CES 2015 happened last week. Beautiful tvs, new laptops and tablets, a lot of car-tech… but I’m going to talk about an innovation from about a month ago that’s more up my alley.
Most of the posts on this blog makes it clear that I like 2D animation. My first game (which got Greenlit on Steam recently, I’ll talk about that more in a few weeks) is one of the first truly 3D games that has a hand-drawn character. I did this because I am annoyed that no one has really done that before. However, “Live2D” is a company that has been trying hard to make it easier for developers to do that, and so their latest effort, “Live2D Euclid,” comes closer than ever. Their website is available here: http://www.live2d.com/en/ , and a video of their latest technology can be seen here:
I like programming. C++ and C# make sense to me. Graphics and shaders, less so. I understand them, I just don’t have much experience with the syntax used in Unity 3D’s shader system.
And so, I was annoyed when I wanted to have a shader that faded between two transparent textures. I assumed that this might be a good way to smooth out 2d animations. But while I could find shaders that would fade between two normal textures, I couldn’t find ANYTHING that supported alpha transparency in those textures.
Anyway, after much experimentation, I made up the shaders myself. They work quite well, too. Sadly, they don’t work well for what I need: the first shader is based on Unity’s transparency shaders, which work great by allowing semi-transparent colors, but this causes errors with rendering order and isn’t good for more complex scenes with a lot of transparent textures. I typically stay away from that and use cutout transparency shaders, which don’t allow semi-transparency, but don’t have the errors I mention. From an animation perspective, the first (transparent) shader looks better, but the second (transparent cutout) is necessary for actual use but doesn’t look as good. I provide both here, hoping it helps some of you out. Maybe I can use it elsewhere…
When you make a game, project, research contribution, etc., where do you show it? Typically, you take to online and submit it to contests, conventions, conferences, and other places hoping for recognition.
I’ve been to a couple research conferences before, and they tend to be small events with dozens of awkward researchers saying hi to each other, while getting to make a powerpoint presentation of something they’ve dedicated years of their life towards while hoping in vain that someone else in the room is as excited as they are. Typically, this is purely meant as a resume booster, and I feel similar events are the same: it’s good experience, but it won’t change your life as much as you hope. When it comes to game development however, press and exposure is important even if futile, your game will not be seen if you don’t at least try to put it out there, and people won’t flock to you to see it without exposure elsewhere. Also, game conventions also tend to be exciting and get thousands of interested attendees, so the energy is better. The various online contests for indie games probably won’t get you attention, but sometimes get you money if you win a prize, and can lead to your game being showcased elsewhere, all the better for you.
But how would you make such animation on the computer? Programs like Blender3D offer 3d animation, Flash and similar programs offer modern 2d animation. But I want traditional, draw-every-frame-by-hand animation. I’ve been using Photoshop for a long time, which is slow and cumbersome. But what should you use?