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Author Topic: Giving the 1980s their vehicles back (sedan/police care WiP, 31 July))  (Read 13113 times)

Offline Wirelizard

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First off, just got back into UFO:AI after a few years and a couple of releases away, it's gotten so much more polished and awesome! Just played my first campaign through to the assault on an alien base (granted, on Very Easy...) and had a blast. The 3d work in the alien base alone is spectacular. I spent at least twenty minutes at the start of that mission just flying the camera around the base, oogling all the blinkenlights and being creeped out by the awesome alien-ness of it! Good thing this isn't an RTS, the aliens would have munched my guys while I drooled over their base...

(I'm also not sure if this should be Mapping or Artwork, so mods, please punt it around as appropriate...)

Anyway... one of the minor things that's bugged me, though, is how very non-futuristic all of the ground vehicles look in the game. Granted, there might be a great revival of 1980s/early 90s vehicle design in the 2080s (stranger things have happened in popular taste) but it would be kind of fun to have some more futuristic vehicles to hid behind while you're stalking Shevaar through the streets.

I haven't done any 3d work in five years or so, but I've also wandered back into Blender recently and rediscovered what a lot of fun that is.

A quick mental rundown of the vehicles seen on UFO:AI maps gives us a pretty short list:
- minivan
- cop car
- Hummer-like military vehicle
- freight trucks, with and without trailers
- LeCar-like subcompact (which also appears crashed into a lampost on at least one map, with crumpled hood)
(I'm sure I've forgotten a few, but these are the most common ones, anyway, especially on the RMA maps)

Before I go tearing off to Blender to start thrashing around, downloading the UFOAI source and such, a couple of questions.

1. Is there an interest in getting new meshes for these vehicles?

2. If 1=Yes, is swapping them into the maps relatively straightforward?

Anyway, I'd like to contribute, and some fairly simple low-poly semi-futuristic vehicular scenery seemed like a good starting point. Advice, feedback and possible starting points or artwork for further inspiration all welcomed!
« Last Edit: July 31, 2012, 01:45:37 pm by Wirelizard »

Offline Sandro

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Re: Giving the 1980s their vehicles back
« Reply #1 on: July 20, 2012, 01:03:08 pm »
That subject was put up several times, and yes -- having 198* vehicles in 2084 seems rather strange. While formal approval rights go to Mattn (who is our current project leader), personally I beleive your work will be appreciated.
Answering to your second question, yes. Mesh replacement is easy. There are currently some problems with replacing the shadowcasters for mesh models, which should be redone manually, but if you keep the general outline of the original model, that should not be necessary.

Offline H-Hour

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Re: Giving the 1980s their vehicles back
« Reply #2 on: July 20, 2012, 01:15:36 pm »
1. Yes, we would be very interested in new models. But you also need to be able to create skins as well. We don't have dedicated 2D artists standing by to do that for you.

Most of the game's art assets were created before the game's story was set in the future. Upgrades to any existing models are welcome (cars, trees, equipment, etc), but the quality level must be higher when replacing existing content. That doesn't mean you should go crazy with the poly counts, but you can be a bit more detailed. Skins should be done at 1024x1024 resolution minimum (we can always scale down if we want).

2. Swapping them in and out is easy and even something you could do yourself with minimal effort. Learning how to do this in UFORadiant is pretty simple. It will be more involved than just overwriting the mesh file. But still not too difficult.

3. Please ask if you have any questions. Feel free to share work early for comments.

4. We have generally avoided an overly cartoon-ish art style. Please make your vehicles semi-realistic.

5. If you feel like making damaged vehicles (cars shot up, other signs of battle) that would be nice too. I hope to get back to mapping in the future and still hope to make a proper 2084 city map, complete wih crashed cars and buildings shot up, etc.

Offline geisthund

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Re: Giving the 1980s their vehicles back
« Reply #3 on: July 20, 2012, 01:43:35 pm »
So question re the bullet riddled vehicles:

are we setting the game in the immediate post aftermath of the invasion (in which case an even blend of newish and damaged cars would be sensible) or in a post-holocaust late-resurgence kind of setting (in which case really badly smashed rusted cars would be good, kinda like fallout 3)

personally I'm a sucker for post-holocaust games, but the buildings are too pristine for that.


