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Custom Map Makers • Mapping for UrT HD
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Mapping for UrT HD

Posted: Sun Oct 16, 2011 9:16 am
by Rayne
With UrT HD on the way mappers have to start thinking about mapping for the new engine (fstech1).
So far we've seen some screenshots of new maps and videos that show some lighting techniques.

So what is the difference between mapping for 4.1 and HD.
First of all tools. In 4.1 the only way to build a (playable) map was through GtkRadiant. A very old and very primitive tool.
Those that invested thousands of hours managed to create some very impressive geometry in it. But most of the time we played on maps that look like something more suited for minecraft due to their blocky nature.

In HD that changes. Organic look of maps is closer than ever and there is very few limitations.

So what do i need to map for UrT HD?
Any 3D modeling tool that can export a model in .ase, md3, .obj, .3ds format will do. I suggest sticking with .ase models since they're easier to edit.

Why would i switch to a 3D modeling software?
There are few reasons.
Radiant lacks some essential tools. Tools that have been a standard in most 3D modeling software for years.
Second, quality of your geometry increases 10 fold. In radiant is it literally impossible to build a smooth looking primitive such as sphere. No matter how much phong you use it never looks good.
If you don't know how to build something and you need a tutorial, chances you won't find what you need on the web are slim to none. Where with radiant finding decent tutorials has always been a pain in the ass. So the learning curve is actually smoother with less bumps along the way.
Believe it or not but light leaks are no longer an issue. Edge mitering along with building double walls to stop light becomes a thing of the past.
Texturing is a lot easier in a proper 3D modeling software and most models have it's own unique texture specially made and customized to fit on it like a glove.
Large amount of models available on the web. There is a lot of free models released under the creative commons license that allow modification of the work. So it's easy to find a suitable model and edit it to suit your needs.
Advanced lighting, up until now we never had the possibility to create a map with decent looking shadows. Almost all shadows would look like big blotches and lack sharpness. This was very noticeable on smaller shapes that would raise the level of details and realism in a map. Now with possibility of baking shadows directly into textures we can not just have sharp ray traced shadows but also adjust them as we see fit. Another product of this technique is a performance boost since shadows are just a part of the texture now and shorter compile times.

There are more reasons why to switch to 3D modeling software but i think this is enough for now.

Radiant remains in use, but now serves the purpose similar to the one of an assembly line. Finished models are imported into radiant and placed in their position. After that all that is left is to set up lighting and spawn points.
Lighting will depend on the technique you used. If you used shadow baking then your main goal is to fully lit the map so all the textures are fully visible and -notrace switch is used during light compiles to remove all the shadows.
If you decide to leave lighting completely to q3map2 then the procedure to light up the map is a little different and FrankieV explained it into details in his video "painting with lights".

Another nice addition to UrT HD are normal and bump maps. Normal maps can be used to add details and specular level to textures.
While bump maps can add depth, used together they create something called parallax mapping. Which is basically forcing a distortion into a texture thus making it look 3D. An effect that can make textures look amazing or horrible, so use it carefully and don't go over board with depth. Less is very often more.
_n and _b maps are one of reason shader lights are no longer the best way to add lights in a map. Targeted lights make specular level look more natural.

fstech1 engine handles meshes a lot better than it handles brushes. Switching from brush based geometry to meshes improves performance and removes the need to vis block a map like we're used to doing it in 4.1.
Tris count can no longer be used as benchmark, a new one has to be found.

Hardware rendering is a big step and probably the biggest addition to the game in it's 10 years of existence.
Achieving constant 125 FPS is no longer a dream and almost everyone will be able to enjoy both the gameplay and the look of the game.

Bottom line of this post is to bring mapping for UrT HD closer to mappers. Not much has been said regarding mapping for this engine and even though release date remains unknown, last thing you want is to be caught unprepared.
So obtain a copy of blender, 3ds max or any other 3D modeling software and start learning it. If you plan to map for fstech1 engine you will need it.
This is the breaking point in UrT's history and here only those determined to become good mappers, those with the will to learn and improve will survive.

Don't take this lightly and think radiant will suffice for UrT HD, it wont. Learn and improve.

Re: Mapping for UrT HD

Posted: Sun Oct 16, 2011 9:45 am
by johnnyenglish
Ever since the "Enthusiastic mappers required" bumpy topic there have been some big hints that this is the way to go.

The biggest problem I see is that most good mappers have invested a lot of time learning radiant and will not immediately see the advantages of max or blender.

Basically, radiant creates a lot of triangles and faces from the brushes you create - 3dsmax and blender also do this but give you a lot more control over the process. As rayne points out, it's virtually impossible to make a smooth sphere in radiant - in 3dsmax it's simple.

The texturing tools in max/blender are far superior to those in radiant.

After faffing around with the idea of switching my mapping work flow to max I've finally made the switch, it's taken me a good couple of weeks to set up my system to do this (running 3dsmax on ubuntu didn't help) but now I'm up and running I'm really pleased with the results and how easy it is to make the scenes like I can visualise them.

I'm considering writing a tutorial for linux users on how to set up your mapping pipeline to include 3dsmax (if you can get a copy) - I think Rayne should do one for Windoze users.

Re: Mapping for UrT HD

Posted: Sun Oct 16, 2011 9:55 am
by MajkiFajki
Well - after ut4_poland I probably will have to switch.

Re: Mapping for UrT HD

Posted: Sun Oct 16, 2011 10:04 am
by xandaxs
I guess i could give it a try...
But how would it be with applying textures, lighting and shaders?

Re: Mapping for UrT HD

Posted: Sun Oct 16, 2011 10:12 am
by johnnyenglish
You apply the textures inside max or blender, in max for example you name your materials the same as the radiant texture and they just work.

Lighting will probably be done in radiant but it might be worth exploring raynes recent discovery of using ray traced light maps from max.

Other entities would need to be added in radiant.

Re: Mapping for UrT HD

Posted: Sun Oct 16, 2011 10:23 am
by xandaxs
so, basically we'd just be doing brushwork in 3ds and all of the other things in Radiant?

Re: Mapping for UrT HD

Posted: Sun Oct 16, 2011 10:26 am
by Rylius

Re: Mapping for UrT HD

Posted: Sun Oct 16, 2011 10:30 am
by xandaxs
I hope it is as easy to learn as gtk actually... :/

Re: Mapping for UrT HD

Posted: Sun Oct 16, 2011 10:41 am
by Rayne
Rylius old GPUs will struggle will both versions of UrT. If you can't get more from HD then you can't get decent FPS in 4.1 either. Unless you got i7 processor and a 128 MB old pcie card, which i doubt is the case.
Blender IMO is crap. Very user unfriendly and difficult to learn. Where max is easy to pick up and easier to learn than radiant, at least it was to me.

Re: Mapping for UrT HD

Posted: Sun Oct 16, 2011 10:42 am
by Delirium
http://www.urbanterror.info/forums/topi ... in-3dsmax/

might help some of you junkies. I love radiant too much to be sold on the idea just yet