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What Is “Texture Baking” And Why Is It Important?

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What is “texture baking” and why is it important?

Texture baking is the process of transferring texture data from one 3D model to another 3D model. Generally speaking, people are doing this when they are trying to take a high-poly model and convert it to a low-poly model. There are a few reasons why they may want to do this. The first is that a lower poly model has less data and therefore is a smaller file-size than a high-poly model. The second reason is that game engines, web viewers, & AR often struggle with processing higher-poly models. Many social media platforms like SparkAR (Facebook & Instagram’s AR filter tool) and Snapchat also require low-poly models in order to create AR experiences using their platforms.

Texture baking is a critical skill for any 3D artist to master and many 3D programs like Marmoset now offer tools to help expedite the baking process, but it can still be very time consuming. We outline the various steps involved below.

How do you texture bake?

Traditionally when texture baking, you start with a high-poly model that has lots of detail in the mesh. For example think of a brick wall where each individual brick protrudes slightly from the wall or a cobblestone street that has stones at slightly different heights. These detailed surfaces can result in very high-poly models.

The next step is to generate a low poly version of high-poly model by removing all of the detail. So in the brick wall example, one would just create a flat, smooth wall instead thus reducing the polycount. Next the high-poly mesh is overlaid over the low-poly mesh. This is done because you want to generate a normal map that can “fake” the detail of the original high poly mesh. A normal map gives your object texture and depth by changing the direction light is reflected off your 3D model (for more information on maps, visit our blog post here). We create this normal map by raycasting, (shooting a ray of light), from the low-poly model to the high-poly model. Based on the information we gather from the raycasting, our normal map shows us how light would interact with the high-poly model. By using a normal map instead of geometry, we are able to keep our polycount down as well as our file-size.

Next we need to atlas our textures. Because you have fundamentally altered the original mesh, your UVs no longer line up. To solve for this, you will be required to atlas or pack your texture maps into one single texture (per map type) that can be applied to your now singular and simplified mesh.

Once the texture atlases are applied to the mesh, the low-poly baked model is complete!

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What are some of the limitations of traditional texture baking?

Traditional texture baking does come with some downsides. One of the biggest downsides of traditionally baked models is that they don’t allow for configuration of materials or meshes. This is because, as you recall, in order to bake the model you are required to simplify the mesh into one single, relatively smooth mesh. This means that for a couch for instance, you would no longer be able to configure the types of feet of the couch because they are no longer a distinct separate mesh that can be swapped out. The same is true for materials. Because all of the textures have been put into a single atlas, it is no longer easy to swap them out.

Texture baking today

Thankfully, there are new ways to bake 3D models that don’t suffer from the limitations of traditional baking and can also save 3D artists hours of time. VNTANA has developed patented optimization algorithms that allow you to bake multiple meshes of a model that generates an extremely small file but still gives you the flexibility to swap out meshes and materials. All you have to do is upload your existing 3D design file, our software take care of the rest.

To learn more about VNTANA’s optimization technology, contact us here!

Don’t forget to give us your 👏 !

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What Is “Texture Baking” And Why Is It Important? was originally published in AR/VR Journey: Augmented & Virtual Reality Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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Source: https://vrarnews.com/details/what-is-texture-baking-and-why-is-it-important-60897df7d930a338526f4786?s=rss

AR/VR

Review: Zero Caliber: Reloaded

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All these online, multiplayer-focused military shooters are all well and good but sometimes you just want a nice single-player campaign to delve into. XREAL Games has provided PC VR players with this outlet for several years now thanks to Zero Caliber, a realistic first-person shooter (FPS) with obsessive attention to weapon detail. Now it’s Oculus Quest’s turn with Zero Caliber: Reloaded, rebuilt from the ground up for the standalone platform.

Zero Caliber: Reloaded

Now we say single-player but Zero Caliber: Reloaded does in fact offer a co-op multiplayer experience for up to four people, so you can bring some mates along. You’ll still be playing the same 20+ mission campaign but at least you can have a laugh with friends, appreciating some of the videogames’ finer and rougher moments.

XREAL Games presents a fairly run-of-the-mill story-driven campaign where you’re dropped into a war-torn, dystopian America fighting a bunch of bad guys. While the narrative won’t exactly keep you gripped until the end – there didn’t seem to be much point in paying attention to it – Zero Caliber: Reloaded’s main draw is its gun handling, loadout customisation options and almost fetishistic attention to detail when it comes to the armaments.

Whether you’re playing solo or with friends completing missions quickly and with high accuracy will award you cash to spend on your kit whilst advancing your character level to unlock new goodies. And there’s an absolutely huge selection of kit to play with, maybe too much. You can head into missions with two weapons, with the usual array of rifles, SMG’s, shotguns, and pistols to play with. Then there’s are the bewildering array of attachments; stocks, extended mags, sights, and grips, you name it it’s probably there.

