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I'm to the point in my Phoenix area scenery design where I'm doing the fine details now including relocating many of the downtown buildings that FS has created but badly misplaced. The process on most of them is pretty simple even if it's a bit time consuming. I have a very good list of all the major Phoenix building objects from an Excel spreadsheet I found in one of the scenery design libraries. Nearly all the Phoenix objects have names such as Phx_BOB or Phx_QwestTower and it's fairly easy to find the GUID's for manipulating and replacing the objects. First step naturally is to exclude the current object placement and in most cases that's really easy. I have the freeware utility (think it's called "Exclude Builder") where you slew to the NW and SE corners of the building and it creates the exclude script for you. In nearly all cases I can just check the flag marked "Custom Objects" and the generated .bgl file works wonders in removing the building. However, I'm finding some buildings that FS has placed only get excluded if I mark the box labeled "Generic Buildings". Anyway, I'm able to remove them but the list of objects I have doesn't seem to include these generic buildings. Is there any way of finding out what the object GUID's are in an area you wish to exclude so that you can add them back in at a different location?I did use a utility last night against some generic scenery .bgl file I found in the FS directories that extracted this big list of .mdl files with GUID number filenames. I thought I'd be able to open those .mdl files in GMAX to see what the object is but it balks at them. Obviously I'm missing a step that converts back the .mdl's to GMAX compatible files. How does one do that or is there an easier way to look at these files and get an idea of what they represent?Art Martin

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Hi Art.Generic buildings don't have a GUID. They are simply coded from XML.The BGLComp SDK has a whole section on Generic buildings. In the past, they have also been called Advanced buildings. They do not represent "real" buildings, but are similar to autogen, but you have more control over their height and texturing. Their roofs, if flat, are landable.Dick

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Ah, very interesting. Think I have a copy of that SDK so I'll read up on it. Certainly beats building each building in downtown Phoenix in GMAX although there's some wild ones that FS never created that really need to be represented. I got into GMAX last night trying to do some simple structures and the darned thing kept erroring out on me after my objects got to a certain complexity. I understand it's a powerful program once someone gets good at it but what a horrible user interface. I have always taught myself complex computer programs and languages and this program is obviously the creation of true nerds. Why in the world do you have to click on 3 or 4 successive cryptic symbols to get to a screen for wrapping a texture file around your creation. Not once does the text in any of those symbols and windows say anything about texture mapping from an image file. You just start clicking and all of a sudden you stumble upon the file open box. Even when I've followed tutorials for this mess, the commands and syntax they use still end up confusing. The last real 3d modeling program I used (other than Punch Home Design) was on my old Amiga computer and, even though it's been many years, I'll bet I could get up and running on that again in minutes. I remember it to be logical and neatly laid out and texture mapping, ray tracing, and lighting were an absolute breeze. Heck, if I could figure out how to export buildings I make in Punch Home Building Suite, I'd prefer that over GMAX. Oh well, I'll master it eventually but it sure is fun to #### in the meantime.Art

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The word "bXXXh" is banned in the forum? It's a female dog for crying out loud. lolArt

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Hi Art,I feel your pain regarding Gmax. However, I've been using it for a couple of years now, and I wouldn't trade it for any other tool. Well, at least no other tool I could afford ;-). I do recall having a lot of crashing issues, but that was with earlier versions of Gmax, like the one from the FS installation CD. I'd highly recommend that you go to the Discreet website and download the latest version, which is 1.2 as of this writing. Since I've started working with this version, I don't think I've had it crash on me once. Also, the texturing is quite straightforward. It does require acquainting yourself with the working methodology of the program, but once you're into that, it's a breeze to add textures. If you're intent on doing more 3d design, I'd highly recommend that you pick up one of the several books that are available on it now. I like the Gmax Bible myself, but it's rather thick, and covers a lot of game-specific info that isn't applicable to FS. If you'd rather go the free route, there are a lot of good tutorials available online as well.thanks,

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Hi Art.Another tool project for you?XML Generic Buildings really don't have a good creator/placer program. SceneGenX will work, but I find the GUI unwieldy, and I have some problems with the accuracy of object placement with that program.We just need some simple interface, and a slew mode connection to FSUIPC or FSConnect, and we should be able to place the buildings.For your autogen program, you should be able to make something that would create the xml code aligned on the photoreal textures. Then your autogen program would become a photoreal autogen/generic program.:)Advanced Buildings started with FS2000 ( I think ) and have now evolved into XML Generic Buildings. They have a limited "palette" of textures and shapes to choose, but the combinations are a bit much. I thought a smaller, "prebuilt" list would be fine, limiting the choices to area, rotation and height might be a good way to go.Dick

