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Are the Daz products viable for 2D/3D game asset creation or are they geared more towards creating art? I am thinking of the products: Daz Studio 3D, Bryce and Carrara.

If you have used any of these products for 2D or 3D asset creation please provide input on any export issues you have encountered.

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Why wouldn't they be suitable? It can export models to common model formats, so it doesn't have an issue there. Past that it's just what UI you like. –  The Communist Duck Jan 1 '11 at 13:22

3 Answers 3

up vote 3 down vote accepted

I know this was asked a while back but i've spent some time on this for my own project so in case anyone else wants to know here are the results of my experiments (assuming you are thinking of skinned characters):

On Licensing
Daz is venturing (tentatively) into the 3d assest market and as such their new EULA does permit use of their models (& derived) in computer games with a couple of restrictions:

SUMMARY:

Summary of section 5 – INCORPORATION OF 3D MODEL(S) INTO OTHER WORKS

You may use the 3D content/models or derivatives thereof when embedded in a single game or other project if you have purchased the “single-use” license. By purchasing the “multiple-use” license, you may use the content/models or derivatives thereof when embedded in the number of games or projects authorized by the multiple-use license.

You may publish, market, distribute, transfer or sell any games or projects that contain DAZ content/models as long as the DAZ content/models are not accessible to end users in their native formats and are protected by asset protection technology, encryption or whatever means necessary to protect them from theft or copyright infringement.

(https://helpdaz.zendesk.com/entries/123880-what-is-daz-3d-s-real-time-game-content-end-user-license-agreement-eula)

In regards to open source projects I am not sure (I emailed and haven't had a response yet). Bear in mind however that most of the content sold in Daz's store and in other marketplaces like Renderosity have their own licenses.

[See update 1]

File Formats
Daz Studio is free and can import/export OBJ and COLLADA files as standard. Plugins can be purchased to export to CR2 (Poser Characters) and FBX.

In my experience OBJ transports fine between 3DS Max & Daz Studio but the associated MTL material files do not; I am not sure whether this is due to Daz or Max (probably a bit of both). The problems can be resolved easily with a text editor - but it is still another stage in your pipeline no matter how small.

An important point to consider is rigging. As opposed to vertex weighting, Daz models consist of many distinct poly groups which correspond to bones. These groups deform with respect to a single bone based on spherical falloff zones defined for each axis of rotation. (I think this is used to maintain compatibility with Poser; certainly i've seen posts on their forums of people saying vertex weighting would be easier when creating clothing)

The OBJ format does not support vertex weights, or skeletons (though I suppose you may be able to pack one in with something like empty poly groups, I doubt it would be pretty).

Daz can convert these falloff zones to vertex weights when exporting to FBX and the results are pretty good - I'm sure a modeller could do better if they were working with vertex weighting natively but its unlikely you'll notice unless the limbs are at extremes.

Poser CR2 files support the poly group rigging but are horrifically complex. Check out Kuroyume's CR2 spec (http://www.kuroyumes-developmentzone.com/poser/poserfilespec/products_poser_cr2.html) to see what I mean.
CR2 files make liberal use of external references so you will need to process OBJs in full to support CR2s. Further that spec is for an older format. The latest version (8 I believe) had about 5 new sections when I tried to import it using the CR2 importer I've been working on.

I haven't seen any open source CR2 importers you could modify easily for your project - it looks as if usually people start on one then give up halfway through and writing one myself I can see why!

Performance
Daz models are very high poly but I dont think this is as much of an issue as people make out. Daz has 'Decimator', a plugin which can reduce the poly count, though I don't even use it on the Daz models I use in my XNA project as they render perfectly fast; the count is about ~130,000 polys for V4 (base female human model).

Whats more of a concern is the textures.

  1. They are very large (esp. third party products), so you will need to resize them in the pipeline depending on your engine/api.

  2. They are numerous. (I'm talking 3 different textures for the EYE!)

  3. Most importantly the materials have all sorts of 'odd' configurations - things like bump and transparency maps with no diffuse map. Its not that they are hard to support, its that there are so many different combinations you either need a very comprehensive importer or very comprehensive shader set and model class.
    My importer combines the trans and diffuse maps (creating if necessary), and adds vertex colour and normal data if missing - as a result I pack alot of 'white' structures into the resultant file but I only need 4 shaders.

