Connecting the wires

Quite some time ago I was playing Rainbow Six Vegas with a coworker (not during work time). We were doing terrorist hunt on this construction site map and we were having a great time enjoying this classic game. At some point I wanted to throw a grenade quite far away. Of course with my pro-fps skills I managed to hit the electric pole standing right in front of me. After I was done facepalming, something caught my eye: the wires on the electric pole were swinging, probably by the grenade's shockwave. I hadn't noticed that before, but I found it really cool. It reminds me of making rope-bridges (old 3ds max tutorial ). I think dynamic wires can add a nice extra touch of 'being an interactive environment'. Making wires like that could be fun to have as an extension on the SplineTools.

The Zone
This became especially apparent when working on the zone back in June. I was placing these power pylons on the terrain. Since they are great models that add a lot to the background, I decided to bring them a little bit closer to the main area and raised the terrain at several locations. Placing the pylons was a piece of cake. However placing the wires, was a pain. The wires come from 1 single model. The problem with this is that it makes it really hard to place these wires. I had to constantly rotate them around, move them and then rotate them some more. So when I had 2 pylons placed at different heights, it took a lot of messing around to get the models placed correctly. And this was just a straight line of pylons. With bends in the electric network this would have even more problematic.


SplineTools extension: Wires
The wires/ropes/cables extension of the SplineTools fixes this problem. We can simple put a pivot on each of the wire connectors of a pylon. Then we attach the wirescript to the pivots and make the pylon a prefab. Now we can connect multiple pylons by connecting the wire nodes. We play around with some of the handlers to create a nice bezier curve and we are good to go.

We can take it even further by adding physics to these wires. At the moment of writing there is support for static physics ropes and also experimental dynamic ropes. The latter one makes physics shapes per wire segment and adds joints between them. We can anchor both ends of the wire if we want to. In the stable 4.4 branch this causes the game to crash now and then, but the beta branch for 4.5 doesn't seem to have this. So that is good news.

We now have the same wires as the ones that I encountered in Rainbow six. The dynamics ropes are really fun to play with. You can now easily create a tireswing, draggable computer cables (like in HalfLife 2) and most importantly: rope-bridges.

I have to finish the example scenes and make the tutorial for them, but they are almost ready for release. They are included in the SplineTools package. A new video blog will be posted when it is ready. At the moment the workshop uploading fails, so I can't push any updates yet.