GMax and LOD's
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  1. #1

    GMax and LOD's

    G'Day to all
    My name is Stuart and I have been working on ship designs for CFS2 using GMax.
    At the moment I have been doing some Japanese Destroyers but I have run into a possible problem.
    They have a lot of 25mm AA guns that take up a lot of poly's, and as small targets, they do not need too many poly's.
    The obvious solution is why use them, however, they do make up the ships armament, however effective hat may be.
    I thought about set them up in LOD's so thay can be 'invisible' at distances over 1000m (or so) but I do not know how to do this.
    I have GMax 2004 and there is no obvious LOD 'button' as there is in other GMax modules.
    Any help would be appreciated.
    Cheers
    Stuart

  2. #2
    Not sure where you find an LOD button in Gmax, even 3ds Max doesn't have that until version 2008. You have to build LODs yourself and name them as per the SDK. It's not too hard to simplify a clone of your existing geometry. Good luck!
    Tom
    __________________________________________________ ___________________________________________
    Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding. Proverbs 4:7



  3. #3

    LODs

    Quote Originally Posted by stuart277 View Post
    G'Day to all
    My name is Stuart and I have been working on ship designs for CFS2 using GMax.
    At the moment I have been doing some Japanese Destroyers but I have run into a possible problem.
    They have a lot of 25mm AA guns that take up a lot of poly's, and as small targets, they do not need too many poly's.
    The obvious solution is why use them, however, they do make up the ships armament, however effective hat may be.
    I thought about set them up in LOD's so thay can be 'invisible' at distances over 1000m (or so) but I do not know how to do this.
    I have GMax 2004 and there is no obvious LOD 'button' as there is in other GMax modules.
    Any help would be appreciated.
    Cheers
    Stuart
    Stuart!!!

    Welcome back my friend.

    so do you want the quick and dirty approach or the longer (tough not by much) version.

    Take your Kako, that was the first ship we worked on so I'll start with that.

    All of the parts that you currently have add this after each name; "_LOD_100" (no quotations)

    an example would be the Hull. name it Hull_LOD_100. do the same for all of the parts you currently have.

    On the right side where you have the tabs for Create, Modify and so on, select create.

    next click the little button that says helpers. we will now make a dummy box. size doesn't matter. just make it big enough to work with.

    now you will need to make sure it is zeroed out. make sure the "X", "Y" and "Z" values are at zero.

    next name the box Kako_LOD_100.

    you should now have all of your parts with the "_LOD_100" extension and a box named Kako_LOD_100. what we want to do now is link all of the parts to the box. how i do it is to select the box and hide it then select all of the parts and unhide the box.

    the top bar, under the menu bar, you should have the arrow in yellow/orange selected. next to that on the left are 2 buttons select the one with the 2 little boxes and chains.

    now on the right side of the arrow is an arrow with lines. select that check the bock that says display subtree. and click on the Kako_LOD_100. this should take all of the parts and link it to the Kako_LOD_100 box. to test it select the box and move it. all of the parts should move with it. if not undo the move and try again.

    by the looks of the model you already know how to link parts. so this is just a refresher.

    now you can take and make the next model. you can give the next parts "_LOD_080" or if you want more LODs you can use "_LOD_90" if you want less use "_LOD_075". depending on how much detail you want you can do 080, 060, 040, 010.

    As you make more LODs you can go very simple on the modeling and polys. remove the parts that are not needed. make it boxier. so on and so on. at LOD_010. you can go very simple with maybe the hull as a box and the top as a box as well.

    you will have to texture them. so either map the sections with the same textures or make a basic one for the smaller LODs. just remember to make sure everything will match up at a distance and transition smoothly. I would use textures and not just materials as any repaints won't match.

    after you have made all of the models and named them the correct LOD level you will merge all of them together.

    Oh Here is something you will want to do. LOD_100 material start with 00 or 01 in the names of the material. when you do the material for LOD_080 and so on you something like 20 or 50 to start. so if you start with 00 and end at 10 start the next LOD with 20. Do you follow what I'm talking about?

    That is so when you merge your models you don't mess up the materials or and mapping on them.

    After all of the models are merged you just compile it as normal.

    If you need examples I can send you some of the models I've made. If you need more help contact Allen. he is the one that taught me. You can also ask Robert John or the B24Guy. Robert might be busy so if you don't hear back right away don't worry.

    You should still have my email. I'll drop you a message so you have it.

    Thats is as simple as I can make it. Allen or one of the others might be able to clarify things if you need it.

    Take care my friend.

