Game Making & Editing FAQ/Q&A

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[Minecraft] how tall is the Minecraft player in Blender

September 23, 2014, 06:39:32 PM by kat


How tall is the Minecraft Player
It depends how the unit of measurement is defined. By default the blocks that make up the Minecraft world are regarded as being one cubic metre in size, and textured with a 16 x 16 pixel image. This means each pixel, at face value, represents 6.25 centimetres exactly (100cm / 16 = 6.25cm). So;
  • 1 pixel = 6.25cm
With this unit of measurement calculated it's then possible to work out Minecrafts player size based on the pixel distribution of the texture assigned to it. Again at face value, the 64 x 32 pixel PNG breaks down to (in pixels);
  • head = 8 x 8 x 8
  • torso = 12 x 8 x 4
  • legs = 12 x 4 x 4
  • arms = 12 x 4 x 4
And using the above calculated unit of measurement, in centimetre this represents ([units] x 6.25cm = [n]);
  • head = 50cm x 50cm x 50cm
  • torso = 75cm x 50cm x 25cm
  • legs = 75cm x 25cm x 25cm
  • arms = 75cm x 25cm x 25cm
For a total height of exactly 2m (200cm), the height of two building blocks (as seen in-game, notwithstanding camera angle).
  • Minecraft player height = 2 metres*
*It's important to note these measurements assume textures and their respective distribution across surfaces is uniform for all world and character objects alike, i.e. whilst the calculations may be correct in a absolute sense, it does not necessarily mean they relate to the character actually being the determined height in-game because, as a dynamic entity, it could be being resized/rescaled in-game for any manner of reasons to look slightly shorter or larger even though its underlying dimensions are fixed (similar to the way Blender can 'Scale' an object whilst leaving its underlying dimensions untouched).

Problems with Minecraft character height in Blender
Having worked out the characters height logically per the above, it is however at odds with other aspects of the game that suggest slightly different dimensions when used to determine player height in Blender.

For example, the characters hitbox - the area used to define the players volume for collision/interaction with objects in the world -  is given as being 1.8m high by 0.6m wide by 0.6m deep (1.8m x 0.6m x 0.6m - based on console output), making is slightly shorter and less wide than the general dimensions of the character. Whilst not specifically meaningful on it's own, using this information to define character height can be problematic as a result - the player is too short a slightly too wide.

Similarly, the players eye-line (the cameras POV) is defined (again) by console coordinates as being 1.62 metres from the ground. In terms of pixels measurements however, the eyes occupy the fourth row up from the bottom of the head and are actually 168.75cm from absolute ground level, and 25cm from the top of the head (occupying a row between the two and just below the middle of the head, of 6.25cm high). Similarly using this data to determine Minecrafts player height can be problematic, leading again to it being slightly shorter than the above two metres.


Minecrafts building blocks are regarded as being one cubic metre (left), two of which approximate the height of the player. Using the way textures are assigned and their relative pixel density, it's possible to work out just how large the player should be in Blender - the hitbox (shown right) is often cited as a height reference but results in a character that's a little too short compared to ingame

Minecraft Player height in Blender
For the purpose of making animated scenes and other Minecraft related content in Blender then, there are a number of ways to go about sizing the character in relation to other objects in a Scene. The most straightforward is to translate pixel dimensions and numbers directly into Blender Units. This will work so long as other content is then appropriately adjusted and proportioned, i.e. if the player is 32 pixels high, in Blender this can be interpreted as 32 Blender units or 3.2 Blender units etc. (depending on where the decimal should be placed if used), making a world block half that at 16 or 1.6 units cubed. However, doing this can become confusing if Blenders Grid is not set to use different "Subdivisions" and "Scale" which by default is using 10 subdivisions - in relation to the former, the Grid might be better set up akin to content production for BSP idtech/UDK type editing so "Subdivisions:8" and "Scale:8" might provide better grid arrangements than the defaults (although each block representing one metre, but being subdivided by 16 does make for an odd combination).


When Minecraft measurement is translated directly into Blender units it can mean the resulting character being extremely large (shown right). Using a lesser unit size, centimetres for example, the character is more reasonably sized relative to the Scene (shown middle) but is technically a little too tall to work exactly with other items (world blocks being 1 x 1 x 1 for example). Whereas once the correct unit size has been determined (shown left) the result fits perfectly within context (but does mean a direct 1:1 conversion of units isn't possible and some math needs to be used)

Character Skin info & generic templates
Default texture sheet for a typical Minecraft character is 64 pixels high by 32 pixels wide (64 x 32) in PNG format (with transparency where required).

