MiningBase boost (a present from PU)

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MiningBase boost (a present from PU)

Postby chuck_starchaser » Fri Apr 18, 2008 4:28 pm

Just a way to say "thank you" to the VS devs (and push my agenda for
using light-baking and ambient occlusion techniques ;-)).

Textures are not done yet; some parts need more detail --well, all of it needs more detai; it's just
a quick and dirty bumpmap and the flat material bakes from Blender, basically--; but good enough to post it,
for now, IMO. (Hehehe, the only texturing there is copied and pasted from the original texture by Strangelet.)
((I might do that for all the rest, come to think of it.))

To the mesh, I've added a bit of greebling and made the glass domes smoother.
Also put some stuff inside the parking area.

Here's a pic from the dayside:


Image


And a pic from the shady side:


Image


Just added some rails and cranes for moving cargo externally.


Image


The normalmap is all wrong; we'll need tangents for it to work.


Image


So, if you wonder what looks so real about it, it's the lighting:
Many hours spent gocking at Blender doing all the work for me :)
White lights, yellow lights, green lights, red lights, and the one blue light, as
well as the ambient occlusion, all baked separately. About 10 hours
each; that's why it took me a whole week... (well, they take about 2 or 3 hours, but... it often takes many tries to get them right.)


The files for in-game are here:
http://deeplayer.com/vsMiningBase/MiningBase.7z
They go in the /units/MiningBase/ folder.


The Masters, for the masters repo, are here:
http://deeplayer.com/vsMiningBase/MiningBaseMasters.7z
They include:
  • the .blend file for the mesh with materials
  • bumpshader.blend, which produces bump-modulated static light bakes,
  • mixer.blend, which produces the final diffuse, specular and glow textures from the
    material bake textures and the light bakes, and
  • all the textures needed in the process, from light and material bakes to final.


I'll probably finish the texturing next weekend or so.
Cheers!

Oh, yeah, best viewed with...http://deeplayer.com/vsMiningBase/starchaser.fp
Last edited by chuck_starchaser on Fri Apr 18, 2008 5:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby pyramid » Fri Apr 18, 2008 4:59 pm

Good work chuck. I like those external lights and greebles. they give the station a touch of reality. looking forward to see the final version.
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Postby bgaskey » Fri Apr 18, 2008 6:47 pm

Most of the metal looks too clean for an old mining base. But the lighting is excellent. Cinematic quality :D . Beautiful work.
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Postby loki1950 » Fri Apr 18, 2008 6:59 pm

As chuck said it ain't done yet as he has not really touched Strangelet's textures and knowing chuck there will some distressing of the paint job as well as other wear effects.

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Postby chuck_starchaser » Fri Apr 18, 2008 7:32 pm

Hahaha, thanks! Well, my original plan was to take Strangelet's texture and simply add ambient occlusion and
a few lights, in fact. The problem was that the UV unwrap of the mesh used overlaps... That is, say, the top
and bottom of the main structure look more or less the same shape.. Well, the two islands of unwrap were on
top of each other, sharing the same piece of texture. Nice and efficient, but NOT GOOD for ambient occlusion baking.

So I ended up having to unwrap the whole thing again from scratch.
And when I started to do so, I found gazillions of dead polygons (parts of the mesh that could not be seen.
There were edges shared by three poly's. There were big planes crossing inside. There were planes on top of planes. ...
So before I could even unwrap, I had to clean up.
Even with the new greebles, the mesh file is smaller than the original, so much stuff I threw away.
But yeah, now that it's all set up that I can add stuff to the base diffuse texture, press a button and get a
new set of output textures, adding a few scribbles here and there will be a breeze.

As for damage, though, I'm not sure what direction it should come from.
I tried to put scratches on the doors, but the normal mapping is not working due to the lack of tangents,
so they look like stains...

Image

And as for metal, yep; too clean. Maybe a bit of rust will be good.
Last edited by chuck_starchaser on Fri Apr 18, 2008 7:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby vodalian » Fri Apr 18, 2008 7:37 pm

Looks great man. My only suggestion would be to make the asteroid a little more bumpy.
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Postby chuck_starchaser » Fri Apr 18, 2008 7:59 pm

vodalian wrote:Looks great man. My only suggestion would be to make the asteroid a little more bumpy.

Very true; but that's easier said than done. Normalmapping cannot handle large, crumply bumps, without parallax;
and modifying an existing mesh to make it more crumpled would be extremely hard. I'd rather start a new
mesh from scratch, than to try that.

But the whole reason I decided to do this job was not to make the "ultimate" mining base; but just to retexture an
existing VS base as to show VS artists what light baking and ambient occlusion can do, --in the hope they will start
using these techniques. Improving the mesh too much would defeat the whole purpose.

