :)Every bit counts.

MaDDoX
05-08-2011, 04:33 AM
yep, one of the many reasons that game artists dont look at lw.

Not true. Game dev is my main activity, and in some circumstances Lightwave is the best tool for the job. Try importing a simple .AI vector file into Maya or Modo for instance. In Maya good luck with its NURBS -> Planar -> polygon conversion, even when you find a decent setting it's still a poor result if you're not aiming for super-high poly. In Modo, even with the lowest possible resolution setting (if I recall correctly it's capped at 80 or 90 degrees) it's still too dense for most applications, requiring major manual cleanup. In Lightwave you go EPSF loader, default, and BANG - it works. And if you want even lower definition "coarse" is there, one click away.

As for smoothing groups.. c'mon, this is SO 2000 :) If you're not using Normal maps and getting your hard edges built into them, you're doing something wrong - or working at some retro-style game heh. That said, it's very hard to get normal map hard edges properly aligned to the low-res mesh in Lightwave, Modo is okay but still insufficient and Maya will just get you nutz trying so don't care. Only proper tools to do that that I know of are Mudbox (after 2011.1) and zBrush, with their "reconstruct subdiv" options. You simply import the frozen mesh with hard edges and reconstruct the subdivs generating a new and final low-res mesh + normal map.

If you got access to one of these tools, try it. You will never again waste time asking for those old-fashioned smoothing groups ;)

Elmar Moelzer
05-08-2011, 04:59 AM
While I generally agree with MaDDox I can see the point Chunderburger and Lamont are trying to make. My solution was just meant as an effective way of doing it right now.
Like MaDDox, I think that they have lost a lot of importance these days, but I can see them being used a lot for cell- phone games, where fillrates are still very low.

On the other hand, it would of course be better and nicer to fully implement smoothing groups in LW.

I mean generally adding smooting groups would not be THAT hard.
Smoothing groups are very simillar to Parts (as they are groups of polygons). So basically NT devs could take the parts system, clone it, call it smoothing groups and then just reinterpret it to correctly unweld the vertices for rendering and OpenGL Display.
So yeah, I could see it being done in a very short timeframe. Of course it is still a matter of correctly interpreting the smoothing groups, for the importers/exporters in and to game engines.
I am not sure, does FBX support smoothing groups?

Lamont
05-08-2011, 05:37 AM
It's not that smoothing groups are NOT there, they are. Just not the way it should be implemented.

warmiak
05-08-2011, 09:17 AM
Because I like to keep my models as whole as possible because editing can be a pain. Passing off assets to other artist like that is just lame.

Unwelding vertices is the only 100% way of passing models between apps while retaining 100% correct smoothing.

That's because with unwelded vertices this info is stored within the mesh itself (vertices + triangles) - while other approaches rely on additional metadata which is always the biggest source of incompatibilities.

Elmar Moelzer
05-08-2011, 04:51 PM
Wish we had lwo loaders that came with lightwave for other apps
This is actually something that NT should do. Release the code for loading and saving LWO and LWS files along with good documentation of course.
IMHO it could contribute to the support of the LWO- format by other applications.
Currently that part of the SDK is not so great IIRC (havent looked at it in a while, so might have missed an update there).

Vincenzo
05-08-2011, 04:58 PM
I dont agree that seams are an issue. Every game company generally has their own exporter plugins. The exporter is responible for generating the output file. The artist doesnt need to worrly about unwelding stuff. The exporter or importer can do that stuff. The exporter or importer only needs to duplicate points that belong to more than one surface or have more than one UV value within a UV Map (VMADS). Newtek supports games aswell as autodesk. Its just that games dont support Newtek like they do autodesk.

Vincenzo
05-08-2011, 09:28 PM
Chunderburger:

If you are talking to me, I dont own an autodesk product, but have UVed in LW. It doesnt seem that hard. I dont see seams as an issue, and feel that LW is an asset in my game development workflow. Explain why I am wrong.

Opps I was wrong I do own an autodesk product! I own an extremely buggy Combustion, which does crash almost everytime I use it!

Sensei
05-09-2011, 09:03 AM
Can you safely cut geometry in Maya or Max with all uvs discontinuous, like atlas mapping, where every polygon has its own space in uv not connected by any edge with other.. ??

Elmar Moelzer
05-09-2011, 09:29 AM
Its the problem with discontinuous uvs and unwelding
That is a separate problem from the Smoothing Groups though.

VonBon
05-09-2011, 12:23 PM
would it be possible to use the tiled UV style from Zbrush and
if we can do the smoothing thing in Zbrush(i think Maddox said we could)
and then unweld the character?

for the UVmap, maybe it is possible to make a morph target so that
the UV could also be redone in a style more suitable for Photoshop.

VonBon
05-09-2011, 07:35 PM
Please remember that games are more than just characters.

:beerchug:

Reco
05-11-2011, 03:52 AM
In long term, the GMax strategy could be smart solution. A free Lightwave version with modelling, animation and texture features only.

Newtek should then promote their intension towards the gaming industry in order to convince them to create game packs for Lightwave.

During a five to ten years period, you will end up with a large usergroup that is familiar with Lightwave, which again will demand more gamepacks from game developers.

Reco

MentalFish
05-11-2011, 04:15 AM
In long term, the GMax strategy could be smart solution. A free Lightwave version with modelling, animation and texture features only.

Newtek should then promote their intension towards the gaming industry in order to convince them to create game packs for Lightwave.

During a five to ten years period, you will end up with a large usergroup that is familiar with Lightwave, which again will demand more gamepacks from game developers.

Reco

Yes yes and yes! Remove the rendering capability (apart from baking cam and VPR), have a vertex count cap pr mesh/layer that equals that of Unity (65k to my knowledge), keep the rest and full steam ahead on FBX polish. Give out for free or as a 100$ "indie" release, bundle/push/promote alongside with Unity. LightWave UE, Unity Edition :)

Unity has 400.000 registered customers/users. Many of them are free editions of Unity for sure, but still, that is one massive market to tap into.

GandB
05-11-2011, 05:23 AM
I agree with, and endorse the above comments. It would really help push LW as an Indie/Pro Game Dev Tool!

MentalFish
05-12-2011, 02:05 AM
Just imagine if a 50-100$ game edition of LightWave would be adopted by 10% of the Unity userbase...

Can be done if LightWave gets extra Unity/FBX/Tools attention.

wrench
05-12-2011, 02:14 AM
I did a proposal with William Vaughan a few years back for a stripped down version of LightWave called Wire 3D, but nothing ever came of it. I think the main problem at the time was that it needed a very good web presence to really work, in addition to traditional bricks and mortar outlets.

B

Lamont
05-12-2011, 06:37 AM
FBX polish and viewport so there is no need to render.