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FarbrorGnur 07-01-2012 09:44 AM

Vehicle for JKA
I'm in the making of something I hope can work out as a vehicle, and I have two questions of different proportions.

1. I've made a rough sketch of a flying dinosaur/dragon without wings and teeth and a few horns and such, which I will add soon, but first... Should I stick with this polycount, which is 7184 faces, according to max, OR, should I stick with an even more low poly version I have, with 1730 faces? I don't know how the game would react to the different versions, but I'm gonna add some details, like I mentioned above, and it would be nice to do that on only one of the versions.

2. This tutorial will be useful, but it doesn't explain how to set it up if it has animation. If I had to guess, I'd probably guess that you make animations within a 3ds max project file for what you need, like "walk, run, take off, fly, attack, ranged attack" and so on, and then export it to something and use some kind of file to refer the game to the appropriate frames of each animation, or even export every animations' frames. But, in short...
how would you go on about making this a vehicle... that could fly?

Here they are, left with 7184, right with 1730.

Psyk0Sith 07-02-2012 10:59 PM

1.When you say faces, do you mean triangles? because you should always use triangles when talking about polygon count. The game shouldn't have too much problem with a 7k mesh (triangles), the only minor problem you'll get is "vertex shading not supported" message if your model has section with more than 500 vertices.

2.My experience is kind of limited, but i think what we did for the AT-TE was to keep every action within 100 frames and simply told the frames file where each sequence was located, the AT-TE didn't need much besides a walk cycle and death. If you go over 100 you'll probably need to create different .xsi files and merge them with a .car file to make the final .GLA.

Just a heads up:
If you are using Max 8, it's possible the export plugin is broken and prevents the .GLA from working in game. This problem happened when trying to merge new character animation sequences with the old .GLA, it simply won't work unless you are using an older max version with correct plugin.

FarbrorGnur 07-03-2012 08:53 AM

I said faces because max said faces, when pressing 7. The model is mostly quads though, so why (or how) should it be given in triangles?

I think I'll take the chance on the "high" res version. 100 frames per animation should be fine. But, do I have to manually make the animations "compatible" with each other, as in making one animation's end point to the exact starting point of the next (potential) animation, or does the game automatically animate more or less smoothly between the seperated animations? For example, dragon flying - flap flap - then breathing fire or something - immediately snaps from the flying animation or goes smoothly between?

Also, I do all these things with a single player campaign in mind. I read something about it being impossible to make your own single player campaign for JKA, but don't know if it's true, or how to interpret it. In any case, if I have to do this for JKO (which I had planned to do originally), what will be required to alter, to make it a functioning vehicle (I suspect a bit more hassle than for JKA)? But it should be possible, since you have AT-STs working fine in JKO, at least for single player. Only I don't know how tags and all kinds of game sensitive details that are involved for JKO, when making custom vehicles and NPCs and such.

Did you mean you told the frames file which frames were which, or that you made files for each animation, and referred the locations and names? I can see in that JKA animations zip that all the files are xsi, and that they're seperated instead of in one animation in different parts. (Oh, and if you know how to watch the animations in 3ds max, with the mesh moving as well, not just the tags and whatever it is, please tell :D)

I'll keep the exporting in mind. I did use 3ds max 6 for exporting XSI, because of a non functioning xsi exporter for max 8, when creating my character model. Thanks so far!

Psyk0Sith 07-03-2012 09:47 AM

It should be given in triangles because game engines triangulate meshes, that's simply how they work. A game engine has a budget for assets, there's a good reason to keep it within limit. Since you're making this for yourself, you should be ok and not lag anything to death, but you'll get "vertex shading error" for sure.

The 7k mesh you have is probably 14 000 triangles, that is HUGE for a game like JA. Just to put things in perspective, 14-20k is not uncommon for current games.

We didn't make the animations compatible and they worked just fine, you should probably keep a root pose a frame 0 (default pose at the start, that is needed if you plan on mixing multiple XSI files into 1 .GLA).

Forget any kind of heavy single player modding...the minute you need code to be added you won't be able to do anything, the source code was never released and will never be. Jedi Academy was built with vehicles in mind so i would stick with it, there's still no source code for JA either.

We did not make separate files, only one file was exported, which contained all the animations, the start and end of each was simply assigned in the .frames file.

The only animation i was able to watch came from the wampa and tauntaun i believe, i think i used something called "crosswalk" which was used to transfer content between XSI and Max, not sure if the old versions are still available online.

FarbrorGnur 07-03-2012 10:26 AM

Oh, I'll probably consider the lighter version then.

Hmm, the source code was never released for Jedi Outcast? I thought those things you install with the editing tools contained something like that. With folders like code, cgame, game, gamesource and so on. Well, if the singleplayer is impossible to change the code on... what kind of things can I really accomplish without changing code?

