Great Intro to Integrating SketchUp Models into Gaming Apps2012/1/18
I'm a SketchUp author myself, and it's always fun to see what others are writing about.
This book actually targets two industries: game design and film / stage. Both use storyboarding to lay out scenarios, and Robin de Jongh explains how to do this in SketchUp, helped by other applications. I'm not an expert (to put it generously) in either field, so the fact that this is a self-stated "Beginner's Guide" is great for me.
To be clear, this isn't a book that teaches SketchUp modeling, though there's nothing presented that requires advanced SketchUp skills. But you'll be ill-served if you pick up this book with no SketchUp experience at all. This book is really about integration - combining SketchUp skills with skills in other applications.
Like Robin's previous book on rendering, this one is quite fun to read. Robin is very funny, and while this one isn't as laugh-out-loud as his first one (maybe his editors wanted this one to be more serious), the intro to each chapter is something to look forward to. And his casual, informal, writing style makes this book a lot more fun than your typical, dry "how-to" book.
And like in his first book, Robin's passion for free stuff comes through loud and clear. He uses free software for graphic editing (GIMP), and finds places to download free models and textures (CGTextures). He demonstrates using Unity 3D for setting up the environment after importing SketchUp assets (terrain and buildings and props). He also focuses on doing things as easily as possible - such as making model changes in SketchUp, rather than in more complex app's like Unity.
There's a lot in here about textures and materials. Not just how to use them in SketchUp, but the most efficient way to use them. Game design is all about speed, and Robin goes into detail about how to reduce the size and number of graphics to keep things running well. This is an important concept for any modeler, but particularly for the target audience of this book.
He devotes a chapter to terrain modeling, which makes sense - game environments (like the real world) aren't always flat planes. By combining plan view graphics and textures with the Sandbox, Stamp, and Drape tools you can build game-worthy spaces.
The second-to-last chapter is my favorite - I've been meaning to write something like this myself for a while - how to design a realistic-looking car in SketchUp. It's a fun project that requires some patience, done with a set of easily-downloadable car plans and some car photos. The resulting model is quite rewarding.
By the end of the book, you're walking around in your own game environment, complete with assets (buildings, cars, tools) and backgrounds and lights.
The appendix demonstrates an app I hadn't heard of - MakeHuman, used for, well, making humans. This is another tough task to accomplish in SketchUp alone, and every game (or stage or movie set) needs a bunch of those pesky humans in it.
My one complaint (if that's the right word) about Robin's first book was that its black and white graphics didn't always convey very well. This new book is also printed in grayscale (I didn't see the e-book but I assume it's in color). But the pictures look much better in this new book - even in grayscale everything is crisp and easy to identify.
If you're thinking of trying your hand designing games or film sets, this book is a great place to start. I know a lot of teenagers who would go nuts trying out the book's projects. I imagine that someone who becomes really proficient in the applications shown in Robin's book would be well on their way to a cool career.
A fun read for anyone interested or involved in 3D/gaming2012/1/31
Overall this a fantastic book to have in the 3D section your library. Beginners will find this book most useful as it will get you up and running with the tools you need to begin your journey with 3D & gaming, but even experienced pros will find SketchUp a very useful tool in rapid prototyping; particularly since you can import sketchUp models into programs like 3ds Max.
I like how author grabs your attention with his passion for the subject that really comes through in every chapter and makes it a fun read. It lays out what you can -and can't- accomplish with SketchUp and just how relevant this free tool can be to a 3D artist whether a professional or a hobbyist. The book is refreshingly honest about such a complex subject as 3D asset creation.
You'll get hands on experience though practical exercises that are easy to follow and encourage adding your own personal style as opposed to cut and dry recipe examples. These examples are great jumping off points that allow you to practice techniques used throughout the book. I like how each exercise ends with a challenge to push you to take the exercise further.
My favorite aspect of this book is how it focus exclusively on FREE tools available that allow anyone to set up a 3D development environment. Sketch-Up, Google Warehouse, Gimp (Photoshop alternative), CGtextures, Unity3D, Meshalb - all the tools necessary to create AAA quality game assets or any interactive experience. What's exciting about this is that any with curiosity can jump in.
The modeling exercises start with creating simple but useful game objects and introduce a repeatable work flow: researching real-world objects, preparing textures for game engines, modeling and texturing objects, and finally importing them into a game engine.
Building on the techniques learned in the early exercises, a couple of great advanced modeling exercises are also included. What's awesome about this is you'll see the secret the pros use to create insanely complicated models (hint:reference pics and time). Using the same techniques on a different scale, you'll create your own city block, and import that into Unity3D. With a few adjustments, you'll have a first-person game-environment to explore and you can post it online for others to explore. (now go make games :)
If nothing else it's a refreshing read for anyone interesting in 3D because the author's passion for the subject comes though and surely will inspire (or re-inspire) the like-minded.
If you enjoyed this book and want to push further into creating games I can recommend some other great titles that I've read that you will find interesting
- Unity Game Development Essentials (Packt publishing) - Unity Game Development by Example (Packt publishing) - Unity 3 Game Development Hotshot (Packt publishing) - 3D Game Art for the iPhone with Unity (Focal Press)
Good topic, but title is a bit misleading2012/2/13
Remark: This is a summary of the review I made on my blog (which targets students and architects). You can read it at [...]
