This week I managed to rig, animate and import 15 tropical fish into our engine. I used the animated rig from our previous mackerel mesh and applied it to each of the fish meshes, checked the mesh was optimized, skinned it and exported as an fbx, they each came with a diffuse and normal map which had to be set up in the material editor in UDK.
The next step for these meshes is to be double checked by an artist, checked they are working with the animation trees in game, then be programmed into our current Fish AI system. After that we can start placing them into the levels and applying situational behaviours through matinee and kismet.
The Fish meshes themselves were downloaded from Turbosquid* because we believed that the artist’s time would be better suited creating ‘feature assets’ and close-range encounter creatures such as sharks, manta rays and squids.
Such creatures are much more difficult to find for free and require an artist’s attention to create topology good enough for animation deformation.
We agreed within the team that it was OK to use these free meshes for the prototype, however it is generally something to be avoided due to the lack of quality and visual consistency they provide to the game. Luckily these were modelled pretty well and are what we consider to be low priority meshes – meaning that the player may only see the silhouette in the distance, will be obscured by post processing effects and environmental meshes, fully animated and moving in a school of visually similar fish.
William Butler Yeats
But when a man poured fish into a pile,
It seemed they raised their little silver heads,