We've been working hard on updating the head of the character model to make it better suited for simple modular customization and facial morph target animations.
We hit some model import bugs, again, which seems to be our consistent theme with anything related to JavaMonkeyEngine. This time, however, it was specific to the new GLTF format - which we need to get the facial morph target animations imported in the engine.
Head of the character was missing and hit boxes were way off.
Fortunately we got things sorted out pretty fast without too much effort. I get extremely stressed out every time we hit model importing issues. The fiasco from a year ago which made us seriously consider swiching to other alternatives from JME is still deeply imprinted in my memory.
We are also currently implementing and testing Inverse Kinematics and generally code control over the bones.
Targeted animations have been a bit harder than I initially expected.
There are many things to consider when you step outside the comfort of the "generic swing" approach and want to actually swing towards something or want to actually hit something without passing through.
That's why we need bones controllable with code, Inverse Kinematics, and everything working nicely together with keyframed animations. Unfortunately JME doesn't support any of this straight out of the box, so it's more work for us.
We're not there yet. Also, fortunately we can always fall back on a more generic approach if we hit too many problems, but so far things are looking promising.
An ideal situation would be fully procedural swing animations, but that would require a rig very specifically built for that purpose. Otherwise it's very easy to hit problems with jerkiness and wobbly limbs.
We are currently going for a more lightweight approach which combines the best of the both worlds.
Our character model's face update is finally finished. A lot of time was wasted playing with normals to fix some seam issues - and in the end it turned out it wasn't possible to get that information exported intact, so we had to do some remodeling after all.
The character model is now passed along to the animators and after the skinning has been re-applied we will start updating the animations and working on new ones.
Now that the shape of the face is final, we've started working on some new hairstyles.
The next goal post is to get the whole campfire test scene updated and transported into the game engine.
This article was updated on 16/11/18 @ 11:25