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Hans_Petter

FU III 3D formats

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I've been dabbling into some 3D modeling for X-Plane lately and bought AC3D since it was the only 3D editor I was able to grasp. Blender is free but the user interface is... let's say less intuitive. I'm not ready for anything "heavy" but I would like to spend some time on FU III again. There's some unfinished scenery stuff and now I'm thinking what it would take to export models to FU III formats. I'm sure this has been covered before but I didn't pay attention back then :( So, if I were to create some pretty shapes in AC3D how would I port these to FU III RES, BIN or MOD? What did Looking Glass use to create the original aircraft and scenery and which applications have been used to create the splendid range of addon aircraft?

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Hello Hans,My limited knowledge of modeling objects:Use AC3D to export to .3ds format. Here at Avsim Library:N3DS2E.exe to convert .3DS to Looking Glass .E formatBSP.EXE to convert the .E to Looking Glass .BIN object formatFixMip.exe by Robert D to convert textures to Looking Glass .MIP for the Looking Glass .BIN ObjectsJimB

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Hi Hans Petter,Happy to see you inside the model builder arena :-)My model was done using GMax and Anim8tor and other tools to convert models in other formats.(all free) The AN-2 was build with GMax and after conversion to 3ds/E textured by Anim8tor.Contact me directly when you need help.As first hint, caution for large models, the compiled size of the .bin is max. 140k !!!The polygon count must be less than 1800.You can handle terrain elevation also with the tools.Good luckAndre

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I compared prices before I went for AC3D. A legal copy of 3D Studio Max retails at about $ 3,500 so the choice was quite simple. I'm sure it's a more powerful application but I assume it's really way above our requirements. The pros tend to use 3D Studio Max and Photoshop and their price tags reflect their professional user base. Still, I'm just a bit surprised that the market will accept this price range. Anyway, AC3D and Blender will both export to the 3D Studio format so I assume that's a good common denominator for conversions.The free Gmax has its own format. Does it export to 3DS?Another question, when you edit terrain elevation you'll need to convert it from the FU3 format into 3DS or another format you can edit. Can you put a megatile texture as a background image and fix coastlines in a what-you-see-is-what-you-get fashion? Regarding the size limit, 140 k is ridiculously low by today's standards. Still, for games and sims it's always a very good idea to avoid unnecessarily complicated models since they eat frame rates. Engineers and architects don't share this concern since they just want a perfect model to explore from all views and angles with nothing else going on at the same time. It's like checking out a building in our "ModelView" as opposed to landing an aircraft right next to it while AI traffic takes off from behind it. But then, when you have constructed a new model how do you go about reducing the polygon count? That is, I assume you tend to exceed it all the time and then reduce / simplify the finished model to get it below the size limit.

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Hello Hans,I think you will find Anim8or very useful and worth exploring. It is a very powerful freeware 3d modeling program with continuing support and development. I think JonP uses it to model his airplanes. I, myself prefer to model objects with Sketchup, then export to 3ds or obj. I'll import to Anim8or because it has an easy "Scale" function to re-size the model- Scale by 2, Scale by 0.5, Scale Custom, also it's "Locate" feature- Stand on ground, stand on origin, Center about origin is handy.I do like AC3D and currently own v6.2; but my mental ability to use it and Anim8or to their full potential is very limited(actually near anything even slightly complex).Another import/ export option is 3dObject Convertor. It is payware, but has many filters for import/export including Looking Glass .E. Comes with free life-time upgrades. It is not just a convertor, as it has some tools built in. I just mention it as something to look at and have owned it for some years and enjoy it.And there's another freeware modeling program, Wings3D.Also, the developers of Truespace v7.6 have made it freeware.I agree Blender has a strange gui; however I remember there is a tutorial out there somewhere on customizing the interface to be more user friendly.There is also a large fan community of the Looking Glass Studio's "Thief" and "System Shock" series. Much of the tools the fans have made work fine with our Flight Unlimited version of .BIN and .E files.jimb

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GMax can import 3ds but for the export of 3ds you will need the high priced version.The freeway is exporting as .md3 (Quake III) with some restriction in complexity, but fu3 models has restrictions anyway.The meshes are short integer type and so limitted to +-16384 as value. To get a good model the model size I choose -400 to +400 to get a good final result.AN-2 as example. The material and texture gets lost to I just build the model and divede it in submodels as needed by for texturing.Texture is applied in the last step using Anim8tor. Model resizing is easy and can be done in the last compile step by BSP.EXE see the next 3 command lines:makemip.exe *.gif ./n3ds2e ghunter0.3dsbsp ghunter0.e -es.92 -s.018the first will convert texture gif, tga or bmp to .mipthe next one is converting the 3ds hunter model to E-code, E-code can be modified using the standard notepad.last step compile to .bin from E-code, scale is -s parameter here the model is reduced to 0.018I reduce the polygon of a given model using GMax, The GUI is best for that. If a wheel is defined by a cylinder having 18 sides and 6 height segments then you will have to reduce it to 6 side or 8 and just 1 or max. 3 height segments. This looks not so nice but later in the processing with BSP defining material texturing using PHONG will make it smooth again. This is defined by the material section in the E-code, transparency, double sided... also.Texture settings and material is important and you need to build the model as needed for the texture. As example look at a simple cube. If you create just a cube as a single object and then apply texture on it you can't place 6 different texture on each side because texture will be projected on the model and you get distortions when applied over the corner and just 1 side will be ok when it is aligned to the projection plane, the sides left, right, top and below of it will the just use 1 or 2 pixel rows to texture the full face and this looks very bad. To avoid this you must build the cube as 6 single faces, the you can texture each face with a different picture without distortion.Terrain editing:With GeoTilesViewer you can export 60% of a tile to a MD3 matrix and this matrix can then be imported to GMax. Full size is not possible due to restrictions. Then you can apply a map texture to it but not as a full resolution... later you can export the modified terrain to MD3 and import it to GeoTilesViewer back.See my tutorial at http://www.agtim.ch/fu3/MD3.phpA plane is a hard project, start with a hangar or runway first to learn how to handle tools, texture and E-codeGood luck :-)Andre

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Any suggestions for a building or a mast? I'm ready for any solid, non-animated model to be converted to the FU3 format.

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I used Blender to beginwith.used tutitorials to make a 3d gingerbread man .Spent 2 weeks on it . hard learning curveI think 3d modeling classes would help me .

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Here's a quick basic mast. I haven't tried to convert it to BIN yet and I may have to use fewer surfaces for the column elements. It may serve as an example of what I think could be used to enhance the terrain. All of the proportions and the size can be changed at this point. Then a beacon on top should be added. When this kind of model is placed in the right spot it will serve as a great navigational aid.Hans Petter

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