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sclassing

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Reply with quote  #1 
Hey all,

I'm relatively new to the Artemis forums, but have been playing Artemis (off and on) for the past year or so.  As a video game lover, I've become quite a fan of the game, as it requires team cooperation to succeed, and also (for the most part) is played best in-person.

I've thought for some time that there should be a Star Wars mod, as (from my experience) most of the younger generation today are not too excited about Star Trek.  With the release of the new batch of Star Wars movies, I think that a Star Wars mod will give the game more of a 'mass appeal' -- especially among the younger generation.  As such, I've decided to spend the next 2 months or so working on a project to create that mod.  I'm a software developer by trade, so the idea of digging into the underlying mod extensions geeks me out quite a bit.

I won't have a TON of time to invest, so I thought I would post my status at various checkpoints along the way.  My goal is two-fold: 1) to allow anyone who might be interested in helping out to 'pitch in' as they desire.  2) I thought it would be helpful to do these posts as somewhat of a tutorial for anyone else who wants to learn how to mod Artemis.

Please feel free to chime in and provide advice, additional resources (i.e. artwork, 3D models, texturing, SRT files, etc.) as things progress.  I would absolutely love to have any help anyone wants to offer.

I want to make sure that the work I do is always offered freely, and completely legal as far as copyrights are concerned.  Initially some of the 3D models, artwork, etc. I'll be posting as raw models are almost always the work of someone else -- as I'm really unskilled in that.  I plan to be hyper-vigilant about crediting anyone who's work I use.  I would ask that if you contribute anything to this thread that is the work of someone else, please make sure that it also is strictly legal, and gives appropriate credit and has been used with permission of the author.  If anything posted violates any of this, please feel free to post a correction.

Finally, if there is a better place for me to blog my progress on this as it unfolds, please direct me to the appropriate place within the community and/or forums.  Otherwise I'm just going to keep posting along this thread.

Emet
sclassing

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Reply with quote  #2 
3D Models - Overview

One of the first things in making the mod is to get a set of 3D models to use as ships within the game.  I've spent some time scouring the web and unpacking the resources of older Star Wars games to try to get a set of usable 3D models.

In the future, I may post more of a step-by-step on how to do some of that if time in life allows, but for now, I'll just describe the ultimate goal in how to get a new 3D model ship that is usable within the game.

Ultimately a DXS file of the ship needs to be created in order to be used in the game.  There are also 2 or 3 sets of image texture files that also need to be created, but I'm not super knowledgeable about that just yet.  If the DXS file is to be used as an enemy ship that should be enough to make the model appear in-game.  However, if the player is supposed to drive the ship then a corresponding SNT file should also be created.  As near as I can tell, this file is used to indicate the damage node points within the ship for engineering and seems to be what is used to show the silhouette outline of the ship, what nodes are shown (the white dots in engineering), and how to navigate between the nodes (the lines between the white dots).

Tools to Use
To create a DXS file, you'll need to download the free DeleD Community Edition program (https://sourceforge.net/projects/deled/).  This program allows you to import a 1) Wavefront 3D model (OBJ file), 2) Autodesk 3D Max model (3DS file) or 3) DirectX 3D model (X file).  Most all of the 3D models available can be converted to one of these 3 file formats, imported into the DeleD program and then saved as a DXS file.

sclassing

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Reply with quote  #3 
3D Models - What to Look For

There are lots and lots of Star Wars 3D models out in the community that have been released as open source and freely available to use.  However, almost all of them are unusable for creating a good DXS file for use within the game.  The main reason is because of the file size and the number of polygons used within each model.  Most of the 3D models you can download are intricately complex, and very large in file size.

In order for the 3D model to be usable within the game, it needs to match fairly closely the existing DXS models.  Otherwise, the amount of memory used while playing the game will be too high or the amount of strain put on the graphics engine will cause the mod to be choppy and unplayable.

To get a sense of what we are targeting, you can open the Artemis.dxs file found in the Artemis/dat folder using the DeleD Community Edition program (https://sourceforge.net/projects/deled/).  This file is 790KB in size.  Attached is a screenshot of what that looks like.


Artemis.DXS - DeleD Screenshot.png

On the top left, you can see the number of polygons (3230) edges (4928) and vertices (1719).  Roughly, this determines the complexity of the 3D model and has an effect on how quickly the computer is able to draw the model within the game.

In searching for usable models for the Star Wars mod, we essentially want to find models about the same size (1 MB ~ 2MB) and about the same complexity (3000 ~ 7000 polygons).  As I've spent time searching, I've found that these models tend to be called "Low Poly" or "Low Polygon" models -- so adding that to my internet searches has uncovered much more usable 3D models.

