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FPSC Classic Product Chat / [FREE PDF GUIDE] A new way of designing your levels in FPS Creator

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007
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Posted: 28th Oct 2013 19:10 Edited at: 29th Oct 2013 13:45
Hello Friends,

Edit: The PDF guide is attached to this first post.

It's me again. I was very busy the last months (i actually work as a professional web designer), because this i did not come here again. I think i did not gave too much contributions to this wonderfull community, now here is mine.

After a lot of months striving on a way to design a complete level in 3dsmax and export this level to FPSC, i found a definitive way that works 99% and can be used to design a completely level in any 3d application.

I would like to thank a lot of folks here, that helped me giving some usefull informations, like Rolfy, Bond1, Wolf, Ertlov, Uman, Landman, Maho76, The Zombie Killer and a lot of other members (maybe i forgot to mention them here).

I tried one method (even comented here), of baking all the shadows (like rolfy did on some demos) in 3dsmax and then export to FPSC. I was doing this, and getting impressive visual results (because of using of VRay Light Plugin), but this was not worth the extreme ammount of time for doing this, and another thing i noted is that the resulting baked textures size. To have good looking textures when baking, you need to have use least 1024x1024 texture size for baked objects, because when baking, you cannot tile the baked texture like you can do with normal textures, you need to use it the way it is, the size it is. So, for only one single 1024x1024 texture file i was getting almost 12MB of size because all the lighting information (Global Illumination) and gamma correction (lighting exposure) was rendered to the textures, thus being almost unusable this method. And for each object in scene, i would have to use one separated texture, or if merging textures, i would have to increase resolution (i.e 2048x2048), so going to 24MB each texture, now multiply this for, in example, at least 300 objects in my level!!! So i gave up this method (i never give up on anything before trying extensively), and i will now use standard FPSC Lighting. But good news is that i found a good way to simulate global illumination inside FPS Creator, not perfect (indeed the idea is very simple), but it does a good job. However, i used baked textures on all floor objects (because for this method work, the floor must be dynamic entity, and as dynamic entities don`t receive lightmapping, so there is need to use baked textures on them).

Before working as a web designer, i worked for 6 years as a professional 3D artist developing tv commercials and advertising, so i think because this i prefer to use a 3D Software to design my levels for FPSC. This tutorial is exclusively for 3dsmax users, however, the concepts may be applied to any 3d software (maya, blender, softimage, lightwave and so on).

The greatest advantages on designing your level entirely in 3dsmax (or any 3d software) and then export it to FPS Creator is not only the freedom for design, which means you are more free to design your levels in a more natural way, but you will have a great performance boost up, especially if you be patient to slice your level geometry into smaller parts. The boost up is mainly because you will have less polygons in scene if you were going to use segments. Because for segments you need to have the inner parts, outer parts, corners, and so on. But in this method, you only export the polygons which will be seen by the players, and nothing more.

In my full level, with lights, particles, shaders and enemies i`ve got almost constant 75 fps in my scene. I am very proud of it! Indeed, the models i used are very low poly, however, very well modelled, and the textures are also low-res, and in marjority are 512x512 pixels, however, i tweaked them in Photoshop with some filters and effects, so they indeed look very and very good (you only notice they are low-res if you "glue" your face in the textures itself (wall). And with the power of Vray Lighting Plugin in 3dsmax plus and a good lighting in FPSC, the level does look nice (i think this test level is looking very beautifull).

With all people talking now next-gen games and so on, however, as i commented before, i am creating a Goldeneye 007 Fan Game, so i am applying the concept they use in game consoles (not the new gen like PS4 and XBOX One), especially what they do in Nintendo Wii. I prefer to have low-resolution textures and low poly models, however, very well done, and as i am proficienced in Photoshop (almost 10 years working in Photoshop), i can do some good looking texturing in low-res. This way we reduce memory usage, thus gaining in performance, thus making the scope of people who can play your game broader and broader (not only the most top Gaming PC owners can run your game).

Personally, i don`t think you need the most realistic graphics for having a very awesome game. If you look close at these screenshots taken from the Goldeneye 007 Wii version, you see this is not the best looking FPS Game, however, this is one of the best Wii Games, and one of the best shooters in consoles.







Also just take a look at those reviews:

http://www.ign.com/games/goldeneye-007/wii-867280

http://www.gamespot.com/goldeneye-007/

Off course you can create wonderful levels (a lot better than this level i created) using FPSC standards (see at wolf's works, they are amazing, also bugsy and his kshatrya prologue, also Ertlov and his Into the Dark). But for me, i prefer doing this way, and also i think this way is faster than creating custom segments, make them match exactly inside segment editor, export them to FPSC, and so on...