Additional Resources
https://minecraft.net/community (official resources page)
http://minecraft.gamepedia.com/The_Player (official Wiki)
http://minecraft.gamepedia.com/Skin
- http://minecraft.gamepedia.com/File:Char.png
- http://minecraft.gamepedia.com/Player#Trivia
- http://minecraft.gamepedia.com/Blocks

Quake Unit = Inches, Feet or Centimetres?

August 18, 2014, 06:46:43 AM by kat
Q: How many feet, inches or centimetres are there per Quake Unit?

A: None.

Long Answer
Although content used in Quake and other BSP based games can be modelled in various 3D applications using real world units of measurement, doing so does not directly translate into anything meaningful in idTech (Quake/Doom engines). This is because 'unit', as that term is normally understood, is an arbitrary value relative to the real-world and other software - whilst the former has physical attributes that ensures the 'unit' has meaning, the latter does not - a simple cube measuring one inch cubed (1x1x1) exported from Blender, 3DS Max, Maya or any number of other 3D applications, may be comparatively different sizes (when placed next to each other).

This generally means when building content, for example a wall 256 "units" high, the actual 'unit' reference, i.e. whether measured in "Metric" or "Imperial" units, should be ignored in terms of preferentially indicating the size of objects because, relative to the aforementioned game engines, they have no meaning. In other words;

One "quake unit" is not equal to one "inch", "centimeter" or "foot". It is equal to one Quake Unit.

For example, a typical door in RtCW is 64 units wide by between 120 or 128 units high. Relative to a standard AI Soldier's physical attributes, realistically the door should be approximately 48 units wide by at most 112 high (more often 104). This doesn't work in game for two main reasons; 1) character collision boxes and 2) differential size of characters and their affect on the former - B.J. is about 6' 2" (six foot two inches) and looks down on most of the enemy AI, making them significantly smaller (which is often why they look tiny walking around a level; when building and running through a game, the players point of view is significantly different; one of the reasons why switches and buttons look fine to the player but like gigantic fairground mallet hitting targets when an AI stands next to them).

In other words, if a door is modelled properly to represent real-world sizing (approximately 2' 6" wide by 6' 6" high) it can cause navigation issues for both the player and AI because it's likely going to be too small despite being visually (or technically) correct (again relative to the real world) - doors, like everything else, need to fit the relative size of the players perspective and each characters physical dimensions, rather than being specifically 'measured' to a given size as represented by real-world units.

To ensure objects and characters are correctly sized, the best approach is to make use of a set of Radiant/UEdit references blocks, that way everything is sized relative to a fixed, common, reference.

[Blender] User Preferences broken / not showing

June 13, 2014, 09:32:28 PM by kat
Problem Description
Occasionally Blenders User Preferences pop-up window either does not show, or when it does is corrupted when accessed from "File » User Preferences" main menu. The likely culprit is a graphics card driver with broken or poorly implemented OpenGL which can manifest in problems displaying multiple layers of OpenGL content (which Blender uses to draw it's interface). Whilst not a fix in of itself, the following tip should allow access to User Preferences, not as an overlay, rather as an 'Editor'.

Solution
From any view (typically the 3D View), click the "Current Editor Type" button far-left of the menu-header under the active window and select "User Preferences" from the list. If there are no fundamental issues with Blender itself, the view should switch to the appropriate window absent and display issues. If not then it means there is a fundamental problem either with the installation of Blender (in which case re-download and re-install the file, or download an earlier version to see if the same problem exists).


User Preferences not properly displaying when accessed from the "File" menu


Instead of accessing from "File" menu, select "User Preferences" as a "Current Editor Type" view


User Preferences shown as an 'Editor' type. Switch back when done

Blackberry Playbook won't charge, power-up or boot

March 28, 2014, 02:06:27 PM by kat
Problem
Like all electronic devices, the Blackberry Playbook is prone to issues if its batteries are allowed to fully drain. When this happens the device will neither power-up nor retain a charge when plugged into a power source. The reason for this is due to the way power is managed by the Playbook - batteries need to have a residual amount of power, about 3 volts, for proper power management, below this point there isn't enough to power the CPU and power management chip that regulates the batteries and their power usage/charging. When pressing the power button if the LED flashes red a number of times and then either green or amber, all is not lost.

