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Fiasco at Fauchard Street


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#1 Melan

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Posted 08 April 2011 - 04:12 PM

Hi folks!

Since there has lately been some doom and gloom over these forums on the dearth of fan missions in 2011, I thought I'd liven things a bit by taking a break from my main (XL-sized) FM and do some speedbuilding to
  • get peoples' spirits up a bit;
  • create a new, playable fan mission in a fairly short time span (I'm looking at the weekend plus a few more evenings);
  • show newbies how easy it is to build a simple but good-looking mission in DarkRadiant once you have completed the beginners' tutorial.
My aim here is not a dazzling spectacle; in fact, the exact opposite. I will use fairly simple architecture relying on basic brushes and patches to rough out the mission, and add extra detail through
  • models, which come with your Darkmod install
  • prefabs, collections of brushes, patches, entities that are saved and stored for reuse. A prefab could be an architectural feature, a machine, an entire building or a corridor. Here are editor images of a few I will be using:
Attached Image: Fauchard03.jpg Attached Image: Fauchard04.jpg Attached Image: Fauchard05.jpg
TDM already contains a bunch of prefabs by default. I will cheat a bit and include some I have built for my own levels - but once the mission is done, I will share them with you so you can use them in your own work. Prefabs and models are great because they are a painless and beginner-friendly way to make a level look good. Unlike models, you can retexture, modify, disassemble and combine prefabs very easily in DarkRadiant.

This thread is not a tutorial per se, but I will add a few simple tips in quote boxes about things that are useful to know. So -- since I've still got an hour or so today, let's get going!

***

Fiasco at Fauchard Street

To begin with, here is the sketch of the level I'd like to build:
Attached Image: Fauchard01b.jpg
It consists of one street, a few side areas and enterable houses. You will start at the north, and proceed to your target at the southeast (the house of "Lenderman", a pawnbroker), and be able to sneak through the place on street level, or climb up to higher places to follow the thieves' highway. The front will be guarded, but there are going to be other ways inside... My idea is for massive, ancient construction, so I will be using thick walls, support beams and such to create a feeling of weight.

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Tip: You can see the basic layout is crooked and irregular. This will create the illusion of an old, rambling city, but it will also have a significant benefit: to break up the level into smaller segments which will be separated by visportals, which are essential to cut down on the areas being rendered, and also to conduct sound. In the S-curve in the centre, there are going to be no less than three VPs. As the original version of Return to the City has shown, correct visportaling is the difference between good performance and horrible performance, so pay attention to it.

The beginnings of the level:
Attached Image: Fauchard02.jpg
My starting area is a big sky-textured box with nothing in it except the player start and an AI. I also have a skybox (which supplies an animated sky with clouds and celestial bodies) and a starting equipment list off screen, which I copied from another mission. You can also use the startpack offered here if you'd like more stuff. For the time being, I have sealed the entire level in the box so I can compile it in its current form without a leak. At a later stage, I will remove these walls.

Quote

Tip: I recommend placing a guard in your level right at the start to get a sense of the architectural proportions. I have underestimated scales on multiple counts because I had no visual reference to compare my architecture with.

Edited by Melan, 08 April 2011 - 04:15 PM.

Come the time of peril, did the ground gape, and did the dead rest unquiet 'gainst us. Our bands of iron and hammers of stone prevailed not, and some did doubt the Builder's plan. But the seals held strong, and the few did triumph, and the doubters were lain into the foundations of the new sanctum. -- Collected letters of the Smith-in-Exile, Civitas Approved

#2 Baddcog

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Posted 08 April 2011 - 04:28 PM

Needs Moar brushes
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#3 Springheel

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Posted 08 April 2011 - 04:49 PM

Great idea, Melan.
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#4 Melan

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Posted 08 April 2011 - 05:51 PM

Since it is half past midnight, it is time to finish for tonight. In an hour, I accomplished the following work (beyond reinstalling Darkradiant):
Attached Image: Fauchard06.jpg
Here we have a layout of the main streets, which will also influence building footprints nearby. It's not a 100% recreation of the plan, but good enough. I placed a few more guards as measuring sticks as well.

Attached Image: Fauchard07.jpg
A basic slope at the beginning of the level. I have decided it will have gentle elevation differences; more cosmetic than substantial. North is a bit higher and south a bit lower, but it is all rather gradual.

