Playing video games can be a lot of fun, and sometimes you want to bring the fun out beyond the screen: making characters from a game physically real. For Autodesk University, earlier this month, the 123D team worked closely with Autodesk's Media and Entertainment group to explore the process of 3d printing video game characters.
A member of our M&E team models the full-size Sven suit next to the 3D print display
Our Media and Entertainment group has produced a top class game called "Hyperspace Madness" to provide a compelling demo of how to use Autodesk tools to build games. We wanted to take all the various characters and models in the game, and 3D print them, in order to make a nice display at Autodesk University.
Close-up of the 3D printed display
This can be a challenge, since objects designed for a game aren't necessarily easy to print. For example, game objects are often modeled at low resolution, and rely on a color texture to make it seem convincing. The geometric modeling of the objects can cause problems too: the objects are represented as a shell with no volume, and this can cause problems with printing.
The 123D team is also about making things real, so we set out to use tools from our 123D suite to prepare some models for printing, and this is how we did it.
The game's main character, a satellite repairman called Sven, is shown in many poses to animate him while walking. We wanted to select some frames from this "walk cycle" and print them out. The first thing to do was to make sure that the character was represented as a solid: to do this we opened the files in Meshmixer, and used the Inspector tool to identify and fix any gaps that could cause problems. We wanted Sven to stand on his own, so we modeled an oval base using 123D Design, exported it as an STL file, and combined the two using Tinkercad - our entry level, browser-based design software has very powerful tools for working with meshes!
We also wanted to print Sven's antagonists: aggressive squid like creatures called the Killamari, that use robotic suits to get around. We opened the 3D model using the Autodesk 3D Print Utility, which we used to reinforce fine details that would cause problems in printing. This model was then merged with an oval base using Meshmixer.
Sven and the Killamari were printed on our Objet Connex 500 printers, which can render extremely fine detail.
The Sven walk cycle being printed
Of course, we wanted Sven and Killamari to have a place to run around in, so we also printed some of the buildings and props from the game. These were prepared for printing using a combination of tools including Autodesk 3D Print Utility and Meshmixer. Since these objects are much bigger, Type A Machines offered to print them on their Series 1 printers, which have a very large build area, and can work with innovative new materials.