My mod is PU; but I have an interest in Vegastrike, as well as in seeing the VS engine evolve; and if
Vegastrike's modeling and texturing techniques evolve, the engine will evolve faster; and that will be good for PU ;-)

Here's a shot of the back of the antenna, bathed in (baked) blue light from behind, and red light from further above:

Image
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Postby Phlogios » Sat Apr 19, 2008 5:08 am

Stranj should see this ^^
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Postby chuck_starchaser » Sat Apr 19, 2008 6:28 am

Don't get me wrong, please; Strangelet, unlike me, is a Real Artist; I'm more of a mad scientist.
In fact, he's blame-less when it comes to lacking light baking and ambient occlusion. A couple of years ago, the
tools for producing such bakings would cost you thousands of dollars. Today, they come for free with Blender.

Heck, I can't compare myself to any artists. I don't have 1% of the skills of an Oblivion or a Fendorin.
I'm just trying to show them Artsy types that there are free tools now that can improve your texturings a lot.
That even without texturing at all (just flat material colors), ships and stations look a lot more real when you use ambient
occlusion and lightmap baking.

It also benefits size perception: The more lights you bake on a model, the bigger it looks.
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Postby Phlogios » Sat Apr 19, 2008 12:45 pm

Don't be too humble. :P
The Demon is the best texturing job I have ever seen, and the Cutter is a superb non-canon WC model. You ARE an artist, one of the best I know.
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Postby chuck_starchaser » Tue Apr 22, 2008 7:45 am

Phlogios wrote:Don't be too humble. :P
The Demon is the best texturing job I have ever seen, and the Cutter is a superb non-canon WC model. You ARE an artist, one of the best I know.

Hahaha, thanks! Thing is, there's no art whatsoever involved in the Demon texturing. The only things I used a pen for,
in Gimp, was to draw the bumpmap grooves, door handle, and the boundaries of the paint layer (mostly straight lines);
and the rivets (dots). 99% of the work (and I'm not saying it wasn't a lot of work) was all procedural: titanium rust
came from uncorrelated noise scattering and blurring, modulated by a radiosity front bake done by Blender;
dirt streaks from correlated scatter, color curves and motion blurs; etceteras.

Then again, depends how we define "art". The boundaries are kind of gaussian blurred: Some consider procedural
software tools to be valid "artistic" tools.

But okay, I'll take a bit of artistic credit when it comes to modeling. Making greebles that look purposeful does take
some kind of "artistic judgement", I suppose.
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Postby Phlogios » Tue Apr 22, 2008 11:21 am

It doesn't matter HOW you do it! Just look at the result! That's a beautiful piece of art.
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Postby chuck_starchaser » Sun Apr 27, 2008 10:47 pm

Alright, the Demon is finally in-game.
http://wcjunction.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?p=9473#9473
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Postby klauss » Mon Apr 28, 2008 7:30 am

Damn! I hadn't seen this mining base!
The lighting bakings are incredibly detailed, last time I tried that with bender it took me a whole day and I got almost nowhere.
Great work chuck! Feel like teaching others how to do it? :D

Chuck... can't you use Strangelet's original texture to bake your new unwrap with it? There's some cool stuff from strangelet's textures missing, and it's a pity. With blender's baking tools you can fill the new unwrap with the original, it's a bit hackish, but possible - you have to play with active/render coordinate sets before pushing the "Bake" button.

And, you can add bump mapping to the asteroid and it will look cool - just try to make the features rather small (ie: high frequency noise).
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Postby Deus Siddis » Mon Apr 28, 2008 8:44 am

chuck_starchaser wrote:The problem was that the UV unwrap of the mesh used overlaps... That is, say, the top and bottom of the main structure look more or less the same shape.. Well, the two islands of unwrap were on top of each other, sharing the same piece of texture. Nice and efficient, but NOT GOOD for ambient occlusion baking.


What about SSAO though? If this AO technique was implemented in VS at some point, would that allow artists to use overlaps again?
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Postby klauss » Mon Apr 28, 2008 11:22 am

It would!
The technique is quite interesting. Is it free though?

It would be possible (and not that difficult) after the move to Ogre (with Ogre's compositors).
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Postby chuck_starchaser » Mon Apr 28, 2008 2:57 pm

klauss wrote:Damn! I hadn't seen this mining base!
The lighting bakings are incredibly detailed, last time I tried that with bender it took me a whole day and I got almost nowhere.
It did take many days of work. As a matter of fact, I took 10 days out of my vacations... I'm kidding you not. You have to bake each light separately. Trying to do many lights in a single baking is madness. Too many things can go wrong.

Feel like teaching others how to do it? :D
I sure do; and I have a mega-tutorial in progress:
http://wcjunction.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=568
Unfortunately I ran out of steam precisely as I got to the bakings chapters; but I'll resume work on it shortly.

Chuck... can't you use Strangelet's original texture to bake your new unwrap with it? There's some cool stuff from strangelet's textures missing, and it's a pity. With blender's baking tools you can fill the new unwrap with the original, it's a bit hackish, but possible - you have to play with active/render coordinate sets before pushing the "Bake" button.
The problem with Strangelet's texture is that it is really a bumpmap, statically baked, rather than a "texture". I know of no tool that can convert that back into a height map. Xnormal comes pretty close to it, but Xnormal needs to have a surface illuminated from two angles before it can reverse-engineer the height map. I'm afraid the only way I can redo the texture in Strangelet's true spirit is by creating my own height map in Gimp, and just tracing his old texture by hand. If you don't know what I mean, take a close look at it and you'll see. I'll probably do just that.