Note: this is not the same issue as the 'Playbook Black Screen of Death' (BSD)

Solution
Depending upon the severity of the battery drain simply plugging the device into the charging unit (not the USB connector but the wall plug and cable unit) should fix the problem - when connected the screen will display a 'power' symbol indicating it's accepting the charge. Allow a reasonable amount of time to pass, at least 30 to 40 minutes, attempting to boot the device. If this does not happen then the following may need to be done.

In instances where nothing at all appears to be happening (aside from a hopefully flashing LED) it may mean the Playbook needs to be 'stack charged'. This involves charging the device a number of times for a limited period, usually from 30 seconds to between one or two minutes - duration depends on the severity of the battery power loss. Each charge 'stacks' on top of the previous and over a duration builds up sufficient change in the device for it to either boot, or at least then accept a proper charge. In essence, this process builds enough charge for the CPU and power management chip to activate, which in turn allows the device to charge properly. Again, allow a good 30 minutes or so before turning on the device.

If both the above fail then it means the device has absolutely no power at all (not even the LED flashes). In such instances the device may need to be dismantled and the batteries accessed directly for charging - which bypasses the power management system. Needless to say this will void any warranties.

Fan Art and Copyright Infringement

March 19, 2014, 07:19:33 AM by kat
[Very long post warning]

Copyright and Intellectual Property Rights can be a tricky subject to understand but for the typical game maker or content creator it need not be. Take for example one of the many [1] "Mario 64" remakes that popped up recently making use of the Blender Game Engine[2]. It's getting a lot of praise, YouTube views, and as a personal project for the developer it's certainly a laudable and impressive pursuit; people tend to learn difficult subjects or concepts quickly, and retain more information better, and for longer, when they enjoy what they are doing, or are familiar with certain aspects of the materials used. Mario, being a fun character and one with which most gamers are familiar, could be considered a perfect example of this principle in action.

This material is provided for informational purposes only and should NOT be construed as legal advice on Copyright, Intellectual Property Rights or DMCA. It is highly recommended legal Council be sought in matters of law.

However, these types of projects regularly prove problematic for creators because their assets are frequently ripped[3] from other games. As a result, it often means the Copyright or Intellectual Property rights and protections of a third-party are being directly infringed[4]. Where Mario is concerned that third-party would be Nintendo.

So what is "Copyright" and "Intellectual Property" and why should it matter? In a nutshell Copyright and other Intellectual Property rights concern certain aspects of creative endeavor. Whilst not mutually inclusive of each other, that is; 1) the Authors right to claim the Work as theirs, and 2) the prerogative to exploit said Work[5], however they see fit, independently, in part or whole, the activities of which are recognised and protected[6] under various International Treaties and Regional and Local Copyright Law[7]. For the most part however, certainly where recognisable content, brands and Intellectual Property's are involved, when someone else's material is being used without permission, discussion of "Copyright" and "Intellectual Property" tends to infer the latter rather than former point - the unauthorised exploitation of the Authors prerogative in a given Work - because the determination of 'ownership' is crucial with respect to being able to properly appropriate content without adverse legal consequence.

To put the above in context with the Mario this would mean that whilst Shigeru Miyamoto is recognised as the 'Author' and 'creator' of the character and associated Intellectual Property, the exploitation 'Rights' currently belong to Nintento. In other words Nintendo own Mario, and depending upon the degree of 'ownership' Nintendo has over the Mario, they also control how he's used - which might subsequently mean Miyamoto having to get Nintendo's permission to exploit something he created. So, if Miyamoto has to do this as the original creator of Mario, then everyone else would require permission for the same reason; the Property belongs to someone and their permission is needed to use it. Furthermore, should the resulting project be made public, because doing so 'exploits' (is making use of) the Property of another individual or entity, permission would be of greater import. Without it the projects owner could find themselves in a lot of hot water, or loose their work entirely (cf. fn[9] & [10]).

But isn't this all about making money? What about "Fan Art", people don't make money from that and it's often posted to 'public' websites?. Generally speaking, infringing another’s Intellectual Property concerns its misappropriation or unauthorised use, interpreted as broadly as possible, rather than 'money making' specifically. This makes Fan Art doubly problematic because, whilst Rights Holders might 'indulge' communities by (conditionally) allowing the creation of themed artwork[8], the issue becomes exacerbated the moment such content appears alongside any form of monetisation - websites that tout for subscriptions or memberships, that sell other services, or just display plain old banner advertising -  even though fans might not otherwise have intended to profit from their creations. This is a key point in understanding this entire issue and why some content can be removed whilst others might remain - in almost all cases the applicable conditions of use tend to reside solely with the Rights Holder[9]; if they feel someone is unduly profiting from something they don't have the appropriate permission to use, they will determine whether or not the material gets "Foxed"[10] and issued with a "Cease and Desist" Notice[11], a process now made all the more easy with the advent of DMCA[12] and its respective "DMCA Take Down" procedure.

