Simple building procedures

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Divinehammer

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Mar 9, 2006
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Sunny, Obamalot


I have been working on a map for a while now and I am beginning to think that there is probably some simpler way to go about building cube structures and buildings. First I build the floor of a structure with an add brush then for the individual walls I make these out of separate brushes and align them and resizing them to fit each wall. So I was wondering what the rest of you builders suggest on how to do this. Should I be making large cubes and subtracting the insides to get rooms that I require. Like for instance if I wanted to make a two story house would I just make one large add cube the whole size of the house and then resize the red brush to the size of the room put it in the cube and subtract? This sure seems like what I should be doing. My next task is to make some underground tunnels should I make a rectangle cube and subtract its insides and just copy this around to make my tunnels? Just want to see what you do.
 

Nestor Makhno

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Feb 25, 2006
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I always used to do it the other way round - big cube then subtract out the rooms, windows, doors etc.

I have since started doing it the way you talk about and find that it gives me a clearer idea about the anatomy of a building and helps me to build a more convincing-looking building.

A recent building I did was a shipbuilder's shed and I started with foundations then did support beams, rafters etc then added the walls, roof tiles etc. and I have to say that the result looks much more convincing. \i think it helps add to the authenticity of a house's look if you can see the 'skeleton' of the building in certain places.

Building it was a blast, too - like one of those speeded up videos of a barn being built that you used to get in old Westerns.
 

Divinehammer

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Mar 9, 2006
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Sunny, Obamalot
couldnt one just do the subtraction method from big cube and add skeleton later? Really my big time waster and problem creater is that getting the wall corners to match up or the wall to sit on the floor brush just right with no gaps. I am endlessly aligning to avoid holes. Is there a special technique i can use in this? I think tha tI am going to use the subtraction method a bit more to speed things up.
 

Rex

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Dec 2, 2005
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New York, NY
the big cube with subtracted interior is the most efficient way to produce a simple building, both in terms of time and the number of brushes you have to use.

i can see how some might think this procedure would yield boring results, i.e. that every building you make will have to be a square and all the rooms inside need to be arranged very simply, but this is not at all the case. don't be afriad to get creative with the 2d shape builder, vertex editing, and brush clipping to get interesting shapes for your building shell and interior rooms. you can also make shells and rooms of a combination of several individual brushes, which can create a very nice "layered" or composite look. additionally, you can use either addition or subtraction brushes to detail your building with more decorative things like pillars, posts, depressed walls, etc.

be careful not to go too crazy with small details in bsp, though, as you will get much better results using static meshes for things like rafters, doorframes, and other more "skeletal" aspects of your building.

i have found that the best way is to try to think of your building method in terms of how to achieve a desired effect with the fewest possible vertices/brushes, and the cleanest overlap between the brushes you do use.

i do appreciate that everyone has their own method and preferences, so you will have to choose the way that is easiest for you. be mindful of the cost of your choices, however, as building a complex bsp foundation and frame that will ultimately be concealed from the viewer by terrain, solid walls, etc. will simply reduce your map's performance without adding any particular visual enrichment.

good luck!
 

Nestor Makhno

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Feb 25, 2006
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For sure - to ^ that.

I was simply referring to a structure with pillars and curtain walls between them and some struts supporting beams. I would never suggest that a mapper create BSP's for something that people will never see.

That would be crazy!

I am merely trying to put forward one way to avoid the incredible blockiness and bogusity that some buildings that are just hollowed cubes tend to have. Prolly fine for tank maps when people are driving past them fast but for infantry maps where people are going to fight over the buildings then any tricks for creating a realistic looking environment for low performance cost are valid.

I don't know any 3d-max or Maya (yet) but for converting, say, 6 upright pillars, 3 connecting beams and 6 struts to support the beams, then the convert -> mesh tool in ROEd is adequate (

When you use it though, make sure that you have got the texturing right and not looking tiled between elements in the overall object before you convert. Also don't try to include any subtractions in the group that you are converting or it won't work.

Personally (and this is purely personal) I would not use meshes for large bits of wall or anything else that I want to have realistic-looking shadows falling onto. Shadows on meshes don't work properly in UE2.5 If you're using Maya or some other pro 3D package you could actually do the lighting/shadows in tha package and then export them -so long as your light is in the same relative position in both your 3d and the editting programmes it would work.

*edit - I just gave the situation some consideration and I certainly concede that the cube with subtractions has a lot less vertices than a bunch of walls/floors etc. but an interesting point is this: If you want to make a wall with pillars there is no difference in number of vertices (or even number of faces) between modelling the pillars and walls individually or doing one brush and subtracting. Here's why:

wallbrush.jpg


So the number of faces and brushes is the same. One thing that militates against using the 3 brush scenario may well be texture depth - you have two sets of textures at the interface of the brushes basically sitting there, doing nothing. This means that you prolly should use subtractions from an existing brush, rather than multiple brushes, if your texture depth view is showing loads of red.
 