And, you can add bump mapping to the asteroid and it will look cool - just try to make the features rather small (ie: high frequency noise).
Maybe in addition to the extracted bumpmap; not instead of. Reason being, the extracted bumps are already shaded by the static lights and the ambient light's directionality, so I wouldn't want the normalmap to contradict that shading.

What's "SSAO"?
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Postby Phlogios » Mon Apr 28, 2008 4:15 pm

It's a kind of real-time ambient occlusion approximation, that crytek has written an article about somewhere. Using google, you can get some screenshots.
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Postby chuck_starchaser » Mon Apr 28, 2008 5:08 pm

Ah, thanks; I did read about it before, just didn't know it was called "SSAO".
Seems like a lose-lose proposition: Lose quality for the sake of losing performance while gaining nothing at all. In terms of quality, it can never come close to true ambient occlusion. In terms of performance it requires at least a second pass, probably more like two. Plus it takes a good number of shader instructions, so you have to sacrifice other features for its sake.
How do people come up with such ideas?
One would think, the Mecca of real time graphics is moving more of the computations to off-line bakings, to reduce the load on the gpu, so that more features can be implemented. But these cry people move ao computation to the gpu so that they can spare themselves having to bake it?
It just befuddles me.
On top of all the other problems, like z-buffer precision related problems that would kill vegastrike dead.
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Postby klauss » Mon Apr 28, 2008 7:38 pm

The big win, chuck, is convenience. It responds automatically to any dynamic changes on the scene, so it is indeed dynamic AO, and the technique is completely non-intrusive, it can be plugged on top of anything else. It's a compositor step (something that post-processes the scene), which, if you ask me, is a big feature.

It may be inferior to many other techniques in terms of quality and, perhaps, performance (perhaps), but I don't doubt that it could make dynamic AO a reality for many games that wouldn't otherwise have even considered it (because other techniques, being intrusive, may involve a LOT more work).
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Postby Deus Siddis » Tue Apr 29, 2008 9:38 am

Sorry, screen space ambient occlusion, was rushing.

I am unsure whether it is free or not, but Infinity is using it now so I thought that it might be.

Either way maybe global illumination will make all of this irrelevant anyway? I'm not really clear on how GI works for realtime or how it simplifies or complicates the content creation process.
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Postby chuck_starchaser » Tue Apr 29, 2008 5:22 pm

klauss wrote:The big win, chuck, is convenience. It responds automatically to any dynamic changes on the scene, so it is indeed dynamic AO,
It's dynamic; but it is NOT ambient occlusion, and it's expensive.

and the technique is completely non-intrusive, it can be plugged on top of anything else. It's a compositor step (something that post-processes the scene), which, if you ask me, is a big feature.
Big and slow and problematic. But I was thinking last night, for ***INTERIORS*** Tan ta-tan... For interiors we could use it. That's where it could shine. I came to that conclusion from this angle: Big problem when landing a ship on the Cutter's decks:
http://wcpedia.com/dw/lib/exe/fetch.php ... ame_01.jpg
Because lighting there is baked, so even if we had shadows, they wouldn't work. So you come in with your ship in external view and it's like your ship doesn't exist, as far as the lighting is concerned. The good news is that all that baked lighting is baked into the glow texture; so, we could have a dedicated shader for interiors that modulates the glow texture by a blur of the z-buffer. In payment for the service, I'd be willing to give up environment mapping for that shader; as well as lighting, since all interior lighting would be baked, for the most part.
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Re:

Postby pyramid » Thu Oct 23, 2008 3:03 am

I tried to play with the model, but the last one I had from you, chuck, had the out textures not according to the model unwrap. I'll be putting this model into masters in case anybody wants to pick up on it.
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Re: MiningBase boost (a present from PU)

Postby chuck_starchaser » Thu Oct 23, 2008 7:05 am

Yes; it's re-unwrapped, because the original made extensive re-use of the UV space, which is incompatible with AO baking, as well as PRT baking.
It's also MAJORLY fixed up; I deleted hundreds and hundreds of spurious, wrong and/or invisible polygons, and sealed dozens of cracks.
Sorry about this sad story, but I deleted the folder accidentally, and so all the master textures are gone. It will be tons of work to texture and my list of things to do is getting light-seconds long.
Might be a good station to CineMut-ize, OTOH, come to think of it, as it's one of the first stations VS players see.
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Re: MiningBase boost (a present from PU)

Postby pyramid » Thu Oct 23, 2008 7:32 am

:shock: I wasn't expecting you to do the re-texturing. That is the main reason I want to put what model and textures exists into svn masters to not loose them for a later rework.
CineMut-izing sounds like a great idea for when the tools and workflow are ready. This station is far superior to the existing one in artistic terms and as much as I'd like to have it in-game asap, I do lack the capabilities to do so at the moment and want to invest my time in more important things than learning modeling.
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