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Skybox Trees?


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Hey there, guys.


I'm currently trying to finish up my map, and the last thing I need to do is decorate my 3D skybox to look like a convincing forest. Since I had prior experience using these in the Hammer editor, I didn't think that what was available to use for this feature would be radically different in Radiant.


The biggest issue I'm running into right now is a lack of models that are intended for use in the 3D skybox, trees being the most pressing need. I just wanted to double-check: are there any models made for this purpose that I'm not seeing in the directory? And if not, has anyone else found a good solution for this problem? I'm currently using patches to make miniature trees, but they look almost exactly like something a kindergartener would draw.


Thank you very much!

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You could try normal tree models, and scale them down by 16 using this spawnarg on each of them:


"rotation" "0.0625 0 0 0 0.0625 0 0 0 0.0625"


Once you've done that, you can use the normal DR rotation tools to vary the look.


If you have lights in your skybox, you might want to turn off shadows ("noshadows" "1") on each tree.

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A few remarks on the subject of forest skyboxes:


Try what it looks like when there's no ambient light reaching the skybox, you'll get black silhouettes of the trees against the background of the sky. I found that to be much more immersive.


You can fill any gaps between trees with easily self-made bushels as per Sotha's Outdoors Recipe.


Performance is a factor with this kind of skybox, so it'd be worth trying out the envshot command to turn the complete assembly of forest models into a texture. But I'd only suggest attempting this if you're already comfortable with setting up custom textures in TDM.


Otherwise, while downscaling with the rotation spawnarg is viable, it comes with the performance downside that you can't use SEED to merge identical models - SEED would really pay off in a forest skybox. Ideally you'd downscale via a modelling program.(Also note that the rotation hack breaks the collisionmesh and shadowmesh: you can get around this by creating brushes textured with nodrawsolid and shadow as a replacement, if either is needed).


Thanks for the reminder, especially since I have a rotating light for a lighthouse at the other end.

Interesting, does your mission have a maritime theme then?

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Lots of good advice, Dragofer, thank you. That forum post you linked does seem helpful, especially because I found out a method I used to merge levels and 3D skyboxes in Hammer won't work with idTech's skybox camera.


Because of the lighthouse, though, a lot of it isn't really applicable, I'm afraid. I've got a rotating light in the skybox, so the player would be able to tell if it was all just a texture. I'm using noshadows on all of these models, as well, so fortunately I don't need to worry about the shadowmesh issue.


In terms of performance I actually seem to be doing just as well as before, maybe an average of 2-3 fps lower? I've had the skybox implemented for a while now with a rough terrain patch, so maybe that's why.



Interesting, does your mission have a maritime theme then?


Yes, kinda. The level takes place in a coastal manor that used to be a Hammer church. With the mountainous terrain and pine trees, it's starting to feel really Scandinavian, which I am more than fine with!

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