2. Draw up concept sketches. It's way easier to redesign a pencil sketch or hand drawn concept than to endlessly tweak a model, but use whatever tool you are most comfortable with.
3. Discuss points of the sketch, fix and tweak it until everyone is generally happy. Minor items like one color versus another don't count, minor details like that can be handled later. If you make changes to a concept, always save the previous designs! You might find out the first concept was the best, you don't want to redo it later.
4. The concept might sit for a while at this point, especially if other concepts are in the works. We don't necessarily take the first concept we get, we like to see several ideas to compare them. Once a concept is liked by most of the team and is approved by the senior members as appropriate for the style guidelines (see below), it is placed on "the short list" of completed concepts.
5. Build a 3D model to the concept standard to see the design in 3d. The model must be to scale with this block, which is 1 meter square and 2.5 meters tall. (It is sideways if you don't use Milkshape 3D, which has the Z and Y axes switched compared to 3DMax) Make sure you model is properly aligned-sitting on the ground if it will be on the ground in the scene for example. You must use triangles for the mesh, not NURBS or 4-sided faces. Post the model in a .zip file that includes the exported model in 3ds format (and any textures you have mapped in .png format) for everyone to look at in their modeling packages. Also post a screen shot of the model in flat-shaded view, 50% grey background, with no special lighting as well as a textured view if you have a texture assigned. Try to post the screenshot as a .jpg and try to keep the picture size small for those who have 56k modems.
6. Tweak the model if necessary after more discussion.
7. Finalize the design, and submit for skinning and any animation if not already done.
8. Once the high poly, X-Net model is complete, create the low poly, battlescape model. The texture will be scaled down as necessary as well. Submit both as a second .zip file in the same thread as the concept. Make sure your model is aligned and scaled properly, it will not be done for you.
9. Currently our designated 3D engine is Ogre. There are export plug-ins for several 3D apps on their site, take a look for your version. Once you have installed the export plug-in, you should export the model to .mesh format. Here are some additional comments from Drewid regarding Ogre: The main restriction is to do with the number of materials per object. Ogre does not support per-face material assignments. The mapping from Maya to Ogre is like this:
Maya scene --> Ogre mesh
Maya mesh --> Ogre submesh
Each Ogre submesh can have one material, so therefore each Maya mesh can have one material. A material is different than a texture though -- each material can have up to 8 texture layers applied.
Remember that to render efficiently you want to minimize material changes. So making a model with different materials on every face, or lots of submeshes, will slow things down horribly. Better to have a larger texture with smaller sections, and get creative with the UV mapping.
Multiple objects can share a single texture, but keep the material name unique to each object. Best Practice is to do the naming as you create the materials.
If the objects share a single texture then try to make that obvious in the texture name. For instance all the baseview objects will share a single texture map, with a name like "allbasestructures.png".
Animation: at the moment all animation is done through bones. So if you want to rotate a whole object it has to have a vertex assignment to a single bone. It seems possible that it might work to have the object as a child of the bone instead, which would be a lot more efficient.
Only Max and Milkshape have animation exporters as of now. The Maya animation exporters are being worked on. There is a work-round if you want to animate in Maya, but it adds extra steps to the whole export process, so really should be avoided. Maya is easy to work in so I think the animation exporter will be running soon.
A note regarding polycount - the first model should be the high quality version that we'll see in the X-Net (Ufopedia equivalent). For the X-Net, keep models under 6000 polys and use a 512x512 texture map or less. More details can be found in the asset list.
For all other areas of the game polycount on character models should be 1500 or less, weapons should be 500 or less, and small environmental objects should be as small as possible without looking bad. Objects you won't see in the X-Net should be modeled as the low poly versions from the start.
A note regarding textures - High detail X-Net models should start with a 512x512 map (if modeling heads separately, use another map for the skin detail). Texture maps must be sized in pixels by a power of two: 64x64, 128x128, 256x256, 64x128, etc. This map can also be used for the lower detail battlescape model, but will certainly be scaled down to save video memory. You can scale the texture down prior to posting, just make it as small as you can without losing too much detail, and maintain the power of two sizes above. You can use 32x32 or 32x64 as well, and other variations up to 512x512. The texture should be named to match the model name, for example aliengrenade.3ds would have aliengrenade.png as the texture. The X-Net model should be named highaliengrenade.3ds. Don't put spaces or underscores into the name, and preferably make the name all lowercase. For generic models that we might have more than 1 of (for eample a street light), include a unique designation in the name, preferably your initials followed by a number. This will make sure all model names are unique between members. An example from John A Doe would be streetlightjad1.3ds and streetlightjad1.png for the texture.
When a model is posted as a .zip or .rar attachment, it is important to realize that the original artist is the one working on the model unless they pass it off to another member. No modifying of the model and reposting should be done, unless you can't explain a point of the concept any other way. The original artist is responsible for integrating ideas into their model, but if they want help with changes they can ask others of course. If a member leaves or is on extended absence and changes are needed, they can be done by another member with a senior member's permission.
We won't be using any art that is a derivative or modified version of someone else's work in Xenocide, which includes anything which doesn't have the open source license disclaimer on it or we have the creator's explicit permission to use it. It applies to all art, not just models.
We're not saying that just because a model makes it into the repository that it will be guaranteed to make it into the game, but the high quality models in there will be considered the 'short list'. Anything that doesn't make V1.0 that is still in there could be offered as an optional download pack. Also realise that submitting concepts and models for an item is not "first come-first served", you can post models for items even if someone has already posted one and both will be considered.
We can see that some people might well get upset by the fact their design didn't make it, which we are going to have to face. There's no way around it so we should be aware of it and accept that people might get upset. We do have a style guide and if we don't stick to it the game will look patched together very quickly. So if we just accept any ideas thrown at us we're going to end up with a mish-mash game. We don't want to see that happen.
Edited by Breunor, 09 January 2004 - 09:13 AM.