Alpha Sorting
Daz models (like probably most organic models) makes liberal use of transparency maps; further the nature of the models prohibits depth sorting before drawing.

Let me pose a question: When you model an eye, do you surround the completed model eye with an extraneous sphere that has a solid diffuse colour (no map) but a transparency map that turns it invisible? So when the unsuspecting prospective game developer loads up the model the eyes appear black from the outside while from the inside are textured fine? Daz does. (Its to create the glossy wet sheen effect - turn the opacity setting of the material 7_EyeSurface down to 0 on the default V4 to see what I mean)

I use 2-pass alpha sorting which is best for the 'cutout' transparency maps (which is what Daz models use it for mostly). This is built right into my model base class and engine from the start.

Customizing the character
Clothes don't have to have a loose fit to deform properly once exported with bone weights, but beware that those ~90,000+ polys they are obscuring will still be there.

Animation
FBX supports animation (in theory). Daz does have a keyframe animation editor but its a little 'light' and not easy to use. Daz also has plugins such as AniMate Lite which allow you to drag and drop animation segments into a timeline and then bake the keyframes into an animation to be exported.

I've found extracting animations from FBX to be a little hit and miss, especically when baked from AniMate. For example, the walking animation 'block' will acctually move the model in model space so you couldn't simply pop that into the timeline, bake, export and then move your character around in time with it in an FPS.

Further I've found that sometimes the exported animation causes the mesh, or a prop, to deform incorrectly; and since FBX files are accessed with an Autodesk SDK as opposed to with a custom importer like most formats its not trivial to look inside and see where the problem lies. (On the plus side I've worked out where the Dead Space developers got the ideas for all their monsters.)

To Summarise

  1. If you want to use Daz models you will need the FBX exporter because OBJ is not comprehensive enough and CR2s are too complex to import, and even if you did your shader would need to support a new type of rigging*.

  2. Do not be concerned with poly counts or texture sizes until you need to be. Textures can be resized (and also combined into one texture for the whole character using Daz's Texture Atlas) and Daz has plugins for reducing poly counts IF you need them.

  3. Do be aware that the models will have quirks that a game artist would never dream of putting in - 3x texture for 1x eye and 'specular surface sphere' for example.

I think Daz models are a super resource, esp. for hobbyist developers, but to be used seriously they would be best utilized as a resource as opposed to a complete asset - design your characters, clothe them, then cull unseen polys, bake and animate in the modeller of your choice. Also, while Studio itself is free, to create and equip characters to a resonable standard, and export them in useful formats, you will need ~£70-100 worth of content and plugins minimum.

*Not saying that would be prohibitively hard though - maybe have say a single 'vertex distance' plugged in by the importer as opposed to four vertex weights, and set the falloff zones & transform shader wide for each poly group (geometry segment).

Update 1: When purchasing Daz models for use in realtime rendering environments, it needs to be done via Daz's Developer Store at http://developer.daz3d.com; this site has the option to buy a Single or Multiple Use license. The V4 Base in the developer store starts at ~$60 so it may be worth prototyping with the free V4 Base from the regular store first.

According to the Daz Developer Store FAQ models may not be given away for free, i.e. distributed as a part of any free project such as an open source game or mod.

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Wow, thanks for the superb details. This should be made into a community wiki. I was reading through the legal speak for more details on single vs multiple-use licensing and so far can't find anything beyond what you linked. +1 for the Dead Space zinger. –  Error 454 Mar 24 '11 at 23:03
    
@Error 454, Glad its useful! The license is a little light on details; I am glad they are trying to enter the market at least though. If I get any more information on the licensing, permitted use, or what kind of protection is required to satisfy 'not available to end users', ill be sure to update it here. Good luck! –  sebf Mar 25 '11 at 14:24

Hey there, there's no problem with exporting to common model formats, however if you have any content from Daz3D website they are very much geared towards art use so are generally very high poly and wont be good for real time use.

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There are also plug-ins to Studio that attempt poly-reduction. –  TreDubZedd Jan 3 '11 at 23:02
    
Last time I read over the Daz3D EULA, it had a clause saying that use of Daz3D models in a real-time rendering environment was forbidden. Do you know whether this has changed recently? –  Error 454 Jan 4 '11 at 5:41

read this FAQ: What 3D Object File Formats can Bryce Export?

you can export a various file formats for multiple uses (programming: dxf,3ds, x...)

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