I suppose adding NPCs, behavior, animation, scripts, cinematics and such is possible only with GTKradiant and the editing tools. But actually stitching these levels together to a single player campaign... like, setting the player model at the start of the level, receiving or starting with different kinds of equipment, completing a level, going to the next map. Or even have new weapons (for example a new weapon model, and changing the shot efx should be possible, but to actually make it an own weapon with its own properties, like shot speed, damage and so on), and the slight possibility of adding vehicles? Do you think I could have any or most of this without actually changing the code which doesn't exist?

FarbrorGnur 07-04-2012 01:07 PM

While I'm at it, I have another question... The vehicle tutorial asks you to make bones for the mesh (even if it's not animating, but I'm animating). But the XSI files with JKA animations only seem to have only tags and not bones. Why is this? And what should I go for?

Psyk0Sith 07-04-2012 10:23 PM

1. Regarding code...the only code released was for multi player side of things, not single player.

2.The bones were probably omitted/destroyed along with the vertex weighting when exported from XSI (if the bones and weights are still present in the files, problem could be the max import plugin).

Just like when you import a .glm back into max, the weighting and bones are not part of the import process since the plugin was not built for that.

Going from memory, i'm pretty sure all vehicles need at least a root bone or something along those lines to work properly.

FarbrorGnur 07-05-2012 07:55 AM

Ok I see! No probs. I saw a guy who had made some (small) single player campaign called Eve of Redemption for JKA, so I'm confident I'll have the chance as well.

I think it's not a root bone, but some root tags/dummys, which I have. I've named the bones myself, like the tutorial said. For the duck model I made, I applied one single texture on all the body parts, and it worked fine. I only segmented it for the sake of JK2 formalities, for all I know... I've now reached the step where I've put in all the bones in my model, and all the tags required as far as I know - bolt_driver and bolt_muzzleX and the dummys "XSISceeneRoot", "B:modelroot", "skeleton_root", and "mesh_root" . I'm not sure quite yet how it will animate, but I guess I will experiment with that before exporting. But, what I'm wondering is, do I have to segment this model, if it animates just fine without segments? That way, I could weight the model and keep adjusting weights/bones and not have to redo the whole segmentation every time. Looking at other NPCs from the assets, they're all segmented though, same goes for a vehicle I found in a player made map (can't find the vehicles in the JKA assets).

What made me think of this, was this image in the tutorial:
I'm thinking, if I'm supposed to have many body parts, I need to return to this part after weighting, animating and segmenting - but do I really need to segment?
If I don't have to, it will become more like: skeleton root > pelvis > all other bones, connected to the pelvis.
mesh root > body (or "dragon") and no more sub parts, because it's only one model.

However, if I actually must segment, is there any codex on how I should segment it, and what to name them, like in player models? (I'm guessing not).

A picture for a clearer evaluation - skeleton, and mesh moved aside:

Psyk0Sith 07-05-2012 05:07 PM

Oh sure SP mods can be done, but not heavy code modification.

Yeah i said root but you knew what i was talkin' about ;)

I see a few benefits to segmenting models, 1st one is a workaround to the 500 vert limit, dismemberment for player models, destruction of objects, mixing character body parts with others without redoing the any of those reasons could be valid.

You could try to do it one piece, but if you get really overboard with vertex count, it could get rejected by the compiler, hence the need to segment stuff like wings, horns and other parts until you can reach an acceptable limit.

The hierarchy is usually main groups that always remain the same, head, torso, hips, l_leg, r_leg, l_arm, r_arm, l_hand, r_hand etc. Any other extra meshes receives the name of its parent mesh, so in your case you could have torso, and torso_wings linked to it. head_horns would be linked to the head and so on.

However, when making your own .GLA you should be able to name your asset the way you want, because you are generating the animation yourself and do not have to match a pre-existing .GLA. Personally, i prefered to keep using similar naming convention as the game since i was used to working with it.

FarbrorGnur 07-06-2012 06:48 AM

I see! Ok, I will segment it into some natural parts :) In the next step now, I will connect/link the bones to each other properly, weight them to the mesh and then segment, and then look at the hierarchy. Then I will export and see if it works in game simply as a *swoop* with no animation. If all goes fine, I will start animating it, and seeing if I can get it to both walk, run and fly and so on.
Thanks a lot for the help, but I can't promise I won't have quite some more questions :D

Psyk0Sith 07-06-2012 07:04 PM

Sounds good, i'll try my best to help, even if i'm a bit rusty since i don't mod the game anymore...

FarbrorGnur 07-07-2012 09:30 AM

Ouch, first bump...!

I've connected the bone hierarchy, and added a skin modifier to the mesh. As soon as I add a bone, the mesh becomes lots of times smaller, about the size of a single bone, compared to the mesh. It just resizes itself and moves down under the model, a bit over the B:model_root and all the other dummys, and they're not connected to the model or the bones in any way yet. If I remove the bone, it doesn't change back, but I've ctrl-Z-ed my way back.

