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How to convert a Command & Conquer unit to Civilization III

Discussion in 'Civ3 - Tutorials, Reference, & Guides' started by Supa, Sep 30, 2011.

  1. Supa

    Supa Out of Cheese Error

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    The thread title is misleading, I'm not about to explain how to make a Civ-III unit but I'll explain how to get a workable model to use in your favorite 3D software. From there, you can refer to your usual tutorials.

    This tutorial works with Command & Conquer 2: Tiberian Sun (and its expansion, Firestorm) and should work with Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2 (and its expansion Yuri's Revenge).

    You'll need a few free tools first.

    - Voxel Section Editor III (version used is v1.39.128)
    http://www.ppmsite.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=29119

    - XCC Mixer (version used is 1.46)
    http://xhp.xwis.net/

    1. Extract the data

    1.1 Launch XCC Mixer

    I'll use here the file for Tiberian Sun, as it's the only pre-C&C3 C&C game I've got installed on the computer right now. Snoop around for the other games.

    1.2.

    Open TIBSUN.MIX
    Open local.MIX

    1.3. Selecting your unit vxl file

    In the local.mix file, you've got every .vxl file of the game. These are the volumetric models used for each units. Almost all of them are described so you should find your unit without trouble.

    Right Click on the vxl file > Extract > Save

    2. Convert VXL to OBJ

    2.1. Launch Voxel Section Editor III
    2.2. Open the .vxl file with it (File > Open)
    2.3. Tools > 3D Modelizer

    Here the creative part.

    2.4. Model Quality

    Views (it's the dark button between the arrows and the number) > Model Quality

    That's where you'll smooth the model. As you've seen, the vxl model is just a bunch of crude pixels. If you want to render it that way, you need to select "Editing cubes". If you want an ultra-smoothed model, try "Triangle Smoothed". There isn't an always perfect option, it will depend of what unit you're converting. An angular unit won't look good if it's too smoothed and a 6 wheel units would probably need an extra-smooth for the wheels. Your particular style also play a role, as well as the resolution you're planning to render the unit.

    Take note that the texture extracting procedure (step 2.6) only works with "High Poly" and "Triangle Smoothed".

    2.5 Civ-Colors

    If you're planning ahead, you can already set the Civ-Colors here.

    Views > Remap Colors > Dark Blue

    2.6 Textures

    2.6.a. You're working with a "High Poly" or "Triangle Smoothed" model.

    View > Textures Effect > Texture Size > 1024 (your choice, really).
    View > Textures Effect > Texture File Type > BMP
    View > Textures Effect > Generative Diffuse Texture (1st)

    2.6.b. You're working with another level of smoothing.

    I'm afraid you're on your own.
    You should, after step 2.7, launch UVMapper, open the .obj file with it, then Edit > New UV Map > Box > File >

    Save Model > File > Save texture map.

    You'll need to edit the newly created texture map. A good way to do it is probably to generate a texture map like in step 2.6.a and copy/paste the general parts.

    2.7. Exporting the model and the texture.

    File > Save Model as > Save

    3. The fun part

    Now, you need to open the .obj and its texture in your favorite 3D software and start animating.

    Examples made with an unrefined (and thus blurry) texture file and a smoothed model.



    A refined texture would really take the quality a few steps up. You can also clean up the model in Voxel Section Editor or even modify it completely.

    The same model with a cleaner texture :




    Please share your thoughts and your improvements.
     
  2. Supa

    Supa Out of Cheese Error

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    For some reasons, it looks like at least some models aren't perfectly symmetrical.

    Use the Section > Mirror tool in Voxel Section Editor to correct that.

    Extra: Texture making

    Now you’ve got your model, you’ll need a texture for it. This small tutorial is basically a crash-course for UVmapper. I suppose you've got basic knowledge of a paint software.

    If you managed to create a texture from the voxel model, you’ve probably noticed two things. First, it’s really blurry. The colors seem to have washed out on each other. Second, parts of the model are cut in small patch of textures - it’s difficult to recognize them and change them accordingly.





    My advise is to create a whole new texture from scratch.
    You’ll need two softwares :
    - UVMapper Classic (version used is 0.30a)
    http://www.uvmapper.com/

    - A paint software. I’m using GIMP (www.gimp.org) but any can be used. Just take one you’re familiar with.

    1. Setup
    1.1. Launch UV Mapper
    1.2. Open the .OBJ file with UV Mapper (File > Load Model > Open)

    2. Arrange the texture

    UVMapper is a good tool to extract a clean texture map from a model but also to re-arrange the texture map, accordingly to your needs. What’s more, some re-arrangements are automated.

    2.1. Edit > New UV Map > Box > Ok



    That’s already much better. Each parts of the map can be selected, moved, stretched, etc, until you’ve got what you exactly need. You can move the parts to minimize the blank space - it’ll allow you to have a smaller texture to load without losing any detail.
    It’s also here you can select parts of the model to become a texture group. If you’re familiar with 3D software, you already know it can be handy with special effects. But we’ll keep it simple and keep going.



