Blending up a Table Saw

June 30, 2017

The past couple of weeks I’ve been spending most of my Robyn HUD computer game development hours on “under the hood” work. On the positive side, I’ve very nearly finish all the technical work on the game to turn the different game play systems (AI, heist planning, hacking, etc.) into a unified whole. On the negative side, this type of work doesn’t really give me anything interesting to show or talk about in a blog, being mostly custodial in nature. However, I did manage to squeeze in a little time to put together another work in progress model for the game.

[Work in progrss table saw with basic colour breakdown.]
Work in progrss table saw with basic colour breakdown.

A nice little table saw that the player can trigger in game to cause a diversion. What’s different about this model from previous ones is that it was created using the free 3D modeling software Blender.

I first looked at Blender early last year but ended up walking away from it. Blender is bad software. Don’t get me wrong, it’s very powerful software, but it’s also bad software. Blender falls into that category of applications that has options to do everything, hence being very powerful. The cost, of course, is that with so many options they tend to get in each other’s way. Important options are placed side-by-side with trivial ones. At least, they are for my purposes. I’m sure other people would find some parts of Blender that I use to be trivial and some parts that I don’t use to be hugely important. The end result is software that has a very steep, very high learning curve to overcome to be productive with it.

User experience rant aside, I gave up on Blender last year as I had so much other stuff to work on with an early Robyn HUD prototype and with Sleuthhounds: The Halloween Deception. I wasn’t able to make the time needed to wade through Blender’s sea of options to find the ones that would be useful to me. That changed a few weeks ago when another local game dev, Farhan Qureshi (yep, the PuniTy Farhan Qureshi), did a great one day workshop on using Blender to create 3D assets for games. Big, big thanks Farhan!

Armed with Farhan’s workshop and Google for when I ran into issues, I was able to turn out the above table saw with a few hours of work. I think it took longer than it would have had I used my other modeling tool, Milkshape 3D, but I was expecting that. Blender is definitely a piece of software with a learning curve – did I rant about too many options already? – and I figured things would take longer to do with it initially. That said, after bringing the table saw to its current state, I know that with a little more practice I’ll be able to create models for my game with Blender much faster than with Milkshape. So keep an eye out for more Blender models as work on Robyn HUD continues.