CryEngine 3 SDK Out now for free!

The engine is now available for free here.

Read the terms and conditions, but they sound pretty good for those that just want to tinker around with it.

To get started, the official documentation can be found here.

The community developed documentation, which is well worth a browse can be found here.

A simple guide to get started on creating a level can be found here.

More indepth knowledge can be found in the wiki here.

Now go and enjoy!

Boston Unity Group – Second Meet up

>The second Boston Unity Group – BUG had the meeting last night, 31st August 2010, held at the really nice Microsoft NERD Centre in Cambridge, MA.

The presentation was given by the ever talented user of Unity, Yilmaz Kiymaz, who came from Turkey to give the talk. He talked about editor scripts and maximizing your Unity workflow.

For an artist, a lot of this was a little over my head as it was quite technical in nature, but the results spoke for themselves, lots of little tips and tricks for people to create scripts and custom editors that would help over come a lot of tedious and especially repetitious tasks, more so for when dealing with a group of artists on the same project.

The presentation can be viewed in 3 parts below, apologies for the low volume and slight gitters in the video, but you should be able to hear and see most of the info. It’s a 40 min presentation and worth seeing.

Part 1 –

Boston August Event Line up

>Starting out with the Boston Post Mortem – 10th Aug, 7-10pm at the usual venue, the Skellig in Waltham.

The speaker this month, Terrence Masson, who will be giving a SIGGRAPH roundup.

Boston Game Jam
– 21-22 Aug at the MIT site in Cambridge MA.

The theme for this event is about “Immigration” It should be a fun and light hearted event and a chance to mingle with other devs in the area.

Boston Game Loop – 28th Aug 9am start with conferences kicking off at 11am till the end of the day, held at the MS NERD building in Cambridge, MA $40 donation.

Scott of MacGuffin Games has more info here.

Boston Unity Group – BUG – 31st Aug 7-pm at the MS NERD Centre, Cambridge MA.

This is a great event and networking opportunity for game devs and for anyone who uses or is interesting in using and learning more about Unity. The prior event, which was the first, had people from many different backgrounds using the game engine for none game uses, so was very interesting to see people show off their projects.

Boston Unity Group – First Meet up

>Boston Unity Group – BUG

This is a new meet up group organised for the Boston indie dev scene, though anyone who is interested in, or has used Unity were more than welcome to the event.

The group met up in Northeastern University for the first time, a good venue, organised my Elliott Mitchell and Alex Schwartz.

Kicking off the event, Tom Higgins, community manager at Unity Technologies, spoke about Unity, the company, the product and what will come in the future as well as understanding how to get the best out of it with various pricings and features. The afternoon session held an all-day workshop dubbed ‘Unity Day’. This was a series of tutorials on Unity.

Below is, in three parts, a video of the talk given by Tom Higgins.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

The next of these bi-monthly Boston Unity Group (game developer meetup) meets will be August 31 @ the Mircosoft N.E.R.D. center in Cambridge, MA. 7 p.m.

Transferring Software Licenses?

>For anyone interested, there was a pretty good article about this in this months 3D World Magazine, current in the US, being number 124.

It mentioned that a court ruling in California allowed someone to sell a license of AutoCad on ebay that was purchased from a architectural firm. This is being appealed by Autodesk however.

The point being Autocad and other software are being sold as products with a set fee, which is different to being sold as a service where there is continual payment, so the subscription services for 3DSM etc would not be included in this.

Various companies allow you to transfer your product license to a new user after sale, some with more ease than others. Some packages the license can be transferred when both the old and new user get in contact, others where the seller gets in contact. Some were free to transfer, some had a transfer fee ranging from $50-200

Maya 2010 Deal

>Bit spammy I supose, but I got sent this and thought others might be interested –

Autodesk has combined Maya Complete and Maya Unlimited into Maya 2010! If you were planning on buying Maya, you have a very short window to be able to save some serious cash… From today until August 10th, you can buy Maya Complete ($1995) and subscription ($595) for a total of $2590 and still have access to Maya 2010 when it is released on August 12th.

Maya 2010 is one Maya, one value. It will include all the functionality of Maya Unlimited 2009, with Maya Composite, Autodesk Backburner and Autodesk Matchmover. The Network (NLM) version will also come with 5 Mental Ray batch nodes.

Maya 2010 will retail at $3,495 (SLM) and $4,370 (NLM). Subscription will be $595 and Gold Subscription will be $895.

Call Dawn at 800-875-0025 or email for more details.

3D Stimulus Day

>The Digital Northeastern Artist group as part of Great Eastern Technology held a day long art event today called “3D Stimulus Day” at the Ida Mount College in Newton, MA. The host of the event was Brad Porter.