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Tip: Sloping terrain ads tremendously to your level. If the player is continuously traveling up and down, even if slightly, the place will feel more real - whether it is a normal slope, a set of stairs, something that can be mantled, a ladder or a rope.

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Tip: I used the clipper tool to cut through the two cube brushes. Generally, the clipper is the most important basic tool in your hand since it can be used to create more complex shapes with a few cuts.

Attached Image: Fauchard08.jpg
Finally, the first outlines of something that looks like architecture: a city gate, two walls and pillars. Things to note are selected on screen.

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Tip: For the gate, I used a prefab of a capped arch -- it looks quite nice and detailed, and I didn't have to do any work with it right now. This is a great advantage of prefabs.

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Tip: You will notice the gate is rotated a bit. In Darkradiant, you can easily rotate brushes or groups of brushes with the Rotate and Scale panel (this is found under modify, but it's good to assign it to a hotkey since you will be using it a lot). Slight rotation, 5-15 degrees, creates pleasing irregularity in your architecture and it is very good value for the effort. Rotate objects, decals, architectural features and everything else except groups of objects - unfortunately, they often get out of alignment.
The pillars will be made climbable fairly soon; we will just need to construct a way up there. I also added a supporting wall and cut it at an angle so it does not rise at 90 degrees to the street plane. This effect adds a feeling of mass to architecture -- old, fortified construction, like the houses of Cracow, are often built on this principle.

Altogether, although we have stuck with basic shapes - cubes, wedges and one prefab - we already have terrain that shows the beginnings of complexity. We did it by no big miracle or design ability - just going an extra 5% at each step. Those 5%s add up fast and pay a good dividend.

I will continue from here in the morning. ;)
Come the time of peril, did the ground gape, and did the dead rest unquiet 'gainst us. Our bands of iron and hammers of stone prevailed not, and some did doubt the Builder's plan. But the seals held strong, and the few did triumph, and the doubters were lain into the foundations of the new sanctum. -- Collected letters of the Smith-in-Exile, Civitas Approved

#5 Sotha

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 12:06 AM

What is the definition of 'speed building' by the way?

Your working method is very close to mine:
Make ground plan
Make walls.
Make skybox ceiling.
Create detail brushwork, clone it and place it around. Retexture to add variety.

But I always build the basic geometry fully for the whole map, before starting to add any details.

Looking good!
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#6 Komag

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 01:05 AM

View PostBaddcog, on 08 April 2011 - 04:28 PM, said:

Needs Moar brushes

That just made me LOL!

I look forward to this small mission Melan!
Posted Image Posted Image

#7 Melan

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 01:34 AM

My definition is "I am not spending six+ months on this project or giving in to feature creep this time, but creating a complete mission in a few days". I tend to work by areas - rough for a small segment of the map, then details ad infinitum, move on to new area etc. And then return periodically for extra details. This time, I'll be doing things a bit differently.

Well, time to start on the morning session. :)
Come the time of peril, did the ground gape, and did the dead rest unquiet 'gainst us. Our bands of iron and hammers of stone prevailed not, and some did doubt the Builder's plan. But the seals held strong, and the few did triumph, and the doubters were lain into the foundations of the new sanctum. -- Collected letters of the Smith-in-Exile, Civitas Approved

#8 Darkman

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 04:18 AM

oh, sounds like an interesting idea!



#9 Shadowhide

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 04:30 AM

I always had a problem with city creation...

I just can't find good inspiration for myself,I tried to look at some old cities pics ,read some books but my attemts to build big,different city which streets is going up and down fail :( I always admired city of Rocksbourg and your city missions Melan


Proceed with caution!

#10 Melan

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 05:20 AM

Here is a progress report before I head off to lunch.

Attached Image: Fauchard09.jpg
A house with a peaked roof. While a street could be created from purely rectangular buildings, variety on both micro, meso and macro levels is good.

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Tip: The roof is made by cutting a lozenge up into a prism; putting on the textures/darkmod/plaster/halftimber_gables texture, then fitting the texture to the surface. Elegant and easy. A simple prism could work for a roof, but I did a little bit more: taking a cube brush and extending it to the sides and front a bit so it juts out, I used the clipper to cut it to form, then deleted the unnecessary pieces. Roofs like this are easy, do not require much detail, yet make construction more 3d.