Zero Caliber: Reloaded

Such is the amount that you’ll want to come back to the main hub every couple of missions to examine what you’ve got to further improve your chances on the next level. The attention to weapon detail isn’t purely visual either – although that’s definitely where a lot of time has been spent – as every gun excels when it comes to handling. Choose to fire one-handed and you’ll notice the recoil, so the mechanics do lean towards a more measured approach rather than running and gunning. It’s helpful stepping into the firing range after unlocking a new gun, learning where the mags/shells go and how to cock the damn thing, as each one is accurately modelled on its real-life counterpart.  

The same goes for the grenades. In fact, unlike some VR titles where grenade throwing feels like an element of luck is involved, in Zero Caliber: Reloaded each throw always landed fairly on point. Plus, being able to pull a pin with your teeth is always fun and immersive.  

Another great feature is the ability to hot-swap attachments in the field. Levels will contain the occasional weapon cache, usually containing a gun or two or maybe the odd extra. Find a new (better) gun for the situation and you can quickly and easily take any of the attachments off your previous weapon rather than losing them. If you die then you’ll reset back to your original loadout of course.

Zero Caliber: Reloaded

Big plus points where the guns are concerned, so it’s a shame that that attention to detail doesn’t come across in every other aspect. Zero Caliber: Reloaded isn’t exactly the best looking VR title when it comes to environments and NPC’s even considering the hardware it’s running on. Outside suffers the most, with some dodgy-looking foliage popping up, while inside buildings or more urban locations do fair a bit better.

And then there are the enemies. Variety and brains seem to be missing here as a bunch of shirtless dudes suddenly react in baffling ways. The AI veers widely from reasonably smart to idiotic. Some will start behind or head to cover taking pot shots then suddenly charge like they’re in a Serious Sam game. Others just stand there in the middle of the road. Get up close and they’ll do a roll for no advantage whatsoever, these are the ‘shotgun morons’ as once they stand up you can have a shotty already in their face.

Zero Caliber: Reloaded also presents other issues. There are definitely still glitches to iron out, enemies get stuck or clip through cover or a padlock on a door appears 5x the size, almost comedic in its dimensions. And then there’s the weapon belt, body inventory. In these types of VR videogames, it’s always nice when there’s no HUD, everything is on you and easy to grab. Yet in Zero Caliber: Reloaded it all felt a foot too far forward, with seemingly no way of adjusting the distance. This meant that when a gun had the grip attachment on, the handle would be in among the floating grenades. Or worse, if a gun has a cocking arm at the front then the grenades were in the way again.  At the same time, the ‘weapon belt’ isn’t on your hips which gave a less than realistic feel to grabbing a new mag.

Zero Caliber: Reloaded

That’s not to say there weren’t enjoyable moments in Zero Caliber: Reloaded. Once you got a nicely tailored setup then dropping into a mission, kneeling behind over and taking some well-aimed headshots was very satisfying. Solo, the missions can get a bit simple and repetitive, clearing your way through an area or defending it, so having a few teammates can liven things up. Missions can last anywhere between 5-15 minutes and there are a few which have you backtracking to extend their duration.

Zero Caliber: Reloaded for Oculus Quest is a very mixed experience. On the one hand, the weapons are great and you could easily spend hours in the shooting range mixing and matching components. The 4-5 hour campaign is ok until you get further in and notice some of the glaring issues and glitches like the AI or the rather bland design choices. Best played on the hardest difficulty setting for any real challenge, Zero Caliber: Reloaded gets enough right to be worth a look, but only just.

60% Awesome

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Source: https://www.vrfocus.com/2021/05/review-zero-caliber-reloaded/

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AR/VR

Population: One’s Wild West Season 2 Arrives Today, Bureau Gold Code Inside

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It’s finally time for Population: One fans to get their hands on BigBox VR’s next update for the popular battle royale shooter. As revealed last week, Season 2 will introduce a limited time Wild West element to Population: One, with a new environment, weapon and other features to expand upon the fast and fun gameplay.

Population: One Season 2

Population: One – Season 2: The Frontier will be available for 10 weeks, with one portion of the map turned into a western frontier town. It’ll feature its own saloon, and dusty streets to fight in. Players will be able to take advantage of explosive barrels to take down opponents, breakable barrels with goodies inside, and plenty of buildings and rock formations to gain the high ground advantage.

Then there are the new items. First up are the Matadors, two small shotguns with 8 shell capacities and a very fast flick reload mechanic. Great for close-up combat, because they are dual wield you won’t have a free hand to climb anything; awesome firepower or environment flexibility, it’s your choice. Players will also find the new Harmonica very useful being able to play a catchy tune to recharge other squad members’ shields. Or there’s always the new Shield Shaker which needs to be shaken and charged for a full shield recharge.

