Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Modelling and compiling

The compiling procedure in Half Life requires a QC file. The .QC file has a list of commands that tell the studiomdl about the location of the models various SMD's. This is where the compiled objects should be written to.
The various SMD's include:

A reference mesh - that holds the UV mapping information and the rendered geometry of the model
A collision mesh - that holds the physical properties - this should have a low polygon count (cheap to render)
Skeletal animation - information about joints etc that is used in the animation process. This is required on idle objects as well

Texture information is compiled in the QC file.

Issues - Compilation
To date we have had issues with the exporting process.
This can be done in 3DSmax, Cinema4D or lightwave but all require plug-ins and different pieces of software to correctly assemble the SMD's.
We had trouble compiling in 3DSMax for these reasons and eventually settled on lightwave due to its more straight forward interface design and export capability.
Iona is currently tackling compiling.

Issues - Model production
The main problem we have encountered here is getting the model properties correct. Initally Selma created a list of fantastic models but used smoothing properties and NURBS (non-uniform rational B-splines). Half life only allows compilation using standard polygon designed models. Although models were redesigned the polygon count some still exceeded 8000 per model. These were redesigned to be less complicated and many are now useable. Some however are too simple and become unrecognisable when the MDL file is compiled.
This is really a trial and error process in which Selma and Iona are deeply into!

Some examples of rendered models by Selma Wong

sewing machine render
Sewing Machine

wheelchair render

More Modding in Orange Box -skyboxes

The space directly before the war bunker was simply a brick room (seen previously on another blog post called war room skeleton) before a skybox was added. A skybox, in conjunction with a sky camera allows a panoramic sky-scape to mapped onto the area in which a 'skybox' texture is applied. The sky camera itself takes its reference from the origin of the map allowing larger buildings and objects to be framed in a space further away from the main map. The reference camera uses 1/16 scale building to reduce the polygon count as well as requiring less skybox to render.
Fire entities and smoke entities also add to the war-like effect. Here some entity parenting work needed to be done to tie the gas to the canisters and effects like the canisters exploding when picked up.