DING!

2D polygons can be drawn in the 'Shape Editor', and then used in the DING graph.

 

 

Overview

I was the sole developer on the DING! project, which includes:

  • A custom PyQt and PyMel node graph hooked into Maya's dependency graph
  • Numerous custom DG nodes written in Python and C++
  • Easy manipulation of mesh components (faces, edges, etc) through the graph
  • Simple object-level animation using nodes
  • A shape editor for drawing 2D polygons in the graph
  • A custom CGFX node, allowing for texture baking from hardware shaders
  • Automated FBX export with embeded baked textures

 

Details

While interning at Dejobaan Games over the summer of 2010, I was asked to research and develop interesting and efficient procedural modeling methods. The idea was that, while a large AAA studio can afford to have one artist spend a week on a single window, a small indie studio cannot. The final outcome was a node-based modeling plugin for Maya, known as DING. I have since returned to Dejobaan to complete several contracts, extending DING's modeling capabilities, as well as adding animation and texturing.

The tool is mostly written in Python, making heavy use of PyMel, the Maya API, and PyQT. It also includes several nodes written in C++. DING wraps Maya dependency graph nodes for display in a custom graph UI. There, only a handful of important attribute plugs are visible, providing a simple workflow that allows even non-3D artists to create assets very quickly. In fact, the primary user at Dejobaan is the lead designer (and president), who has no Maya training.

DING has over 80 available nodes, more than half of which were custom made. These nodes were designed largely based on feedback and requests from artists. In addition to modeling, DING provides the ability to attach both hardware (CG) and software shaders to models, which can then be easily baked to texture and exported with the model. DING also provides basic animation capabilities, avoiding the need to program in simple enemy movements.

DING is currently in use at Dejobaan, where it is said to "give one artist the power of 40!"

 

 2015 Elliot Borenstein