Attached Image: Fauchard10.jpg
Time to return a bit to the Groasse & Swill building. To follow the outline of the street, I copied and extended the wall brushes. At one section, I had to rotate them because of the angle, and at the corner, even after cutting off the sides, there were overlaps causing a Z-fighting error. I could painstakingly rebuild this section, but thought of an easier solution by covering up the corner with a cloned, roatted and slightly modified pillar.

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Tip: Using your mistakes to make the level more interesting with detail and irregularity is a good approach to building.

Attached Image: Fauchard11.jpg
The facade of the opposing building receives some details.
  • First, I cut off a horizontal strip of the wall and textured it with a trim. Trims break up plain surfaces, and they can also jut out a bit to be more 3d.
  • I added a few model balconies on the top, then yet another trim. Easy peasy.
  • Browsing through the DR prefab library, I found a cool peaked arch, and decided to replace the lower half of the building with it. This not only adds architectural variety, but places to hide from the AI as well. The original wall was retracted to form an inner wall, and the cobblestones extended inwards. We now have two niches.
  • Finally, object windows were placed on the city gate.

Come the time of peril, did the ground gape, and did the dead rest unquiet 'gainst us. Our bands of iron and hammers of stone prevailed not, and some did doubt the Builder's plan. But the seals held strong, and the few did triumph, and the doubters were lain into the foundations of the new sanctum. -- Collected letters of the Smith-in-Exile, Civitas Approved

#11 Melan

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 05:29 AM

Attached Image: Fauchard12.jpg
The way up into the Groasse & Swill building: a pair of chains surrounded by the common/ladder_chain texture and some conveniently placed pipes.

Attached Image: Fauchard13.jpg
And after more building with trims, roofs, a new building, windows, a chimney, an awning prefab and more, we've got the northern street section and it almost starts to looks like a real place. [Shadowhide, I will answer you later on the subject.]

Time for lunch -- there is a new restaurant in town I have been meaning to check out for a while... ;)
Come the time of peril, did the ground gape, and did the dead rest unquiet 'gainst us. Our bands of iron and hammers of stone prevailed not, and some did doubt the Builder's plan. But the seals held strong, and the few did triumph, and the doubters were lain into the foundations of the new sanctum. -- Collected letters of the Smith-in-Exile, Civitas Approved

#12 Melan

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 07:45 AM

And back in the saddle after some roast lamb & wine. I compiled and tested the first segment of the mission (having already placed a few lights in some locations), which has given me further ideas and uncovered a few minor bugs.
Come the time of peril, did the ground gape, and did the dead rest unquiet 'gainst us. Our bands of iron and hammers of stone prevailed not, and some did doubt the Builder's plan. But the seals held strong, and the few did triumph, and the doubters were lain into the foundations of the new sanctum. -- Collected letters of the Smith-in-Exile, Civitas Approved

#13 Bikerdude

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 09:17 AM

As always I am on hand to Vp and optimize, but on such a small map I dont we will need to...

#14 Baddcog

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 10:27 AM

Looks like you're making pretty good progress, keep it up!
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#15 Melan

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 11:32 AM

More progress - the map is currently at 801 brushes, 267 patches and 224 entities.

Attached Image: Fauchard14.jpg
Another corner: Groasse&Swill, bordered by a dilapidated-looking place. Things to note:
  • When I cut off a piece of the supporting wall here, I moved it around a bit, and it came to me that it could actually be useful and an interesting architectural feature. The end result is here: a portal flanked by these things, a prefab arch, and a prefab sign in the shape of a shield.
  • The house is a fairly simple structure with an outcropping upper floor. The stonework was a bit plain, so I cut it up a bit: first the front (so only the visible facade would be affected by what would come next), then horizontal and vertical stripes, which I textured with wood. The result is a halftimber house. There are similar textures in the plaster library, and I will shortly show another (much nicer) variant, but it is not half bad. The windows are a combination of stock windowframe models and rectangular brushes.
  • A simple gable was placed on the roof. Gables are great. I forgot about a chimney when I made the screenshot, but I'm going to correct that omission now, since it'll look good up there.
  • The worn stairs at the entrance are yet another prefab - nice and rounded.
Attached Image: Fauchard15.jpg
The beginnings of the opposing building (labelled "Souterraine", although it turns out that's not an actual, appropriate word). Unlike the other houses, this one will not just be a simple facade -- we will be able to break into the basement and pass through into a small garden. This is always harder to do since if you are not careful, you can easily get Z-fighting and all kinds of errors that are a nightmare to correct. To avoid even the chance of that, we are going with a safe design: outer wall first, everything else later.
  • The arches are, again, cloned prefabs (I turned the upper brush into a frieze with a trim texture.
  • We get more use out of the prefab stairs we used at the last location.
  • And I even added an alcove to the south - yet another prefab - and a statue.
Although this is a fairly poor part of town, this house, while run-down, looks like it has seen better days.

