Proposals/Texture Properties

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What we have

We have 1935 different textures right now. The *_nm.*, *_sm.* and *_gm.* are not included in this number, but the textures used for animations only are. 1142 textures are used within the maps, whereas in this case the animation textures are not included.

For every texture we can assign different properties. That are

Those are defined in different places. The surface parameters in terrain.ufo, the material system parameters are in the .mat files for each map.

There is also a proposal about changes for the footstepsound property.


  • General
    • Imo the surface and material system parameters belong together. They are properties of the texture. Having them spread all over the place is not good. The need to have duplicated entries in different files is not good.
  • the .mat files
    • In order to to take advantage of the material system for a certain texture, you need to make an entry in the maps .mat file. This usually results in either
      • No entry at all.
      • A copy/pasted entry.
    • Not even easy to find out what textures are used within the map.
    • Maintaining this is a nightmare. There might be entries for textures that were replaced and therefore are not longer used within the map.
    • An example: The UFOs should look the same on all maps. So, in each .mat file, for every map, we have the same entries regarding the related textures, over and over again. Now, if I take a closer look and see some value in there that could be changed to get a better result - I would need to change that value in all those files.
  • terrain.ufo
    • Is simply not flexible enough. It is not possible to assign muliple sounds. It simply assumes a concrete texture is always only used for concrete surfaces, which is not true in a lot of cases.
    • The values given there cannot be overwritten.


In order to get rid of those problems, I propose a much simpler approach.

  • A new .ufo file to store property templates for various texture categories. These values are global for each texture within this category over all maps.
  • templates.ufo:
category metal_thin {
    description "some text"
    footstepsound "footsteps/metal1"
    bouncefraction "0.7"
    bump 0.1
    parallax 1.0
    hardness 0.9
    specular 1.0

  • A new .ufo file to assign a categorie to each texture. These values should overwrite/expand those given by the category template and are used for the texture over all maps.
  • properties.ufo:
texture tex_base/vent_round2 {
    category metal_thin
	texture tex_base/vent_round2_a0
	anim 6 48

  • Make it possible to define all the texture properties in the .mat file, again overwriting the previous values.

  • This would make terrain.ufo and possibly some of the .mat files obsolete.

The idea in general:

  • The mapper should have the chance to define the textures properties for his map completely in the maps .mat file, giving him as much freedom as possible.
  • But he doesn´t need to, because the game can use the global values for the textures given in the properties file.
  • If no certain values given for the texture in the properties file, the game uses those from the textures category template.
  • If the texture has no category assigned, the game can give an output to the console.

Further Improvements

Maybe giving min-max values in the templates would allow some diversity for e.g. bouncefraction, so the behaviour of a certain texture is slightly different each time the map is loaded.

Also, implementing the changes for the footstepsound property would be possible in a way like this

category metal_thin {
    description "some text"
    footstepsound {
    bouncefraction "0.6"
    bump 0.1
    parallax 1.0
    hardness 0.9
    specular 1.0

or by using a comma seperated list. This would allow a different sound for the texture on each map start.


The idea is based on the work of DexCisco and Crystan.

--ShipIt 18:21, 10 March 2013 (SAST)