Offline H-Hour

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Re: Giving the 1980s their vehicles back
« Reply #4 on: July 20, 2012, 02:03:07 pm »
are we setting the game in the immediate post aftermath of the invasion (in which case an even blend of newish and damaged cars would be sensible) or in a post-holocaust late-resurgence kind of setting (in which case really badly smashed rusted cars would be good, kinda like fallout 3)

No, the bullets/damage would come from the fact that the aliens have already been shooting the place up a bit. This would be most applicable in the case of landed terror missions, which accounts for most of our urban missions.

Offline Mattn

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Re: Giving the 1980s their vehicles back
« Reply #5 on: July 20, 2012, 02:30:08 pm »
yes - new cars would be a great addition to the maps.

btw. your praises for the alienbase all belongs to H-Hour (and to Sandro to improve the renderer)

Offline Crystan

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Re: Giving the 1980s their vehicles back
« Reply #6 on: July 20, 2012, 04:19:23 pm »
Yeah some new cars would be awesome!

Offline Wirelizard

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Re: Giving the 1980s their vehicles back
« Reply #7 on: July 21, 2012, 05:02:05 am »
Sounds like new cars are a hit idea, then.

My last round of 3d work was for Orbiter space sim about five or six years ago, using a Windows-based freeware 3d program I no longer remember the name of. Blender is a fair bit more powerful and featureful, but also a bit less beginner-friendly! I've also done my own skinning for various Orbiter and MSFS projects, so had already planned to deliver fully skinned objects to UFO:AI, no worries. I'm more than conversant enough with GIMP and Inkscape to handle skinning, if I can get back up to speed on the 3d side of things!

I think my anti-social TGIF evening is going to consist of a moderate amount of gin, Blender tutorials, and blowing away Ortnoks when I get tired of Blender blowing me away!

Offline Wirelizard

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Re: Giving the 1980s their vehicles back
« Reply #8 on: July 23, 2012, 06:09:56 am »
OK, Blender is breaking my head. I'm sure it's powerful, but the UI is as opaque as hell. "Complexity purely for the sake of complexity" is the phrase that comes to mind.

Does it really have a limit of four sides/edges per face? That seems like a crazy random limit to impose and a wonderful way to uselessly drive up the number of surfaces on a model...

That said, I do have my first concept scribbles, I've been rummaging through DeviantArt and other websites for inspiration, and there are vaguely vehicle-shaped objects appearing in Blender...

Offline headdie

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Re: Giving the 1980s their vehicles back
« Reply #9 on: July 23, 2012, 10:20:30 am »
Blender is squares or triangles.  I cant really comment on recent builds as my preference is 2.49 because 2.5+ broke a script I need for other projects but 2.49 was all about learning the keyboard shortcuts, once you got the ones important to you memorised it is a powerful very fast tool to use.

Offline H-Hour

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Re: Giving the 1980s their vehicles back
« Reply #10 on: July 23, 2012, 10:32:12 am »
OK, Blender is breaking my head. I'm sure it's powerful, but the UI is as opaque as hell. "Complexity purely for the sake of complexity" is the phrase that comes to mind.

Yes, I recommend spending time in tutorials rather than trying to figure it out as you go. It's interface is very different from other 3D programs but from what I hear it's very powerful once you get the hang of it. The nice thing about Blender is that it is the open-source 3D moddeler of choice, so you know it will continue to roll forward with the times. Learning any other modeller at this point is kind of like consigning yourself to a certain moment in history -- unless you can afford a new 3DSM every few years. (I am stuck in a 3DSM version from years ago with the choice to either pay money I don't have for an upgrade or learn Blender.)

Does it really have a limit of four sides/edges per face? That seems like a crazy random limit to impose and a wonderful way to uselessly drive up the number of surfaces on a model...

Every 3D asset in our game (and most games) is constructed out of triangles. Even if the surface in your editor is 4,5,6,7 sides, it will be decomposed into triangles in the game. So having a limit like this does not drive up the "actual" number of surfaces on a model.

That said, I do have my first concept scribbles, I've been rummaging through DeviantArt and other websites for inspiration, and there are vaguely vehicle-shaped objects appearing in Blender...

