Monday, November 16, 2009

Dragon Age Toolset Tutorials

The community around the Dragon Age Toolset is very productive and besides the very helpful Toolset Wiki some members have already created great tutorials which I want to share with you:

st4rdog's Level creation tutorial

and his video tutorials:
Dragon Age Toolset - Tutorial 1 - Playable Area and Conversation
(3 more on YT as well)

Silentcid's Video Tutorials

dragonage22's Toolset tutorials (4 parts):
Dragon Age Toolset tutorial 1: Downloading and installing toolset

Neverwintergirl's Video Tutorial:
NWG Video Tutorial 1: How to Make an Interior Level with Lighting.

And as already posted this 6 part video tutorial for the toolset on
Dragon Age: Origins Toolset Video Demo #1
Available on YT as well at:
Dragon Age PAX Toolset Video #1

Friday, November 13, 2009

Fallopian Issue 2 live

Fallopian Issue 2 on Machinima & Education is live.
Fallopian Issue 2
This quarter Fallopian looks at the benefits, hazards and fun to be had when using machinima as a resource in an educational environment. Discussion id open on the Fallopian Facebook site, so any comments or feedback welcome.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Fraps 3 released

A new version of Fraps has just been released. Fraps is now compatible with Windows 7 and the latest DirectX 11 games. Best news is that Fraps has now built-in support for stereoscopic 3D. NVIDIA have recently included stereoscopic 3D support directly into their drivers. If you play your DirectX9 (D3D9) game with 3D Vision enabled you can now use Fraps to record the game in full 3D too! You'll get a side-by-side stereo AVI recording that you can drop straight in to a stereoscopic 3D player.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

FaceFX problem solved.

I really was happy when Jonathan Perry from Bioware replied to my last post that that FaceFX and RoboBrad (emotion generation) are absolutely 100% integrated/supported in the toolset. This is really a toolset made by machinimators for machinimators. And now we'll have in hand the tools they used to create the game and that amazing cutscenes. Even better just a few minutes later with the help of Michelle Pettit-Mee and Bryan Derksen from Bioware who pointed me to the solution for the missing FaceFX integration. It was just a missing registry entry for the FaceFX path.

Original forum post on that topic

After that repaired, now everything works as expected. Fully integrated FaceFX support. Now you can add convincing lipsync and emotions to your characters face with just a few mouseclicks. And have the full power of FaceFX to tweak it later if needed. Fantastic. Now it's on us to use the toolset to create great machinima films with it. A huge thank you again to Bioware an especially the cinematics team giving such a powerful tool in our hand to work with.

Even I thought I was careful with using the toolset, I noticed some problem with the gameplay that could be traced back to it. There is a solution to this, so in case you're game behaves strange have a look at this forum thread.

Forum post on how to fix problems with the game after running the toolset

I've still found some starneg behavoiu in the game, but right now don't know if these are side effects from the toolset or just bugs in the game. My advice from that is this: Play the game as long as you have fun and after that install the toolset and play around with it. Not onlyl because of the possible side effects. By playing the game you learn a lot about the build in maps, environment, assets, animations etc. and can watch great cinematics for inspiration as well.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Dragon Age Toolset

Installing and first steps with the Dragon Age Toolset worked well so far for me (Toolset Links in my last post). Unfortunately there are many posts on the forum, that there can occur some problems during installation of the toolset and even some side effects to the game as well.
Best to prevent sides effects to the game is not using the 'single player' or 'demo' modules that come with the toolset and insetad create your own module from scratch as described in the wiki.
With reading through the Wiki before it was quite easy to get the fist cut-scene done and be able to play it with the game. Although not as tough to use as the Cryengine2 or Unreal3 engine it need some time and knowledge with that kind of toolsets to have fun right from the start. It's for sure not as easy to use as MovieStorm or iClone.
To help you get started I've found this 6 part video tutorial for the toolset on
Dragon Age: Origins Toolset Video Demo #1

