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March 23, 2015

Voltech’s Super 3D Adventures (of Destruction)

Alternate post title: Blame EventHubs.

So.  This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who follows this blog, but (according to my Google Chrome dashboard), one of my most commonly-visited sites is EventHubs.  If you haven’t been, it’s pretty much a gathering point for fighting game news, videos, fun facts, fan works, and of course info about upcoming events.  Even if you’re not looking to get into the competitive scene, it’s a good place to head if you’re a fighting game fan like me.  Like I said, that shouldn’t be a surprise; I don’t think I need to go over what a cross-up is.  Again.

A while back, there was a post mentioning something called EF-12 -- some sort of program/engine/witchcraft that could, reportedly, let anyone make their own fighting game.  It sounded interesting, but time slipped away from me, I jumped head-first into other stuff, and above all else I wasn’t entirely sure if I wanted to bog myself down with something as big as making a fighting game, even if it was the easiest thing in the world.  The fact that you have to micromanage frames for every character and worry about competitive balance means that I feel no envy for the guys at Capcom Keep.

Still, I kept the prospect in the back of my mind.  And when talk of other, similar programs popped up elsewhere (Siliconera’s mentioned a few), I thought back to EF-12.  Making a good fighting game can’t be easy, but at least with those you don’t have to worry about making a fully-functional world as you would in an RPG.  So one day I decided to look up EF-12 on YouTube to see what people were doing with it.

I’ll save you some trouble and say that the products of EF-12 are pretty much a Tekken knockoff with no shortage of anime, video game, and Final Fantasy/Kingdom Hearts characters -- so basically, it delivers exactly what it promises and puts a 3D MUGEN in the hands of the people.  What piqued my interest was a mention in a tutorial video; it’s one thing to have EF-12, but another to have the program that lets you make your potential characters.  In this case?  Blender.  And…well, you know where this is headed, right?

Yep.  I’ve got Blender now (it’s a 100% free download), and I’ve been messing around with it for a few weeks.  Like anything involving computers, it’s intimidating at first -- to the point of warding off any potential newcomers -- but the tradeoff is that it’s deceptively easy to learn how to use.  Well, sort of.  I’m not saying that as a guy who’s mastered the program, but with the rudimentary skills I’ve picked up, I can at least do more than I ever thought I could.

It’s pretty much a given that you can use Blender to make some amazing stuff, but I grabbed it as a way to render characters first and foremost.  And while I’ve got a LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONG way to go before my final products end up looking…you know, good…I’ve at least taken steps toward cracking open the black box of 3D modeling.  Most recently, I’ve tried experimenting with low-poly models.

The first thing you’ll note about Blender: you can start with something as basic as a cube.

Okay.  You know in the new Smash Bros. one of Little Mac’s costumes has him as a wireframe?  Imagine that, only applied to the cube -- except you’re the one who can apply that to the cube with whatever frequency you wish.  Or to put it a different way, you can create plenty of vertices -- points you can push, pull, tug, and more -- so you can create a basic shape.  You can do the same with the faces, so you can build a body just by manipulating the pieces of your cube. 

And you can take it a step further when it comes to limbs.  Like this:

The thing about Blender, I suspect, is that sometimes you have to figure out puzzles -- that is, how to bring what’s in your head (or in a drawing) to life.  Is it possible?  Of course.  But at this stage, and for me, that involves a fair bit of trial and error.  How the heck do you make a low-poly afro?  I gave it a shot, but the initial results were less than ideal.  So I trashed the hair.  And at some point, I went back and worked on the head.

As you can guess, it’s better to make the body before you make the clothes.  So I did exactly that -- which is simple enough to do when you’re going for the most basic of basic models.  So eventually, I ended up with this.

Looks familiar?  It should.

There’s still more to be done with that model, of course; it’s no accident that it has no color, because that involves several additional steps.  And now I’m not too keen on the hair, so I might do that over.

…Which I’ll show RIGHT NOW!  (Because that’s what happens when you write posts like this nearly two months before the post date.)

But the important thing is that, even if I’m only Level 2 or 3 with my Blender skills, I have a new tool at my disposal.  What’ll come of it?  What can I do with it?  I don’t know.  There’s no guarantee I’ll have anything to show for it months down the line.

But I could be wrong.  You probably already know this by now, but 3D models can be used for some very interesting stuff.  Maybe someday, I’ll give that stuff a try.  No promises, but I’d be lying if I said the prospects weren’t tantalizing.  If nothing else, I know how to toss out JPEGs of my characters.  That one’s a simplified version, but even at this stage I can do things that are simple…

And a bit more…intricate.

Breathless gasp!  Who is this mysterious character?  And will we ever see more of her?  No, probably not, because by the time you read this, she’ll have already gone through several redesigns (and she’ll probably look better vis a vis the render; admittedly this was just a practice run, and that face is looking roooooooooooooooooooough -- no thanks to a camera that went all fish-eye lens on me for some reason).  All things considered, you’re slightly more likely to see this guy first.

Or this lady.

Or maybe even this kid.

Now who are these people?  Eh, probably nobody.  Or maybe EVERYBODY!  I don’t know.  We’ll see.  We will most certainly see.

I’ll tell you one thing Blender’s good for at this very moment: being the subject of a filler housekeeping post. 

…I need a distraction.  Drive, you're up!  

Man, I don't care what anyone says.  Drive's the coolest looking Rider yet.


  1. Interesting stuff. I will have to check this out. I've never heard of EF-12.

  2. No surprises on EF-12. It got mentioned in an EventHubs post a while back, but as far as I know, nothing substantial has come from it besides some videos on YouTube. I'm guessing that it has its audience, but it doesn't seem like it has the traction of something like MUGEN. Maybe if it became a platform for SaltyBet...?

    In any case, glad you found this stuff interesting. I don't know exactly what'll come from me using Blender -- and whether or not I'll get good enough with it to avoid fracturing my skull in the uncanny valley -- but the prospects are exciting.

    If nothing else, I've gained a newfound respect for game developers. Clearly, there's a REASON why it takes months, if not years, for something to come out.

  3. If you can make a gold cock and balls in blender, then there is no more that is needed to be learned.

  4. You know, the sad thing is that I could probably do something like that right now. I could even take it to the next level and add the requisite hairs.

    It'd probably be the greatest piece of art the world will ever know.

  5. You make a compelling argument. I'll see if I can add it to my to-do list.