    Till Later,
    John
    "Courage is the discovery that you may not win, and trying when you know you can lose."-Tom Krause

    My works Here: http://www.thefreeflightsite.com/JFortin.htm

  4. #4

    Thanks

    Hi John
    Thanks for that.
    I got your email and I will check out Allen's info.
    At the moment I am not sure about what the difference is between LOD_100 and LOD_90 etc, but I will look into it.

    Hi Hairyspin
    Thanks for the info.
    I do not know what SDK is.

    Cheers
    Stuart

  5. #5
    It's the Software Development Kit, as supplied with/for CFS2? I build for CFS3 and the SDK was a download from MS, the SDK for FSX was included with the Deluxe version. It explains part naming, animations, texture format, sounds etc. I would hope the CFS2 guys should be able to tell you where or how to get it.
    Tom
    __________________________________________________ ___________________________________________
    Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding. Proverbs 4:7



  6. #6

    LODs

    The easiest way I can discribe it is the _LOD_100 is the full view of the model with the most detail. _LOD_090 would still have alot of detail in the model but not as much as the model its self. the _LOD_010 would have the least amount of detail. it could be just a flat poly or maybe a simple box. all of the part would have that tag for the respective LOD. so in case of the Kako all of the parts would add "_LOD_100". now you have to make a new model for the next LOD (Level of Detail) you could start with _LOD_090, but unles you want to make 10 new models I would start with "_LOD_080" or even "_LOD_075".

    check your email i'm sending one of the static models i did. so you can see what i mean.


    Hairyspin,
    any and all information is welcome. please share any thing you have. i know i could use more on the subject. actually my issue is the textures but thats another topic.

    Till Later,
    John
    "Courage is the discovery that you may not win, and trying when you know you can lose."-Tom Krause

    My works Here: http://www.thefreeflightsite.com/JFortin.htm

  7. #7

    CFS2 SDKs...

    I'm using both the FS2002 and FS2004 SDKs. let me know if you need one of them. they have the makemdl.exe for compiling the model. you must be using one of them already.

    CFS2 can use either. I use the FS2002 for my simple bgls and FS2004 for the more complex BGLs and MDLs.

    You have to do a special setup to use both in one install of GMax.
    "Courage is the discovery that you may not win, and trying when you know you can lose."-Tom Krause

    My works Here: http://www.thefreeflightsite.com/JFortin.htm

  8. #8

    Real examples

    This is the gorgeous Bf109E built by Luca Festari and the late Gerard for CFS3: it's in the Mediterranean Air War (MAW) expansion. I haven't shown all the LODs, but this will give you an idea how the various LODs decrease in detail - see the wireframe shot in particular.









    The hierarchy of LODs for the model are usually done as Bloodhawk says above and as a rough guide the poly count should be in accordance with the LOD number. So if LOD100 (fully detailed) has 1000 polys then LOD75 would have around 750 polys, but I have found the LOD actually displayed is decided by the sim itself. To determine which LOD is being displayed I borrowed an idea from bzhyoyo and put a coloured sphere off the wingtip of my own model: LOD100 has a red sphere, LOD 90 has orange, then yellow, green, and purple for the second lowest LOD - the lowest of all is little more than a dot in the sim.





    The spheres are removed from the model once I'm finished the LOD work. Oh btw, the LODs are all centered on the same point, unlike the above screenshot: it is very poor form to have a model jump a couple of yards to one side when switching between LODs but it has happened...

    The FS2002 SDK can be downloaded from FSDeveloper, as can the FS2004 SDK. Another extremely useful - no, essential add-on for Gmax - is MeshTools 2.5 and its installation and use are described here. To me, the tool for removing vertices cleanly is indispensable when simplifying a model.
    Last edited by hairyspin; October 17th, 2017 at 01:45.
    Tom
    __________________________________________________ ___________________________________________
    Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding. Proverbs 4:7



  9. #9
    Nice of you to display the LOD pics to show differences. I am curious; do you have to remap each lower LOD model to fit the textures or is the mapping somehow preserved.
    Milton Shupe
    FS9/FSX Modeler Hack

    My Uploads at SOH - Here
    Video Tutorials - Gmax for Beginners

  10. #10

    Thanks

    Thank you Gents
    John
    Thanks for the goodies.
    It works well, I have reduced the polys from 12000 (LOD_100) to 5500 (LOD_ 050).
    Hairyspin
    Great idea with the bubbles, I noticed that the change from (LOD_050) to (LOD_ 100) occured at about 2300m.
    Now onto the can of worms called DP's.
    Cheers
    Stuart

  11. #11
    Hairyspin,
    I must say that is an excellent example. You are very much correct on the models being centered. Try it with it off center and be ready to laugh.