Emet


MarkBell

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Reply with quote  #4 
Great! More mods are always good, and I've never done a good deled tutorial.

Are you planning on having it play mostly like stock Artemis with some tweaks? Or let it move into its own play style?

I'm going to shift this thread to the Off Topic thread, since that's where mod threads should be.

I think JSpaced was working on a Star Wars mod as well, but I don't know where he got on that.

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Note - this is in no way intended to be an official position of Thom or Artemis, as I am not an official representative of the creator or game.
sclassing

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Reply with quote  #5 
3D Models - Tie Fighter

After spending hours and hours trying to find usable 3D models, I found a Tie Fighter that looks like it meets the requirements we talked about above (1 MB ~ 2MB in size; 3000 ~ 7000 polygons).  I found it on a site called TinkerCad (https://www.tinkercad.com/users/9iaJtu11FIy-hot-daniel).

To download the model, I had to sign up for a free account and was then allowed to download the .OBJ file.  To import that into the DeleD program (https://sourceforge.net/projects/deled/) I simply clicked Plugins | Wavefront OBJ Importer on the menu.  In the import dialog, I set the Scale to 10 so that it would resize the model to roughly match the proportions of the current stock Artemis.dxs file.  In the screenshot, you see that the complexity of the model (top left) shows polygons: 5286, edges: 7928, and vertices 2632.  Also the file size of the DXS (after saving it in the DeleD program) is 1,140 KB.  It looks like this might be a usable model for the mod!

Tie Fighter Model - Screenshot.png


zip Tie Fighter.zip     

sclassing

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Reply with quote  #6 
Thanks, Mark!

Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkBell
Are you planning on having it play mostly like stock Artemis with some tweaks? Or let it move into its own play style?


To be honest, I really don't know yet.  I'm originally making this for an event I'm putting together in July that I plan on Game Mastering.  I dunno how far I'll get with any of it, but I figured I'd post my progress along the way.  We'll see what it ultimately becomes!

Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkBell
I'm going to shift this thread to the Off Topic thread, since that's where mod threads should be. I think JSpaced was working on a Star Wars mod as well, but I don't know where he got on that.


Sounds good.  I searched for existing Star Wars mods, but wasn't able to find any.  Would love to build on work already done if you can point me in the right direction.

Emet

MarkBell

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Reply with quote  #7 
That's fair, these things can take on a life of their own [smile]

You could message JSpaced or poke his thread ( http://artemis.forumchitchat.com/post/mod-announcement-star-wars-flight-of-the-jedi-7933692? ) to see where he got to - he posted an image and discussed his progress, but he hasn't released the mod or files though.

I've been working on a mod FAQ, but it's mainly focused on the vesselData and Artemis.ini files so far ( http://artemis.forumchitchat.com/post/mod-faq-7499583? ), and I'll be more than happy to link to this thread since it is already shaping up into a really good tutorial as well.

Oh, and welcome aboard! [smile]

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Note - this is in no way intended to be an official position of Thom or Artemis, as I am not an official representative of the creator or game.
sclassing

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Reply with quote  #8 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkBell
Oh, and welcome aboard! [smile]


Thanks, Mark!

3D Models - Tie Fighter - Alternate

After I posted the last Tie Fighter mod, I looked thru my files and found another one that might make a better candidate.  I also found this on TinkerCad (https://www.tinkercad.com/things/cANYkFgUPja-star-war) and the same steps above can be used to import it into DeleD.

Tie Fighter - Alternate - Screenshot.png 
I will most likely end up using this model moving forward because it has less polygons, and is a smaller file size so it should perform better in the game than the one above.  I haven't asked either of the authors for permission to use their models yet, so if one refuses, I've got a backup.

When I go to use it, I'll probably have to re-import the OBJ and resize this model (i.e. adjust the Scale number) because it looks quite a bit bigger than the current fighter that is used.  In the screenshot below you can see that as far as complexity (i.e. number of polygons) and file size we are pretty comparable to the current fighter that is used within the game.  Current fighter: 3319 polygons; 1,230 KB size.  Attached Tie Fighter: 4028 polygons, 861 KB size.

TSNFighter - Screenshot.png 
zip TieFighter.zip     



sclassing

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Reply with quote  #9 
3D Models - More Potential Models

For the purposes of my upcoming event, here are the models I want to have:
  • Star Destroyer
  • Tie Fighter
  • R2D2
  • Millennium Falcon
  • Viper Probe Droid (still looking)
After more internet searches, here are some more potential models that could be used for the mod.  The same method above was used to convert them to DXS files.  I'll probably have to re-import them and adjust the scale for each one, but that will come later.

