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High Density Modularity is the future of manual 3D Modeling for Games...

And the era of single mesh molding/forming 3D models is coming to an end…

High Density Modularity is the assembly of 3D Entities from large granular sets of Mesh Part & Pieces to create massive variation. These parts are then loaded into the Engine for Assembly and optimization. We are already seeing this modular assembly in 3D Character Creation systems like DAZ3D, iClone, Manuelbastioni Lab for Blender, and Make Human. I believe we’ll see even smaller parts/pieces to customize Clothing and Armor for Clothing Generation System similar to MarvelousDesigner.

I predict that we’ll start to see specialty model assembly systems for other Entities such as Firearms, Melee Weapons, Vehicles, Crafts, Architecture and more modular asset packs in marketplaces. In fact we already see various modular Architecture packages. No longer will you need to model all of the vehicle parts, you will be able to load them, attach them to a chassis and modify the part as desired. Similar to a real-world model car kit. You will also be able to distribute the assembly, like a real-world vehicle assembly line.

The move in this direction will support Player personalization which is rising in demand. Even for games such as Pro Sports and High narrative that normally rely on pre-designed characters, will allow Players to personalize the look of the Entities and Environment. Player personalization will become the standard in the future. The next step in this Personalization is Social Personalization at the Entity Level. In other words, Friends and Family share in the customization of a single Character, weapon, etc.

A large number of successful modern games are promoting Creativity with building, construction, and assembly. Many of these systems rely on Modular Parts, and we predict that more granular parts will be used to encourage even more creative variation. We’re preparing for the future. HeadlessStudios.com has been developing a High Density Multi-user Construction System to assembly ALL Entity types, PROTOS.

We truly believe that 3D Artist who now adopt a modular workflow, produce parts to assemble into entities, will benefit in the future. We’re very interested in opinions on this subject (especially 3D Modelers, using traditional modeling techniques). Please post or we can chat live via discord.

Open to a discussion on this prediction of mine. Any takers?

Probably a combination. Modularity for background actors and unique assets for a set of main actors. Major corporations with large investments into asset generation are big into gaining exclusivity to content e.g. athletes likeness/mocap/facial scans and collecting large portions of legal ownership over asset rights. Once you get large scale enough creating the assets gets less important/difficult while legally being allowed to and having exclusive rights to the content in the corporate world gets more important.

@MikeRPG Thank you for sharing your insight. That’s an aspect I did not consider. When it comes to human face likeness, I’m not sure how it could be legally determined. With 7 Billion Peoples on earth, there is a Lookalike for each us somewhere on earth…LOL.

I’m all for speeding up the tedious parts of 3d modeling so us artists can focus on the things that really matter. Although I haven’t seen a single character creation tool that replaces the need for a character artist.

​​​​​​Looking forward to seeing more socket, interaction, intersection based procedural tools instead of basing everything of a grid.

I’m on-board for this kind of tech. But its the old Flexibility/Capability vs. Complexity argument…
Take Houdini… What’s the time investment versus how much will it help a team’s latest project…

Agree, there’s less real benefits for big shops especially regarding high profile 3D characters.
But in general, for backgrounds / weapons / vehicles / architecture / props. Sure why not. BUT…
How easy are modular (or procedural tools) to use versus how flexible are they really in reality?

This topic nods back to why Epic refuse to add more generic ‘set-piece’ tools into the engine.
Is the time needed to learn the toolset worth it vs the flexibility-capability that you get out of it?
Plus, if it all looks / behaves a bit like Lego, how long will the novelty last before it wears thin?
All these things hold promise on paper, but how many projects can leverage it especially well.
Look at Star Citizen’s city building tools. Would they adapt well to other games / genres? IDK…

Some shops favor ‘serendipitous discoveries’, this manifests games with personality for them.
Others have a clearer picture of a target game early on and can leverage modular more imho!
Lots of unknowns. But as ZacD alluded to, modular is very welcome at Indies / smaller studios.

I’m on-board for this kind of tech. But its the old Flexibility/Capability vs. Complexity argument…
Take Houdini… What’s the time investment versus how much will it help a team’s latest project…

Agree, there’s less real benefits for big shops especially regarding high profile 3D characters.
But in general, for backgrounds / weapons / vehicles / architecture / props. Sure why not. BUT…
How easy are modular (or procedural tools) to use versus how flexible are they really in reality?

This topic nods back to why Epic refuse to add more generic ‘set-piece’ tools into the engine.
Is the time needed to learn the toolset worth it vs the flexibility-capability that you get out of it?
Plus, if it all looks / behaves a bit like Lego, how long will the novelty last before it wears thin?
All these things hold promise on paper, but how many projects can leverage it especially well.
Look at Star Citizen’s city building tools. Would they adapt well to other games / genres? IDK…

Some shops favor ‘serendipitous discoveries’, this manifests games with personality for them.
Others have a clearer picture of a target game early on and can leverage modular more imho!
Lots of unknowns. But as ZacD alluded to, modular is very welcome at Indies / smaller studios.

@ZacD Thanks for sharing your perspective as a Character Artist. Character Artist are in high demand and always will be. High Density Modularity would significantly speed up the process of assembling multiple Characters. I cannot wait for Character Artist to adopt the HDM methodology. I do not purchase single mesh characters from the marketplace, because they are not readily customizable.