It should be apparent at this point, and in this context, that using third-party content without permission needlessly conflates the creation process such that would-be creators, need to foster an increasingly cautious, responsible and mature attitude towards Copyright and Intellectual Property because, if anything, it is of equal import to their own projects as it is to the likes of Nintendo[13] - just as with Privacy[14] these rights are uniformly applicable, the moment creators become selective in their consideration is the moment they might loose or compromise their own grounds of complaint should they find their own work similarly misappropriated.

The same is also true in the broader context and the Blender communities overall lack of regard for Copyright and other Intellectual Property issues. It (the collective community) should be seen to encourage originality, for creators to express their own ideas rather than to infringe, especially where such productions are a direct consequence of lazy familiarity, cashing-in on, or at the expense of, someone else's work[15].

Finally, whilst Copyright and Intellectual Property issues can be complex, they are not always expressly ambiguous. In other words, certain types of activity are pretty cut-n-dry in terms of their being an infringement or not - ripping, or using ripped content for instance, is not "ambiguous" because several layers of 'security' has to have been intentionally bypassed to get at it. And whilst working with such content might not be strictly condoned when done in the privacy of the personal home computer, publicising the results only invites trouble, something that can be avoided by simply not doing it in the first place.

The below is a very basic list of Copyright and Intellectual Property "do's and don'ts" - it's important to note that the following does NOT mean doing one or the other will be considered a 'safe' activity or not as the case may be, because as discussed extensively above, Rights Holders typically have the last say on these matters and have no reservations about expressing that position.

Avoid doing the following;
  • Ripping content from a primary source.
  • Porting content from one source to another.
  • Distributing materials created by another.
  • Bypassing DRM.
  • Ignoring an EULA.
Consider doing;
  • a re-imagining or re-interpretion (using different media may be better than same media).
  • looking at whether 'Fair Use'[16] applies.
Additional Reading


FootNotes
[1] searching BlenderNation should reveal the article unless it's been removed - it's not linked to in the above for reasons stated in the above, namely this site (KatsBits) not wanting to condone the activity in question.

[2] the BGE remake/facsimile makes use of materials and content ripped (extracted) from a protected environment. This generally means two things; 1) the circumnavigation of DRM (where applicable), and 2) ignoring an EULA (End User License Agreement) by cracking open the games content, elements of which are typically held proprietary format.

[3] the author of the Mario 64 Blender Game Engine facsimile port openly admits on YouTube that the assets used area ripped from Smash Brawl "Using Blender Game Engine, just playing a bit, the model is from Smash Brawl, everything else done by me, still a lot of work to do, stay tuned for more updates! :) " [(youtube)/watch?v=RA-aXpl6f8s]. It's often the case that assets used for projects like this are ripped and given their professional quality, having been made by professionals, often garner much praise as a result of people not knowing (out of naiveté rather than not caring per se).

[4] even though the materials in question are virtual, because they have been 'taken without permission' a "theft" has occurred. This is because "Theft" is generalised as a 'Property' crime rather than an issue attributable to specific, tangible items or 'things'. As such 'taking', 'exploiting' or 'misappropriating', 'Property' without permission is "theft".

[5] "Natural Rights" differ from "Assigned Rights" in that they exist 'outside' or in the absence of Law; being regarded as the author of something is not predicated upon the existence of a Law saying as much..

[6] generally speaking International Copyright and Intellectual Property are afford protection under the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, which also depends upon the Territorial jurisdictional interpretation and enforcement of the aforementioned, alongside U.S. Code: Title 17 - COPYRIGHTS in the United States, the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 in the UK, or under the EU as The Directive on the enforcement of intellectual property rights. Furthermore, whilst the following is not required for a Work to qualify as being Copyright protected, Intellectual Property registered with a Government Agency, Officially recognised body, or in an appropriate form that engenders 'Official Sanction', will be afforded greater protection through an associative preponderance of evidence, i.e. there is an official record of such-and-such. It's important to note additionally that ideas and thoughts in of themselves cannot be protected unless or until they are manifest in tangible form.