The book is, like most books I read from Packt, reasonably priced and paper and print quality is good. It is well structured, with clear goals and promises of what will be delivered in each chapter. But be warned that this is primarily a Beginner's Guide (which is marked on the cover), so I sometimes felt that it focused quite a bit on a step-by-step approach.
The first few chapters present a general outlook on developing (modeling and texturing) "props" or "assets" for a Game. This is not a book about creating walking animated characters or to develop the scripts for a First Person Shooter or a Massive Multi-player Online Environment. There are other books that explore these topics.
I think the writer has chosen the right content for the book, but maybe not the right title... Only at page 55, you will open SketchUp for the first time, to model a wooden pallet. The first three chapters are looking at "other tools" and "other resources" mostly: stock model and texture websites, some utility software and a full chapter on preparing a texture for the wooden pallet we will develop.
Contrary to the habits of architectural modelers to create complex models with simple colors, game modeling is quite the reverse: creating simple geometry, but heavily relying on textures. This is an important distinction to make when you come from an architectural background.
While Adobe Photoshop is widely used by artists worldwide, this book explains all texturing work using the GIMP, the Open Source photo manipulation software. The end result is quite the same, but architects typically are not used to this software. But my advice is to just follow along in whatever software you prefer. There are quite some interesting workflow tips and techniques explained in this book. One particular example makes a simple colored model that is translated into GIMP, where it serves as flat colors to easy the selection process and the creation of masks.
It is shown how easy it is to load the model, position it, add colliders, so you don't fall through and than how to add a First Person Controller, which is included with Unity3D, that you can use to walk around freely. If you do this for the very first time, this is very rewarding moment and might be all you need to do when you are mainly interested in game modeling to present your design to others.
Almost at the end, and this is very interesting for other use cases too, there is a chapter on how to model a full car, starting from a few blueprints and some pictures. The model is not perfect, but very usable and not too heavy.
Overall, this is an interesting book, primarily for a beginner audience, but only half of it is actually working inside SketchUp. But the results you obtain are relevant and are reachable for everybody, which is not always the case in more advanced modeling or visualization books.
Insightful guide on game design and possibilities with Sketchup2012/2/13
Packt Publishing has offered this an interesting book to me for review. It's about using Sketchup for game design. I like using Sketchup but I didn't know that it is good enough to be used for game design. This book shows that it can, and how you can do it.
This is a beginner's guide that's made up of step-by-step tutorials that build on one another. The goal is to construct a small town on uneven terrain at the outskirts of a city. It's the setting for a first person shooter game, and it's going to be used as demo where you can walk around the town.
To get up to speed, you need basic Sketchup knowledge like modeling and moving things around. The tutorials only cover the essential steps which focuses on finding textures, creating them, and mapping them onto the models.
Specifically for game design, it covers how textures are to be manipulated to get them looking good and still not be a drain on computing resources. The guided exercises are all easy to follow along.
In addition to Sketchup, the book introduces many free software that are to be downloaded and used for the tutorials. They are Meshlab, GIMP and Unity 3D. Unity 3D is a huge file so you'll want to download it first while reading the first few chapters.
The tutorials use GIMP, the Photoshop alternative, to edit pictures. You can still use Photoshop but you'll have to be proficient enough to understand how you can workaround, for example on how you can create seamless textures, because all the steps are written for GIMP.
There are many things new to me in this book. One of them is on creating undulating terrain inside Sketchup. I didn't know that was possible, and it's not difficult. There's also a chapter on modeling a car. The result is semi-realistic because the lesson involves building the general shape and mapping the car texture.
There are a lot of useful tips and tricks in this book. I learned a lot especially on texturing. It's a great book on prototype game design with Sketchup. Fun to read and easy to follow.
Exactly What the Title Says!2012/2/19
Google SketchUp for Game Design is exactly what the title says: A Beginner's Guide to creating navigable 3D gaming environments. The specific process this book focuses on is to create models in Google SketchUp, then bring those models into Unity to create walkthrough environments. The audience for this book is anyone who is interested in creating 3D walkthroughs in UNITY, which can be published to the web, using the unity player. Its easy to follow for anyone with or without experience with either tool. I could see this book applying to budding game designers, architects, artists, or anyone interested in creating 3D environments.
This book is broken up into chapters that break it down into easy to follow steps to create models including terrain, buildings, cars, and objects including palettes, barrel, wrench, etc. They cover modeling from photos, texturing, optimizing the model and more. The car modeling chapter, in particular, is a great technique. There's also lots of references for where to get free textures and models on the web, for you to use if you don't want to model them yourself. Once the models are created, they are imported into Unity. The author goes step by step to teach you how to create walk-arounds in the model, and you're off!
Its pretty amazing how far all this technology has come, because pretty much anyone from my mom to my son could pick up this book and start making their own 3D environments, using freely available software. I'd be really interested to use this as a high school class curriculum and see what kids could make. So for anyone wanting to create 3D walkthrough spaces, I highly recommend checking this book out. It cuts out the learning curve and gets you creating cool stuff fast!