I’ve yet to meet a SketchUp modeler who doesn’t—at least just a little bit—want to work in the video game design industry. I get a stupid grin on my face when I think about how much fun it it would be to make battle tanks and exploding oil drums and secret doors for hidden basements full of zombies. In the gaming world, boring things like gravity and cost take a backseat to novelty and sheer coolness.
But how to turn your SketchUp habit (and job cranking out toilet stall details) into days full of armor design and wandering through bad neighborhoods looking for interesting photo-textures to shoot?
Google SketchUp for Game Design is Robin de Jongh’s newest book; he also wrote SketchUp 7.1 for Architectural Visualization. It presumes that you’re a SketchUp beginner, but then quickly gets on to the good stuff:
- Finding good resources for photo-textures
- Using Meshlab to convert your models in useable 3D game assets
- Working with the Unity 3D game engine (which is widespread, free-or-low-cost middleware for designing game levels)
- Creating high-quality textures for games
- Adapting your models for use in video games
- Authoring custom levels
- Modeling low-poly game assets (including cars) and selling them online
Robin’s writing is accessible and easy to follow. He packs a lot of information into each page, but manages to keep the tone friendly and even funny at times. While the book’s in black and white, color versions of the images are available from the publisher’s website.
Have you ever wanted to take your SketchUp models on the go? Our friends at the Boulder-based start-up, Limitless Computing, have a solution for you: their recently released SightSpace 3D app allows you to view SketchUp models on the iPad, iPhone, or iPod (Android support coming soon).
I gave it a whirl and the viewer is quite good. Orbiting a SketchUp model with single finger, panning with two, and pinching to zoom in and out is very satisfying. Loading models onto your mobile device is easy too; the Google 3D Warehouse is integrated in the app and you can also load models through Dropbox and email.
The 3D Warehouse is integrated into the app making it easy to load models
The mobile viewer would be neat enough, but SightSpace 3D’s killer feature is the Augmented Reality (AR) viewer, which gives you the ability to overlay 3D models onto the physical world. Any geo-located Google SketchUp model can be exported to a KMZ file, placed on an iPad 2 or iPhone 4, and viewed in real-time, in a real place letting you actually walk through the space. As you can imagine, this is useful for previewing construction projects, displaying kitchen designs, urban planning and much more.
An apartment complex is superimposed on undeveloped land, to scale. (Model courtesy of Hilliard Architects, San Francisco, CA)
Additional features include bookmarking views, taking snapshots in both Viewer and AR mode, and the ability to annotate and email notes directly from the app.
Annotations and photos of a model get added directly to an email
SightSpace 3D is available now in the iTunes store now for $15 US, so go download it today.
Speaking of Personal Manufacturing, our fast-moving friends over at i.materialise have devised a new 3D printing competition for SketchUp modelers everywhere. The Google SketchUp and i.materialise Pimp Your Vehicle Challenge invites you to design an add-on, attachment or other accoutrement that would improve the transportation mechanism of your choice. Cars, bikes, motorcycles, pogo sticks—designs that would upgrade any mode of transit are all fair game. As an example of one such real-world object, consider the doohickey pictured below: It lets you attach a GPS device to the handlebars of your bicycle.
Judges from i.materialise and the SketchUp team will pick first, second and third-place winners. First prize gets his or her design 3D printed on a Zcorp multicolor printer and a SketchUp Pro 8 license. Perhaps even more interestingly, the engineers and product development people at i.materialise will work with the first-place winner to try to make the winning design a commercial reality.