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gameSpace

Type of Program: 3D Model Editor
Supported Platforms: Windows 9.x / 2000 / NT / XP
Company Name: Caligari Corp.
Version: 1.5
Price: $299.00
Installed Size: 196MB

Download/Homepage

You say that you want to create your own 3D models and 3D animations for fun, pleasure or 3D games? If so, step right up and take a brand new look at a brand new (well, fairly brand new), program that is your remarkable, all-you-may-ever-need, 3D modeling tool! Welcome to the world of gameSpace.

Caligari's gameSpace is taking the gaming community by storm. As the game development industry is continually growing at rapid speeds there are more and more opportunities for you to join in this market. With the right tools in your repertoire there should be no doubt that if you have the talent, combined with gameSpace, you may have no trouble joining this community. But it does, and will demand some work on your part, as most things do, but having gameSpace sure makes it easier!

After spending more than 16 years in creating 3D authoring tools, gameSpace is developed by Caligari who in addition develops trueSpace so you might say that gameSpace is the little sister to trueSpace in that they do have many of the same design features and gameSpace is built around the award-winning trueSpace. Except gameSpace may very well be the first true integrated game/graphics authoring program for the 3D community that allows the game developer a true all-in-one tool to design, create and export to many of the leading game formats! With gameSpace you will find yourself creating game content faster than you thought was possible. You will find yourself creating models you thought otherwise would have been impossible. But, let's make one point clear, although there is a learning curve to gameSpace it does not require as much of a curve as other high-end modelers on the market today. If you get stumped you need not fear since it comes complete with full in-depth PDF Manuals (65MB worth to be exact). For a true entry-level beginner you should expect a learning curve of around two months before you start to really grasp many of its features. Although I have been using gameSpace that long myself (and I am no true expert in 3D modeling), there is still so much more to learn and do given that gameSpace is filled with so many features! gameSpace is a 3D game developers' dream come true and we could probably write a how-to review/manual here but instead let's focus on some of its features.

The User Interface

For anyone that has ever seen or used trueSpace then the Interface will look and feel very familiar. If you've never seen or used trueSpace than at first glance the Interface may seem awkward but don't be alarmed, you may soon wish that other programs used this same type of Interface.

The gameSpace user interface is designed to be intuitive and powerful. You might find working in one layout view better than some or you might find using the conventional 4-Views layout easier and to see all sides of your model while you work.
 
At the click of a button you can view your model from many angles (Fig 1a) By clicking on any of these four icons you can change your perspective of your model while working in the four views mode. Look at it from the side, top, bottom, front, etc. Then rotate your model using the View Control (Fig 1b), and you're well on your way to creating some impressive game models.

(Fig 1a)

(Fig 1b)

THE INTUITIVE TOOLBARS

 

This is where this program does extremely well. When you want to concentrate on your model yet get the most out of any tool you want it to be practical, to be at your control and easy to use. gameSpace uses Toolbars that are arranged as icons. Each Toolbar is arranged into logical groups that can be manipulated and customized by the user. If you want to rearrange the tools on a Toolbar or create new Toolbars, you have the capability to do so. All Toolbar icons are accessed generally by left clicking. Left clicking activates the icon while right clicking will bring more options or settings for that icon if it has them available. (Fig 1c). There are literally hundreds of options in gameSpace from each Toolbar or Icon. I simply cannot go through each and every one here or I'd be writing for months to come. The general idea here is to show you a representation of what they can do.

(Fig 1c)  
Here you see many of the useful options you get from one Toolbar by expanding it. A Maximized Toolbar shows all available icons (functions) grouped into that particular Toolbar. Look at all of these options and you soon see the power you have for your creativity! It's like finding a treasure trove overflowing with more jewels than you know what to do with. Imagine now what you can do, and do so effortlessly when creating 3D models. The jewels are there, you just need to clean them off and do something with them in order to make them shine to be worth anything. It may take time to polish some of them up but the harder you work at it the more they shine! In other words, all the tools are here and once you get familiar with the program and hurdle the learning curve you will be able to use them more proficiently to make your own work stand out.

If you feel that the Toolbars already accessible to you within gameSpace are not enough, or are not arranged to your satisfaction then rearrange and add to them any way you would like. There are several 3rd party gameSpace extensions (Plugins) that can be integrated into the standard gameSpace Toolbars you already have. To Load any 3rd party extensions simply click on the 3D icon (as seen as the far right icon on the long Toolbar shown above). From there you navigate to where the extension is located on your system, and then add that new icon to an existing Toolbar or create your own. Ease and customization is what it's all about and gameSpace delivers!
Along with the main Toolbars that you will use most often, gameSpace also includes one like the one seen to the left (the Library Toolbar) that allows you to Open textures, create paths, lights, adjust materials, shading, or import objects as well as modify the configuration and Workspace of your working environment.