Attached Image: Fauchard16.jpg
There are prefabs available to TDM mappers that are even more complex than single architectural features. In particular, Jesps and Siyah Parsomen have both submitted entire premade buildings to the community. This house is Siyah's base work, except it has been completely retextured, then cloned, rotated and integrated into a single building. I believe that prefab houses made by other people should be used sparingly, since if everyone uses them (at least without significant modifications), missions will become very repetitive. Still, one or two, especially with some rebuilding, are okay, particularly for backgrounds and side areas.

One speciality of the house is the complex decorative work outside. There are dozens of boards creating a halftimbered look, windows, gables and so on. While leaving the major architecture as brushes, the details are turned into a few func_static entities. As you can see, the differences in geometric complexity are significant!

Quote

Tip: There are major advantages to turning details into func_static, grouped collections of brushes and patches. Part of this is management (you can move, clone, rotate etc. the entire group instead of having to select every brush and patch every time), part is the ability to turn them into various interactive entities like doors, machinery and such, but func_static also saves polygons, simplifies AI pathfinding and therefore improves performance. Fine details should generally become func_static immediately after being built. The only major downsides are that
  • AI ignore it in pathfinding, which can also result in them trying to walk through them and failing;
  • it does not seal your map against the void or from other areas, meaning you have to use actual world brushes to accomplish that - a func_static wall is useless, and will result in an external or internal leak (the latter is more insidious since it is harder to detect and can mean a huge performance hit).
Going to take a short break now and try figuring out what's the problem with some of the new textures I have recently created.

Edited by Melan, 09 April 2011 - 11:38 AM.

Come the time of peril, did the ground gape, and did the dead rest unquiet 'gainst us. Our bands of iron and hammers of stone prevailed not, and some did doubt the Builder's plan. But the seals held strong, and the few did triumph, and the doubters were lain into the foundations of the new sanctum. -- Collected letters of the Smith-in-Exile, Civitas Approved

#16 Bikerdude

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 01:47 PM

Drop me a pm, if you need another pair of eyes etc.

#17 Melan

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 02:10 PM

Back to editing; better put the three hours left from the day to good use. But first:

View PostShadowhide, on 09 April 2011 - 04:30 AM, said:

I always had a problem with city creation...

I just can't find good inspiration for myself,I tried to look at some old cities pics ,read some books but my attemts to build big,different city which streets is going up and down fail :(

I think the way to create good city scenes benefits from two things:
  • First, varying building styles, textures, architectural features and so on. I have mentioned this before in this thread multiple times -- you can see how, despite some common features, I try to make every building have something unique. Real cities that weren't planned tend to show that variety, and even planned ones develop their quirks in a few decades as buildings are modified, replaced or just repopulated by different people.
  • Second, this does not have to be all so complicated. You can get good results by using simple shapes most of the time. In this level, I haven't even created simple patches yet, let alone really complex combos. A tower made of an eight-sided cylinder with a pyramid on the top becomes interesting when it intersects the wall -- now add a ledge around it (another eight sided cylinder, only wider and less tall than the tower body), a few premade windows and a spiky bit of metal on the top, and it even becomes nice to look at. Cut a cube into two by the diagonal, texture it with some cobblestones and you have a sloping street. A lot can be accomplished by combining very simple shapes cleverly (actually, that's why Dromed architecture can still look appealing despite the low polygon count and 256*256 textures).

