Polygon Counts Working with Author and 3dStudioMax R3 I did say that as soon as I figured it out I would get that information out to you. I can tell you Author can safely load around 3000 polygons total. Anything above that and it starts to bog down (loading slow and possibly getting errors when trying to load). You might get away with a few more than that but not very many more. It will load huge 3ds files but when you save the file as a world and try to reload it, there will be error messages… anything from textures not found that are not picture textures of any kind but lighting, texture changes in space to getting no error messages at all but the world does not load. Some can even crash the program altogether and you will have to delete that world, or uninstall , then reinstall Author to get it to work properly because that program always saves the last thing in its cache that was loaded into it. I have had to reinstall the program a few times myself, attempting to load *.wdb files that have been mucked with after they were built in Author. My rule of thumb, however, is if it crashes Author, it will probably crash about 50% of the computers that try to load that world in the V-Chat program itself, which is why I cautioned before about changing things in the *.wdb for animations. These are problems that you can’t fix in the hex editor, at least not at the ASCII text level. It’s best to stay in the 3000 polygon range. Before you get all happy about the 3000 polygons, let’s look at the math of it. In 3d work, one polygon is not one object. Some objects can be as few as 8 polygons, others can be as large as 10000 polygons…. Just to make that one object. The world I will give the link for after this tutorial started out being almost 100000 polygons and at the time I thought it was still a fairly simple room. However, Author was having none of it and I lost 2 weeks worth of working with a nice little room that I was making for a very special lady who has shown a lot of dedication and determination in the face of adversity. At first when I realized what the problem was, I tried to reduce polygons inside the program using my already built world, but the only way to do that with a made object is to delete meshes… I could not do that because each piece was made to fit exactly as it was made. Some I could reduce but not nearly enough to save the world as it was designed. I’m still learning to work with Max myself and what I’ve learned so far is only the smallest of what the program is capable of. But where there’s a will, there’s a way. Before I get into the how of polygon frugality I suppose I should explain what I mean by polygon count. Each object in Max has planes and faces, these planes and faces; it is the number of planes and faces that make up the plane that determine the polygon count. When you create a simple box with the box command, you can determine how many height segments, width segments, and length segments it will have. A box can have as low as 1 of each and still be a box, but as you count up the planes and faces that make the box, you are counting up the number of polygons you use to make it. The fewer segments you have the less polygons you spend to make that object. For a simple box to be used as a wall, this is the best thing to do. It saves polygons for use in objects that need to look different for special effects in your worlds. A sphere, even a simple one, takes at least 36 polygons to still look like a ball. See where the math of it comes in? But there is a way to keep tabs on it so that it is only a matter of keeping track of how many you have used and how many more you might need before you hit the maximum number you can use and have it work with Author. Create an object, any object. This is just an example to get you to where you can keep count, okay? If you haven’t changed your user interface from the default, on the right hand side of your screen will be a window that shows the objects pane. There are some other tabs there for use in different parts of your working with max. In the first tutorial, I walked you through some of the tools you would use for creating your world, such as the morph tool, transform, scale, etc. Now you will look at another tool, called the utilities tool. Under this tool, there are options for a lot of things, plus a more button. For the purposes of this tutorial, the more button is the one we want. Select that and a list will pop up. In this list there is an option called polygon counter…… and there you have it, a quick way to keep tabs on how many you have used so far. In the polygon counter window, there are 2 graphs and options to change the numbers showing in your budgets. The first number will be your selected object and it will show the number of polygons that object needed to make it look like it does. The bottom number is the number of polygons that the whole scene has used so far. These numbers show in black in the right hand corners. The graphs are color coded and when it starts reaching the red part, you are very close to spending your budgets per object and per scene. The size in xyz measurements does not seem to matter much as long as the polygon count does not go too high. Budget your polygon use in objects that you just need to scale to fit and save the rest for the stuff you might need or want to morph to make a certain object look like it should. In the world I had to ‘throw away’ I had a chandelier that was beautifully done but guess what? That little chandelier cost over 3000 polygons all by itself. Your morphing capabilities will be limited with such restrictions but you can still do some pretty neat things with experimentation. Many of the old V-Chat worlds used flat planes and boxes coupled with illusionary graphics arranged in space to make the world look interesting and have more depth. What I mean my illusionary graphics is the use of transparencies. Any one who has edited one of the old V-Chat worlds is well familiar with that true green color mucking up some of their best textures. For some morphing tools an object has to have height, length, and width segments to be able to reshape it into something that actually looks like something besides a blob… for example, to bend a box in a curve, it has to have at least 3 segments to bend it, in either height, width, or length, depending on which direction you want to bend it. 3 segments in the height direction will net you a