Saturday, November 22, 2014

Mini Ninjas' Sokara: An Adventure in Autodesk Maya

After about 2 weeks of work, filled with frustration, toil, and anguish, I have finally finished the first of hopefully many Mini Ninjas characters. I'm planning on starting out with a simple animation involving Pagi and Sokara, and then hopefully progressing to making all the rest of the characters, the Attitudinous Squirrels included.

I know that Sokara is kind of rough and blocky, but that was my intention. I wanted to have a character that would be easy to model for my reintroduction to Maya. I also wanted to keep in the theme of my simple character design in the comics.

There were a few problems that I ran into with Maya. The biggest of which was modelling. Apparently, there is no easy way to vertex model in Maya, like in Blender. Let me explain: in Blender, you can start with two vertices, then extrude off on one vertex to get a new vertex. You can continue to do that until you have a series of points that make up a line. You can then use 3 or more vertices to create a face. From there, your just continue to create faces until all of your vertices are stitched together. In Maya, trying to extrude vertices will give you a mess of random spikes.

I tried using the CV curve tool to make a series of lines that would later be lofted together into a solid object. That wasn't working, mostly because I'm still working on getting a grasp on 3D space and wire meshes. After trying that for a about a day, I gave up and used Sculptris to model Sokara's head. It worked very well, except that her head was all weird and lumpy when I imported it into Maya. After spelunking around the internet, I eventually found a nice tutorial on how to simplify my geometry in a way very similar to the reduce brush in Sculptris and the Decimation Master in ZBrush.

Sokara's pants were another huge issue. Again, I tried creating curves, then lofting them together. That failed miserably. More spelunking found me this video, which taught me some of the basics of box modelling, a subject I was once familiar with, but had forgotten.

After all the challenges I faces with the rest of Sokara and the tidbits that I had learned, making her hands were a snap. The only thing that was easier to make was Sokara's hair. I cut a polygon sphere in half, then grabbed every other vertex, then drug them down. I duplicated that mesh, then shuffled around the vertices, then repeated the process a third time. The hair is the part that I'm the most pleased with, since it's a pretty perfect 3D representation of her hair in the comics.

It was a long and difficult journey, but I'm glad that I chose a simple character to start with. Pagi will be much easier to model. My next big challenge will be rigging and animating Sokara and Pagi.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Hello Kitty Online: The World of Warcraft for Little Girls

So I've probably come pretty late in the game to Hello Kitty Online (HKO). I'm not sure how long it's been around, but it's been around long enough that only a few people actually still play it. Most of them, I suspect, are my age (20-somethings). It's deserted fields and beaches remind me of how deserted EverQuest is now. And that game used to be hot stuff. My dad, my sister, and I all used to play EQ. I think we stopped playing shortly after the Moons of Mayhem expansion came out. You know. The expansion with the cat people.

I've really been enjoying playing HKO. It's reminiscent of vanilla WoW. You run around clubbing things until they fall asleep, gather caterpillars and spinach leaves off of a potato plant,  mine gravel, maintain farms, and so on. It's a very light, easy to play game. It doesn't require spaz reflexes, continuous patch updates, and, best of all, there's no lag!

The biggest drawback for most people, I suspect, would be how adorable this game is. All of the Hello Kitty characters are included, including the ones only hardcore HK fans know about, like Cinnamaroll, Keroppi, and My Melody. All of which I know because I am a self-declared, hardcore HK fan. Although I don't watch the TV show...

I've tried to convince some of my friends to jump online with me, but to no avail. My sister already plays, so I can jump on with her when her busy Air Force schedule doesn't prevent her from playing. I can't even convince my boyfriend to play! I'm sure some of you are laughing at this, since, clearly, no man would ever be caught dead playing such a ridiculously adorable game. But let me tell you: whenever my boyfriend and I are mall crawling, he always goes into the Sanrio Hello Kitty store with me. Sometimes he even buys me some things. I guess my boyfriend is pretty open-minded about Hello Kitty, but not so open-minded as to play the game with me.

I hope I've convinced one or two of you to join me on HKO. If you want to hit me up, my character's name is Lisarisa on the US server, JackieSpicer on the Int'l server. Hope to play with you soon!