    That sphere on the wing tip is a great idea as well. I'll have to try it.

    What does the meshtool do? That is something I haven't used yet.

    Milton.
    Yes remapping is required for all of the LOD models. As the model gets less detailed its a bit easier. To some extent...

    Now if you use some of the same parts then you can keep the mapping. For example, from 100 to 75 I would reuse the elevators, ailerons and rudder. Well maybe not the rudder on some models. For 40 and Below you can leave out the elevators and ailerons and just have the wings. For FSX this might be different as the models tend to be of higher quality. For CFS2 it would be fine.

    The real trick will come with the animations. I haven't gotten into that yet. So I'm not the best one to ask about it. I'm still working on getting my texture mapping to the quality that I want.

    Stuart,
    Another thing to add is the tagtool script if you ever want to design aircraft. Not sure if that is included in the SDKs. It has all of the tags for all of the aircraft parts. This includes the breaking parts and animations. You wont need it for your ships. I wonder if you can add breaking parts to ships. Hummm...

    If you need help with the DPs let me know. I've already done a few for your RN WWI models. They all are custom to your model. I could probably do a couple ships a nite on my days off.

    Till Later,
    John
    "Courage is the discovery that you may not win, and trying when you know you can lose."-Tom Krause

    My works Here: http://www.thefreeflightsite.com/JFortin.htm

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Milton Shupe View Post
    ... do you have to remap each lower LOD model to fit the textures or is the mapping somehow preserved.
    Good question Milton, it depends on how you build the additional LODs. You can build the LODs from scratch and remap as you go, or base them on the top-level LOD after it has been mapped. I used the second approach for the Tempest model above and used the finished textures to see when things were going awry.

    Start with simplifying things not easily noticed from a short distance: flap recesses, gear wells, finer details of undercarriage mechanisms, exhaust manifolds. These are where we spend polys like water anyway and just aren't seen clearly at 100m + and we can include aerial wire and small antennae in that lot.

    As you get to lower LODs, the main mesh of wings, fuselage, empennage etc are simplified and here the texture mapping starts to drift gently, but the model is far enough away this isn't noticeable.

    This is how 'tis done, looking at the fuselage object only:-




    Note the warning about E-poly, try this in E-mesh and you'll come to grief!

    Now for it: did you know edges can be deleted in E-poly without trashing the entire model?





    This removes the unwanted edges, but the vertices they hung on are still there. If you try just deleting vertices in Gmax you'll trash the mesh, but if they're not removed the triangle count on exporting to the sim is hardly altered from the original LOD100. Target Welding them will screw the mapping and is not an option.

    The fastest, simplest method for removing vertices is one of the MeshTools, Erase Vertex Clean. I have the MeshTools on a toolbar to the left of the screen for easy access:-





    It takes moments to do, the mapping is almost undisturbed and we've lost 72 polys with this easy procedure:-


    Last edited by hairyspin; October 15th, 2017 at 10:37.
    Tom
    __________________________________________________ ___________________________________________
    Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding. Proverbs 4:7



  13. #13
    Here's another example from further back on the fuselage, before and after. The mapping has drifted ever so slightly, but for LOD40 it isn't noticed at all:-





    That's the gist. You should have Undo set to fairly high levels when doing this and you may have to try several different approaches before you get the desired result. Frequent incremental saving is essential.

    This also reveals flaws in your modelling like nothing else - you'll find holes in odd corners and have to sort them before simplification. Particular care is needed when simplifying where one object meets another, wing roots being a particular example. Keeping a close eye on symmetry is very important, both sides of the fuselage should be kept the same if they're symmetrical at LOD100.


    (As an aside, 3ds Max users have vertex removal available in the program. I use Max 2008 and it's a very handy feature.)
    Last edited by hairyspin; October 15th, 2017 at 10:43.
    Tom
    __________________________________________________ ___________________________________________
    Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding. Proverbs 4:7



  14. #14
    Redding Army Airfield Allen's Avatar
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    MeshTools will work in gMax but you need a script called bamse_MTPalette_E.mse that needs to go into your C:\gmax\scripts\Startup folder. Other have not needed the bamse_MTPalette_E.mse to get things working so just a heads up.

    Tool seems okay. Suck bad that it chokes hard on any open edges....
    "Let Being Helpful Be More Important Than Being Right!" Some SOH Founder.