[7] the "Author" or "Originator" of a Work can grant use of their materials to a third-party (or beyond) typically through conditional 'license of use', a privilege that can be revoked under certain circumstances. This means that Copyright and Intellectual Property is in effect comprised of two interconnected parts; 1) the item itself, a painting for example; and 2) the ability to exploit said item without necessarily taking ownership, for example making a print of the painting without having to purchase the painting outright. However, if the Author/Originator transferred full Rights in their Work to another, whilst they will are always recognised as the "Author" et al, they would then need to seek permission from the assignee to use the very materials they created - the creator of a Work can never be stripped of "Title" to the work (being referenced as the "Author" et al) because it is a 'natural right' - a right that exists outside law, but they can be prevent from exploiting that right depending on assigned license/rights conditions. There is a material difference between being recognised as the author or originator of a Work, and being able to 'exploit' that work.

[8] where "Fan Art" is tolerated by Rights Holders, that might be based upon whether a given Work is 'transformative or 'non-transformative' - a drawing or new 3D character might be considered 'transformative' because it changes, adapts or modifies the original expression; whereas ripping and transferring content between devices might not because it makes no substantiative change to the original - it is 'non-transformative'. Establishing the characteristics of the above in any case can be difficult when output is based entirely on someone else's property, especially if that material is in actively use (as is Mario).

[9] level design and game modding differ in a general sense in that developers and publishers might expressly allow it through the availability of proprietary tools - id Software, Epic, CryTec and Valve for example, provide various proprietary tools and editors to facilitate the production of fan made content for their games.

[10]Anyone with more than a passing interest in game related content creation, or wanting to make their own games, needs to be aware that infringement can lead to projects being “Foxed”, that is, their projects being forced to close through the receipt of a "cease and desist" Notice, as happened an Alien's themed Quake Mod that had to be cancelled due to 20th Century Fox claiming infringement of their Intellectual Property. Unfortunately for the mod team (and others since), 20th Century Fox were (and still are) well within their Rights as the IP holders to do this. And not just with games. It's equally applicable to transfer printed mugs and tea-towels as it is to action figures, movie prop replicas and full-size CosPlay outfits.

[11] “...The Alien Quake project was using copyrighted material without permission and this makes Alien Quake an unauthorized and illegal production. Therefore, you are hereby ordered to remove all your Alien Quake files from your computer storage...” [source notice]. Prior to DMCA, a legal Notice had to be sent to the infringing party at considerable cost to the Claimant (person/entity claiming infringement). Now all a Claimant need to is send an eDoc for the infringing party to be considered 'served'.

[12] DMCA is a legal process by which a Rights Holder can issue a Notice against an infringing party to have suspected materials taken offline whilst the veracity of such claim is contested (or not as the case often is). For more information read the following - “I got a DMCA 'take-down' Notice, what do I do?”, “Are DMCA Protection websites scams?” and “filing a DMCA Notice or Counter Notice”.

[13] individual developers and small teams are increasingly reliant upon revenues generated from advertising, so competing products that misuse or misappropriate someone else's Intellectual Property robs them of income by diluting or hijacking their revenue stream – this is one of the reasons YouTube/Google recently instituted their “Content ID” claim system, which partially seeks to address this issue on YouTube (cf. “YouTube & Not Approved for Monetisation”).

[14] "equal rights" refers to assignment without bias or prejudice. However, do note that "equal rights" is not synonymous with "equality of result". With respect to "Privacy", as is generally understood, it is another form of property right because the data and/or information often at the centre of such claims, belongs or pertains to some one or entity. 'Ownership' (source) can be traced in other words, making it a commodity that can be treated in much the same way as any other property over which a claim could be made, or protection demanded.

[15] a creator or developer using someone else's material to make a name for themselves, or to cash-in on either the popularity of a particular game or any of the names associated with it, is a form of exploitation that is just as readily an infringement of Intellectual Property as 'theft' and equally subject to liability
. So again, it's far better to create something from an original idea than to use 'ripped' content because at the very least, the Author has stronger claim of ownership over such material.

[16]
it's important to understand there are no specific allowances for "Fan Art" in Copyright Law so it tends to be argued under "Fair Use". However, depending on applicable Law and Jurisdiction, "Fair Use" has some strict conditions that do not always apply (because the intent behind 'Fair Use' differs to that of 'Fan Art'). Use with extreme caution.
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