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Darn Dick, we think too much alike. I just tore into the BGL SDK and thought "man, there ought to be a program to fill in all those stupid parameters more easily than typing XML code for hours." I can't believe there isn't one. Have never tried SceneGenX. There does become a point though with adding new things to the Autogen program where I simply just write a whole new simulator. *:-* Art

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Bill just got back from the Discrete website and did exactly as you said. Also got the GMAX SDK as well just in case I didn't have all those components updated. Will try it out over the weekend.I did imagine that books on GMAX would concentrate mostly on gaming, characters, and weapons and not talk much about building FS landmarks so I'll stick to the few tutorials I've seen. I'll get good at it quick enough if I ever stop adding things to my Autogen program and get some spare time back again. I want it all and now. lolArt

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Funny this should come up again, I'm recreating up to several hundred buildings and had planned to use Gmax for landmark buildings combined with generic buildings constructed in SGX. I just started today. Yup, SGX has some significant drawbacks, but I was able to create a bunch of buildings fairly quickly, particularly by using copy and paste so I wasn't starting from scratch every time.But it might not be so bad to create a couple of dozen generic gmax buildings and scatter copies of those about. Question is do I place them in SGX (I hope it can place custom models!) or in SBuilder in which case I need to coordinate two programs.I asked Luis in his forum a while ago if he planned to update SBuilder with generic buildings, and it is not high on his list.Fortunately the airphoto I'm using for reference has fairly long shadows, so I can use them to adequately gauge building height, based on a few known building heights. www.emporis.com is a great reference for that.Now I hear that some clever guy by the name of Art Martin has created a flashy program for autogen; I wonder if that program could be extended to include generic buildings.Art, I found gmax a quick learn although it can be frustrating at times. But there are a bunch of experts out there at scenerydesign.org, FSDesign Studio and TurboSquid that made it much easier.Jon

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Hehe, sounds familiar :). This feature is still on my ObPlacer XML wishlist as well. Hope I find some time soon to start working on it.

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Well, Arno if you do add it to your nifty utility, what would make it very cool is a preview window that shows exactly what you'll get as parameters are adjusted.Jon

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Good idea, but I have no idea how many combinations there are :). Could mean I have to make a lot of preview images (or find a smarter way to do it maybe). I first have to look at the XML code involved to see how I can add it to the interface easily (I never really used these type of buildings in my scenery yet).

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There are MANY combinations, you would best cleverly create a composite image, the components of which are each compressed or expanded according to the parameters. much as the real textures and object size are created.Lots of fun I'm sure.;)Jon

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Hi Arno.There are about 85 varieties of floor textures, and there numbers match the top textures. The window textures don't match the floor numbers exactly, so they'd need to be looked at to find the best match. Roofs are somewhat interchangable... but some are best for houses, rather than flat-topped buildings.Most floor textures relate to square, flat-topped buildings.Of the 85 basic types, each type can have several sizes and stories.Sizes are might be best kept to multiples of 256, to allow the tiling of the textures to fit properly. Then they can be scaled in the XML code to the right overall dimensions.So if we want a standard library of these objects to select from, we'd need to catagorize them by type ( derived from the floor texture name ), footprint shape ( square, rectangular, elongated ), footprint size ( small, medium, large, huge... ), number of stories, and roof style.Then, we can scale these with the XML code to get a building shape near to what we want.These are just for flat-roofed 4-sided buildings!Luckily, we have computers to help us in this. ;)Type, Footprint Size, Footprint Shape, Stories, Roofstyle, ( then...XML scale, heading, latitude, longitude ).With all this fooling around, simple gmax buildings, combined into libraries, using the Generic textures, would work just as well!For smaller areas, autogen works very well. We can place autogen on transparent VTP polys over non-photoreal areas, and over the phototiles on photoreal areas. So, maybe we'd be better of using autogen when possible, and gmax when accuracy or detail is needed... otherwise we'd need 100's of possibilities for a basic Generic set of buildings!Another tool needed might be one that will measure distances from one point to another in the sim. That would allow XML scaling to be better than trial and error, and would be handy to know meters for gmax creations.Dick

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Hi Jon,Just had a look in the SDK and there are a lot of options indeed. To get a better idea of how to implement it I could use a few examples of actual working Generic buidlings. Could you maybe mail me some of the buildings you made?

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Will do, Arno. And if you have SGX installed, that's the quickest way to get a view of the texture combinations available.Jon

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OK, I do have a (not completely up to date) build of SGX installed, maybe that will give me an overview of code examples as well.