Through these Library Toolbars you have a visual representation of exactly what is stored on your hard drive. This then allows you to move through the objects much quicker. The library interface is a collection of panels that contains items of a specific type such as objects or materials.

Can you see now how gameSpace really does let you work the way you like to work? Are you beginning to see just how robust it can be in customizing alone? Are you beginning to see even the slightest sparkle in there somewhere? Good, let's look at some more features while digging a little deeper into what it can do to see if gameSpace suits your needs or not.
 
   
(Fig 1d)  
gameSpace was developed to make a game designer's life easier. With it you can create an unlimited number of static or animated 3D models for your game and because it allows you to save your model into the most popular formats it will most likely become the standard in a game developer's toolbox. As of the Version reviewed here it supports these leading game formats that include Unreal Tournament, Half Life, Quake 3 and Direct X. Additional game formats supported include: Half Life SMD, Genesis 3D BDV, Genesis 3D MOT, Unreal / UT 3D, Serious Sam LWO / SCR, Serious Sam SKA, The Sims SKN, 3DS, Game Studio A5/A6 MDL, DTS (Torque), GenEdit 3dt exporter, and RAW. More formats will most likely be developed for other 3D game engines so watch their site for more details.

Although it might take some time to become well versed in this application it will be well worth your time invested not only in monetary form but also in the time it will ultimately save you when developing models. When I first started looking at gameSpace one of my initial concerns was how easy it was to get up and running fast with something I could see and use in my games and engines. Since I am no "expert" in 3D modeling I wanted it to be easy enough to use yet in-depth enough that if I wanted more out of it later as I learned, it would deliver. This was partially answered when I started using the Image Plane feature (Fig 1d), and following along with a video Tutorial. By utilizing the Image Plane you can import any 2D drawing and begin modeling the 3D object. You can Import front views, a side view, etc. onto the Image Plane then size it and rotate them around as you work. In Fig 1d you see the front view of an Image Plane with my Imported model. From here I can start by using only the Primitive "Box" if I choose to and begin creating my 3D model. By Extruding and shaping my box (using the many Toolbar options) I need only to create one half of the actual model. When I have the first half how I like it I can then use the Mirror option (one click) to make an exact copy for the other side of my model. Once Mirrored, anything I do to the original Vertices will be duplicated to the Mirrored side as well. This makes working and building 3D models extremely accurate and fast.
   

The Magic Ring Primitive Manipulator

This is the "Magic Ring" (a jewel). If you want to begin developing a model without using the Image Plane you can. You can start off a project with a 3D polyhedron Primitive shape (Fig 1e). Many shapes are found in the Primitive Library. Once you place a shape on any Viewport your shape starts out with the Magic Ring. With the Magic Ring you can create an infinite number of primitive shapes from the basic polygon primitive. By left or right clicking and dragging in different directions on one of the four colors in the ring you control all the parameters and possible shapes of a primitive. (Fig 1e)

From here it's a simple matter of building from Primitives or outlining your 3D model from an Image Plane. Building Primitive upon Primitive, Extruding, changing Vertices and so on until you have your model. Now, let's not forget that every modeler, once they have designed a model needs to texture it, right? Normally you would have to once again load up another program to do this but with gameSpace it has its own built-in UV Mapping Editor. The UV Mapping Editor displays your object's mesh mapped in UV space along with the textures applied to it. From here you can alter the mesh as you watch the UV mapping in real-time so getting it just right is a snap!

You will be building models long before you thought you could by using gameSpace. So go ahead and create game content whether you are a game developer or mod-maker. You have the tools at your disposal to work with to model, apply material, texture, animate and to create an unlimited amount of characters!
   
 Lights, Cameras, Action

(Fig 1f)
With the VCR-like controls (Fig 1f and Fig 1g) for playing animations and adding audio you also have control over recording Keyframes and moving between frames. I have used other animation software (2D modeling) and have only seen gameSpace and maybe one or two others (3D modeling) that let you skip the traditional way of animating. Animating in gameSpace does not require you to draw each and every frame to create motion! In gameSpace you define the important points in time where an action is to take place (your Keyframes), and the program then draws all of your in-between frames for you. You can include many types of actions such as movement, scaling, rotation, camera zooms, bone manipulation and more when animating in gameSpace. One factor I did enjoy was the ability to record Keyframes into clips. The clips can then be expanded, moved and blended with other clips to complete some pretty complicated animations as seen below in the Scene Editor.