    3. Saving

    3.1. File > Save texture map > Save

    Before moving on, check in your paint software if the size suits you.

    3.2. File > Save model > Ok > Save

    4. Editing the texture

    Now, you can really create.

    4.1. Search for reference pictures. From Internet, from the game, from the Voxel Editor. Keep them handy.

    Example : Fico86 created several Command & Conquer vehicle papercrafts. They are actually a great source for (a) reference pictures and (b) fine details you could copy over your own texture. If (b), make sure to always ask permission from the author(s) first and give credits later.

    http://candcpapercraft.blogspot.com/

    4.2. Open the new texture with your paint software.

    4.3. Open up the layer editor.

    If your software supports image laying (if it doesn’t, change), open the editor. Create several layers, one for each big group of material you’re planning to use. Here, I’d create :

    1. The blank texture map (default layer).
    2. Painted metal (I’ll paint here the default yellowish paint used on the vehicule)
    3. Blue paint (civ-colors)
    4. Windshield
    5. Wheels
    6. Decal layer (any logo, fine details such as ventilation, dirt, etc)

    If you’re not familiar with layers, they allow you to paint whatever you want in one of them without changing the others. Whatever you’ve painted on layer 5 will cover layers 4, 3, 2, 1 and will be covered by layer 6. But nothing will be changed on layers 4 to 1. Erasing what you’ve painted on layer 5 will allow to see previously covered parts of 4 to 1. Mistakes are easier to correct and you’ve generally got a better idea of what you’re doing.

    Save your file under a format supporting layers (I use GIMP default format XCF).

    Now you can paint. Use the brush, the pen, the fill bucket, copy-paste detail from other images, well.. have fun ! :)

    Whenever you’ve done some significant progress in one layer or one part of the texture, save a copy as a “flat” image (PNG, BMP) and load it up on your model in your 3D software. See what you’ve done and correct what’s wrong.
     
  3. Commodore

    Commodore Technology of Peace

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    This is amazing. I was wondering how I was going to get some of the units for the Tiberian Sun Scenario.
     
  4. IgorS

    IgorS Your ad could be here!

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    EDIT: The question I posted here earlier is no longer relevant as I managed to find a solution by myself.
     
  5. _ghost_

    _ghost_ Chieftain

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    @igorS :

    u could ask in the modder comuniti how they create the buildings . maybe u get there a info for a mathcing program.

    http://www.simtropolis.com

    this is a good page for sim city
     
  6. IgorS

    IgorS Your ad could be here!

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    Thanks. I'll keep looking and trying to figure it out myself.
     
  7. Supa

    Supa Out of Cheese Error

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    I've posted a small tutorial for texture making (post #2).

    Igors > It's not the same game, the same engine, the same type of data storing or the same type of models. Why do you think posting this request in this thread would help you ?
     
  8. IgorS

    IgorS Your ad could be here!

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    I know, it is just the newest and only active thread I could find on converting stuff from another game to Civ III. Anyway, I already managed to find out a solution by myself, so thanks anyway.
     
  9. Commodore

    Commodore Technology of Peace

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    Thanks Supa. This tutorial has single-handedly assuaged my concerns about the Tiberian Sun Scenario.
     
  10. Commodore

    Commodore Technology of Peace

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    Any idea on how to do the tanks? Instead of one model they come three different ones (body, turret, and barrel). I basically just need to know how to assemble these three parts to form the actual tank model.

    I also can't seem to find the Titan or Wolverine units.
     
  11. Supa

    Supa Out of Cheese Error

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    That's because the Tiberian Sun engine can't modify voxel models on the fly. It means every unit with moving parts is in fact different models joined together.

    You don't need to join them together yourself in one .obj model. Export them and skin them separately.

    The titan turret is named mmchbarl.vxl. The rest are actually not voxel files but SHP files - packaged image files.

    Same thing for the Wolverine, visroïds, infantry units..

    You can find them in conquer.mix.

    To open a SHP file, you can use Open Source: SHP Builder.

    To extract the images : File > Export > SHP to Image
     
  12. Commodore

    Commodore Technology of Peace

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    So I found out that I absolutely suck with texturing. Your instructions are good, it's just my own ineptitude that's the problem. I'm using Blender and even with the instruction manual in front of me I can't figure out how to apply the texture to the model. Ugh, this is frustrating.

    Anyway I'm just venting, I'm sure I'll get better at it.
     
  13. Supa

    Supa Out of Cheese Error

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    It should be something as simple as click on one button and locate the texture file. I've never been able to figure out how Blender interface works, though, but you could send a PM to a Blender creator and just start a new thread in the main c&c forum.
     
  14. W.i.n.t.e.r

    W.i.n.t.e.r Frozen!

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    Sounds like a cool way of finaly getting those cute D-Day voxel based buildings into CivIII... not to mention the M70 Model they made. Ty for the detailed instructions :goodjob:
     
  15. Supa

    Supa Out of Cheese Error

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