Cool! Look forward to seeing what you've got. Please keep in mind limits on licensing issues when modelling/skinning. This extends to concept work -- if a model looks exactly like a concept produced by someone else, it can trample on their licensing rights. Of course, we all take inspiration from each other and small changes to the concept are usually enough to make it distinct.

Offline Wirelizard

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Re: Giving the 1980s their vehicles back
« Reply #11 on: July 23, 2012, 11:37:07 am »
Yes, I recommend spending time in tutorials rather than trying to figure it out as you go.

I've been flipping back and forth between Blender itself, the Blender docs, and YouTube tutorials, and am significantly less lost than a few hours ago!

The one thing that is giving me grief is Blender's use of Boolean operations - blending/merging/cutting shapes with other shapes. The Blender 2.6 docs frankly don't seem to make sense, and sometimes Blender will reject an attempt at a Boolean op that looks, to me, like it should work.

I've been spoiled the last few years by Inkscape, I guess, which has an awesomely easy to use UI, error messages that are actually *helpful* and other refinements...

Quote
Every 3D asset in our game (and most games) is constructed out of triangles. Even if the surface in your editor is 4,5,6,7 sides, it will be decomposed into triangles in the game. So having a limit like this does not drive up the "actual" number of surfaces on a model.

Good to know. I found the suggested UFO:AI poly counts over on your wiki for reference. Assuming I'm reading the poly counts in Blender right, keeping vehicles under the suggested limit but getting them more interesting than the current UFO:AI models shouldn't be difficult.

Quote
Cool! Look forward to seeing what you've got. Please keep in mind limits on licensing issues when modelling/skinning. This extends to concept work -- if a model looks exactly like a concept produced by someone else, it can trample on their licensing rights. Of course, we all take inspiration from each other and small changes to the concept are usually enough to make it distinct.

I'm keeping that in mind, no worries. I'm involved in other open source projects (Ubuntu, Open Clipart, a few others in the past) and I'm aware of some of the perils.

I've been working on a Hummer-replacement first, for somewhere to start, and I'm quite happy with how the mesh is taking shape. Screenshots sometime in the next few days.

Offline H-Hour

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Re: Giving the 1980s their vehicles back
« Reply #12 on: July 23, 2012, 12:20:21 pm »
I'm keeping that in mind, no worries. I'm involved in other open source projects (Ubuntu, Open Clipart, a few others in the past) and I'm aware of some of the perils.

Great! This is often one of the most difficult thing to get across to artists.

Offline Wirelizard

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Re: Giving the 1980s their vehicles back
« Reply #13 on: July 23, 2012, 01:35:05 pm »
Quick and dirty screenshot straight from Blender's 4-up view, before I fall over for some badly needed sleep.



Early WiP, obviously! This is intended as a replacement for the Hummer model; I'll likely do a police skin for it too, as well as camo. The basic concept is lifted from the various real Hummer-replacement concepts out there, more or less - open wheel wells to deflect blast, curved underside, etc

Just for size reference, the grey vertical rod next to the vehicle is six feet tall in UFO:AI's "8 units = 1 foot" scale. I haven't yet put my mesh next to the existing Hummer mesh, but the proportions are deliberately similar. If I'm reading Blender's interface correctly, it's currently 262 triangles, although I'm using the "Mirror" function so I'm not actually sure if that's for just the side I'm actually building or for the whole vehicle.

I'm still tweaking proportions, but I'm generally satisfied with the beast. The wheels will get hubcaps in the mesh, but I'll probably leave tread and such for the skin. I might put a hatch on the roof, and still need to do axle/drive train/suspension bits so the wheels aren't just floating there...
« Last Edit: July 23, 2012, 01:37:01 pm by Wirelizard »

Offline H-Hour

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Re: Giving the 1980s their vehicles back (1st WiP pic, 23 July)
« Reply #14 on: July 23, 2012, 02:26:08 pm »
Looks promising, and good level of detail in the construction. It might be nice to see what it looks like with the body sitting a bit higher off the ground.

One trick you can do later for better performance: Make the wheel a separate model with a separate skin. Then we can link them up in the map editor. It's a bit cheaper on the engine to show one model four times rather than having them built into the vehicle model. And that way if we want we can do clever things like twisting the wheels to make it look like it's turning, bending them outwards to look like it crashed, etc. You can also reuse the wheels on other models where appropriate (scale, skin, etc).