BigBox VR isn’t stopping there either. The map now supports 24 players for even more carnage, there are new Titles, Sprays, and Calling Cards, plus the custom game beta is being rolled out. Players can create their own private rooms to host their own matches with a massive amount of gameplay customisation options at their finger tips, choosing which weapons can be used, the zone speed, and much more.

Population: One Season 2

Oh yeah, one last teasing detail the studio has revealed; Population: One – Season 2 will see the introduction of a Deathmatch Mode. It isn’t saying anymore at the moment with further details to come.

Everything mentioned will be available as free content. Players can also purchase to optional Battle Pass for $4.99 USD that unlocks exclusive themed content and rewards such as new characters and new legendary gun skins. 

While Population: One has garnered plenty of VR fans since its launch last year if you’re really new to the videogame then VRFocus has a special offer for you. Using coupon code: ‘VRFOCUS’ anyone that’s purchased Population: One within the last seven days can claim 750 Bureau Gold (worth $10!) to buy new skins and other items in the shop. The code is valid between 13th – 27th May 2021 (12 am PST). For help redeeming the code here’s BigBix VR’s guide.  

Population: One – Season 2: The Frontier is available today for Oculus Quest, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Valve Index, and Windows Mixed Reality headsets. For continued updates to the battle royale title keep reading VRFocus.

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Source: https://www.vrfocus.com/2021/05/population-ones-wild-west-season-2-arrives-today-bureau-gold-code-inside/

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A Rogue Escape Surfaces in June for PC VR

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Back in November Spare Parts Oasis and Armor Games Studios announced A Rogue Escape, a virtual reality (VR) escape room experience based on Oasis’ first title Nauticrawl. Today, the teams have released a new trailer for A Rogue Escape, confirming an Oculus and Steam store launch will take place in June.

A Rogue Escape takes place inside a giant underwater mech called a Nauticrawl. You’ve stolen this giant machine in a bid for freedom, there’s just one small problem; you’ve never piloted one and its filled with all manner of levers and switches. So the gameplay is very hands-on, finding out what systems work and how those that don’t can be hacked.

The mech is split into five control areas, each with its own set of systems to manage. You’re not left to blindly stumble around the controls, however, as clues have been left by previous pilots. Whilst these will give you a starting point the rest is left up to you and your wits.

“With A Rogue Escape, I got the rare opportunity to realize my childhood dream of what it would really feel like to be inside a mysterious machine, surrounded by buttons and levers to experiment with, while danger lurks outside of the riveted metallic walls!” said Spare Parts Oasis’ Andrea Interguglielmi in a statement. “Combining an escape room with dungeon crawling and cockpit simulation was a daring concept back when I did this on PC with my previous title Nauticrawl, but somehow it feels right at home with a headset on and a fully immersive and tactile environment to experience. I just feel truly excited to share this unique adventure with all VR players willing to be challenged by this colossal machine!”

To help finesse the gameplay for VR headsets Spare Parts Oasis worked with Sylphe Labs – which created Steel Alive for Gear VR – to ensure the interior offered a suitable area, whether players are seated or standing.

Supporting Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and Valve Index, A Rogue Escape will launch on 10th June 2021. Check out the new trailer below and for further updates, keep reading VRFocus.

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Source: https://vrarnews.com/details/a-rogue-escape-surfaces-in-june-for-pc-vr-609d345989225415087f58e5?s=rss

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Gadgeteer Launches May 25 For PSVR

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Metanaut announced that Gadgeteer will release May 25 for PSVR.

Gadgeteer is already available for PC VR and Oculus Quest and was still in Early Access up until August last year.

It was revealed last December that Gadgeteer would be coming to PSVR in Q1 2021. It’s slightly missed that first-quarter window, but it’s not long to wait now – there are less than two weeks until PSVR players can go virtual hands-on VR’s best Rube Goldberg machine simulator.

Metanaut confirmed on Reddit that it would cost $14.99 on PSVR and support both DualShock 4 and Move controllers as input methods.

Gadgeteer is the ultimate Rube Goldberg machine simulator, allowing you to create some truly crazy contraptions in VR. It has a full campaign and a sandbox mode, both of which involve creating and solving puzzles using marbles, dominoes, wooden blocks and various other gadgets. The campaign takes you through the basics and teaches you the mechanics, but the sandbox mode is where you take what you’ve learned and really unleash your creative potential.

There’s also online level sharing available, which means that after you’ve finished the campaign and messed around in sandbox mode, there’ll be plenty more content to go through. You can create your own puzzles and upload them for others to complete, or browse the vast library of existing creations from other users.

Gadgeteer is available now for PC VR and Oculus Quest. It launches May 25 on the PlayStation Store for PSVR for $14.99, compatible with both PS4 and PS5 consoles. To read more about how to connect your PSVR to a PS5 console, check out our guide.

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Source: https://vrarnews.com/details/gadgeteer-launches-may-25-for-psvr-609d2ebeee3b1e340662a7ba?s=rss

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