structure something like this: , regardless of which direction you want to bend it. If you want more curve, you have to add segments and that’s where budgeting comes in. Adding 3 segments in just one direction, changes your box polygon count from 8 to 18, if you add 3 segments to each direction, it nets a cube and your polygon count goes up accordingly, 3 x 3 x 3 = 27, so it can add up fast depending on the complexities of the objects you want to use. I’m not a mathematician so that polygon counter comes in handy until I refresh my memory on the basics of 3d math. It also keeps you from having to have a calculator handy while designing your worlds. It’s been a long while since I’ve dealt with math in that regard, so I’m quite rusty. I used a lattice morph in the Ring, but it did not overtax the polygon use too much because I used it sparingly there and the settings that were used kept that to a minimum. But the lattice tool was also used on that chandelier I made that I had to ‘throw out’. I did not really throw it out as in deleted because I’ll find a use for it somewhere later in something else I might be doing, but for the V-Chat world it was useless. There are other morph tools that don’t require as much polygon use to make something interesting, but you also want to think about download time, file sizes of textures, and other assorted things that make up the entire scene. Not every one has cable internet or any other type of broadband access so download times can be long for some of us and we need to consider that when putting everything together. It’s largely a matter of where do you want to spend your space. For most V-Chat rooms, at the maximum, I would recommend staying under 2MB total for not only the objects that make up the world, but the images, sounds, and all the files that are needed to make it look the way you want it to look. The largest of the original rooms is 1.91MB and it is a long download for some of us. Lastly, here is the link to the world I just finished for Sapphire_Child. She is one of the nicest people I know, hence it is called Sapphire_Church in her honor. She was the last As-Angel on V-Chat when they pulled the plug. She showed up at her hosting time even when nobody else was coming and long after everyone else had quit. I believe she was there the day they pulled the last plug on the V-Chat program. That is true dedication and determination that I have not seen since. Being such an angel herself, I thought it was an appropriate name for this world. http://www.v-chatterbox.net/world/church/world.adf This world is the property of v-chatterbox.net and the v-chatterbox server, so I would recommend you ask permission from Emerald Prince before using the world anywhere else because he has proprietary rights to it…. Thank you and I hope you found this information helpful. This world used a total of 1370 polygons and I hope you enjoy using it as much as I did making it. Again if there are questions you can email me at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org .
TRICKS TO SPEED UP THE CREATION PROCESS USING 3D STUDIO MAX AND AUTHOR Well I did say it’s still a learning process and I was still learning… I bet some of you will wonder why this was not figured out in the beginning…. Well, with Max sometimes the simplest things are the hardest to find when you are thinking in the mind framework of applications as old as Author 1.1. You can make your own textures or save your own *.gif textures and apply them directly in Max before exporting your 3ds file to use in Author 1.1. If done right, the 3ds file will load into Author without ever using a hex editor at all. Isn’t that great news? I just know that hex editor thing gave everybody the ‘willies’… or some were just so put off by it they did not even want to try making their own world. Now don't go throwing out the old tutorial in favor of this one because it's still handy if you don't know what you want ahead of time if you know what I mean. I do that quite often, start out making something without any idea how I want it to look until it starts taking on its own personality. The hardest part for me was deciding what kinds of textures I was going to need, such as wood, stone, metal, glass, cloth, etc... Then making those textures in a regular graphics editing program for use in the new room. From the graphics editing program you can save those textures as *.gif from the start without all the conversions that we went through before. Save these into a folder all by themselves, name the folder whatever room you are planning to build. I will caution you that sometimes the limitations of Author 1.1 will limit the colors of your textures and that’s an experimental thing… I had at least one texture that Author 1.1 did not like at all so I had to find one it did like that I liked just as well. If you’re anything like me and not quite sure how you are going to put your idea together until you start, you’ll have more textures than you need and that can be a plus, although you’ll remove the unused textures from that folder later. You build your whole room, *.wdb file and all from that folder. I won’t go thru the steps of doing that in this tutorial. You can refer back to the first one on how to do that, okay? Are we all set? Got your textures ready to use? Well, let’s get started. I apologize for the length of this page and the screenshots which I know are going to make it lengthy to load but I had a choice to make here.... thumb nailing which meant that you would have to click on an image to get a proper view or leave it as is with all the information right at hand. By now you should be pretty familiar with this window if you have been working in 3d Studio Max during these tutorials. This is a first view of the material editor before any textures have been applied to your objects that you have created. Each colored tile has a material number. You can change the name of these to reflect the name or a property of the texture you are going to use. It really does help keep track of all of them, especially if your room becomes complex.Material and the number beside it are how Max keeps track of the different textures. Notice that the button beside the material number says standard. For this session you'll be ignoring that button entirely. For 3d Studio Max purposes, you can go that route for saving your own textures to be reused in Max for other projects and even V-Chat but it's