New quick question to start

Morning all... I took the plunge and bought an indie liscence for Unity this morning, having been playing with the demo for a while and then doing the internal argument over switching development environments. (I'm coming from the Torque tired of tearing my hair out over the art pipeline on the Mac, among other frustrations from the last year that I'll try and keep from venting on here.)

I've been reading a few posts about switching between using boned animations for characters and ragdoll physics, and I've come up with something I wanted to see if anyone had any experience with thus far: is it possible to use a boned (and animated) model, but keep an individual bone responsive to physics? What I'm thinking is in the case of a character walking up hill, would it be possible to leave a bone in the foot free to collide with the ground surface (and therefore keeping it from passing through the floor and what not), or is that something I would have to devise a work around for?

Obviously, this isn't an earth shatering "my game can't work without it" problem, just something I haven't seen mentioned anywhere and thought I would ask. (For those who read Play Magazine, if I end up building a character based game next year I don't want to be one of those developers that Dave Halverson is always tearing into.)

I look forward to helping everyone as best I can...I'll admit that I'm not the best coder in the world, but hopefully that'll change. One of my other day jobs is as a studio musician/composer doing a pretty wide range of stuff, so if anyone needs some help with getting audio and music assets for your projects, feel free to drop a line and I'll help out as time permits.

Thanks in advance...especially to the Devs at Unity. I was about to the point of swearing off game making for good, but suddenly I feel like I may actually make some headway on those dream projects yet.

Traditionally foot placement is solved with raycasting and IK.

At the moment we don't have IK support built into unity but you can write IK support in C#.
That said we are going to add IK support to Unity at some point. But this will definately not be before Unity 2.0.

IK can be a daunting topic at first, so if it is not critical for you. You might
want to just ignore it for now and let us do it for you later on.

Some papers about IK:

The other thing is of course being able to motorize character joints.
At the moment you can only motorize hinge joints, but we are planning to add support for motorized character joints in 1.3.

Motorized character joints will allow you to simply tell a ragdoll to go into a pose. Eg. one which you samples from an animation. And then the ragdoll will try to get to it, but be constrained by collisions and joint limits.

The most common use for this is writing simple controllers.
Eg. you could write a controller that makes the character trip when is pushed backwards, instead of just falling backwards like a dead thing.

There is a lot of research about physical human controllers at the moment.
Writing a controller that make a biped walk completely physically driven is a very hard problem.
It requires a lot of bio mechanical modeling and AI.
Walking is very complex.

I think physically driven characters are extremely cool. If there is anyone who wants to do a research project about this topic using unity at his university.
Or wants an internship at OTEE about the topic. Please send me a mail.
I would love to have unity support completely physically driven characters that can walk, run, jump, fall and trip realistically. This is still very far away, but i am sure we will get there.

Wow...wasn't expecting a developer response that quickly. That's definately a change from what I'm used to.

My plan for now is to get myself up to speed with Unity by making some simpler games...I think I'm going to start with a space shooter and then work on expanding the driving tutorial (perhaps not in that order).

Essentially I'm in an evaluation phase trying to decide between using Unity or Flash as a platform for developing/deploying my master's thesis for the Digital Media Studies program at the University of Denver. (The plus side for flash being my previous experience with Actionscript 2.0.)

Either way, I'm hitting the links and saving docs where I can...I'll do a little investigating once I clear up the priority stuff: learning Unity and getting ye ole thesis done.

Thanks again for the quick response and killer app.