The 3rd Age

Ghosts of Arnor v0.35

Ghosts of Arnor v0.35

A RotWK mod that adds Arnor, splits Gondor and Rohan, improves the Inn/CaH system, and adds heroes

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Living World Map Graphics Deconstruction

Avatar of Nertea

Nertea

Category: Graphics
Level: Expert
Created: Monday April 27, 2009 - 1:46
Updated: Sunday April 5, 2015 - 17:28
Views: 16895
Summary: Some notes on the function of various graphical parts of the Living World Map

Rating

Staff says

5.0

Members say

5.0

Average

5.0/5.0

14 votes

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General Considerations

Before you even think about creating a new Living World Map, you should take account of the size of the project you'll be undertaking. The original LWM weighs in at 34 000 polygons, with 12 1024x1024 textures. That's over 12 million pixels. If you want to make a new map, you'll be painting or otherwise sourcing a textures of that size if you want to maintain EA's size of map and level of detail. This isn't to deter anyone from doing it, it's certainly possible. My LWM rebuild that you'll see often in this article is 85 000 polygons and has a total of around 15 million pixels (maybe a month build time).

Anyways, some things you should know before starting


  • Anything in this tutorial is meant for 3DS Max 8. It should be identical in 7, and similar in Gmax. Gmax may have problems with some texture settings though. Don't contact me asking though, as I won't know.
  • SAGE can only handle textures below around 256 mb per file. This means that you HAVE to tile your texture (so be good at unwraps and stitching)
  • To import the stock LWM for reference, you'll need to increase the memory used by the W3D importer. To do this, open 3DS Max, go to Customize -> Prefereces -> MAXScript tab. Increase the Initial Heap Allocation to something higher than the LWM size (100 mb is good).
  • WDump is necessary to look at the various subobjects' texture settings for reference. You can find it in the RenX tools pack or here
  • You should always be using W3D materials, NOT the EA-supplied DirectX .fx shader files
  • It is impossible to mimic some transparency and reflectivity effects using the 3DS Max plugins as they were designed for BFME2 and don't seem to export exactly as they should (according to WDump)
  • For anything that has transparent portions, vertex painting is necessary. I recommend Robnkarla's tutorial on it. The tool has a different appearance in Max 8, but the principle is the same
  • Again, transparent portions. If you look at such objects in the W3D Viewer, they often will not match what you see ingame. I recommend ignoring the Viewer altogether and simply loading the game to check your transparencies.
  • Do not despair! Sometimes things make no sense, and you just have to fight with them for a bit
  • Shadows are hardcoded disabled on the LWM. Enabling them on models will do nothing, enabling them in code will crash the game.


Now, on to the actual content...

Comments

Display order: Newest first

Sulherokhh (Team Chamber Member) - Tuesday April 28, 2009 - 11:26

Whosoever dared to rate this at '4' now has to explain what is missing for it to be rated '5'.
Or else the Lord of Skies shall smite him with Thunder and Lightning until only coals and ashes remain ....

Yup. You know that i am talking to ... :-#

Námo - Tuesday April 28, 2009 - 3:59

Excellent! and MOST welcome - lots of thanks to both of you!

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