Edited by Melan, 09 April 2011 - 02:11 PM.

Come the time of peril, did the ground gape, and did the dead rest unquiet 'gainst us. Our bands of iron and hammers of stone prevailed not, and some did doubt the Builder's plan. But the seals held strong, and the few did triumph, and the doubters were lain into the foundations of the new sanctum. -- Collected letters of the Smith-in-Exile, Civitas Approved

#18 Shadowhide

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 02:19 PM

Thanks for the tips

Maybe I start new city-style mission after the contest

but I always think my city buildings looks same

(just look right and left,its almost same)

Posted Image

,simple and not very organic

Posted Image

:(


Proceed with caution!

#19 Melan

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 05:41 PM

Shadowhide: That's not bad for a start. You can improve the scenes by changing a few things around. Symmetry happens, but here, it is jarring, unnatural. The second screenshot, what I can see of it, is better, since it seems to have multiple overhangs, and they add to the image.

Now for the midnight's update:
Attached Image: Fauchard17.jpg
A lot of minor work has been done on the street, but I'd like to put the emphasis on this house. I built up the facade, and to supplement the flat roof, I added a prefab liquid tank (I am really proud of it; it took me an entire afternoon when I was making it, but the effort paid off) and an arclight casting light over it and the surrounding houselines. I also added pipes going from one building to another.

Quote

Tip: Even if a player cannot normally get to a specific spot, it can be neat to place something there to maintain the illusion of a continuous world. The liquid tank and the arclight can only be seen from some spots - but when someone sees it, it is a fun discovery. And of course, one day, an enterprising taffer will probably climb up there -- so you can add some minor detail or easter egg to it.

Quote

Tip: Pipes look good everywhere (since TDM is set in a steampunk world, reminding the player of this aspect is crucial), but for some reason, they look best when the player passes underneath them. They can also make for good routes on the thieves' highway.
I added three particle groups to the area (create entity --> darkmod/func/func_emitter --> select the specific particle type with the browser from the Model spawnarg): a spinning arclight over the arclight, a pipe smoke stream over one of the pipes, and smoke over the chimney.

Attached Image: Fauchard18.jpg
And here is the first real screenshot from the mission, right at the start. The scene looks a bit sterile right now, because I haven't added decals and small details yet, but it is almost passable. I am thinking of changing the light colour to white, since I am not happy with this yellowish hue; or maybe I will try a warmer orange. And the streetlamp can get prettier - by surrounding the glass with lanternglare particles.

But that will be a task for the next editing session.
Come the time of peril, did the ground gape, and did the dead rest unquiet 'gainst us. Our bands of iron and hammers of stone prevailed not, and some did doubt the Builder's plan. But the seals held strong, and the few did triumph, and the doubters were lain into the foundations of the new sanctum. -- Collected letters of the Smith-in-Exile, Civitas Approved

#20 Melan

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Posted 10 April 2011 - 01:57 AM

Time to start on the morning editing session. First, a city gate!
Come the time of peril, did the ground gape, and did the dead rest unquiet 'gainst us. Our bands of iron and hammers of stone prevailed not, and some did doubt the Builder's plan. But the seals held strong, and the few did triumph, and the doubters were lain into the foundations of the new sanctum. -- Collected letters of the Smith-in-Exile, Civitas Approved

#21 Melan

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Posted 10 April 2011 - 06:19 AM

Progress report before lunch:

Attached Image: Fauchard19.jpg
The city gate. Although I constructed the building it is located in using a hull technique so the insides are hollow (see below), the horizontal house here has a most important function: to close off one half of the map from the other. Visportals, which will separate rendered areas and conduct sound, are sometimes finicky, and as I have already seen in Return to the City, building carelessly can mean several of them are open at the same time, resulting in unneccessary rendering and killing performance. Here, to prevent that, access will be strictly controlled through small passages: this gate, an office, and a yet to be built garden/backyard/court.

