Monday, March 29, 2010

Material Editor Tutorial Finished

I have finished writing a tutorial on the "Material Editor" component of the Blue Mars editors.  It is not 100% complete - there are parts of the editor I do not know about, but it is everything I know about it right now:

Blue Mars Developer Wiki: Material Editor page

What this editor does is to edit an XML file which contains all the settings for the CryEngine 2 graphics engine to follow when displaying an object.  There are over 200 settings total which can be applied to each part of an object's surface, and one object can have many "sub materials" on different parts.  Not all the settings can be used at once, they come in sets which are defined by the basic Shader you choose (glass, cloth, metal, etc), and apply the texture maps you input in various ways.

The link to the right will now point to my tutorials list on the Blue Mars Dev Wiki instead of a file you download.  More people will be looking there for information, and one link can point to a growing list of tutorials as I write more of them.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Blue Mars gets $4.2 million in Venture Financing

The original blog post from the CEO, Jim Sink is here: Blue Mars Blog

What this means in practical terms is enough funding to go for a year to 18 months, which should be enough to get them out of beta and hopefully self-supporting.  Anyone worried that Blue Mars would fold from lack of funding should rest easy now. 

Meanwhile I have been working on a tutorial for the "Material Editor" in the various Blue Mars Editor programs. If you are doing much of anything in Blue Mars as far as creating things, you need to know how that works, since it controls how things look.  I'm about halfway done with it.  I am migrating all my tutorials to the wiki since it will be easier for people to find who have not found this blog.

My Tutorials List

Half finished Material Editor Tutorial

Monday, March 15, 2010

Builders kit Part 2 - Models and Software

As noted two posts ago, here is the second part of the builder's kit (download link to the right).  Included are 150 premade models of simple shapes. Along with the textures in part 1 you can use these for simple building projects. I have also included copies of 7-zip file utility, and Google Sketchup 7.0, the manual for Sketchup, and a README file on how to install and use the kit.

I have also been working on tutorials on the Blue Mars Developer wiki.  A list of them is at my Wiki User Page
More tutorials, and more stuff for the kit will be coming.  If you have something you would like to see, let me know.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

New Avatar Templates



So like the day after I posted the Textures Pack, Blue Mars released an updated developer's kit, with new avatar templates.  This is the fun part of being in beta, I get to do my annotations on the templates again.

To get them in peoples hands as soon as possible,  I updated the Textures pack to version 0.75A, and posted the raw templates as a separate download (Mar 2010), both to the right. If you already have the textures pack, just download the new templates and replace the folder contents.

Monday, March 8, 2010

New Builders Kit Part 1 With more textures and update to Avatar Templates

This is the first part of version 0.75 of my builders kit for Blue Mars. Download link is to the right. It has 450 textures this time, including a partial update to the avatar templates.  The template links to the right are the "raw" version, directly as they came from the models supplied by Blue Mars.  The raw version has no labels or helpful guides like are found on the nice Second Life templates.  I'm working on making better ones, but since they seem to be popular, I have left the links for the raw version up.  The set in the Builders Kit includes some .dds formatted ones that can be loaded directly into the Body Editor on the female model so you can see what parts go where, and I have gotten about 1/4 of them labelled.  When I finish I will replace the raw version links and post the new set instead.

In addition to the avatar templates, I have added a bunch of new textures, and converted most of them to DXT1 format.  The documentation for Blue Mars is still in pretty sorry shape, and I didn't know that DXT1 is preferred.  Its half the size of the DXT3 I used before (better compression).  The exception are the ones with alpha (transparency) channels, which need DXT3, and the ones being used for terrain distance viewing, which need to be uncompressed.  Terrain close up textures are normal ones, and both types are used to make a complete terrain layer set.

Part 2 of the Builders kit will include a set of simple 3D objects, a copy of Google Sketchup 7.0, 7zip, whatever other useful software I can find, and whatever tutorials I finish in time for this update.  I split the kit into two parts for size reasons. Note that Sketchup 7.0 is NOT the latest version (7.1 is the current one).  For some reason the latest version does not export properly for Blue Mars.  Since the old version will get harder to find, I decided to include it in the kit.  You can use any 3D software for making Blue Mars items as long as you can export to the correct COLLADA format.  But Sketchup is free, and appears to be the easiest one for new people to get started with.