@franktech thanks for sharing your experience. Reducing Complexity, simplifying assembly process of pieces would be the only way for the methodology to gain mass adoption. This simplification will be achieved with Algorithmic Procedural assembly. We already see the possibilities in existing editors such as Fuse Character creator and Spore Creature Creator. I’m able to achieve a rudimentary procedural assembly with random part selection and part attachment filtering rules.

The reduction in complexity is exactly what I’m talking about herein and I’m developing such a tool with UE4. Its just a matter of time before one of these tools takes the lead, standardizing a workflow. Creating new Parts and Pieces for these tools is where the New Artist will reign. Who will be the Artist preparing to lead the charge into future using for such tools. Who will be the Parts and Pieces Artists? The Partist?

Reducing complexity is not the way to go in my opinion. Increase stability, documentation, free resources and efficiency but complexity in the procedural mechanics allows for wider variation. More factors = more possible outcomes = more value as a procedural generator. World Machine is a good example, super complex modularity that gives the program long term value because of how many unique solutions can be created. If you reduce the complexity too much the room for artistic expression shrinks and you get more people with similar looking assets.

These kinds of tools already exist, they are just becoming better every day. I have 7 different procedural asset generators myself. Spaceships, buildings, roads, cities etc. Thinking that you can find a universal solution that will get widespread market adoption is unlikely. I’d focus on getting 1 pipeline with 1 engine working solid first.

This is a good approach, if PTex painting / texturing, UDIM tile UW’s, the new modeling tools for SubD and the instancing skeletal mesh options are included in UE4, a lot could be possible.

[USER=“843085”][/USER] Thanks for sharing your enthusiasm. The features above are high-tech modeling features. I can imagine the day, where 3D authoring tools will be part of the game engine/tool suite, accessible at runtime.

I don’t think these tools eliminate the artists. They just remove their need to waste vast amounts of time on menial and repetitive tasks like UV unwrapping and rigging so they can focus on creating what they should be creating: art. If you look at most tools that vastly improve artists productivity, they often have one thing in common: eliminate the need to deal manually with the gory technical elements that make up computer graphics like polygons, normals and UVs: sculpting tools, terrain tools, cloth design tools, hair styling tools, etc. Those not only save time, they also allow for more consistent results.

They also don’t eliminate the need for skill and talent, they merely change the kind of skill and talent that is required. For example, someone with no experience in 3D modelling but skilled in sewing and apparel design can actually use Marvelous Designer to create clothing for game and CG characters that will probably look way better than that done by an experienced 3D modeller with zero apparel design experience.

Yes but, let’s not forget that all these tools, Zbrush, marvelous designer have simply made only certain amount of tasks within a pipeline arguably faster to achieve or previsualize, but they have also introduced other extra steps (who has heard of retopology before 3d sculpting tools existed, old school modellers started with good topo and finished with the same ones) also this does not mean that once someone comes in with experience in sewing then you have cloth ready for character animation, the model reference maybe, this means an experienced 3d artist should take this model and check for aesthetics, resculpt over it, retopo it, later UV and then check with simulation requirements and rigging and shading before it can finally be deemed as ‘functional’.

All these tools try so hard to make certain tasks ‘automated’ but it will never really happen because the day it does every character will look like very other character and ‘generic’. Which is why you can tell a poser or daz model is a daz model no matter how much you tweak the clothing or some facial features.

These tools can go so far and for certain specific tasks only and this also depends on your production quality and standards. If you are creating a minecraft game no one cares, but if you are creating the next uncharted or a narrative based storyline with unique characters I think it’s another matter entirely.

Also Ptex did not replace the need for UV’s and they’ve been trying so hard for 2 decades now, The best they could do with the old school UV method to this date was speed up and have better unwraps but it has been the same since the 80’s for a reason. Zbrush and a few other plugins tried so hard but it is still useless for anything more complicated than a rock.

UDIM’s are still a unique mystery and meant for certain tasks, they are used for very specific scenarios, last time we used it in our 15 year VFX careers was in a feature film for a handful of environments only in Mari and that was it.

Lastly I have yet to see real time modular tools creating complex assets, last I checked the industry is still using NURBS over polys for Automative and product designs in the industry, so even those who said NURBS are dead and gone since the late 90’s have been wrong.

So the old method of doing things is not going away guys it is here to stay and just be a little more fashionable :).

[USER=“202133”]William K[/USER] Thanks for sharing your insight. I would agree that today you don’t see many real time modular tools creating complex assets today, but that will change in the future. Traditional methods will remain relevant to other industries, and will still be applied to game development, High-density Modular Construction will function on top of traditional methods, simplifying 3D Content Creation for the masses, becoming the dominant method used in Games and Film.

Never say Never. LOL.

I guess it depends on the context of what you want to do with the game, that i could agree with. But I can’t seem to find myself agreeing with (perhaps I misunderstood you) that Modular method would ultimately replace modeling as we know it, in the end you still need to model those pieces in a conventional way in order for the puzzle to work.

Ultimately if by modular you mean something like Modo’s boolean method then that’s still one method for modeling on top of what is a mesh sculpted on a vertex level control in a traditional way. Which none of the clay based or meta-ball like modular assemblies provide (not just technically but also on concept level).

In all cases good luck to you.

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Developing a Collaborative Level|Entity Construction System in UE4 to proof the concept of High Density Modularity…
https://youtube.com/watch?v=YDJznIALQ_s