ArticulatEd Exhumation

I’ve always found the available tools for hobbyist game developers to be rather rudimentary, and usually full of gaps. A couple years ago, just before ragdolls were absolutely everywhere, I began work on an idea I’d had for a while to make an editor for articulated rigid body systems, specifically targeting character rigs. I had tried other free editors out there, but they all seemed quite cumbersome, and none had any of the more advanced features I wanted.

My first prototype was a simple program made with SDL, OpenGL, and ODE, written quickly and messily just to see if the idea had any merit. The interface design and implementation would have taken too much time in SDL, as well as its C API contributing heavily to the ugliness of the code, so I decided to start fresh.

The new version uses one of my favorite software libraries, JUCE, instead of SDL, leading to a much more rapidly developed and nice looking GUI. Additionally, JUCE’s fairly nice C++ object model lead to a much cleaner source base and more easily extensible designs. A quick video:

ArticulatEd’s interface is inspired in equal parts by Pixologic’s ZBrush and the FOSS Wings3D. Indeed, it is meant to complement those two miraculous modeling programs as a counterpart in the toolchain, serving both as a physical rig (or ragdoll) creator for meshes, and as a physical animation tool (eventually). The basic idea comes from my perceived need for a straightforward tool for constructing physical representations for the graphical meshes in a game or simulation project. Creating chains of connected rigid bodies should be as simple as possible, as should manipulating the created systems into different poses. By importing a modeled mesh, it should be easy to connect the mesh to deform to the underlying rigid body skeleton throughout its various poses. Joint constraints and motors to move through the poses should be easy to tweak, or even generated automatically by the implicit skeletal structure and the movements between the various animation poses.More to come.