Animated models - which format and modeller?

I am looking for advice in choosing the most suitable modeler and model format for the game I am developing. It is a space-based strategy game - turn based strategic turns and combat in phased time. I would like to decide on a specific format as soon as possible so that I could start experimenting with the software and also so that I would have to rewrite as little as possible later…

First of all, the models would need to be animated. It would be also good to make some models of smaller components, so that the users would be able to customize their stuff. And I would need the format to support LOD in a good way. I have some minor modeling experience with 3DS MAX, but no animated models yet. All the models would be created from scratch (more or less), so the popularity of some format is not really an issue.

  1. Do you have advice on which program I should use? I have seen recommendations for 3ds Max and Lightwave. Any recommendations from those among you who have used models in jME for a while already?

  2. If I understand correctly then the jME format can include animations just fine and once loaded they can be used in my game. However which exporter works best for animations (which format to export from?)?

    I know this types of questions have been asked in the past, but I have not found any comprehensive advise on the topic from the last year besides the advise of using collada. Besides I guess the advantages of any method depend also somewhat on the particular project…

    What I am developing will also be open source so any models I would be creating would also be available for reuse, if anyone cares. Not very soon though :slight_smile:

MD5 and Collada are probably the best for models and animations according to a random (but perhaps biased) sample I have taken from the community.

The main problem resides in which program you would be using, and the quality/compatibility of the exporter/importer duo. Essentially even 3ds would work as a model format, but It also depends on how many animations your object will have, or if you want to merge animations and the such.

Thank you for replying, duenez

I will probably use 3ds max probably as i have already some experience with it and it is available for me. However I am still a bit confused about the format. Obviously I cannot use all the functionality of 3dsmax as everything cannot be imported to jME. So I will probably develop models by small iterations in the beginning while I learn what works and what not.

It is however quite hard to get an idea of the quality of exporters/importers. I guess I will try both md5 and collada and see what happens.

If anyone has any further suggestions, please do let me/us know. I am sure this thread would be useful for any other startup jME game developers also.

PS. The model loading part in jME guide mentions neither collada nor md5… am I missing something or is it a bit out of date?.

I'm using Blender to make 3D models. If you want to use it too (is a free software) the best formats that I also learned here is:

  Static model: .obj

  Boned Anim model: .md5

I did a test with a kman's loader, a simple boned md5 animation, and that was the only one that worked fine. I recommend. I have much problems with Collada, Cal3D  (talk to ender and get more information, I stopped the tests because of my little time), Md2, 3ds, XMLtoJME.

For Blender, the best choice in my opinion is MD5 (your model has to have unless a bone and all of your vertices has to be assign to a bone). Take a look here:

I hope helped!

Using MD5 with jME is not natively supported, that is probably why you have not found it… What you need to do is download jme-contrib from the CVS repository, (in a way very similar to what you do to download jme itself).

I the jme-contrib you will find kman’s md5loader, though there is also another one MD5 format importer: MD5 Reader 2.

Thank you, everyone for your replies. I will start experimenting with several ways that you have suggested.

It seems to me that it would be a nice project at one point to develop a nice x-format to jME model converter that would convert any supported model to jME format and save it for later use. Incorporating perhaps example models from different formats and a model viewer so you can see how it will turn out. No point including format converter in shipping the game code anyway…

Well, perhaps the ModelLoader is what you are looking for… check it in com.jmex.model.util.ModelLoader

When you run it as an application, it leads, converts and exports to jME format at once. When used in an application, you can load models in any format fairly easily

what about MS3D?

MS3D doesn't support bone weights as far as I know (only a single bone assignment per vertex), which makes it difficult to make good animations in some cases.