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Avatars Avatars
Conversion | Actions/Animations/Gestures/Sequences (SEQs)

The only differences between "regular" RenderWare objects and avatars are that avatars (avs) have transform and tag commands for articulation/joint rotation/limb movement, and they can have extensive hierarchial clumping. I don't have much experience with making extensively hierarchial, articulated avatars, so I'll just provide information I've collected about it. In addition to what is below, refer to Grover's Avatar Walk-Through Internet Archive Wayback Machine, and the Hierarchical Modeling section of the Criterion RenderWare API documentation.

Some viewers allow joint rotation.

Avatar Collision Detection

Most of this information isn't organized well, so email the appropriate authors if you have any questions about it. If I ever get more experienced with some of these things, I'll try and reformat this information so it's easier to understand and follow. If anyone would like to do this instead, let me know and I'll add it here. At any rate, I've done some minor editing, with major additions in brackets ([]):

Eye Level

Roland: "'Eye level' for an avatar is 10% of the total height of the avatar down from its top. It's been this way for years. The origin of the avatar does not affect the location of eye level, only its height. While this logic has not changed in [AW3], the algorithm to calculate the height of an avatar model has (this code had to be completely re-written with the change to RenderWare 3). It turns out there was a bug in the [AW 2.2] object-height-calculation code that was producing incorrect heights for some objects and avatars (I forget exactly why now) the fact that [AW3] should get the true height correct in all cases now means the eye-level position might shift slightly from [AW 2.2] to [AW3] for some avatars."


From Shamus Young, regarding trueSpace:

Actions/Animations/Gestures/Sequences (SEQs)

In Active Worlds, avatar actions/animations/gestures/sequences (SEQs) are what avatars do when they walk, wait/idle, and when one of the buttons in the toolbar (action/animation/gesture/sequence (SEQ) buttons, etc) is pressed. (Hopefully this will change to a pull-down menu some day, since having too many SEQs causes the buttons to overlap the right edge of the screen and get cut off.) More specifically, according to Grover, SEQs record what transforms are affecting which tag/clump at any time.

SEQ is the file extension of the actions/animations/gestures/sequences and are found in the Active Worlds SEQ cache directories (C:\Program Files\Active Worlds\cache\art\<world object path>\seq, or wherever Active Worlds is installed).

There are now a few ways to create a SEQ-format file. Life Forms, by Credo Interactive Incorporated, used to be the only known program that can do SEQ files, but XelaG's SEQ viewer/editor, Accutrans, and HamFon's COB Dump can also edit them. If you know of any other programs that can, email me. While the full version of Life Forms cost hundreds of dollars, the demo version (at least version 2.1 anyway) can/could export up to 5 frames, but it needs(ed) the Download LifeForms SEQ-Format Import/Export DLLs SEQ import/export DLLs (47K/ZIP) to do it. Just put them in the Life Forms plug-in directory (C:\Program Files\Credo\Life Forms Demo\Plug-ins, or wherever Life Forms is installed) and SEQ format import/export ability should appear in the File | Open... and File | Export menus as "seqout .seq". Supposedly Life Forms 3 (which I haven't tried yet) has this functionality built-in so the import/export DLLs shouldn't be necessary with it.

Credo used to have some avatars and SEQs for AW called Active Avatars Internet Archive Wayback Machine. Email them and maybe they'll make them available again.

From Grover:

Table 2: Limb Naming & Tag Declaration
Tag SEQ LifeForms Alternate Note: "?" limb names provided by Netropolis and XelaG; their use depends on SEQ (not all SEQs use all tags).
    Grover (continued): "There are sometimes other odd names in SEQ files; you'll see "Left Hip" and "chest" frequently, but only the above [SEQ] names will actually translate. But if you so mess up and accidentally associate "chest" with upper back, don't worry—it won't hurt anything. :) Life Forms should save these associations so if you're lucky you'll only hafta do it once!

    From there, you can just ["Save As..."], and bring that right into Active Worlds as a brand spanking new SEQ animation!!

