12 Weeks with Nightmare Puppeteer 6: Fantastic New Updates!

Sep 07, 2021 at 11:39 am by -gToon

This is the sixth episode of a series that will last for 12 weeks where I will learn Nightmare Puppeteer and attempt to create short animated scenes. Along the way, I’ll share with you my discoveries, my mistakes, and my successes using this remarkable game engine. 
Nightmare Puppeteer takes the approach of puppetry where you do something with your hands, but instead of using your hands, you are pressing keys on your keyboard….it’s an animation engine
-M dot Strange
NP is a Game
It’s important to point out that Nightmare Puppeteer is a game and not a 3D application. The gameplay is focused on creating characters, animations, and scenes within the game. And as M dot Strange points out “it’s an animation engine”. Also, the game is built upon the Unity Engine which means it has qualities that only a game made in Unity has (unique shaders and effects, for example). 
Nightmare Puppeteer has Motion Capture Support!
We are going to postpone our planned tutorial on making a music video for a couple of weeks because over the weekend I learned that Nightmare Puppeteer now has motion capture support for the actor animation based on using the Kinect2 hardware. Realistic animation was always a challenge in NP, but now with mo capture support, you can create exactly the kind of animation you want. Here is M dot Strange's tutorial on how to use the Kinect2 and capture animation in Nightmare Puppeteer
The Kinect2 is the second version of low-cost motion capture created by Microsoft for its Xbox series initially. New prices for the K2 are about $100, but I got a good used one for $40 on eBay and will report on how it works when it arrives next week. For those of you who might already have a K2, be sure to download the new SDK (as m dot suggests) in order to get it to work with Windows. I don't believe there is a Mac alternative, but I'll find out and let you all know. 
Future Updates 
 I spoke with m dot strange over the weekend in an extended Zoom call and he shared some interesting updates he's planning for Nightmare Puppeteer. Since he's been working on his feature-length animated film M doll (coming out in October) he hasn't had a chance to work on NP as much as he would have liked. 
But now he's back in the saddle and is planning the following exciting updates:
  • Create and/or import your own Nightmare Puppeteer scenes! M dot is debating the best way to implement this update. He wants to make the process simple and easy. In addition, you'll be able to import any scenes you buy from the Unity asset store as well. I was urging him to make sure Blender scene export is supported and he said, "That's the plan!"
  • New Dark Level Editor. The current level editor has a sun that's very bright. He wants users to be able to have a dark level editor scene that can be lit using lights that are inside the level editor content browser. Much more dramatic lighting can result. 
  • In addition to motion capture, m dot strange has added several new (and more realistic) actor animation cycles. These are available in the test version of NP only at this point. You can access the test version by right-clicking on the game name in steam, choosing properties, and then select betas. There you will see the test version. Password to unlock the test version is "letmebreakstuff".  Nightmare Puppeteer will then update to the test version. 
  • One excellent update is that the scene you worked on last will show up as the first scene in the main menu. This makes it much easier to work on a scene, go away for a few hours, fire NP up and find the scene you've worked on ready first thing. In the past, you'd have to scroll through dozens of scenes to find the one you are working on. Yay!
Nightmare Puppeteer: The Documentary Film
Over the weekend, m dot strange released a new film created inside of NP which is a master course in how to use the game. It is a full-length film composed of live-action AND Nightmare Puppeteer scenes. You'd think the two wouldn't mix, but they do. And despite the length, the stories hold your interest and are incredibly creative. I can't recommend this film more highly. 

Next Week: Motion Capture with the Kinect2

Sections: Tips + Tutorials

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