Everything on this page is OLD pipeline work, most of it 3D Studio Max from my days at Bioware. When I moved from the UK in 2003 to join Bioware as a visual effects artist on Jade Empire I also started on my journey towards becoming the TA / Technical Generalist that I am today. This page, although it contains old work, is still valuable to me and hopefully anyone reading this as it is a good reflection of my development to date.
When I moved onto the Dragon Age project, after completing Jade Empire, I switched roles from Lead Visual Effects Artist to Lead Technical Artist after showing a natural affinity towards the more technical aspects of development and asset creation. At the time, the character pipeline was not very well developed, besides using an off-the-shelf solution for rigging "Puppet Studio" - originally developed by a Bioware employee. The export process was one-to-one, meaning one Max scene file for every piece of game ready content. This was going to get staggeringly overwhelming to manage when constructing complete and customizable armor sets composed of many separate parts. To deal with this I developed a tool called "Puppet Layers" that allowed the character team to store all armor sets in a single scene file and would export all the individual components to separate files for the game to make use of. A one-to-many paradigm that has ingrained itself in me and has shaped most of the asset pipeline tools I've built since.
The tool also kept track of VFX attachment nodes, Collision and most notably auto generated LOD - shown in the second video
As well as managing individual components, Puppet Layers also had the capacity to decimate meshes to auto generate LOD. I also developed a system to handle bone reduction to coincide with each level of LOD and for the bones removed, the associated verts would be bound to the preceding joint in the chain. This proved to be very popular and a massive time saver.
The next series of videos demonstrate a system I built for sculpting hair on characters. This made use of Max's internal brush system that wasn't widely used at the time. Again this is 3D Studio Max 8 and pre-dated all the fancy instance painting tools and XGen stuff we have nowadays. This set of tools made it into a GDC presentation by Peter Woytiuk, a rendering programmer at Bioware, who gave a talk on rendering hair in games.
My tool also had the capacity to allow artists to paint splines, conforming to any kind of geometry (not just heads), that could be used to generate other content.
Before the Graphite Modeling tools made it into Max, and before any kind of symmetry based deformation was implemented, I developed a range of tools to help artists work more efficiently with models that could not be cut in half and mirrored to propagate changes accross the model. Most notably, morph targets / blend shapes, where the original vertex order is critical to the integrity of the model. Initially developed as a tool that would allow artists to "snapshot" a model and process symmetry, this later became implemented as a modifier that was a lot more robust.