Adding and Manipulating Dummy Nodes

You need to create several dummy objects to represent those critical game hooks. Dummies are simply inert boxes that you create, label, and link to specific parts of the character's body so that the game engine knows where to place items like weapons, backpacks, and so on. Some common ones for Torque are

■ A mounting location called Mount0. This is the primary weapon-mounting location on all characters. For the Hicks model, it will be on the hand of your choice. It's required on all character models.

■ Secondary mounting locations, called Mount#, where # is a successive number 1,2, and so on. These locations represent other mounting areas, so that the Hicks model can attach items like backpacks, other weapons, and vehicles. Mount1 and Mount2 are required dummies to be located just outside of the Hicks model's back.

■ A dummy called Eye. This is located and oriented directly in front of the character's face. Eye represents the camera through which the player sees the game world when playing the game, using the character model as his own player mesh. For bots (nonplayer characters), this might not be required. Consult your game engine's requirements.

■ A dummy called Cam. This is the camera-mounting location, which can represent several things. For instance, when a player switches to a flying mode, in which he is no longer manipulating a character mesh (such as in post mortem, which is when you fly around the game world undetected until you respawn), the camera uses Cam to see the world. Some programmers use Cam to circle around a player who has been killed, as is the case in Unreal. For the Torque engine, this dummy is attached to another dummy called Unlink.

■ Detail objects, called Detail#, where # defines the level of detail (LOD). Each model must have at least one detail dummy to represent the base polygon count of the character's mesh. LOD is critical for character meshes, because having a game full of 3,000+ characters walking around at all distances would be a complete waste of polygons. (See the "LODs" section ahead for details on creating, er, details.)

■ Vehicle dummies, such as Ski0 and Skil—which are located near the character's calves— enabling the character to mount or sit in a vehicle.

■ The character can also have Light# dummies to allow for a lighting source for special situations like self-illumination.

Some games and their engines require additional mount and sprite locations, such as an ExplodePoint location for the programmers to hook a death explosion sequence onto. It's up to you to let the programmers know what will be attaching where, and what it will be called.

For now, your Hicks model really only needs the Detail2, MountO, Mountl, Mount2, Eye, Cam, Ski0, and Ski1 dummy objects, plus another one called Unlink (for death camera purposes). Here's what to do:

1. In the Create tab of the Command Panel, click on the Helpers button. (It looks like a tape measure.)

2. In the Object Type section, click the Dummy button.

3. In an Orthogonal view, click and drag to create a small dummy box (see Figure 8.16), and position it in one of the Hicks model's hands, just in front of the palm and between the thumb and first finger. This is where the Hicks model will hold the weapon.

4. Type Mount0 in the field in the Name and Color section.


The size of the dummy is irrelevant. The Torque engine simply looks for a dummy object with the name Mount0 for a weapon-mounting location, and references the dummy's axes for the weapon's location and alignment.

5. You need to align the axes of the Mount0 dummy. In this case, however, the Y-axis must point in the direction that you want the weapon to point. To begin, click on the Hierarchy tab in the Command Panel; then click the Affect Pivot Only button.

6. Use the Select and Rotate tool to rotate the axis so that the Y-axis points toward the Hicks model's fingers (see Figure 8.17). Use the Angle Snap tool, located at the bottom of the

Dummy button Helpers button

Dummy button Helpers button

Figure 8.16

Create a dummy object named Mount0,and position it in the Hicks model's hand. This represents the mounting location for weapons.

Figure 8.16

Create a dummy object named Mount0,and position it in the Hicks model's hand. This represents the mounting location for weapons.

screen, to constrain this rotation in degree increments. With the Y-axis pointing forward, the weapon's grip mounts to it and faces in the same direction.

7. Create and position three more dummies: Eye, Cam, and Detail2. You should place Eye and Cam right between the Hicks model's eyes and a few inches ahead of them, respectively. Place the Detail2 dummy at the center of the character's pelvis, where the character's center of mass is located.

8. Align the pivot point so that the Y-axes for both the Eye and Cam dummies are pointing forward, with the Z-axes pointing up.

9. Create and position two dummies: Mount1 and Mount2. Position both of these at the Hicks model's back, between the shoulders.

10. Create and position another two dummies: Ski0 and Ski1. Locate the first behind the left calf bone, and locate the second in the same location behind the right calf. Position the Y-axes so that both dummies face forward.

11. Create another dummy called Unlink. Position it on the floor between the Hicks model's feet (see Figure 8.18).

12. Create a final dummy called Bounds that is sized to the bounding box of the character. This box is used to tell if another object comes in contact with the character (see Figure 8.19).

Figure 8.17

Align the pivot point (axes) of the dummy object so that the Y-axis points in the direction that the weapon should point.

Figure 8.17

Align the pivot point (axes) of the dummy object so that the Y-axis points in the direction that the weapon should point.

Figure 8.18 The Hicks character with all the game engine dummy objects added.
Figure 8.19 The final dummy object is a bounding box named Bounds.

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