I've tried resetting the X-form, checking the pivot point, all fine, before adding the skin modifier. This happens with any bone, and all of the bones I add. It could seem like it's going back to a previous size I had, before scaling my model up to fit the proportions of the swoop I imported and stole tags and dummys from. Any ideas?



FarbrorGnur 07-07-2012 11:39 AM

I did manage to temporarily, of not permanently, fix the problem by exporting the mesh as OBJ and importing it again. The skin modifier I added set all the vertices to "1" on the weight table, even when the small rings just surrounded the bone. Resizing the rings had no effect. I cleared the weight table (giving them all 0), but the rings wouldn't affect any vertices, when I resized them. Painting the weights did work, but apparently only for one bone. When going to the next bone, it has no effect anymore. So I'm a bit on that stage at the moment!

EDIT: Adding all the bones you have (or need), instead of weighting one and one, to the list, will fix the selection problem.
EDIT 2: No, not anymore...
EDIT 3: Dear googler: FIX: Weight table: CTRL A and unhook either "M" or "N" (try both, but I had to remove M) with right click, and could edit envelopes after that.

Actually, after answering all my own questions... :D I have a real question. Should I use IK solvers in animation? Like, I don't know what to do, structurally or hierarchally with IK solvers, in the vehicle equation. How do I treat it?

Psyk0Sith 07-07-2012 06:21 PM

I think the scaling problem could have been fixed within the character menu>then bone tools>under object properties> reset scale. Then as usual, reset the pivot point of the mesh to origin or model center and apply a reset xform.

You might encounter some problems down the road caused by the way you created your bone rig. If you successfully compile the model and see messed up animations on one side, it will be a pivot point problem caused by mirrored bones.

Bone pivot changes depending on which viewport they were created in. You probably need to change the reference coordinate system to "world" instead of "view" to make it the same whatever the viewport you work in.

I used to be in touch with a modder that started working on IK rigs, but i have no idea how it turned out but here's my thoughts on this...

I'm not sure IK solvers is a good idea, the GLA. stores the actual bone rotation to animate (like key frames in max) if key frames are written for all bones when animating with IK then it should be fine, if not, then the compiler won't have all the information it needs to replicate the actual animation sequence, so only the parent bone would deform instead of the whole chain.

Maybe it's just me, but i like keeping things simple when learning new stuff...once i have a working prototype i experiment ;)

FarbrorGnur 07-08-2012 02:28 PM

I see! Ok.


Originally Posted by Psyk0Sith (Post 2815404)
You might encounter some problems down the road caused by the way you created your bone rig. If you successfully compile the model and see messed up animations on one side, it will be a pivot point problem caused by mirrored bones.

Hmm, how should I create the bone rig without encountering problems? I just made the bones inside the tail, legs and so on, and made them fit quite well into the mesh, using fins to extend a bit, but nothing sticking outside (not sure if necessary). For the legs, I mirrored the legs over to the opposite. Tail, body (including head), legs and wings were seperate in the bone structure, but linked together. Pelvis was the topmost parent, sort of.

If there's a better way to do it, I could redo it that way, because most likely it seems I have to redo the bones anyway..! I forgot that the weighting part had to be done in 3ds max 6, not 8. But seems like the bones also must be done there, because exporting from 3ds max 8 to 6, converts everything to Editable Meshes, including the bones. The bones become editable meshes, not bones! So I see no easy way around it, other than re-creating it. But I don't mind that very much, especially if there's a better way to do it?

Psyk0Sith 07-08-2012 09:44 PM

The bone tools utility i talked about earlier has an option to mirror bones, that should fix the problem. It should still be there in max 6.

FarbrorGnur 07-09-2012 03:13 AM

Alright, that's what I used for mirroring last time as well. So I'll just re-do it.

EDIT: Mirroring isn't available in the bone tools in max 6, so I'll try to just create the bones manually for each leg, and each wing.

EDIT 2: I've textured the model, and am currently struggling with a silly "An error occurred during the process" when UVW unwrapping the dragon, with little luck on google.

Psyk0Sith 07-09-2012 05:56 PM

Geez, as if this process wasn't complicated enough you have to deal with crashy software?...did you press the space bar at any time while the unwrap window was opened? i've seen this happen in early versions...

FarbrorGnur 07-10-2012 06:18 AM

Oh sorry, I forgot to specify that the texturing was done in Zbrush, and that the problem was in UVmaster in Zbrush, not in max. I thought I had...! Well the problem is consistent, I suspect it has something to do with the things done to the model in max before exporting it to Zbrush again. I've tried the few things suggested by google, which has been quite far fetched, so it has something to do with the model, since UV master has worked before.

Psyk0Sith 07-10-2012 08:54 PM

Well maybe i'm just oldschool, but i would stay away from zbrush for uv layout and even texturing, but that's just me. At least try to get some decent UV's done in max.

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