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Rex

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Dec 2, 2005
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New York, NY
Nice post, I certainly see more clearly now what you meant. I also didn't realize you are advocating combining BSP geometry into a static mesh, which does indeed change the approach the mapper needs to take.

I look forward to seeing your next project :D
 

Divinehammer

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Mar 9, 2006
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Sunny, Obamalot
Wouldnt you actually have more faces with the subtraction method than the 3 brush method. And Nestor I understood what you meant I think, what I was describing was that you could come back and add statics or BSP to break up the architecture. I would probably only make several BSP a static if you were going to use it in several locations. But once you make it a static you cannot change the textures correct? now if you were to take several support truss statics that are available and build your inner skeleton VS. building BSP and making it a static, wouldnt the many statics be more of a burden on rendering? I guess one could store connected BSP like the skelton you described in prefab, import it texture it and then make it a static huh? I tried storing alot to prefabs but the prefab file kept getting corrupted so I stopped using that.
 

Nestor Makhno

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I didn't make it clear that supporting beams and so on are meshes on Planet Nestoria so that was my bad.

Looking at the wireframe of the statics in the editor, they do not appear to be any more complicated and burdensome on the gfx card than you would expect - the only problem with them is damn vertex lighting.

Basically if you light a static in UE2.5 it works out the lighting on the vertices and only then interpolates the light between the vertices. Hourences on the BUF has done a tute explaining it better than I could.

It's here: http://help.hourences.com/tutorialsvertex.htm

So, if your meshes are in an environment with marked contrasts and boundaries between light and shade, beware - they will prolly look bad unless you do the lighting in a 3d package.

Newer versions (like UE3 I believe) have per-pixel shading rather than per vertex.

To DH - you could conceivably reskin a converted static using display ->skins but the scaling, rotation and u and v offset of the original texture would be preserved for the newly skinned texture and that could look very inappropriate.

As for prefabs - I haven't reached that chapter of the UEd bible yet :D
 
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ExoCet-NAW

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Feb 17, 2006
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you can actually change textures on most statics.

If you view them in the mesh browser and look under materials they are all there, just find a texture you wnat to change and use it.

You then have to add the static to your map and then while it's still selected click create static from selection, save to myLevel Package and its done.
 

Ruprecht

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Aug 29, 2006
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i usualy subtract too, otherwise i think it would be much of a caos if you build complex structures, as example you can see one of the towers of a stronghold im building, if i had done it all with adding brushes it would be a mess and 10000ds of them.

7191Subtract.JPG
 

Divinehammer

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Mar 9, 2006
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Sunny, Obamalot
you can actually change textures on most statics.

If you view them in the mesh browser and look under materials they are all there, just find a texture you wnat to change and use it.

You then have to add the static to your map and then while it's still selected click create static from selection, save to myLevel Package and its done.


good call on this I had forgotten all about this part of the SM browser.
 

sandorski

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Nov 16, 2006
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I have never actually released a Map, but I have built(almost completed even :D) 6 or 7 Maps for UT2k4(currently working on a RO Map). So I am merely somewhat experienced, but by no means an Expert. So get out your salt!

Personally for Outdoor Maps I prefer using Static Meshes over BSP 80% of the time. They just allow much greater Detail with far fewer problems over BSP. For a Simple house/building I generally make a simple Added BSP Hollow Cube, Cut out Doors/Windows, then throw a pile of SMeshes onto/into it to add fine detail(take away the Cubeyness, add decorative items to make it more Real). Things like Bridges and places you'll want to Drive a Vehicle over can be a pain with Collision issues though with SMeshes(see Orel's destroyable bridges for an example...though those bridges are complicated by having Movers as part of them), so know the Pros/Cons before getting far into a Project.

Lighting is certainly Tricky with SMeshes, especially Movers. Lightmaps are the best way to deal with this, but I haven't used them yet(still figuring out how) and have had success with tweaking SMeshes to look acceptable. Unlit, SpecialLit, and adjusting it's glow can all work to get a good result. That is sometimes a fairly time consuming process though.
 

Ruprecht

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Aug 29, 2006
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Ulm
Shurek said:
OMG Ruprecht! How do you build such complex brushes? My maps look like cubeland...:(

there varius ways, i guess.. i know two that ill explain at a sample staircase

its pretty much self explantory, i think.

6417sub2.JPG


three subtraction brushes hollow it so it appears nearly round, sure, the more subtractions you add the smoother will it look later.

the other solution i found later is via the cliping tool, and a cylindric subtraction, but that makes them perfectly round, and thats not always wanted (by me).

4053viaclipping.JPG
 

Nestor Makhno

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Feb 25, 2006
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Rupe, that building there looks like it could create BSP holes of such viciousness that they would cause your PC to implode and get ****ed into a singularity.
 

Ruprecht

FNG / Fresh Meat
Aug 29, 2006
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Ulm
hehe, i knew someone would bring it up, but dont worry, there no holes and everything is on grid.
 

ExoCet-NAW

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Feb 17, 2006
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true you can make some realy complex shapes and designs.
But you MUST stay on Grid and have it all lined up perfectly.