Learning 3D Modeling

Robot-hand-in-Inventor

In late 2013 I began to research 3D modeling, 3D printing and the 3D industry in general. I learned Sketchup by importing a 3D model of the custom home we were planning to build. I was able to ‘walk’ though the house and get an idea if the rooms were the right size and if the house design felt right. I also learned AutoDesk Inventor and built a miniature robot hand, which I was able to print directly via my 3D printer. The fingers and thumb were all movable without any assembly required. 3D printing is cool!

3D Map of Downtown Dallas in 3DS Max

I kept coming back to the 3D models of cities that Google and Microsoft used in their mapping solutions. I wondered how they made these huge 3D models. Google had initially used crowdsourcing by allowing the public to upload the 3D building models they built in Sketchup. These models of houses and skyscrapers where attached to Google maps in their real locations so others could view them. Then Apple upped the anti by buying T3 technologies that could automatically build 3D models of cities with tremendous precision. I loved looking at these new 3D maps. The models were beautiful and made me wonder if you could use these models in other Apps and perhaps even games.

I also found a web article about a CEO of a gaming company asking for 3D city maps to be made available for creating games. So this is when I realized there might be an opportunity in the mobile market place to publish games that featured real cities. If I could find a way to build or buy the maps I needed I might be on to something.

I discovered that neither Google nor Apple make their 3D maps available as a dataset you could use ‘off-line’ in an App or a Game. I did find some companies who were using similar techniques are Apple to build their 3D city maps but typically they were selling this maps to city and state governments for planning purposes. I was quoted $20,000 per square kilometer. That was not going to work for games. Regardless of the price I was told that 3D city maps were too large for game engines to handle.

I persevered and found someone who would sell me 3D city maps at a reasonable price but again was told they would be too big for game engines like Unity. This is when I started learning the 3D modeling program 3DS Max and Unity to see if any of this was possible after all.