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Tore into GMAX this weekend. That's why I haven't checked this forum. Man, it's very powerful but what a lot to remember. I've done some pretty complicated things so far but get stuck on things that seem like they should be easy. I've found some good tutorials but of course each is missing that one key step you stumble on so you're constantly switching back and forth between them. I can see though that once I figure it out, putting together a building, as long as I have good textures for it, will be rather quick. Glad to see this discussion blossomed so well. Think there's real potential in the generic buildings.Art

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Glad to hear you and Gmax are getting along, Art! One thing to bear in mind regarding texturing: when they made the switch from version 1.1 to 1.2, Discrete completely overhauled the texture assignment windows and processes to more closely match those of Gmax's payware big brother 3DS Max. So if you find a tutorial on texture mapping where the examples don't look or work like your copy of Gmax, that would be why.thx,

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Well that's good to know cause I ran up against a brick wall last night trying to create a building with a central tower in the form of a cylinder. Going through the tutorials, I figured out how to create a composite texture file for the building with separate images inside that file to make up each of the faces. Followed the examples for the UVW mapping on the main boxes that define the building parts around that central tower and it was pretty straightforward defining the part of the texture image for each face. However, when I went to do the same thing with the cylinder I had created, it turns out to be made up of way too many individual segments and faces. I couldn't figure out just how to wrap the portion of the picture I wanted around the entire outer face of the cylinder. There's simply no way that I've found to select those outer segments as a whole. Just before I left for work I found a part of the texturing window that dealt with a cropped piece of the picture you're dealing with and that seems to have some promise but none of the tutorials mention it. I'll look today for some tutorials on texturing in 3D Max.Thanks,Art

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You are a brave man, Art! And you will note that when creating an object that gmax uses the same parameters as the last time that object was created. For example, if you create a cylinder with 5 height segments and 20 sides one time, that will be the default the next time. In reality you may only need 8 sides and a single height segment, so you've created 100 polys where 8 would do. Makes selection more difficult as you note, and kills frame rates when you decide to use 200 of these cylinders for a fence post . . .In terms of selection, convert your cylinder to an editable poly, choose polygons, select the edged faces viewing window option, ensure that "ignore backfacing" is not checked, and with the "select object" cursor click and drag the selection box around the whole object. Then you can hold done ctrl, turn on "ignore backfacing" and click on the top of the cylinder to deselect it.Tutorial-wise, pardon me if I missed it, but the most helpful one is in the MS SDK. Ensure you can make that lovely house.Jon

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Thanks Jon. Sounds very helpful. I will begin in earnest at lovely house creation. In research today I did find out that most people creating textured cylinders do so by defining the wrap type as cylindrical. So far I had only been using the UVW Unwrap feature and never saw that option.It's interesting that my first cylinder created in GMAX had so many sides and segments defined. You would think that all those things would be set low initially but I guess the defaults are set for realism and not frame rate. It appeared to me though that even when I set the sides to a low value and the height segments to 1 that the polygons on the sides were not rectangular but made up of pairs of triangles. I could see the need for subdividing the polygons like that if your cylinder were going to be tapered but, if the diameter never changes, what's the need? What's the least number of sides to the cylinder that are necessary to get a smooth round transition in FS? Is it better technique to use the cylinder or to simply draw and circle and extrude it? Have the feeling the simplest and most efficient method is to draw out the layout of your building with simple shapes in the overhead view and extrude them all up as needed.ArtArt

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Hi Art,If I can jump in here for a minute, I'd like to clarify the triangular polygon concept. All 3D models are composed of sets of triangular polygons that are defined by three points in space. Any rectangle is composed of two triangles in modeling; they're the base unit. As far as the number of sides required to make the cylinder appear smooth in FS, it depends on how you'll be using it. If the end caps of the cylinder are large and will be clearly visible in FS, you will find that it takes more sides to smooth them out. However, if the cylinder is small, like a fencepost for example, you can get away with fewer sides. My fenceposts are usually 5-sided. Sure, it looks a little goofy if you really get up close to them, but in normal FS operation you seldom do. Because of polygon surface smoothing, you can get away with far fewer sides if the ends of the cylinder are surrounded with another model. It's the ends that give away the low poly count. Properly done, a 5-sided cylinder can look perfectly smooth and round unless you look closely at the ends.thx,

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I suspected that all true polygons might actually be 3 sided since it is the only way with certainty to define a flat surface for light reflections/mappings. Other 3d programs I've dealt with in the past however have allowed polygons of more sides and hidden the underlying triangles from the user. Now that I know it's not that big a deal but it does make it harder to see the boundaries of one side of a small cylinder or other object. Be nice to have a flag you could check that would turn off the intermediate line defining the two polys. So in essence, if you define an 8 sided cylinder, you actually create 16 polygons around the outside. Art

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You get used to looking at all polys as triangles this way pretty quickly, in my experience. And yes, if you have a single-segment, 18-sided cylinder you are creating 16 triangles around it. Obviously, you have to factor in the polys for the end caps as well if you have them.

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