Star Destroyer
2,405 KB / 5058 Polygons
http://www.vanishingpoint.biz/freeitemdetail.asp?FreeItemID=138
StarDestroy - Screenshot.png 

Tie Fighter - Alternate 2
524 KB / 1963 Polygons
http://www.models-resource.com/pc_computer/starwarsbattlefront/model/8523/
Tie Fighter - Alt 2 - Screenshot.png 

R2D2
1,724 KB / 6517 Polygons
http://tf3dm.com/3d-model/puo-4029-44927.html
R2D2 - Screenshot.png 

Millennium Falcon
1,970 KB / 7314 Polygons
http://tf3dm.com/3d-model/puo-4036-1699.html
Millennium Falcon - Screenshot.png


Viper Probe Droid
(still looking)
ProbeDroid-TSWA.jpg   


 

zip Star Wars Models.zip     


Lightning3840

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Reply with quote  #10 
I think I can imagine where you'd go with the Viper, the TIE, SD, and Falcon fill pretty obvious roles, but what are your plans for R2?
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sclassing

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Reply with quote  #11 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lightning3840
I think I can imagine where you'd go with the Viper, the TIE, SD, and Falcon fill pretty obvious roles, but what are your plans for R2?


I don't want to give too much away from the mission script I'm building, but R2 is going to be a 'bonus' path for players that choose the exploring route.  We'll have 3 ships a the event, all of varying levels of familiarity with how to play Artemis.  I'm trying to design something that's more than just 'setup a story and then fight a bunch of ships.'  This is great if everyone is familiar with how to play, but I'll have at least one ship of novices who've never played.

They are all competing to solve a mystery with various obstacles in the way.  In some areas, they'll have to work together, and others they will be battling each other and / or the enemy.  To make it more balanced, there will be various ways to 'win' the game, as I'm setting up a way to award various play styles.  One of the play styles is just brute force - battle.  Another play style is avoid fights and focus on exploring.  A third play style is piece together clues to solve a set of puzzles.  This is similar to the game design of Guild Wars 2.  I envision R2 serving as a huge reward for the 'exploratory' play style.  He may or may not be found (depending on whether any players choose the exploratory route) but if he is found, he will reveal some bigger pieces of the overall mystery as well as give some HUGE bonuses to the exploring party.  The idea is to help the 'exploring' group be celebrated a bit, as well as help them contribute in meaningful ways in the final 'boss' battle.

Dunno if it will all turn out like I envision in my head (time is the biggest limiting factor) but we'll see how things unfold.
notsabbat

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Reply with quote  #12 
Just to bear a chearleader; I would love to see a Star Wars mod, especially now that there are fighters available.


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sclassing

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Reply with quote  #13 
We have TIE Fighters!

Don't have much time to post the details, but thought I'd post a quick screenshot of progress.  I was able to take the 3D model of a TIE Fighter and replace it with the current Arvonian fighter model.

This is done with just the diffuse texture.  I need to figure out how to do the glow and specular textures.

tie-001.png 

ryleyra

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Reply with quote  #14 
Quote:
Originally Posted by sclassing

This is done with just the diffuse texture.  I need to figure out how to do the glow and specular textures.
 


As a quick and dirty solution, I have found that the best way to produce a glow file is to take your diffuse file, increase the contrast on it and decrease the brightness until the majority of the image is black, with just the engines, cockpit, and other highlighted features are visible. If you want the ships to be more visible when they are in shadow (like when the camera is underneath the ship) bring the brightness up a bit so you can see the details of the hull.

When making player ships you want to be careful with the accent color, in Artemis 2.4. Anything red, yellow or magenta will end up being colored with the accent color. Again, a quick and dirty solution is just to turn the portions of the image that you want to be visible in the shadows into black and white.

For specular, I would reduce the contrast, and try to make the image as close to a medium grey as possible. I'm actually not sure if this does anything, but technically anything white or really bright in the specular map should look metallic and shiny, while the black parts of the image should look dull.

Look at the stock textures as a guide.

sclassing

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Reply with quote  #15 
TIE Fighter Update

ryleyra:

Thanks so much for the advice.  Spent the evening attempting to create specular and glow files and really pleased with the results!  I also darkened the diffuse texture so the fighters didn't look so washed out.

tie-103.png 
tie-102.png 
tie-104.png 

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