My notebook specs are not too much powerful, i have a ASUS Gaming Notebook G60 Intel i7 CPU Q720 1.60 Ghz with 6 GB RAM Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bits, which i think is an average pc for gaming purposes. Also i use 3dsmax 2009 64 bit, which was the last software edition i licensed, and also because i have too much plugins (legally) installed for this version, so i don't see any advantages on updating it to 2013, as i would have to spend too much and also update all my plugins ($$$$$$$). But this tutorial may serve for any version of 3dsmax.

Also one of the advantages of 3dsmax over other 3d packages, is the imense ammount of maxscripts avaiable free on internet (www.scriptspot.com), which may improve your work and make you achive things faster, specially tedious and repetetive tasks. I don't do anything without those maxscripts. I used mainly for this tutorial those maxscripts: detach by ID (http://www.scriptspot.com/3ds-max/scripts/detach-by-material-id), game level builder (http://www.scriptspot.com/3ds-max/scripts/game-level-builder), batch export (http://www.scriptspot.com/3ds-max/scripts/keens-batch-exporter) and others that will be cited in the tutorial.

This is not exactly a tutorial, rather, is a kind of selftraining book i have done while studying FPSC (i have the habit of making notations whilst studying anything), and because i think it may help other people on this nice comunity, i compiled it into one PDF (attached below) and i hope that this may be usefull for someone here.

However, i did not finish some parts of the map and i did not work too much on the lighting, and i can say that the lighting placement is almost 90% correct (i did not have the time to analyse the precisely position of the lights inside 3dsmax to place them in the same position inside FPSC) because i am very busy right now, and i will have to give a break from fpsc sometime, due real life issues (i have a lot of work to do in my job, thanks to GOD), and also i will wait for FPSC Reloaded, because this method is very exhaustive (because you need to slice the level geometry into smaller parts to don`t have collision problems, also because static entites in FPSC can`t have multiple textures), and i hope the import and collision of custom meshes will work better in Reloaded, i hope that in Reloaded there will be no need to slice too much the level, i mean, that we can import big entities with multiple textures and with perfect collision (using the new Bullet Physics Engine). I actualy ended up having 2150 entities in my finished map, so imagine i importing those entities, one by one in my map!

Also i created a custom cloud moving system, that works a bit different from Rolfy`s Moving Clouds, however, for respecting my folk Rolfy (because he is selling his custom moving clouds), i will not reveal how i did mine

I also used a custom directx injector (ENB Series) to apply some cool fulscreen shader effects on my test level (custom bloom, ambient occlusion, color correction, anisiotropic filtering so my menus don`t get strecthed,...) to have some kind of visual "spice" on my test game. Because of this effect, i had a little drop on fps, however, i am having constant 30-40 fps, which i think is a good, because even Battlefield 3 runs on this speed (PS3 version).

But just for the sake of showcasing, here follows some screenshots of this level finished and running in FPS Creator, and also one video showing some gameplay and also a proof that the characters are walking perfectly in the level, without any collision problem.





















<embed width="440" height="420" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" src="http://v5.tinypic.com/player.swf?file=avoegx&s=5"><br><font size="1"><a href="http://tinypic.com/player.php?v=avoegx&s=5">Original Video</a> - More videos at <a href="http://tinypic.com">TinyPic</a></font>

View My Video

The quality of the video is not very good, because my capture in Fraps have gone up to 4GB and i quickly reduced it in adobe premiere, however, i did not have time to mess with video codecs quality, so this video only serve to show that there is not collision problems in my custom level. Also the fps may seem a bit laggy, but is just the video compression, i assure my gameplay is constant 30-45 fps.

Best regards,

007.

P.S: I runned on a weird and strange problem with my transparent textures, if someone could give me a light on this problem, i would be very gratefull, because i trully don`t know why this is happenning. The alpha channel of my texture is acting like an occlude mask that hides any dynamic entity behind it:



Any ideas?

Goldenye 007 N64

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007
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Posted: 28th Oct 2013 19:18 Edited at: 29th Oct 2013 13:46
PDF Guide attached to the first post.

Goldenye 007 N64
007
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Posted: 28th Oct 2013 20:25
i forgot to mention this disclaimer (which is in the page 3 of my guide):

"As i worked as 3d artist, i have with me a lot of models, objects, props, textures, some were created by me, while others i purchased, or downloaded free for internet (turbosquid), but as this tutorial is merely for study purposes, and i am not distributing anything here, i think there is no problem to show them here"

Which means, not all models were created for me, and maybe that you have seen some of these models over the internet.

I am just being clear here to no one think that i am "stealing" other people`s work.

Best Regards,

007.