Other notable features:
  • We've got prefab arches (these get a lot of use in this FM); I actually tailored the gate width to its size so I wouldn't need to do much work.
  • A vaulted ceiling. I decided not to use complicated patches in the mission, but a simple vault is easy to do - just create an end cap between the walls and it is done, no need for more complicated techniques.
  • Light: the city gate will be well lit. The player will be able to observe the place from the shadows, but good timing will be required to pass undetected between patrols.
Attached Image: Fauchard20.jpg
The price of overambition. For some godforsaken reason, I wanted to do this building as a ship's hull with external and internal decorative sections (func_static) and a sealing wall between them (brushes), instead of sensibly, by establishing a simple form first and carving it up later. Serves me right: this took a lot of time I could have used better, and may yet produce an internal leak if I have forgotten to readjust something. :wacko: The result is a victorian-looking front; since I already planned to connect it to the Groasse & Swill building, I built a metal bridge with girders and stuff. I also decided the rooms the player will be passing through will be an office complex and belong to G&S: this in turn suggests the northern building complex will mostly be a factory - meaning I will construct some sort of machine room, then a small passage or vent duct through the rest of that building.

Attached Image: Fauchard21.jpg
Initial visportaling effort. Since the northern section of the mission is almost done except for the machine room (this FM is already larger than I anticipated... oh well, I'll try to keep it modest!), I can segment it with VPs. Instead of one big box surrounding the level, walls textured with sky enclose smaller sub-areas of the map section. The goal is to make narrow and (where sight lines allow) low "gates", allowing for small visportals. After this was done, I retracted the walls of the initial big box: if there is a leak, I will notice it the next time I compile the map. I have done more work on this since I took the shot (to be even more precise), but this will wait until the afternoon.

Coming up: finer VP work, a small garden, and a few simple buildings for the southern part of the mission!
Come the time of peril, did the ground gape, and did the dead rest unquiet 'gainst us. Our bands of iron and hammers of stone prevailed not, and some did doubt the Builder's plan. But the seals held strong, and the few did triumph, and the doubters were lain into the foundations of the new sanctum. -- Collected letters of the Smith-in-Exile, Civitas Approved

#22 Melan

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Posted 10 April 2011 - 07:43 AM

Before I return to building, here are two more editor shots:

Attached Image: Fauchard22.jpg
A more advanced stage of the visportal architecture. The gaps have been narrowed and lowered (to the limit they could be without cutting into visible architecture) and the visportals placed. Two in front of the camera were hidden so you are able to see a part of the street. But all in all, the basic architecture of the mission starts to resemble rectangular "rooms" - which is how a good Dark Mod level should look. Some people build this outer layer first and their level second. While that's the safer way to do it (since you will see almost immediately if there is a problem with your map and problems are easier to isolate), I chose the other way.

Attached Image: Fauchard23.jpg
A garden. There was a gap between the gate in the middle of the mission and Siyah's Prefab house, so I filled out the gap with a little ledge and garden. You can even climb up - first on some vines, then pipes, then... Well, I don't know yet. But seizing the opportunity to build alternate routes and small side rooms/areas when it presents itself is good practice -- even though I will try to be careful not to get carried away this time. ;)
Come the time of peril, did the ground gape, and did the dead rest unquiet 'gainst us. Our bands of iron and hammers of stone prevailed not, and some did doubt the Builder's plan. But the seals held strong, and the few did triumph, and the doubters were lain into the foundations of the new sanctum. -- Collected letters of the Smith-in-Exile, Civitas Approved

#23 Melan

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Posted 10 April 2011 - 12:56 PM

Evening update: the street section is close to finished. (I will still need to place decorative objects like barrels, boxes, carts, horseshit [no, really, there is a horseshit model], broken wheels and stuff, and do something with the apartments you can climb into, but otherwise, architecture is done, lights have been placed and there are even visportals that hopefully work. The current count is 1756 brushes, 702 patches and 476 entities (one day ago, it was 801/267/224). I took some shortcuts with the southern street section: even more prefabs, cloned and readjusted architecture, the works. It is not a mission-critical place, but it should look nice just as well. There were some architectural spots where it was hard to think of the appropriate decorations -- but I think it worked out.

Attached Image: Fauchard24.jpg
A minor trick: the halftimber stories are simple, but placing a few brushes textured with lit windows livens it up a bit. Also, you may notice very small outcroppings on the horizontal wooden strips. These are beam ends (a stock object) that have been lined up to peek out just a bit, then cloned a zillion times.

