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Maya Custom Collision

To create a custom collision for Unreal in any version of Maya, first of all you will need the actorX version of that Maya, be it 2010, or 2011, or even 2009. You must have the ActorX plugin so that the software will know how to create what you want. You can get the actorX plugin by going to: http://udn.epicgames.com/Two/ActorX.html  And then you browse to your 3D application and download, and place it within your corresponding plugin folder.

Now, of course, for UDK, there is already an actorX plugin given to you. It can be found within your UDK folder, the version of UDK you are using, Binaries, and then ActorX.  For example, mine is: C:\UDK\UDK-2011-08\Binaries\ActorX

Now, after you have installed it, and “turned it on” within Maya, which I have explained in an earlier tutorial detailing how to bring assets from Maya into Unreal, you must create geometric shapes around your object, preferably about the same size as your object. “Hint”  here is where you create those annoying openings.
Example: You have a doorway. Create a box for each side of the wall, and then a box above the door opening.

Try not to get too insane with the geometry you are creating. Remember, simpler is easier to understand for computers. 😉

After you have created your bounding boxes, name them appropriately by having it: UCX_NameOfAsset  UCX MUST BE CAPITALIZED!! I cannot stress how many times I have shown someone how to do this, and it doesn’t work because they name it incorrectly. Save yourselves the hassle, and preview before hitting “send”.  Once everything is all clean and clear, and placed correctly, select your object, and then its bounding box. I prefer making the bounding box one solid piece, because ActorX tends to complain if it’s not single solid sets.

Go through the same procedures of exporting the mesh, just like the earlier tutorial states. When you bring it into Unreal, and check the staticmesh, if you turn on “view collision” you should see your bounding box around your object.

Bug 1: If you don’t see your collision, did you import the right object? Have you saved your package? Did you make sure to have the collision selected when exporting? Is it all named correctly?
Bug 2: If you have a huge wall of collision, the seems to stretch on to infinity, that is because you have a non-ending face. Collisions have to be created as a whole piece, which is different than normal assets. You cannot have any holes, anywhere. Or else it will be registered as a never-ending wall.
Bug3: If your collision looks crazy and insane, was the model importing for the collision too complex? Could your asset be, instead, more of a modular piece rather than a whole piece; which will of course make it much easier for Unreal.
Bug 4: If your collision isn’t around your object, did you have it all placed correctly? Were the pivots of both the Mesh and the Collision set appropriately?

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Spore to Maya

Okay, so you want to put your Spore creatures into Maya so that you can create animations / replace them within other programs, such as Unreal Tournament.  Well, look no further than here.  I followed a few tutorials and found out the best method that works for me with Maya 2011, since for right now there are no collada plugins for Maya 2011.

To get started, we must have the 5th patch, or higher, for Spore.  This will enable you to use cheats within the editor of Spore.  Now, let’s open our Spore creature within the creature editor.  Once it is loaded, make sure it looks the way you want it to look, and you have named it.  Click onto the paint mode in the creature editor.  Now bring up the cheat window by pressing “control+shift+c”. Here, you can place in cheats to allow you to get more DNA to spend, or whatever else you want.  But we’re going to export our creature from spore.  So write “colladaexport”.

A window will pop up, if this is your first time, and you will need to agree to the EULA.  The exporter will then create a collada file (a .dae file), along with the specular, diffuse, and normal textures.  It will place them in your “My documents/My Spore Creations/Creatures/” directory.

Now you may think that we’re done with this.  Well, you’re partially right.  If you already have a collada exporter/importer with your respected version of Maya, then go right ahead and continue.  If not, then you will need to get it.  If you have Maya 2008, 2009, or 2010, then go to here: http://www.opencollada.org/download.html Download the OpenCOLLADA for Maya for your respective computer type, and go ahead and install.

If you have Maya 2011, like I do, then you must do a little coding for now until they create an OpenCOLLADA for 2011.  So for us, we must download the DAE to Maya ASCII File for our respective computers.  Mine was 32 bit.  After you download it, copy the DAE converter to where your creations are.  We must now open the command prompt window, and yes we must do this with each creature until the new plugin is made.

To open the command prompt window, type in either RUN or in the SEARCH bar, “cmd”. Now set up the path to where the DAE converter and your creations are.  Example: cd  C:\Users\Dustin\Documents\My Spore Creations\Creatures Now, we need to check the parameters for our converter, so type: dae2ma_1.2.2_x32 (for the 32 bit version) or dae2ma_1.2.2_x64 (for the 64 bit version).  To change the parameters, type:  dae2ma_1.2.2_x32 -i (CreatureFileName).dae (CreatureFileName).ma -v 2011 (for 32 bit version) or dae2ma_1.2.2_x64 -i (CreatureFileName).dae (CreatureFileName).ma -v 2011 (for 64 bit version).  Now, we can open the .ma files and play around with our creatures.


When you first bring in a creature, you may notice both the creature and a mess of wire-like things. These are actually the joints. Go to “display > animation > joint size.  Change the size of the joints to something smaller, until it looks good to you.

Since Maya ASCII is a coding language, at times the joints will be screwed up some. Take the time to move the joints and realign your creature. It is still riggable, or you can delete the rig and create your own. Just be forewarned that sometimes if you delete the rig, the mesh changes even more from what you had intended. You’ll see what I mean.

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Maya to Unreal

This is some information that I came across and put together to help assist some of my classmates in getting the grid aligned correctly for whatever they’re wanting to do regarding 3D asset creation.

Grid in Unreal: 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, 256, 512, 1024

Setting up the right grid and spacing in Maya is critical when importing from Maya to Unreal 3. It helps you to snap on the grid, set up and follow scale proportions, and makes the whole workflow between Maya and Unreal 3 a lot easier.


To set up the grid: Go to the grid options box.

Length and Width:  This has nothing to do with grid spacing.
Grid Lines Every:  This number will change depending on the subdivisions
Subdivisions:  Use powers of 2 and set up the subdivisions.

Length and Width:  500.0000
Grid Lines Every: 256.0000
Subdivisions: 16 (default grid units in Unreal)

Explanation: Subdivision is 16, so 16×16 = 256. ALWAYS keep in mind that with subdivisions, the grid lines MUST be the subdivision squared.

Note: If you want your grid to be 8 unreal units then 8×8=64. 64 would go into the “grid lines” box.

Note2: Unreal characters are 96 units high. That means with the default grid, they are 6 squares tall in Maya. Keep this in mind when creating objects.

Note3: 16 Unreal units = 1 foot.

Other Information for Characters

1. Exporting 96cm box from Maya to Unreal will give me 96unit box. (1 Maya unit is 1 unreal unit)
2. 96 Unreal unit is 192cm which is closer to a human size. (1 unreal unit is 2cm)
3. And therefore, a human created in Maya needs to be 96cm which is half the size.

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