    The dialog box which lets you associate the SEQ names with LFA limbs only pops up if there are unknown limbs, but requires all the existing limb names. But there's a problem: some of the GRAY*.SEQs have all the limb names, and never pop up this box, while others have been optimized for just a limb or two (i.e. the wave) so your animation would only affect the right arm, for instance. In the model I used, DREDD3.SEQ, there were also a couple extraneous parts... But for your information, these should be the correct limb names when you convert: [see Table 2]

    With all left stuff beginning with "lf"—if its spelled out as 'left' or 'right' in the animation, it probably won't be work too well... But also remember this when you make animations! Life Forms gives about 4 bends to the trunk of the body while Active Worlds has only two—you can associate any of the individual 'torso' pieces with 'torso' in Active Worlds, but make sure that's the one you moved to begin with. ;-) And don't bother with the fingers or toes, but I think that goes without saying..."

From Andon/Susan Coleman:

  1. Make your animation.
  2. Import a pre-made SEQ.
  3. Copy your original animation onto the SEQ. (Hint, the SEQ should always be a box. Otherwise it won't work right.)
  4. When it comes up with a screen with a list of body parts in the middle, match it up with the parts on the Original Actor. E.G. (Sternum = Upper Back, Clavicle = Neck, Thorax = Lower Back, and so on...)
  5. Go to File | Export, and save it as a SEQ, and your done.

Grover: "I think I've finally made a sort of breakthrough in SEQ generation! So far, all the files I've made have been plagued by erratic translations and rotations. This may be due to concessions made during the original coding to make walking SEQs easier to integrate, but I'm not sure. What I did discover was that the little "x" that annoyingly comes up in the blank timeline bar locks the SEQ in place when its converted! So, if we leave that x in, and lock it to 0.00/0.00, our avatar now stays put as it flails out the poorly constructed newbie animations. :)

I'm still trying to figure out what the buttons do—setting the first "x" value to 1.00, the avatar moved slightly to the left. Setting the arrow to 1.00, the avatar moved up and to the left? (It's hard to see which direction it's moving from 3rd person). Changing the circle to 45.00 had no apparent affect on the imported SEQ. But this is OK, since we have full rotational control over the pelvis, which accomplishes the same thing.

All the SEQ files I've been talking about are up in Guild [world] right now on the "grover" avatar, if you want to check 'em out..."

Regarding animal avatar tags: "The actual SEQ file is very generic; it only records what transforms are affecting which tag/clump at any time. AW doesn't care where you place the tag, it will move the tag/clump as recorded in the SEQ file. You needn't put tag 4 on the head, for example. If your avatar was a headless man with a pumpkin in his hand, you could instead use that tag for the pumpkin clump. Any sequences that you saved for tag 4 (ie, head) would be played on that clump. For example, on one avatar I did, I placed a man in a hovercraft which freed up 6 leg tags. I placed the torso tag onto the entire hovercraft, and used one of the foot tags on a turret to make the turret animated. It worked out pretty good :) So yes, if you can visualize these transforms when you're making the SEQ file, it shouldn't be too difficult to use the human arm tags for an animal's front limbs."

XelaG's SEQ file format specs

1 pelvis Pelvis pelvis/hips
2 back U/L Back? back/chest/torso
3 neck Neck neck
4 head Head head
5 rtsternum ? right sternum
6 rtshoulder R U Arm right shoulder/
upper arm
7 rtelbow R Forearm right elbow/
lower arm
8 rtwrist R Hand right hand/
9 rtfingers ? right fingers
10 lfsternum ? left sternum
11 lfshoulder L U Arm left shoulder/
upper arm
12 lfelbow L Forearm left elbow/
lower arm
13 lfwrist L Hand left hand/
14 lffingers ? left fingers
15 rthip R Thigh right hip/
upper leg
16 rtknee R Knee right knee/
lower leg
17 rtankle R Foot right ankle/
18 rttoes ? right toes
19 lfhip L Thigh left hip/
upper leg
20 lfknee L Knee left knee/
lower leg
21 lfankle L Foot left ankle/
22 lftoes ? left toes
23 neck2 ? neck
24 tail ? tail
25 tail2 ? tail
26 tail3 ? tail
27 tail4 ? tail
28 obj ? ?
29 obj2 ? ?
30 obj3 ? ?
31 hair ? hair
32 hair2 ? hair
33 hair3 ? hair
34 hair4 ? hair
35 rtbreast ? right breast
36 lfbreast ? left breast
37 rteye ? right eye
38 lfeye ? left eye
39 lips ? lips
40 nose ? nose
41 rtear ? right ear
42 lfear ? left ear

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