(Fig 1g)
 
The Scene Editor tool gives you control over all of gameSpace's animation functions tightly integrated from within one window.
If these animation choices alone are not enough than why not try your hand out at the Puppeteer Extension (Fig 1h). Using the Puppeteer Extension makes the process of animating fast and easy! The Puppeteer gives you access to and complete control over every inch of your model! By every inch I mean you will have control over all the joints of a skeleton and the joint parameters can be manipulated easily with the scrollbars. Here you can create some very complex poses and used in conjunction with other options you can control every tendon, joint and muscle of your model!

You may also opt to create and edit your animation manually using the many Bone, Muscle and Tendon features. Using these features (and many more like these) allow you to create some very interesting and complex geometry and animations. You have complete control over each and every muscle, each and every tendon and decide exactly how much strength to give each joint, muscle and more! After using gameSpace and playing with these features for a while I now see how many other applications are limited. I have yet to see an application in this price range do so much with so much ease!

Want to create some impressive animations for your game? Do it with gameSpace!

(Fig 1h)
 
Gaming With gameSpace
For still images gameSpace gives you the ability to render a single high quality frame at a maximum resolution of 8,192 x 8,192 pixels. For 2D sprite animations you can render up to 100 Frames in TGA or BMP in sequential order.

While there are Pros and Cons to any programs such as gameSpace and they may be discussed on various Forums, I suggest that you take gameSpace out for a spin and decide for yourself. For myself it worked fine and did everything I wanted it to do. For more experienced 3D artists it may not fit every one of your needs. It does support many of the current game formats and also comes with a non-upgradeable Lite Version of Milkshape to get you going as far as being able to Export to many other formats that may be required for your game engine. Though with the newest release of Version 1.5 and its many Export functions you may not need to use gameSpace's Version of Milkshape but it's there if you need it. For example you can create your model in gameSpace and then Export it as a Milkshape file, Load it in Milkshape and continue to develop the model in Milkshape. From Milkshape you could then Export it into another type of game format if you then need to. Because gameSpace keeps evolving with more formats for popular game engines this truly is becoming the developer's all-in-one package!

PROS: One of the Partners of gameSpace (3D Buzz - http://www.3dbuzz.com) has created some great Video Training Modules (VTM) that help get you up and running quick (there are 17 of these as of this review and all are free). A shameless plug? No, not really. It's just that these modules are outstanding to say the least that help you learn by seeing as you work along with them. gameSpace has so many features that it will keep you busy creating models for a long time to come. As you continue to learn you will find many more features (jewels) and methods to use them that will make your games come to life!

Besides the fact that gameSpace is becoming an all-in-one content creation package, it is truly fun to use and who says working can't be fun? The Interface can be customized, Toolbars and Icons are easy to work with, you have literally hundreds of options at your command, the price is right for the developer on most types of budgets so you won't need those high-end applications costing two to three times more than gameSpace yet doing two to three times less. With Version 1.5 you now have many more Export options to various game engines so working with your favorite game engine should be no problem!

CONS: When rotating a model it is limited to the screen width/height of your resolution, i.e.; when you use the View Control to rotate a model your mouse becomes invisible as you rotate your object until your mouse actually reaches the end of your screen without you knowing it and your model stops rotating until you grab the model again and continue rotating it (a small nuisance). Milkshape (another Partner) does not appear to be upgradeable and since the Version shipped with gameSpace does not really pertain to a "Registered Milkshape Version" support does not appear to be available through the Milkshape site. If you use the Exporter Plugins (sold separately) this should not be too much of a concern and you then wouldn't need to Export your model to a Milkshape file just to turn around and have to re-Export it from Milkshape. Although having to buy Plugins right from the start may be a negative argument, you can use this Milkshape route if need be.

This gives you a general idea of what gameSpace can do. In ranking the five categories below I found it to perform as should be expected and many times better than expected. Ranking the User Friendly area was a semi-tough one because to a Beginner it may be confusing and harder than ordinary but once you get used to it and stick to it, it becomes second nature. Of course the cost factor was relatively easy to rank so this was an easy one. Take a look around and see if there are other programs in this price range that do as much, or have so many options! The installation was flawless so enough said there. Support is outstanding and fast so the ranking is on the mark here.

Overall it offers the indie game developer a wealth of opportunity! There are more features that I have not tapped into here so be sure to check it out only if you are serious about creating 3D models for games, movies, promos and the like. With each new Version or Update released this is one program that really is covering all the bases for creating a true, all-in-one developers' package! Caligari states that they are committed to becoming the leading game graphics-authoring platform for the indie developer or enthusiast with a product that delivers so keep an eye on gameSpace. . .it very well may become that.
 

Performance
User Friendly
Cost
Ease of Installation
Support
Reviewed by Robert Hall 2004

You can make purchases by visiting their Web site.


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