much more time consuming than the way I'm going to show you. In addition, Author does not intuitively look in max map files for the textures it's looking for, it looks in the folder where your 3ds file is saved. You would still have to copy those textures over to the folder from which you will be working with the 3ds file. I have the arrow pointing to maps in this shot. This is where your work will be for this session. Click on the map button and it opens up a host of different options. I'm sure some of you curious people already looked at this area and have wondered what to do with it. Notice the little lock button on the right side positioned between the ambient color and the diffuse color. These are your two main maps for applying textures. For V-Chat and Author 1.1 purposes, these two will be the only ones you are concerned with, although with some of the darker textures you might want to apply the chosen texture to the self illumination map to get the true look of the texture. With some of the lighter colors it just whites it completely out so this is an area of experimentation for you. The other maps can create some pretty cool effects in Max, etc., but Author 1.1 does not read them well, or sometimes not at all. Notice that ambient color has the map button disabled. That's where the lock comes in. Hit that button to unlock it in order to use it for loading your own textures. As you can see from this shot, you now have that map button active. Go ahead and click on it. This window pops up. Notice that bitmap is highlighted. Max uses the term bitmap as a general term for all image files rather than specifically an image file format (that was part of why it took me so long to figure this out, lol). You can use any standard image file format such as *.jpg, *.gif, *.png, and others. Double click on bitmap and it opens up a file folder. Max saves the history of where you last looked for a particular image and mine has been set since before I took this screen shot. I forget which folder it starts with but the screen in front of you should look something like this: Notice where it says Look in: in this window. That's where you will direct Max to go look for your images. Navigating that is just like navigating folders and files that you do on a daily basis if you are like me, lol. Also, since Max saves the history of where you last looked, having all your image files in one place really keeps the search time down. Choose your image file that you want to apply. Once you have chosen your image, there will be some options, UV coordinates, etc. You can leave these at the default settings because Author 1.1 does not interpret them very well. Sometimes it does and sometimes it does not but if you are happy with your image as is, then there is no reason to change these settings. Notice that the path to your image is listed in the Bitmap parameters. One thing you might notice here is a check mark beside an option that says Show Map on Back... that's basically a replacement for the the 2 sided option in the initial material editor window. Notice also, near the top where your texture tiles is, that your image file has been assigned a map number. You must also apply this same texture to the diffuse map in the maps section of the material editor. This was confusing at first because once I applied it to the ambient map, I lost that section in the window. You must first go back to your original material number. From there, your maps section will be available again. Just repeat the process for the diffuse color and remember for darker images you can also set the self illumination map. Once you have gotten your textures loaded into the maps section that part of the window should look something like this: Since all your textures are in one folder and already in *.gif file format, these steps greatly decrease the time it takes to make your new room. Not only do you not spend time searching out textures to use, then have to replace with *.gif images in the hex editor, you eliminate the need for the hex editor and you see what it will look like before you ever export it to a 3ds file. Remember when you get to that point you are finished with your room and are ready to export to a 3ds file to save it in the same folder where your used images are stored. When you load the 3ds file into Author 1.1 the textures will load with it unless it's a texture that Author 1.1 can't interpret very well. You'll know right away if this happens because it will be dark and flat colored, :-). Don't panic if that happens. It just simply means that Author 1.1 won't use that particular texture and you must use another instead that it likes better. To do that is as easy as editing textures in the original V-Chat worlds. Find a new texture that you think will work and save it as the other texture you tried to use that did not work. Lastly, naming your textures. Do you see how some of the tiles have little triangles in them? These are the active textures in your current 3d Studio Max project. Scroll back up this page to one of the previous screenshots. See how they are named material + a number? That's where you name your textures.. by changing that material number. Highlight Material#whatever, type in your chosen name for that texture. It can reflect the filename or the object name. That's up to you. Whatever helps you keep track of them best. Notice how the texture name in this screenshot reflects the filename of the texture used. You can see that if you scroll back to the screenshot that shows the image files used for this tutorial and subsequent room made from them. The named texture has an added white border to reflect it's chosen status for the purposes of this screenshot. That way you'll always know which texture is being applied at that particular time. All but one of the textures used in this room, I made beforehand. The one that was not, was the *.gif I used for the floor, called marbl1, it was an adaptation of a texture I already had in Max but I used it differently (This was the texture I had to redo, lol, and I wanted something fast at that point). All of these textures will eventually go up in the textures section for download but for now, copy away to your heart's content. The link for this world is nonexistent right now as there have been a lot of changes made recently but I'll add it as soon as I can. The name of the world created here is Galaxy Ballroom and it's huge in size.