BlenderPeople Development

Tracking the development of the BlenderPeople script suite.

Friday, June 11, 2004

BlenderPeople is not dead, just in case anyone was worrying. I'm still working on pinBone. It's unbelievably frustrating. Unlike many other Blender objects, Bones don't use the ID structure for identification and listing, making them hard (in my opinion) to deal with. After much poring and tracing through the code, I've identified the places wherein the bone transforms will go. I've had several attempts now at including pinBone on the NLA panel. At first, I thought I had it working (which I think I mentioned), but it turned out that it did odd things to the other values. It's been back to the drawing board a couple of times this week, and I'm kind of burned out.

I'm not even thinking about BP this weekend. Maybe I'll go camping. Of course, when I resolve not to think about something, I inevitably end up thinking about it, so maybe I'll be struck by lightening and come back the with solution fully formed next week.

Also, I watched LOTR:TT(EE) again last night. Well, just the large-scale combat parts. I noticed a two things of interest, regarding their use of Massive:

1. Massive-generated sequences are rarely onscreen for more than two seconds at a time. Often, they are extreme long-shots where almost no character detail is visible (low poly models, yea!) and at night in the rain, which is much easier to render realistically.

2. The Massive agents do not show anything approaching intelligent behavior. It's mostly just swarming, simple target seeking, constrained motion (to within a certain area), and object avoidance.

If you watch the special features section about Massive, they say a lot of things about how the AI agents exhibited this behavior and that behavior and did some amazingly intelligent things. They also went into just how complex their "brains" were. They made mention of just setting things up and letting them go, to see how they would play out. So why wasn't any of this in the movie? Their commentary gives the impression that they just set up the two armies, and let them crank through the entire battle of Helm's Deep on their own. But I call Bullshit.

I don't think that's what they did. I think that the Massive generated agents were capable of pretty much local decision-making only. In other words, you can set them up, and they'll do some simple behaviors, including attacking opponents. But large-scale combat manuevers on their own? Strategy? Nope. Really working out the resolution of a complex battle, with multiple waves of attack and deceptive strategies on opposing sides, all without someone riding the sim the entire time and telling the groups exactly what to do? I don't think so, but that is the impression they have given to everyone, and one of the reasons why everyone is in such awe of their system. Notice in the features that they never come out and say that the whole battle ran itself, because they don't really want to lie about it. But they sure try to make you think that it ran itself.

Anyway, those are just my thoughts and suspicions on Massive, which I've been harboring for a while and which last night's viewing only strengthened. Watch both the battle scenes and the feature on Massive and decide for yourself. Now, I'm not saying that it doesn't kick ass. It certainly does. But I don't believe that it's everything they've been making it seem. And that's it.

posted by Roland  # 10:40 AM (0) comments


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