Basic question - Props as Buildings?

Discussion in 'Mapping Questions & Discussion' started by Mariner, Jan 16, 2011.

  1. Mariner

    Mariner L2: Junior Member

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    I've researched topics all over this site, and I think it's possible but I'd like to ask the experts.

    Is it actually possible to import a building or part of a building (like a dome or circus tent) as a prop, so long as one takes care to construct the collision mesh properly?

    I'm building a Control Point map, and this is one of the team bases (currently solid models in Rhino to work out layout and shapes before they are built in Max):

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The visual theme of this map (and two others in the works) is that of 1960's "Googie" architecture and the science-fiction art design of Forbidden Planet and the original Star Trek (both of which are echoed in the Spytech props already in TF2.) Specifically, I'm drawing a lot of buildings and themes from the 1964 New York World's Fair.

    This particular building is the Travelers Insurance Pavilion, which I'm currently roughing out the collision mesh for. As explored in another thread here, props can't be made with concave shapes. I'm instead using planar trapezoids to construct the top dome's collision mesh, at least to see what I'll have to make in Max when I'm happy with everything.

    Does anyone know of maps that have used props in this manner, or am I exploring a new frontier or a dead end? I'm learning Hammer, but I feel like it's damn near impossible for me to build that kind of shape with Hammer's toolset.
     
  2. Sgt Frag

    Sgt Frag L14: Epic Member

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    You can do it, but there are problems.

    1- the collision mesh for that would be a bear to make if you want to get it accurate (ie: no floating stickies, etc..)

    2-You can't optimize it, only bsp terrain (brushes in Hammer) will seal from void and vis portal. So if you have that building in the middle of an area built in Hammer it might be OK (gravel pit - all buildings are func_statics (could just as well be models), so being inside B building doesn't seal off rendering of the area outside the building.)
     
  3. Mariner

    Mariner L2: Junior Member

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    As for optimization, does that also mean that you can't have LOD's of prop-buildings?

    I intend to build quite a few things within Hammer itself, such as the terrain and skybox, and I understand the concept of func brushes (as much as I can from the official documentation.)
     
  4. Lancey

    aa Lancey Currently On: ?????

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    The idea of optimization is that it won't cut up the VIS, meaning that players can technically see through the building.
     
  5. Mariner

    Mariner L2: Junior Member

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    That's what I initially thought he meant. Thanks.
     
  6. grazr

    aa grazr Old Man Mutant Ninja Turtle

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    I'm not entirely sure you defined it properly. Optimisation entails a lot of things, primarily cutting down LoS to improve ingame performance. Not cutting up the world with visleafs through func_detail's/brush's primarily only improves compile time and files size.

    Using hints to improve visleaf formations only has the side affect of improving compile speeds and people tend to get this mixed up. Improving compile speeds could be considered optimisation when regarding the compile process only but improving ingame performance is what optimisation really means.

    As long as you seperate this area from the others with real world geometry, ingame performance shouldn't be an issue. What might be an issue is lighting. Large props often have poor lighting without advanced compile parameters (and even with). You might be better off splitting this model into smaller sections IE 8 bits for the top part and x for the lower (i can't see the details of the lower part). Since models are only cached in the memory once this wont be troublesome for performance and should improve data sizes and lighting since you have 1 small prop pasted in place 8 times. It's also less work for you and allows you to create a smaller material file if you're not going to mirror it. Although an alternative skin might be nice to break monotony between each section.

    If you were to build this shape in hammer it would be time consuming but it would be possible using the "triangular brush technique". Still, i think using a prop is the most efficient execution you could ask for for an object of this design. Create the supports/trusses as a single object, copy and pasted and used to hide the seem between the chasis sections which will also be copy and pasted into place.
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2011
  7. Mariner

    Mariner L2: Junior Member

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    What is the triangular brush technique? I might as well learn what I can in Hammer.
     
  8. Pocket

    aa Pocket func_croc

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    3. Lighting. Source uses per-vertex lighting on models, which is fine for a model standing in the middle of nowhere, but makes for poor receiving shadows (like, say, the light coming in through its own windows or shadows cast by any other props inside it). Brushes, meanwhile, use lightmaps — actual textures representing the shadows that overlay onto the brush's own texture. You can probably avert the worst of this by making the actual floor a brush that sits inside the bottom half.
     
  9. Exist

    Exist L6: Sharp Member

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    The only place you can see buildings as props in valve maps for tf2 is in their 3d skybox. Most notable would be 2fort. The way I have seen this done in sky boxes (I'm going to use de_dust2, from CS:S) is to keep the buildings low detail and let fog take care of the rest.

    In your case, valve has never made a building a prop. Well, they have, but not a building where any gameplay will occur. This is seen in HL2, the big city skyscrapers are models.

    I, personally would advise not making a buildin as a prop, but it ultimately depends on your situation. The art pass contest had an entry where point B was inclosed under a tent, I believe the creator was Ritz. If the building is a gameplay element, I would make it out of brushes.
     
  10. LeSwordfish

    aa LeSwordfish semi-trained quasi-professional

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    Something that cool is excusable as a prop, i believe. Watch out for the lighting though.
     
  11. Sgt Frag

    Sgt Frag L14: Epic Member

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    Just to add, it is possible to make that building out of displacements.

    Though it would have the same issue as a model, in not blocking vis. However the lightmaps would be better than a prop.
    And it could be fairly time consuming and difficult. Look at the radar dish in tc_hydro. That's basically a simple version of what you want.

    You'd need to build a 'clam shell' out of cubes, shape them some, turn into displacements and subdivide all at once (making it round out).

    With a model you could 'fake' shadows into the texture if you place model in game and figure out where the shadows would fall, or use a model of surrounding terrain to bake the AO/shadows into it. Kind of a pain in the butt, but I've seen it done for other games.

    It's also possible to use nodraw brushes inside your model walls to block vis. You just need the model walls to be thick enough to hide the no draw inside. Would be tough with rounded shapes.
     
  12. Mariner

    Mariner L2: Junior Member

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    Any basic tutorials on how to make a clamshell of cubes?
     
  13. Mariner

    Mariner L2: Junior Member

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    For everybody wondering what the hell this is supposed to be, this is the Traveler's Insurance building.

    In combination with the Federal Pavilion of the United States, they are going to be the BLU and RED bases in this Fair-themed CP map. Obviously, I'm palette swapping the two to better match their respective team design themes, but those are what I'm aiming for as far as final products.

    The Federal Building I'm probably going to build entirely in Hammer, thanks to it being a giant box. :D
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2011
  14. Boylee

    aa Boylee pew pew pew

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    Personally, instead of creating a copy of a real life building, I'd recommend creating something new that's tailored to not only the style of TF2, but also to the restrictions and limitations of the engine and SDK environment. You will be much happier with the result in the end as it will be much more fitting to the game than just shoehorning in some architecture that you like.
     
  15. Mariner

    Mariner L2: Junior Member

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    Believe me, neither of these are going to be too similar to their real-life counterparts when I'm done, other than basic general shape and structure. I lack too much information on their internals to make 1:1 copies.

    As for shoehorning in outside architecture, the googie architecture and art style is already a part of TF2, just represented in the exaggerated manner that other elements are.

    Take a look at the World's Fair links and browse some of the areas it showcases. Now consider that the RED Demoman and BLU Soldier met at a "weapons expo"....

    ;)