Static 3D-model building for Aleph One
05-05-2002 | update 28-12-03
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A method to build static 3D-models for Aleph-One under MacOS 9.xx.
At the current version of A0 (05-05-2002) a whole load of 3d is possible.
Any sequence in Marathon can be replaced by a model, except for wall-textures.
Monster-movements are divided into sequences (Anvil), each of those sequences can be replaced.
Scenery (animated or not) can be replaced, effects and shots, all by 3D-models.
Here is a method to build obj's (Alias|Wavefront Object) without lightwave and still have a measure of control for modelling and texturing. Other 3D-file formats are possible (3D Studio Max Object: "3ds" to "3ds max" or "3dsmax" QuickDraw 3D / Quesa 3D Metafile: "qd3d" or "3dmf" or "quesa" Brian Barnes Dim3 animated model: "dim3), but I prefer this one, because with UVMapper you get a very preciese texturemap to edit. (And 'cause I'm unfamiliar with these other formats <:)
Static is mentioned in the title, because with Brian Barnes Dim3 animated model (visit Klink) it's possible to add animated 3D models. However, it needs OSX to develop.
Animated 3D-model tutorial here
Animated models need an extra sequence in the shapesfile and can't be bigger than 2000 triangles, while static models:...


Meshwork (Classic)
shareware 3D modelling application, when unregistred anything under 200 vertexes is save-able, excellent for low-poly building

Amorphium 1.0
registerware 3D-application from a MacAddict-cd, also on a computerArts cd (Issue CD60 August 2001). I use it in a clumsy way to convert meshwork's dxf into an wavefront obj-file. Anyone knows a better, easier way to convert dxf into wavefront-obj?
I might infringe severly Amorphiums copyrights, but for the life of me, I can't find Amorphium 1.0 (the MacAddict CD-version) on the net, so... here is the link(2.1mb) to a stripped-down version...
IF this is illegal, please say so immidiatly:
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  • UVMapper Mac 0.2.9
    freeware texture-mapping tool, undispensible

    Loren Petrich's 3d-model pre-viewer, Pfhormz at a whooping 81K.

    Map Exporter
    Loren Petrich's mapexporter (not nescessarily, but you could turn a whole level into one model for scenery-effects, think holograms on a briefing table, or... use Forge as your own limited low-budget 3D-modelbuilder :) )

    (or any other application which can convert a bitmap into rgb images and edit them)

    workflow for THE LAMP
    Build something simple and smallish.
    note: Take care with the UNDO-function, sometimes Meshworks undoes much more than you intended and scrambles the model too. Save (often) and nuttin gets hurt.

    Export as dxf
    tip: Meshworks doesn't group parts, but adding bones to a bunch of vertexes, allows to COMMAND CLICK ON BONE to select the group assigned to it. (you wouldn't believe how long I looked for that tip...)
    Jeff Quan's tutorial on 'pinned textures'
    Delete the default sphere.
    Import your dxf (Command-i)
    Export your dxf (Command-e) as a wavefront-file

    Quit Amorphium (Command-q)
    Sad huh? Can't find any use for Amorphium at all besides it's ability
    to import dxf and export it as a wavefront obj file.
    For oversight I rename the exported file with the fake extension objA.
    Usually I have in my UVMapper-preferences the worksheet set on 512x512 pixels, any size goes as long as the sizes are a force of 2.
    (1024-512-256-64-32-16, sounds familiar? :) The output will be a 512x512 sized bitmap, at 72 dpi, perfect for some Photoshop-maddness. If you think about masks, glowmaps, glowmask etc, it makes some sense to think for a moment how big your textures are going to be. Happily building with all these yummies means making lots of stuff to load in OpenGl...

    Open the objA-file
    Choose for this example the box-mapping frome the menubar:"Map".

    Drag and change the lay-out of the model. (yeah yeah, read the read-me, will you?)
    If possible you want to re-adjust the overlapping vertexes into clean divided one's

    Export the Texture map AND the model.

    You may notice that there is a lot of empty space left, with some thought you can make another model which can be mapped in this current empty space, the benefit is that you can have one texture-image for different models.
    Or don't and use the space maximal :)

    Open the model, (Load model, Alias-Wavefront)
    open the (any) rgb-texture, oggle at preview. Adjust in photoshop without needing to launch Marathon.

    Awesome, no? ;p Sometimes Pfhormz won't 'work', it could mean that something wicked has happened inside the model, and it won't work in Aleph-One as well (as in 'won't load level').
    Redo all the hard work :/
    Sometimes it does show in Phormz, but will not be seen in Aleph-One/or crashes.
    Try slowly to backpedal what file went offensive, replace the model in script, don't use the glow adn glowmask, etc. Yer normal debugging.
    My guess is that some wyrdness happened, and just re-importing and re-saving the model can fix thins magically... or not.

