Category Archives: 3D

More Silo stuff

I’ve been on a kind of weird retro-SF kick lately, with the steam car from the previous blog post and also having worked on a Tesla-themed VR interaction demo for some folks from Valve Software last week. That was fun–I’d come up with an all-new motion-based interaction system for first person VR for the game we were working on, and I had a little experimental scene with various bits and bobs in it that I was using to develop the interactions further. When we heard that a couple guys from Valve were coming to visit the Cloudhead office the following week, we cleaned up my test scene and I prototyped a new set of interactions based around some models that Matt Lyon and I whipped up with a sort of mad scientist laboratory theme in mind.

I revisited the steam car model this weekend with the intention of modeling the feedwater condenser on the front, but I’d forgotten how to do coils in Silo and had to look it up. I got a little carried away while messing around with the Path Extrusion and Arc tools, and ended up with the beginnings of some kind of Tesla-ish rifle. 😆

Tesla Rifle

I figured that while I was at it, I might as well practice working on different shapes and see how far I got over the weekend. It still needs more detail work, but I’ll revisit that later. Once it’s done, I’m gonna stick it on the steam car somewhere like a shotgun in a pickup truck.

Now that I’ve refreshed my memory on how to do coiled structures in Silo, I’m hoping to be able to resume work on the steam car’s feedwater condenser system and the plumbing that connects it to the feedwater tanks next weekend.

Stepping outside of my comfort zone

I wanted to put into practice some of the subdivision modeling tips that I’d picked up here and there recently. I picked a completely fictional steam car because that’s well outside of my genre comfort zone, and that sort of subject would have a lot of little details and gnarly bits and bobs that are well-suited to giving my somewhat-atrophied-from-too-much-coding modeling muscles a workout.

I didn’t get as much done over the weekend because of the amount of research I had to do first, but here’s the start:


I did the wheels, underframe, boiler, firebox, wheels, feedwater tanks, coal bunkers, and roughed in the floorboard before running out of time. Next weekend, I’m going to tackle the steam condenser, suspension components, and a number of other parts like the firebox doors and coal bunker covers, and hopefully get a start on the steam piping and the motor.


I want it to look like some kind of ridiculous, thoroughly impractical, dangerous, mechanically unreliable, over-the-top prototype put together by some wacky inventor/tinkerer type. The gonzo size of the boiler makes me giggle, and I want to add a little afterthought-like 2 wheeled covered trailer for luggage and stuff because the absent-minded inventor didn’t even think about it beforehand.

It’s been pretty fun so far. Steam powered vehicles and their history make for some fascinating reading, and is an interesting change of pace from the more futuristic stuff I normally do.

Some random stuff

After I had some teeth pulled last month, I had a nagging fear that I’d be condemned to a diet of  mashed potatoes and pudding for the foreseeable future, but I’m pleased to report that that particular fear turned out to be baseless. My mouth is healing up nicely, I no longer have tooth pain, and it’s really nice being able to eat solid food again.

I’ve also apparently been adopted by a cat again. I have no idea how this happened, but now I have a little buddy hanging out in my office with me all day. 😆

The last 2 weeks at work have been a rather interesting study of contrasts. Last week was one of those incredible table-flipping shitshows where it felt like absolutely nothing was going right at all. Flaky hardware, balky tools, script conflicts, gremlins, and a bunch of other issues just boiled over, and it was horrible.

I ended up gutting the offending subsystem, completely redesigning it from scratch, and then things started to finally fall into place nicely. The week after that was the polar opposite–I had success after success and things were just behaving wonderfully again. Weird.

I also found out that one of my favorite modeling tools, Silo, had been updated recently and managed to get in some 3D modeling time. I’ve been slowly building up and detailing a spaceship model, adding a little bit here and there whenever I have a few minutes to spend in Silo.

lancer_bow lancer_stern

Man, I really missed being able to push some polygons around for fun. I wish I had a 3D printer so I could print out my stuff in plastic and push it around on the table while making wacky spaceship noises.

Setting up the SpaceNavigator

Cloudhead Games got a couple of 3DConnexion SpaceNavigator 3D mice to use in Unity and 3D modeling applications. This is an abbreviated setup guide.

2014-04-26 15.05.32

Ooh, shiny!


If you only ever plan to use it with the short list of applications that have fully native support for it (Maya, Blender, and such), you can download and install the current 3dxWare 10 driver from here: 3dxWare driver downloads

If, on the other hand, you want to be able to use it with other applications and want to be able to edit your own custom profiles, steer clear of the driver above. Install this older beta driver instead: 3dxWare 10 Beta 16 driver download

(For some reason, 3dConnexion castrated their non-beta drivers by removing the ability to manage and edit custom profiles from within the driver’s UI. Supposedly the functionality is still there, but involves faffing around with XML files in a text editor. However, time is money and the documentation is sparse, so I just installed the Beta 16 driver and called it a day.)

Next, to make it work in Unity, download this package from the Unity Asset Store and import it into your project: SpaceNavigator Driver by Patrick Hogenboom

Once you’ve imported the package, a new SpaceNavigator entry is added to Unity’s Window menu. Clicking that entry will create a new SpaceNavigator window. Make sure you drag one of the window corners down to resize it so you can actually see all of the information on it. Initially, everything below the Lock controls was hidden at first, and I had a tough time using the SpaceNavigator because the default sensitivity settings were much too high for beginners.


Crank the sensitivity way down, because the SpaceNavigator is incredibly sensitive and can sense the gentlest of inputs. At this point, you’re able to navigate in the scene window by tilting, pushing, twisting, and pulling the SpaceNavigator’s knob, which beats the pants off of keyboard/mouse navigation.

Cat’s out of the bag.

It’s official. The studio I’ve been doing environmental modeling and Unity development work for (Cloudhead Games) started their media push for their first game, The Gallery, earlier this week. It’s an urban exploration game with some interesting twists and mystical touches, and we’re optimizing it to work with the Oculus Rift VR headset.





More details at The Gallery’s Facebook page and eventually the game’s website.