Goldenye 007 N64
rolfy
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Posted: 28th Oct 2013 23:05 Edited at: 28th Oct 2013 23:59
Nice work 007, however straight off the bat I need to correct you on something.
Quote: "To have good looking textures when baking, you need to have use least 1024x1024 texture size for baked objects, because when baking, you cannot tile the baked texture like you can do with normal textures"
Its best to bake a white object and overlay the bake to original texture in Photoshop or whatever software you use, this way the original texture isn't affected, also your render times are decreased....a lot. Tiling textures isn't the best in FPSC anyhow and unwrapped objects work best for the lightmapper, whether pre or post production of models.
You can also use a shader to overlay your baked shadows onto objects which use an unaltered texture, the shadow bake can be a lot more low res than the original texture and still look pretty awesome, this is one of my more recent findings so you cant be expected to know this

Your alpha channel occluding objects behind can be fixed by setting transparency to '2' in the editor, however only do this after placing the object where you want it as the editor has issues with this setting, it will however show properly in game.

Lastly I have no problems with you releasing info on how you created your moving clouds, Heck, I would be interested in knowing myself

Here's an example of shader use with baked shadows. this is a lot more extreme than simple bake.
You will remember the shadow room I released a demo of some time ago, with a swinging light on the ceiling.
The texture resolution was appalling due to animated frame requirements, you can only use a 4096 x 4096 texture maximum for animated frames this reduced texture res to 512 x 512 per frame.
The walls in the scene you can see comprise of back, left and right and are fairly large, so a 512 x 512 wouldn't be appropriate anyhow
A single 1024x1024 texture is applied to these, using shader to overlay the baked animated shadows, so the original texture is unaffected, I can even swap out textures and that increases re-usabilty immensely, the shadow frames are still 512 x 512 but since they are simply shadows they are not required to be high res, in fact you could blur these slightly to make them less pixelated if you wish. The shader actually illuminates the white alpha (even gradient) areas of the shadows and as you can see texture res is no problem.

And yes the overhead light is swinging back and forth casting an animated shadow over all objects in scene. I have even found a way to switch it on and off and intend to improve on this even further



007
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Posted: 29th Oct 2013 00:12 Edited at: 29th Oct 2013 00:15
Dear Rolfy,

Man, i trully consider you my teacher in FPSC

Thanks for the repply and the info.

I will try and see the setting transparency to '2' in the editor later.

Regarding the overlay shadow technique, yes, indeed, this was the first thing i tried whenever i began to study how to bake shadows in 3dsmax.

However i never imagined how i could combine (overlay) my original object and another "shadow" object in fpsc. If you could explain to me how can it be done pratically (because i recently began to study shaders in FPSC, the most advanced thing i have done now is that i was able to apply the bond1 planar shadow in my character )

From what i always read on game developer blogs, this is how they do whenever there is a need to bake shadows, they always render multiple maps, like ambient occlusion map, shadow maps, and so on, then they combine these maps inside the engine.

Regarding the moving clouds, man, this is very, very easy . This is how i always have done when i worked with tv advertising.

The moving clouds is just a hemisphere (half of a sphere) with a 1024x1024 clouds texture applied. The cloud texture is just a image in which i painted some cloud brushes in photoshop, with a transparent background (a dds texture file).

So i applied this texture on the cloud object inside 3dsmax using a cylindrical uvw mapping.

And i simply animated this cloud object with a 360 degree rotation animation and exported to FPSC as a dynamic entity with no collision at all. But to be realistic, the animation of this cloud object has 6000 frames, so it is very, very slow.

So that is all. I am really happy for finally being able to export my level from 3dsmax to FPSC, working i can say 99%

But now just an opinion: I think that this method of baking textures is not very efficient at all, if you had the oportunity to take a look at the new Unreal Engine 4 (for example), they banished pre-calculated shadows, they even have global illumination in real time!

So, regarding this, i think that FPSC Reloaded will be more easy and fast to create our games, because we can do everything in FPSC, there will be no need to we pre-render the ilummination in 3dsmax, thus reducing our work times.

Again, any aditional info and tips, are very wellcome!

Cheers,

007.

P.S: I forgot to say, these screenshots of the new version of your Dark House are looking very good man! Congratulations and I hope to see this work finished!

Goldenye 007 N64
rolfy
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Posted: 29th Oct 2013 01:06 Edited at: 29th Oct 2013 02:27
Quote: "From what i always read on game developer blogs, this is how they do whenever there is a need to bake shadows, they always render multiple maps, like ambient occlusion map, shadow maps, and so on, then they combine these maps inside the engine.
But now just an opinion: I think that this method of baking textures is not very efficient at all, if you had the oportunity to take a look at the new Unreal Engine 4 (for example), they banished pre-calculated shadows, they even have global illumination in real time!"
Can be done in any graphic program which supports layers.Unfortunately this is FPSC, but the same thing is achieved using shaders, just not GI in real time

Quote: "However i never imagined how i could combine (overlay) my original object and another "shadow" object in fpsc. If you could explain to me how can it be done pratically (because i recently began to study shaders in FPSC, the most advanced thing i have done now is that i was able to apply the bond1 planar shadow in my character"

Since your not using animated shadows have you ever considered using a white object bake with the stock illumination shader, the shader map doesn't need to be the same scale as the diffuse texture map. This leaves you free to make any texture changes you require, don't bake the diffuse into your shadow maps.