The free event had talks about success in animation, which was more of a selling event for the person giving the talk of her books and the classes she taught and wasn’t that useful for many there.

Intro to 3DSM Mental Ray Rendering was next, this was about architectural rendering and covered the basics to global illumination and final gather and was pretty informative and the talk was very amusing, given by Ted Boardman, who has a good blog which has many tutorials and good information here. It was also a chance to see 3DSM 2010, which had a new user interface which is a bit different to previous versions though how good that is I didn’t get to see. The main things of note were the simplifying of Mental Ray for the basic features and how quick it was to get them working to make good quality renders and yet still have all the tweaks you would expect. Also the new Quadify modifier looked pretty nifty too, which as it suggests, quadlifies your model rather than the tessalate feature.

Elliott Mitchell did a talk about realistic Mental Ray Skin Shaders in Maya, showing off Maya 2009, which had a few issues of stability, but compared to 2008 and below seemed to have simplified the whole process of creating shaders that work by automating the setting up of them, though there was still a lot of tweaking and rendering to get a good result.

Gael McDill of Digizyme Inc, talked about molecular and cell visualisation in Maya. This was very interesting showing how they are able to use custom scripts using Python to help them make tools as well as using cloth and hair adapted to show cell interactions. was a really good resource they created to share the knowledge of what they do and includes a lot of videos and tutorials that can be applied to many aspects of art and animation.

Michele Bousquet, from Turbosquid talked about how you can maximise your sales and make money from using the service. Most of the things were comon sense such as providing good quality thumbnails and a good description of your work and what is included in the sale as well as how to best price your work by comparing to other works on the subject and looking through the highest priced pieces to gauge your price point.

Following this talk was a raffle of goods from the vendors who sponsored the event, the highlights included a new Wacom Intuos 4 tablet, a licensed copy of ZBrush 3 and one upgrade. All these things were being demoed during the breaks and especially the lunch break as well as a 3D scanner.

The last part of the day was a SIGGRAPH animation festival screening.

Nintendo DS Homebrew!

>What this is about, creating your own projects, applications or games and there’s a lot of great homebrew stuff around. Getting set up for this does allow you to play pirated games though which isn’t so great for the industry and a reason for bad press on the home brew scene.

Cyclo DS is my choice for cartridge which I got from Abotcity. The reason, this is updated on a regular basis and it auto patches, which means you don’t have to mess around with application roms, stick them on a micro SD card and away they go, it is also nicely made and can handle larger than 2GB cards. I use a 8GB card that I got from Newegg.

Apart from being updated regulary, what makes this the best card to use, you don’t have to stick your roms in the root of the card, you can stick them in folders so you can organise your apps how you like and stick photos and media files on there and play them with a media player.

Okay, your set up, now what, a couple sites to start you off are NDS Homebrew and NDS Hive. You’ll find applications ranging from audio tools and painting tools to maps, weather tools and other apps that use your wifi connection as well as home made games.

Pixel Pushing

>Those interested in Pixel pushing and the old school, there’s a lot to chose from, especially free programs.

It’s something well worth playing around with, especially handy if you are doing tile maps for hand held devices.

Tile Studio – This is a nice open source freebie

mtPaint – This is also open source and works well, just doesn’t appear quite as polished.

fishEd – This is great and recently released as a freebie. Lots of resources here on the site too.

Graphics Gale – A nice little animation pixel program. Not free though, but not expensive either.

Creating trees and generators…

>The big daddy in tree generators probably has to be Speedtree by Powered Games. For big budgets, it’s not a bad choice in that it goes for around $10K a license, but it’s a little much for smaller indies. It does do the job, but issues with it, it can be a bit difficult to put into your engine, the backend is a bit clunky and at the end of the day, the trees are pretty much billboard based so relies on the quality of the alpha channel work on the textures and it can put out a lot of polys.

Easy Tree Generator
– This is a bit of a no thrills option, but at $20 it really isn’t bad money for value, but with that, it is a little limited in the output, well you can and will spend a lot of time playing around with the slider settings before getting good looking trees that look varied. This also is pretty much a billboard style to the foliage, but at this price range not bad.

Ivy Generator – Okay, this isn’t a tree gen, but it’s cool all the same, creating ivy that grows around your mesh and looks awesome. There’s also a similar max plugin.

Dryad – This is another university option that came about from Standford university and is worth having a look at.

A Siggragh 2007 Paper
– “Approximate Image-Based Tree-Modeling using Particle Flows” This is just very cool and also worth a read.