[Sidefx-houdini-list] Houdini Apprentice to UDK

Craig Hoffman craigleehoffman at aol.com
Thu Jan 10 16:50:25 EST 2013

One thing I would like to point out is that Houdini is great for creating textures and animated textures that get placed on real-time particle sprites/ribbons for FX animation in games- or for creating geometry that you instance to particles in a game engine (and utilize the game engine physics for interaction).  I have done this sort of thing a lot.

So a lot of times if you see "Houdini used for Fire" or "Smoke" or something in a game it is an animated texture applied to a flat sprite or ribbon.  The "volumetric" fire/smoke/etc. is usually a pre-rendered sequence of targas from a 3d package that is turned into a texture atlas (I often use the Mosaic COP to create this texture atlas/strip- it is the best tool I have found for this that enables me to easily tweak scale and do image processing, etc. along with create the strip) and revealed sort of like a movie by playing back the frames (usually looped).

I would love to see a solution for getting baked particle and DOPs sims into game engines, but everywhere I have worked it is very low on the list for putting valuable developer resources toward.

I would think Houdini Escape would be a decent solution for most Indie Developers (unless they want to do rendered smoke/fire like I mention above with it- but a lot of times Indie developers use existing FX assets that work fine for their uses).  It isn't that expensive and can do the bulk of the procedural modeling, rendering, and compositing type things we are talking about here that would help a small studio be a lot more productive (if exporting/importing was improved).  For the most part DOPs and Fluid stuff and particle stuff isn't exported from 3d packages into game engines since the dynamics stuff has to be done using highly optimized real-time systems (unless baking out motion is fine) and most applications of fluids are just too expensive to even think about for real time.

By the way, here is a game application of Houdini that was done with Houdini Ocean Toolkit a long time ago:


We reused this technique (developed at the old EA BlackBox in Vancouver) on the "Superman Returns" and "Tiger Woods" games back when I was at EA but this was the first use of it in a game.  I was trying to duplicate it here on a project, but found out that the HOT doesn't loop and they hacked it back at EA to do this- which I didn't have time to do.  (So modifying the HOT to allow for looping would be a big win for its use in game studios!  :)  )

-----Original Message-----
From: Robert Magee <rmagee at sidefx.com>
To: sidefx-houdini-list <sidefx-houdini-list at sidefx.com>
Sent: Thu, Jan 10, 2013 11:29 am
Subject: Re: [Sidefx-houdini-list] Houdini Apprentice to UDK

This is a great thread that coincides with discussions we are having about 
meeting the needs of indie gamers interested in Houdini. The Torque exporter 
taught us that an exporter on its own isn't enough unless we know more about how 
data needs to be created in Houdini to export properly. There seems to be 
similar issues with FBX. 

The gaming community is pulling on us more and more especially in bigger studios 
as seen in some of the recent games focused stories we have put out recently:

Naughty Dog | Uncharted 3 | http://www.sidefx.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2208&Itemid=68
Electronic Arts | SSX | http://www.sidefx.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2211&Itemid=68
Kim Goossens | http://www.sidefx.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2139&Itemid=68
Guerrilla Games | Killzone 3 | http://www.sidefx.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1952&Itemid=68

We also recently featured a demo video and solutions page on procedural game art 
development (http://www.sidefx.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2252&Itemid=354) 
and (http://www.sidefx.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1590&Itemid=337). 
We also featured Chris Roda from EA in our booth at SIGGRAPH Asia in Singapore.

One of the next steps we need to take is to look into a good solution for indie 
gamers either through the Apprentice program or some other means. Your feedback 
is appreciated and helpful as we look to support the growing list of gamer 
artists in the Houdini community.


PS - one of our recent interns created some in-game VFX for Unreal using 
Houdini. You can see them and read about it here. His methods were a bit brute 
force but he got some impressive results. He also uses FumeFX but felt that 
Houdini's Pyro FX tools got him what he needed more easily (at least that is 
what he told us...):


On 2013-01-10, at 8:50 AM, JUSTIN REEVES <jreeves16 at msn.com> wrote:

> Thanks guys this was the help i needed, i debated between the Unity and UDK 
but the tools are limited in the free version of Unity, and arent in UDK, and 
the lighting seemed better(lighting junkie) but I heard Unity was easier to use, 
scripting was easier to learn, and there was just more learning materials out 
there. I wish I could use Houdini just for the fact that i used it for 4 years, 
and a 3D package is a lot of learning, so i didnt want to learn another one, 
especially a inferior one. With all this in mind Ill probably try Blender and 
> You guys have been a huge help, and as for SideFX hope you get the game stuff 
squared away, seems it has been many years since H mentioned gaming with 
Houdini, but seems its not there still.
> Justin Reeves

Robert Magee
Product Marketing Manager
Side Effects Software
123 Front Street West, Suite 1401
Toronto, Ontario
M5J 2M2

Email: rmagee at sidefx.com
Tel: 416-504-9876 ext.327
Fax: 416-504-6648 
Web: sidefx.com

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