Some shaders use an illumination map and normal and spec so you could get the best of all worlds.

Yes this method is time consuming, and definately not for everyone but it has immense benefits, not only appearance but you dont run into the memory cap allowing much larger and faster builds and performance hit is negligible.

I have my own pipeline for creating this kind of media so it's not so slow nor is it tedious to me

Everything we all do around here even the finished games out there, should be considered WIP or more accurately 'Learning in progress'. New methods and better workflow are always being discovered.
007
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Posted: 29th Oct 2013 04:12 Edited at: 29th Oct 2013 13:55
Dear Rolfy,

What i am most happy off is that now i learned how to export my levels from 3dsmax to FPSC.

I trully don`t change 3dsmax by any game engine in what is about designing my levels and environment.

I think 3dsmax is a better level editor than Unreal Engine for designing your level, simply because you have more control over your scene, and you can edit your models, textures, apply modifiers, and such. Plus the imense ammount of maxscripts that make repetitive tasks work like a charm (they reduce your worktime)

I know that there is even a lot of professional game developers that use their main 3d software for level design (instead of a custom level editor).

I have read the making off Metal Gear Solid 4 PS3, from Konami, they used Softimage XSI as their main 3D editor for all, both for level design, for animations, cinematics, and even for shaders creation. Off course the "genius" of konami have acess to the full SDK of Softimage, so they created a lot of custom in-house tools, plugins, scripts, converters, to trully make softimage fit their needs.

They had a own engine for Metal Gear Solid 4, but they used it mainly for the logic part of the game and also for compile the data from Softimage to the PS3 SDK.

Also i have seen some guys from the Counter Strike Mapping Community that are also using 3dsmax as a level editor for creating custom counter strike maps.

There is even a guy who created a suite of maxscript tools for 3dsmax (wallworm tools) that allow the complete creation of the map inside 3dsmax and sending it to Source SDK for compiling, without the need to use the counter strike level editor (valve hammer).

Also, i forgot to mention (it`s mentioned in the pdf guide) that in this test level i mixed both baked textures and standard FPSC lights. i Used baked textures in the floor, because they are dynamic, as you discovered that trick to make enemies walk over dynamic entities, and as we know dynamic entities don`t cast shadows, so i needed to bake textures.

And about Global Illumination, i was able to simulate the color bleeding effect.

First of all i created a VRAY Sun System to have the external lighting, then i placed standard vray lights for making the internal lighting.

And in FPSC, i placed the lights in the same position of 3dsmax, just adjusting the intensity to match the same lighting of 3dsmax.

And below (on the bottom of) each of these lights inside fpsc, i added a secondary light to act as the secondary bounce. And those secondary lights were colored with the same color of the object (wall) behind it, in example, the yellow wall received a very low intensity yellow light (100 or 50 depending on the placement) to simulate the color bleeding effect of vray global illumination.

And to finish, to have some aditional color correction tool, i used ENB series, which is just a fullscreen shader (post process effect) that works directly in the exe file of your finished game (instead of working in-game through scripts, like the new bond1 post process effects).

But now with FPSC Reloaded, i think there will be no need to use pre-rendered lights (baked textures).

Best Regards,

007.

Goldenye 007 N64
ncmako
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Posted: 29th Oct 2013 05:41 Edited at: 29th Oct 2013 05:42
Thanks guys, very informative reading. Always open to learning more. Great work 007. You put a lot of work into this and it shows.
best
007
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Posted: 29th Oct 2013 13:41
Quote: "Great work 007. You put a lot of work into this and it shows.
best"


@ncmako: Thanks for the comment

Yes, it took me i think 3 months to accomplish this level (because i had to conciliate my real life work and FPSC).

However i am very anxious to get my hands on FPSC Reloaded to see how easier and faster it will be for me export my levels from 3dsmax to FPSC Reloaded.

By the way, download the PDF guide i attached in the first post, i am sure you will find it usefull.

Cheers,

007.

Goldenye 007 N64
007
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Posted: 29th Oct 2013 21:30
I did not observe that i had turned off antialising in my nvidia graphic card`s driver, so because this the screenshots above are looking ugly.

Here follows a new screenshot with smooth image antialising:



Cheers,

007.

Goldenye 007 N64

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