As I’ve mentioned earlier, when when I first started working on this robot pack I intended to simply port over the components from the existing robot versions of the Bikini and Edhidil bodies, and maybe do a few upgrades here and there. I had figured that cleaning up the core frame for the upper torsos and adding in the breastplate variants would be the greatest extent of that, and that I’d do relatively little with the lower torsos, but deciding to make a new pelvis for the Gynoid limbs and having much more success at it than expected forced me to up my game where the other two types were concerned. The simple, under-detailed rod of their spines just couldn’t compete.
So I’ve been exploring some options. For the Bikini type in particular I wanted to carry on with the spare and skeletal look, as I like how it pairs with the spindly legs, but I didn’t really have anything in my parts inventory that felt like it would be a reasonable upgrade for the spine. So I used my recent knowledge of how to consistently extract usable parts from animated models and pulled a bunch of stuff from the Pipe Piston mesh. A bit of duplication and tweaking gave me a spine worth bothering with, and some further tweaks to the hips and thighs gave me something I felt could work.
The main hip section has only a few small cosmetic changes compared to the original version, aside from the hip sockets which are actually an all-new redo of the part to eliminate some crookedness and to make it easier to reposition them for the enlarged thigh spheres. Redoing the thighs was also a major goal of this, as I was never really happy with how the spheres on the old version were so much smaller than the shoulder spheres, or how the femurs just sorta stuck into the much wider thigh caps. After a number of revisions I settled on this, with enlarged versions of the original femurs bulked out with pistons off of the Centurion model and the seams between them masked by some decorative rings. Still not perfect, but short of abandoning the thigh caps altogether it’s probably the best I’m gonna get.
The spine took less revising as far as its shape goes, but has been an ongoing process where its weighting is concerned. Spines are, frankly, a pain in the fucking ass to weight. There’s four bones to contend with, and it’s an area of a body that’s intended to flex quite a bit. And the situation is actually exacerbated by using a more detailed, multi-part model; the low-poly rods I used before just have to sway in about the right direction. With high-poly meshes, the bones will make it actually bend.
And if you just copy the weights over from the regular human body, they’ll make it bend entirely too much. ‘Distort’ is probably the better word.
This was nastier than I expected, but it wasn’t a surprise. My prior experience with the rings on the Gynoid pelvis and the new neck model showed my that this could be fixed by ‘solidifying’ the weights- painting each individual part as a whole to a single weight value, balanced against the bones involved and the motion you want to achieve. The Gynoid rings actually aren’t entirely solid, since they still need to flex a bit around the decidedly un-solid pipes inside them, but the neck rings are and they work quite well in-game. So I did the same thing with my ‘vertebrae’ here.
And it works! …Mostly. The upside is that I now have perfectly solid individual metal pieces moving in concert with the spinal bones. The downside is that the game never really intended to do that.
(I feel like I’m saying that a lot on this project.)
For the majority of motions it’s fine. Walking, fighting, etc., the vertebrae sway and rotate in a perfectly satisfactory manner. Swimming, for some reason… Introduces an odd bit of scoliosis.
Of more concern are extreme bends. Drawing weapons while in third-person and then aiming the camera far up or far down causes the body to move in concert, and that causes the vertebrae to separate entirely.
On the upside that’s not normally a pose you’d spend a lot of time in, I would hope. But the next problem is all the poses that people could be spending their time in. Skyrim has a lot of pose mods. They’re not something I’ve really bothered with a whole lot, outside of trying to find a few specific animations. But somehow, in the defaults of either XPMSE or PCEA2, I’ve ended up with a default magic-casting pose that completely breaks my shit.
For whatever damn reason it does that with the spine and thigh bones, and I have no damn idea how to fix it short of just replacing the animation. About 90% of those weight revisions to this spine that I mentioned? Trying to find some way to mitigate this shit. I like this design and want to go forward with it, but it might require me to lean all the way into that ‘magnetic joints’ dodge I’ve been using for when the arms and legs go all floaty.
Although I did use the experience I got from matching the bones up here to mitigate that some on the new hip sockets here, by adding in a bit of thigh weighting to their assembly to allow them to flex a little along with the leg bones. It’s a pretty subtle effect in-game, but I like that it’s there.
I’ve also started on the new spine for the Edhildil body, following a similar line of thought and sourcing from the same parts, but in a chunkier and more robust design to improve the balance from the original take.
The basic elements here were pretty quick to build, since I had already figured out most of the basic elements on the Bikini version, but I’m still deciding on the embellishments. And I may want to widen them out a bit to fill in the body shape? Not sure about that. Either way, they’ve also got pretty much the same problems as the Bikini version.
The different base helps things a lot with that magic pose, at least. I can probably put some filler there more successfully than I’ve been able to manage between the spine parts.
I’ve been thinking while I’ve been doing this that it wouldn’t kill me to find a good way to grab video so I can show off just how nice this whole method looks in motion. I mean, I can post rapid-fire screenshots to show the subtle sway in the spine pieces, but it’s just not the same.
Nor are the kill-cams.
And you’re really missing out on just how hilarious it is to see these things dancing.
Using TDF to run those dance routines did reveal another odd pose effect, though. The far bend that’s part of the undress animation does strange things to the back; on the Gynoid type it just gets stretched out a lot, but on the Bikini type it looks like it damn near delaminates.
Yeah, let’s say magnets. Just… Magnets.
Original URL: https://www.loverslab.com/blogs/entry/8165-pose-a-problem/