Since, I can’t do much with Dagon particles at the moment, I’ve been playing with programs that some of you might find useful for creating local patches of animation. I’m hoping to find a tool that I can stick with and really master.
The first is Particle Illusion (http://www.wondertouch.com/index_2.asp), which comes with a large library of effects that you can use or you can build your own from scratch. I’m using it for some of my video patches where the background can be a still. Like a fireplace where you just need an overlay of fire-like particles or a gizmo that requires a bit of electrical sizzle. It’s very easy to use and changing the effects is a snap, but (at least in the version that I have, which is SE), you only get one background layer and the effects are overlayed on it.
The second program is much more versatile. It’s HitFilm http://hitfilm.com/, which is a video editor similar to After Effects, but much cheaper. With it you can do very elaborate particle effects, layering of videos and stills, green screen, etc. I’ve only just scratched the surface of what it can do. I was finding that I had a lot of doors that inconveniently opened onto a scene that was in another file. My scenes are generally really detailed and so merging them in Vue is not always a “good idea.” So I’ve been rendering out the opening doors as image sequences in PNG format in Vue, then in HitFilm, overlaying the frames over a still of the target scene. (I’d tried placing an alpha plane of the room behind the opening doors in Vue and rendering, but it always looked like an alpha plane to me.) I can forsee many more uses for it in my game and am leaning heavily towards it as a tool. It also has the advantage to me of being somewhat like Flash, which I used to work with a lot.
Nige also found a free program called Squirlz http://www.xiberpix.net/SqirlzReflect.html, that can be used for water reflections. It can export as an image sequence, which can then be run through an editing program and processed as an OGV for use in Dagon. I was trying to use it to create a flow of water on a fountain, which was a big fizzle, but it might be useful for a small pool or puddle in your scene.
Finally, I find that the easiest way to turn my image sequences into OGV format is to use VideoMach http://gromada.com/videomach/. It’s a two step process — drag the image sequence folder onto the stage, then select the OGV output. So easy. I like easy. it’s hard when you have to wear all of the hats.