But there are not only good news. From reading through the Wiki docs I was quite impressed about how easy it can be with this toolset to create facial animation and lipsync with just a few mouse clicks. That was the main part I got interested and already had a project in plan to try and use it. Unfortunately it looks like they have totally removed that feature from the toolset. The tool (FaceFX) is delivered, but the integration in the toolset has been removed.
That limits the use of the DA toolset for machinima. Of course we can have our characters put helmets on and and create RvB Halo style films. But I expected more and now can throw my project into the bin. I'm disappointed since that's not the first time that happened.
I'm even pesimistic enough to claim that we'll never get that feature back into the toolset.
Without that capability the DA toolset fails to be a promising Machinima tool and we won't see many films made with it. That's the same story as with engines like Cryengine2, where they removed automatic phoneme extraction. And even worse, after we have found a workaround for that, patched the facial editor dead and useless for everyone. Same story goes for the Unreal Engine. FaceFX was delivered, but couldn't be used with the ingame characters. You had to create your own facial rig, which is out of reach for most of us and needs good knowledge of tools like Maya or 3dmax. And that's the main reason why you haven't seen only very few Machinima made with these engines so far. How to get it right is shown by Valve and their toolset. They included a nonrestricted version of Faceposer that simply worked. And you know what comes next. Yes, there lot of excellent HL2 machinima films out which creatively used facial animation and lipsync for storytelling.

Festival updates

Machinima Expo:
MachinExpo 2009 Press Release
Technical Rehearsal this Sunday, Nov 15, for Expo Participants

IceAxe has published two interesting interview he recorded at this festival
The Atopic Interviews

The festival has just release the final schedule
Arsgames Festival Program

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Dragon Age

What an exciting weekend. Bioware's Dragon Age had it's release date on the 5th here in Europe so I had reserved some time to look at the game and the toolkit they planned to release as well. Unfortunately EA messed up the release so I had to wait for the 3rd shipping ( first one was called back from the shops because they had not put on copy protection, second round had a non working German installation on it) of the game DVD to hit the shops. Lucky those who downloaded the game or could get one of the rare CE version that were ok. Even worse, at the release day the toolset was not available and it was not sure when it will be released. But EA and Bioware worked hard and I got the game the next day and the toolkit was online some hours later. So I had the chance to play the game to get my first impression on gameplay and machinima cinematics. And read through the toolset documentation wiki before installing the toolset. You need to have the game installed and registered at Bioware's Social Network and unfortunately have to register there to access the wiki:

Dragon Age Toolset Download

Dragon Age Toolset Wiki
Dragon Age Toolset Forum
Steam Version Workaround

I really enjoyed playing the game. I still have to get adjusted to the gameplay and to switch to the more strategic way of gameplay during combat. Combat is tough and I guess I have to switch to eas-mode to proceed further. The game is heavy on conversations, which is a good thing that it gets you involved into the story, but for me it could be less. The story draws you in and you really get emotionally connected to some characters during the game. Storytelling is superb.
Cinematics are amazing and some of the best I've seen so far. I'm still not sure if all of them the are ingame real-time cinematics. No wonder the team of Cinematic Designer leaded by Ken Thain has some of the best machinima filmmakers in it. Most of them worked on the excellent Mass Effect before. Now I'll have a look at the toolset and see how easy or tough it is to create machinima films with it. From the documenation it sounds very promising.
Any one else on Dragon Age? I'll keep you updated.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Graveyard - post mortem

My latest film project 'the Graveyard' was based on an independent game The Graveyard. A very short game, designed by Auriea Harvey & Michaƫl Samyn, about an elderly lady who visits a cemetery.
There is a highly interesting report about the making of this project. You find a lot of inside informations from the birth of the idea to distribution and sales of the game. It has a section on the music which plays a major role in my film as well.

The Graveyard - post mortem

And if you haven’t played it yet, you can download it for free here.