Unreal Shader v0.9 for MODO

In the last couple of weeks I’ve been trying to develop a good asset authoring workflow for UnrealEngine 4. I looked at several possible solutions but none of them seemed good enough for my purpose: prohibitive cost and multiple asset transfer steps were the most common problems.

At the end I decided to make it as simple as possible using software I already own: Model and texture everything in MODO and export to UE4 while doing the purely 2D image editing in PhotoLine*.

The trouble was that MODO’s standard surface material is not physically based so baking it’s properties won’t yield textures usable in Unreal. So I took a big breath, fired up the C++ SDK and made a custom material: it allows me to texture a model in a physically based manner with the preview viewport providing near realtime feedback. The look in MODO is quite close to the result in Unreal:

High detail mesh in MODO

Low detail mesh in MODO

Low detail mesh in UE4

Most of the differences can be attributed to the different ways they handle the environment. (Extra highlights due to unclamped HDRI and less color contribution in MODO.)

The custom material is available for download on the UnrealShader for MODO page. It’s not feature complete and will see some more tweaking but should be already useful for creating opaque objects.

* Photoline is a great piece of software, I recommend it to anyone not happy with Photoshop.

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About the Punisher project

I’ve finally had the time to write about the Punisher project I worked on.

The Punisher: No Mercy
An online shooter for the PS3 based on the Marvel comics. Details »
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Game developer magazine

Back in July the production editor of Game Developer magazine offered me a gig: reviewing modo as a game development tool. Of course I was more than happy to give it a try.

Modo 401 was just released at that point and I jumped into a quick project to see how the new features and the bugfixes are working out in real life. I created a few objects, from concept art to the final in-game version. I took notes, swore a lot, and when the project ended, I started writing.

It was an interesting challenge to cover all the important features while not exceeding the word count limit. It took me a few rewrites but with the kind help of the editor the article eventually made it to the November issue. If you can get your hands on either a printed or a digital copy, it’s on page 34. :)

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Unreal Development Kit

“Good news everyone!”

The latest build of the Unreal engine is publicly available, free for educational and non-commercial projects: Unreal Development Kit.

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OnLive doubts

This article at Eurogamer does a great job at pointing out weaknesses in the concept of OnLive. I like the smell of the scientific method in the morning (well, midnight…).
The guy’s strongest argument I think is that if they indeed managed the necessary technological breakthroughs, why do they bother with video games? That video compression thingy alone would be worth a stellar amount of money for the military or any telecom company.

EDIT: Another article on the topic.

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OnLive buzz

OnLive looks quite interesting. If it works as advertised, then it makes gaming very convenient (and steps on quite a few toes in the process). Just click and play without downloading and installing sh.t or keeping your PC hardware up to date…
So this announcement probably caused some raised eyebrows at console and HW manufacturers, I’m looking forward to their reaction.
From a game developer perspective, it is also a nice idea: developing for only one platform while reaching a quite broad audience. I generally encourage competition but making a game parallel for 3 totally different SKUs is a pain in the ass.
I really hope this concept works and the net lag won’t be an issue. Then I hope that it will be available outside the US soon. Or rather that I find a job in North America…

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