I spent most of my free time for the past few weeks getting caught up on the XNA Framework and planning what would be the most efficient way to integrate fbx animation, assets, Bone systems, Bipeds, special effects, etc. together and seemlessly. After doing some research and reading what other best practices have been verified for its efficiency, I am glad to have come to the point that I am at now. I have been learning alot about the Autodesk products and at first I thought it would have been a waste of time but I now realize its not true. When I first started getting comfortable with the Autodesk 3ds Max, Mudbox, Maya and Motionbuilder products, I looked into integration with XNA/Visual Studio and found that I could animate and somewhat ‘Bone’ a character with code using the framework, however, I realized this isn’t a good way to do this.
I think the best approach is to simply model, texture, sculpt, rig/Bone, Animate and create special effects in named art designing kits and then export everything over. It appears to be less troublesome rather than going through the trouble of modeling, texturing, sculpting, rigging the character to only then manipulate the limbs and overall animation via XNA. I think it could be a powerful technique to use in some instances but for what I’m doing, I think handling pre-animated clips for my meshes in XNA will do the job nicely. Since my game will be a Medieval fantasy, turned based combat style RPG I think everything will flow smoother that way.
I’m pretty much over the initial research part of my project and have already begun implementing code to handle some of the 3d models and meshes that I will be using. I have become more proficient in Sketchbook than in Photoshop (and believe Sketchbook is also much more powerful) so it may not be a surprise to see 2d icons, Banners, flags, etc either being implemented directly or used as a tracing asset to be used to turn it into 3D art for integration.
However, I’m not an artist by trade so that slows me down from time to time but I do have some outside help from a very good artist in Japan and when she will hopefully have enough free time in the coming months to assist me with my project. Until then, I guess I must suffer my own painfully horrible artwork in which I will make sure my artist redesigns everything I’ve personally drawn/modeled/textured/sculpted later. Okay, I’m really all that bad, I guess.