Retexturing Galactic Civilizations II - Twilight of the Arnor.

Part 1, Lessons learned.

By on April 15, 2008 9:11:23 AM from JoeUser Forums JoeUser Forums

mormegil

Join Date 03/2001
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Part 1, Lessons learned.

Around three years ago I was just getting my feet wet in the world of 3D modeling; we were working our buts off building the new 3D engine that became Galactic Civilization II, and I hoping to get in on making the ships. However as the newest artist on the team, I was mostly playing catch-up, I spent the bulk of my time on the UI, and stole a little time here and there to learn basic box modeling and texturing.
 
The team was only 6 of us, 2 Coders, 2 Artist, and 1 jack of all trades, and Brad, the AI coders / game designer. Before we even hit beta our primary modeler left the office, he continued to work on game elements remotely, but it made it much harder for me to fallow his techniques, and more importantly for him to continue to be involved in the Games evolution, The result was that when GalCiv2 Shipped the existing ships were not really optimized to what our game engine had grown into. In the last 5 moths or so of GalCiv2’s production I was mostly done with the UI, and I found myself finally getting to do some modeling. Since I had worked closely with the developers in working out the details of our rendering and custom coloring system worked, I was able to exploit the engine a bit better. I took the opportunity to go through some of the basic ships and give them a going over.

As a primarily vector artist I decided to do my ship textures in CorelDRAW. Everyone pretty much thought I was crazy, but some how I convinced them it would work. Though 3 years later I see my early examples and I have to wonder why they did not try harder to stop me. Once we had our custom coloring, normal maps, and light maps worked out, I spent some time doing test. One of the first things I finished was the Human Survey ship, at the time I was quite happy with it.
 
GC_DL_Survey
Human Survey Ship as shipped on the CD, 3 512x512 Textures, Color, Normal, and Light maps.
Sadly Just about the time Dreadlords shipped, I was just getting the hang of truly exploiting the in game engine. Luckily I got to try some of these techniques in the 1.1 update, and by the time we got to Dark Avatar, I was able to go through and re-texture and touch up the Starbase. This however just made me more anxious to re-texture all the hulls.

When we were deciding weather to do Twilight of the Arnor,  I was very happy to finally get my chance to let Galactic Civilization II show its true colors.
GC_TW_Survey  
Human Survey Ship for Twilight of the Arnor. All Human hulls and structures now use one set of 3, 1024x1024 Textures, Color, Normal, and Light maps

Over the last 6 months I was able to go through and completely re-texture 3 of the 5 hull styles, starting with the worst offenders, and then pushing on through to some of the ships that a year ago I was proud of.  Amazingly enough this process cut texture memory down to 1/4th.  Over the next week or so I am going go into the details of how this was all done. 

In Part II, I will explain texture sharing, and how it made such drastic changes possible, while actually saving memory.

 

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April 15, 2008 9:17:05 AM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

Very interesting stuff. Look forward to your future articles.

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April 15, 2008 9:55:14 AM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
Thank you that's very interesting.
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April 15, 2008 10:04:22 AM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
It's not only interesting, it's also a great to see more of the 'advanced' textures for the release of TA!
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April 15, 2008 10:08:02 AM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
Are the new textures in the beta complete or will there be more in the final? The terran colony ship looks the same as before in beta 6b i think. Maybe i just didnt look well enough...
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April 15, 2008 10:57:52 AM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
There are some futher tweeks in the beta we are posting today, I dont think I will be able to get to the S0_Cargo_0, which is the hull the terron colony is built with. Mostly because it is one of the best of the old textures, I still want to do it if i get a chance, it will probobly show up in a future Point releace. I did however re texture the colony module its self.
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April 15, 2008 12:21:59 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
This was one of my pet peeves upgrading to Dark Avatar. I hated seeing half of the models with the new textures and half without. So thank you for taking the time to make them all shiny Plus we get the performance boost!
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April 15, 2008 12:50:26 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
Really interesting. I look forward to hearing more.
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April 15, 2008 1:38:25 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums

Comment deleted by admin: Completely off-topic

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April 15, 2008 2:23:22 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
Please do expand on any other technicalities of the process itself as i WILL certainly need any good primer stuff (from genuine SD artists like you, btw) to further develop my X-Worlds/mod ships and fleets. I have yet to determine how some materials and hardpoints structuring work **precisely**, but as long as someone is able to provide the low-down dirty truth i might finally grasp the whole skill all at once the easiest way -- simply by studying your advices or precious hints carefully!

Looking forward for anything you may share with us, in the meantime Thanks for the great 'insight' into the 3D modeling activity as it relates directly to specific GC2 features and requirements.

Be warned though that i may have a few tricky questions later on, if you don't mind.

That post really made my day.
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April 16, 2008 2:05:35 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
mormegil, how about the picture for the Starport? It has stayed the same since before the expansion packs..
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April 16, 2008 4:58:36 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
Thanks for sharing this insight.

The Survey Ship from TA looks really nice. It's a shame I mostly play zoomed out though.
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April 17, 2008 11:13:14 AM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
The improvements are boogiebac, not me I think he was a bit overwelmed by the 160 or so new improvements he had to make for TW.
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May 22, 2008 1:00:40 AM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
Bump!

In Part II, I will explain texture sharing, and how it made such drastic changes possible, while actually saving memory.


Right now i am planning to model whole fleets for X-Worlds, will most probably create the entire set of components & structures framework straight off the X-Com isometric tiles system while converting anything & everything to 3D, will also need to grasp the principles behind a proper UV Texturing (as TA 1024's combo packaging methods)... etc.

So Part II & soooo on. Please?
Soon?
Or my predictable intentions (ambitious as it may seem) might just simply change altogether in a month or less.
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July 11, 2008 11:26:51 AM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
RE_Bump!

I really need Part-II, Morgemil.

Anyhow, while i'm here i should take the opportunity to issue some comments and a suggestion about the current textures schema.

- I just started developping the whole Ships & Styles for the X-Worlds mod and must adhere the actual 'system' present in DA and then, afterwards TA.

- Dunno if i ever will have to do some for myself, but i believe more key or specific type of jewels would reduce the work by a huge amount. Namely, a whole bunch of primaries with a double set of Hull/Trim coloring materials would simply give great leeway in design steps and even provide lots of variety potential for components & structures & shapes of new ships.

- The trick is to use the default texturing files as they get automatically applied to the X polygons through the normal UV mapping reference grid(s).

And, that's what this post is all about...

a) Could it be possible to create a GDI enviro which would allow us to control the textures files by selecting whatever regions by size and_shapes and tie these with whatever parts are assembled straight on the meshes? Effectively "drawing" on Hulls!

A sort of clip & paste mechanism that allows, for example; a rectangular region of lights from any given sets to be picked and dropped on a selected area. Etc.

Whadda'ya'think?
Too much work (code-wise) or an interesting feature_function (worth the extra memory resources) to add to the shipyard?

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November 10, 2008 3:47:47 AM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums

To be completely honest, i like the first picture more. It feels.. more authentic with environment and more closely resembles starship Enterprise. Doesnt look overdone. Maybe its just me or the color palette.

 

I guess its that with a fixed amount of polygons, adding textures will make an object look kinda strange. You know, like photorealistic textures on cubic heads.

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April 6, 2009 11:34:16 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums

Abandonned?

Cuz, i know a LOT of modders still interested by your Part-II and even more details.

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