    Also, this a fine moment and a good way to check and be sure if a model is okay before messing around with MML-Scripting. (He sez wisely after spending three hours looking for a model at scale-size 0.001)

    Open the texture-map
    Convert into grayscale, convert into rgb
    Color to yer heart's delight.

    Export as pct/jpg/whatnot, anything AO can handle.

    I usually have a layered psd around, with the original texturemap as background, a black-white layer for easy selecting, and endless artyparty layers with textures of the rest.
    With the texturemap one can work quite exact.
    Keep in mind what's up and down, add some custom shadows etc etc.
    Also, this is a good place to start thinking about transparancy (black is 100% transparent, white is 100% opaque) and glowmapping. (Which means for a decent transp/glow etc, you should have thought of it while modelling :), have fun!

    Flipped the texture vertical? Do it first at opening or last before saving, otherwise... no nice mapping. Seems the texture is added to the model from the inside-out, hence the mirrorring, or so...

    Small tip, usually the texturemap gets complicated fast and makes no sense what vertex is what plane.
    Use a layer in photoshop to colorcode some planes, load model and texture into Pfhormz, and suddely it's much more clear whats up and down.
    This example combines 2 textures (box open and closed), with room for another modeltexture.
    Example ready for copy and paste:
     <!-- coll22 seq#12 replace scenery-gun with L33T lamp -->
     <model	coll="22" 
    	light_type="0" >
    	glow_mask="" />
    this works well IF...
    this file-structure is present

    Copy the above script, save as something (3D_waterscenery_wfd) into the folder: Scripts.

    About CLUT replacement
    Above mml has the line


    This is good for scenery, because it just adds a texturemap to any replacement whatever clut is has.
    For different flavours (green pfhor, red, blue, pink), each CLUT has to have a replacement line.
    		 clut="0" <!-- first CLUT -->
             glow_mask="" />
    		 clut="1" <!-- second CLUT -->
             glow_mask="art/ani3D/wfd/L33Tglowmask.jpg" />
    With some thought, awesome scenario-results can be made, replacing a different clut with a whole different texturemap...
    Enemy-flavour one, the enemy is fresh out of school (physics, make wussies)
    Enemy-flavour two, the enemy is battlehardened and has the scars, dents, prostatics and false teeth to prove it (physics, max out enemy)
    Enemy-flavour three, the powersuits of the enemy have been out of juice, and don't glow anymore in the dark.. or uberL33T-mysterious ninja-raised wraiths of another dimension, undsoweiter, undsoweiter.

    Note the unused but ready for use lines of normal_mask/glow_image and glow_mask, go bonkers, and use those too! MML can be adjusted later with the correct new textures, and this way its more handy to have the lines ready to be filled in, for now it doesn't make a difference.
    Note2: if you make a replacement for whole and destroyed scenery with the same model, (shoot evil green light, bulb splatters) make sure to have the same number of replacementtextures, meaning: if whole-scenery has all 4 maps, then broken-scenery too (could be different maps, but same number nonetheless)!
    Or crash.
    Launch ye Marathon

    If an errormessage pops up/A-1 crashes or such, slowly retrace what went wrong, enough RAM?, weird scripting? Bizarre bugs? Just one tiny chocolate?
    Check these settings:

    Play with the mml-options.
    same model and different texture
    same model and different texture with transparency and glow
    fooling around with 3D, drone shot is 3d
    fooling around with 3D, drone burst is 3d

    That's it. Now go building.

    Comments, suggestions etc to

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  • Example

    example map + script + model + skin + small shapesjuggler-file, inside the map is a MML-resource which changes level two
    SphtKr.sit 504k

    Some notes
  • Add plenty of RAM to Aleph-One, opengl and loads of textures/models eat memory for breakfast.
  • Take care to put (big) models on a nice big polygon, otherwise; strange clippings will occur.
  • I have the suspision A0 doesn't like to render 'bottles' (two cilinders connected to eachother, smaller one in the big one, donut-shapes, preferable transparent), if there is a huge frameratedrop, think about the models in sight and about re-modeling.
  • Also, with a lot of models placed in viewable holes or pits,
    Aleph-One has a hard time to render all these clippings.

  • Use the textures maximal and economical.
  • Using a lot of models lengthen the loadingtime of A0 significantly.
  • 3d modeling and per-level scripting goes well, I am not sure how the clear_model (or clear_texture) works, but I can add another script in the next level which annihilates the previous one.
  • !!! HOT TIP !!! Placed scenery has only one direction to face, be it 3D or not. Enter the wonderworld of Chisel 2.1.6, more precize: Face Objects 1.0.1. With this rather easy to use plugin for Chisel, one can change the horizontal rotation of any scenery, so for utterly awesomeness (and moderation in file/load-space) you can rotate the same scenery in a map, instead of creating loads of the same scenery things with different rotations.
  • (note to self) Make regular backups...
  • Blond ghols have more fun.
  • spnkrghol