I upgraded Unity from version 2021.3 to 2022.3 in a recent project update. The tears and issues with the player character models became apparent during that process. In the previous version, the problems were pretty well hidden. Since the Atavism core (now x.9) needs version 2022.3+, I have no choice but to fix the models.
Identifying the issues
Most of the tearing and distortion happens with the models due to the mesh skin weights and using triangles instead of quads in some areas. In addition, the skeleton is misaligned in multiple regions. This could easily be a combination of the initial design and the multiple times I have tweaked and re-imported the model into Unity. I went back and forth between Unity, Maya, and Mixamo (for quick rigging), and back to Unity again. For all I know and with all the steps I took, I may be responsible for breaking it.
Back to basics
I need to import into Maya, the most recent working model and strip down and rebuild it. I am starting with the skeleton then moving to the mesh.
In the skeleton, I found that most of the joints were not oriented to the connecting bone (along the x axis). In order to fix that, I had to unbind the mesh from the skeleton and fix the orientations.
Working on the body mesh first, I will have to remove the triangle faces and replace them with quads (four-sided faces). Once that is all done, I will need to smooth out the body mesh and copy the UV settings from a backup of the body. I will need to repeat this process for each part of the character model.
A big part of this process will be relearning Autodesk’s Maya. I have not dealt with the modeling side of this project in a while. I have mainly used the original models supplied by former volunteers on the project, purchased models on CG Trader and the Unity Asset Store as well as paying other people to help me. My current budget does not permit the latter right now. When I find investors to help fund the development of Chapter 1 of the game, I can address contracting help again.
I have learned more over the last year than I have the whole time since I started this project. I now know more about what to do and what not to do with regard to managing expectations and budgets. So for now, the work will need to be my own or through volunteers if I can recruit some more.