  15. #15
    Hey Allen,

    Do you have a link to the script?

    No I haven't looked for it yet. Just thought I'd ask before I did.

    Guys this is great stuff. keep it coming.
    "Courage is the discovery that you may not win, and trying when you know you can lose."-Tom Krause

    My works Here: http://www.thefreeflightsite.com/JFortin.htm

  16. #16
    Redding Army Airfield Allen's Avatar
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    Link for Meshtools.
    http://www.scriptspot.com/3ds-max/scripts/Meshtools

    The Meshtools read me has install instructions. You can skip step 1 as you won't have any other versions installed. At 4. it will say to copy all .bmp s to gmax/ui/icons and gmax/ui/discreet. gMax dosn't have a discreet folder in the ui folder so make one and put the .bmps in it.

    The link is below and page is japanese but it is not hard to find the bamse_MTPalette.zip link at the top.
    http://www.picopico.jp/plasma/script/mtpalette.html

    The "bamse_MTPalette_E.mse" will need to go into "c:/gmax/scripts/startup/"
    "Let Being Helpful Be More Important Than Being Right!" Some SOH Founder.

  17. #17
    For those who don't read Japanese, here's the direct link to the Bamse download

    edit: the site has gone. The download is on next page of this thread.
    Tom
    __________________________________________________ ___________________________________________
    Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding. Proverbs 4:7



  18. #18

    Ty Gents...

    Quote Originally Posted by hairyspin View Post
    For those who don't read Japanese...
    Thank You Allen and Hairyspin. This was something that I've been missing. Maybe now I can get a few of my projects completed.
    "Courage is the discovery that you may not win, and trying when you know you can lose."-Tom Krause

    My works Here: http://www.thefreeflightsite.com/JFortin.htm

  19. #19
    Hi to every body!!
    I m wondering if its posible to add a lod in a gmax full detailed model using another model like a 3ds , less detailed.

    Also using modelconverterx we can generate a less detailed model from the detailed. and export it like .bgl or 3ds or .obj. Then pick them up with gmax (my first idea is add the less detailed model to the first one ) .
    Why by this way? Because im working in cfs2 conversions from gmax source sent by autor, but modelconverterx doesnt add lods to a cfs2 model converted. In the case that im working on, simply convertx doesnt read the model converted.

    Thanks!
    Mario

  20. #20
    If I understand you right, you have the gmax source file for the model and are preparing it for CFS2. If you export it in format which MCX can produce LODs from, you'll have a whole heap of work to do with the results to get them ready for CFS2 again.

    I recommend using the methods described above with the Gmax source. 3ds and obj don't retain as much information as gmax files. It's still a lot of work but not as much as reworking other file formats.
    Tom
    __________________________________________________ ___________________________________________
    Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding. Proverbs 4:7



  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by hairyspin View Post
    For those who don't read Japanese, here's the direct link to the Bamse download:- http://picopico.jp/plasma/download/bamse_MTPalette.zip
    This link no longer works, at least for me. I still need this zip file. :-/ Thanks
    Milton Shupe
    FS9/FSX Modeler Hack

    My Uploads at SOH - Here
    Video Tutorials - Gmax for Beginners

  22. #22
    The site seems to have disappeared, bother! You could make your own toolbar, as per the thread earlier this year: Creating toolbars in Gmax for MeshTools If you really need the Bamse toolbar I can upload it after the holidays.
    Tom
    __________________________________________________ ___________________________________________
    Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding. Proverbs 4:7



  23. #23

    Thank you!

    Quote Originally Posted by hairyspin View Post
    If I understand you right, you have the gmax source file for the model and are preparing it for CFS2. If you export it in format which MCX can produce LODs from, you'll have a whole heap of work to do with the results to get them ready for CFS2 again.

    I recommend using the methods described above with the Gmax source. 3ds and obj don't retain as much information as gmax files. It's still a lot of work but not as much as reworking other file formats.
    U understood well and same time you gave the answer to me. Now i need to get the correct proceeding.
    Thank you
    Cheers
    Mario

  24. #24

    Lost files

    Here's the bamseMTPalette.zip file, should anyone still want it.
    Attached Files Attached Files
    Tom
    __________________________________________________ ___________________________________________
    Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding. Proverbs 4:7



  25. #25
    Glad you found it. I may need it again at some point. You never know.
    "Courage is the discovery that you may not win, and trying when you know you can lose."-Tom Krause

    My works Here: http://www.thefreeflightsite.com/JFortin.htm

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