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Tip: It may not appear to be a good idea to create several clones of an object for one scene. However, the situation is a lot better than appears -- due to the quirks of the Doom 3 engine, your PC only has to render the object once. You can have a relatively good number of items at a very modest performance hit.

Attached Image: Fauchard25.jpg
What to do with this narrow building? I was lost for a while and avoided the area, but finally, inspiration struck: a bridge (just cloned the one I already had), a bold, soaring prefab tower for that gothic look, and two covered balconies on the side! (It is not entirely realistic, but it looks very, very neat.)

Attached Image: Fauchard26.jpg
A demonstration of multi-level construction: you have the street with support pillars, a gothic window high up, and rectangular ones near the top. Then, to the right, towers jutting from a building and objects (theoretically "windmills") rising from the top. More extravagant urban design.

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Tip: The buildings-over-buildings construction style is not all that harder than the basics, but it looks extremely good in a metropolitan environment. Plus you can then think up ways to let the player to get up to verious levels and see what's there. This doesn't just create fun climbing challenges, but it raises the play time per construction time ratio: an area traversed multiple times still only has to be built once (except a few ledges or buttresses, but those are fairly easy and there are of course prefabs), but packs in a lot of extra gameplay.

Next up: an office and a small shop.
Come the time of peril, did the ground gape, and did the dead rest unquiet 'gainst us. Our bands of iron and hammers of stone prevailed not, and some did doubt the Builder's plan. But the seals held strong, and the few did triumph, and the doubters were lain into the foundations of the new sanctum. -- Collected letters of the Smith-in-Exile, Civitas Approved

#24 Baddcog

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Posted 10 April 2011 - 02:56 PM

View PostMelan, on 10 April 2011 - 12:56 PM, said:

Attachment Fauchard24.jpg
A minor trick: the halftimber stories are simple, but placing a few brushes textured with lit windows livens it up a bit. Also, you may notice very small outcroppings on the horizontal wooden strips. These are beam ends (a stock object) that have been lined up to peek out just a bit, then cloned a zillion times.

Can't quote the quote for some reason. Anyway, the use of multiple 'same' objects next to each other is a perfect example of why/when to use seed. Why not take a few minutes and tie them together into one entity to save draw calls?

You can do the same with the prefabs of the 'jutting rooms'. They may not cull quite as good but it'll reduce draw calls and the performance might be same or better.

That goes for the support pillars and windows too.
Dark is the sway that mows like a harvest

#25 Melan

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Posted 10 April 2011 - 03:00 PM

Testing and bugfixing

I compiled the mission, but it produced a leak. Did I forgot to seal something? The bug was more mysterious. Usually, a leakfile points out a gap in the mission exterior, which, this time, it didn't. Instead, it drew a short line in the void itself, leading from nothing to nothing. However, I shortly found its source by selecting the entire map:
Attached Image: Fauchard27.jpg
The line ends ina red and green little dot, which is the centre of an object in the level. This is bad, since the centres of all objects have to be within enclosed space - no exceptions. How to find it? Going through the entire map would have been like searching for a needle in a haystack, so I used a different method:
  • First, I enclosed the level in a cube brush.
  • Then I divided the brush into two pieces.
  • I selected the entities within both brushes, then deleted the brush that did not contain the errant item.
  • Cutting down the brushes to smaller and smaller, I eventually identified the culprit:
Attached Image: Fauchard28.jpg
The butler did it a totally random brush in a totally random func_static entity. I have no precise idea what caused its centre to fly away, but it may have been rotating it - sometimes, things aren't placed precisely on the grid when being rotated, and produce all sort of glitches. Anyway, crisis averted!

Testing the level from Doom 3, I found a few more cosmetic problems as well as two visportals that didn't touch the walls and didn't work (which is not half bad on a first attempt). And I have taken two screenshots for you:
Attached Image: Fauchard29.jpg
Attached Image: Fauchard30.jpg

In the two hours that remain from the day, I'll focus on something easy and simple - bugfixing, and probably a small room or something.
Come the time of peril, did the ground gape, and did the dead rest unquiet 'gainst us. Our bands of iron and hammers of stone prevailed not, and some did doubt the Builder's plan. But the seals held strong, and the few did triumph, and the doubters were lain into the foundations of the new sanctum. -- Collected letters of the Smith-in-Exile, Civitas Approved




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