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3ds Max and Prepar3d

Discussion in 'Prepar3D' started by jrhottel, 11/2/12.

  1. jrhottel

    jrhottel

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    Starting the discussion.

    I'm going to call myself a of digital art student. I'm learning 3ds Max and Photoshop and most recently, I'm working with 3ds Max and the Prepar3D SDK to make objects for FSX. I am investing the effort in 3ds max because of its popularity with video game developers and the transferability of those skills.

    For me, Prepar3d looks like the flight simulator I've been waiting for. That it carries such a steep price tag is unfortunately in that it probably keeps it from being the FSX successor we need. If MS Flight can draw more people by being more game like, I'm all for it. The question is whether it will still have the same utility for us hardcore simmers. From a designer's perspective the more eye balls the better. I hope MS Flight will be like Prepar3d, a evolutionary step of FSX and not a complete redesign.

    Ideally, these programs will have enough in common that a project can be designed with an eye to both platforms. Among the things I'm trying to get my head around is how to design for PP3D and have as much work as possible ported to a FSX version of the same project. Perhaps because of the cost there seems to be virtually no discussion of designing for PP3D vs FSX, even on the Prepar3d forum.

    I don't have PP3D yet but that is just because I have been juggling so many other projects. I see the Prepar3D Developer Network Program gets you 2 copies of Prepar3D for $9.95 per month. That works better for me than the $499 regular purchase price. 3ds Max is extraordinarily expensive. US$3,495! I am nominally a student and the fully functioning student version is free. For some it maybe time to go back to school. Per the license agreement the student version can not be used for commercial projects. 3ds Max is also astonishingly complex, and learning it takes commitment.

    Any thoughts?
  2. jrhottel

    jrhottel

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    Learning Scenery Design

    I have a real world aviation background and no prior digital art experience. I enjoy downloading airports from AVSIM and seeing what others have done. To experience other peoples work and think they may have based it a really the world is just cool. I also like that most often the subject is not a major airport. Eventually, I came to the idea of contributing and started with Airport Design Editor and Google Earth. Quickly moved on to FSDS. At first, in an attempt to model a specific airport, I modified stock hanger textures using a inexpensive paint program. I then hit on making my own textures from digital photos of the actual airport. In do course, I posted my first airport.

    On reflection, my textures from digital photos were vastly superior to my earlier work. The details of the actual airport made a real difference. An experiment with night photos also proved compelling. With the desire to fix things in the original project and add detail I started a second version. It is nearly complete. My models have steadily increased in complexity. I have learned:
    - To removal unneeded polygons from my models.
    - Of LODs, I have not implement them yet, I'm guessing there more useful for highly complex objects like aircraft.
    - Which texture formats to use when.
    - To use mipmaps.
    - I have made some use of alpha channels. Thank you to jyarddog

    I enrolled in a Photoshop class and bought a $199 student version of the program. I'm learning a great deal. Despite the cost and steep learning curve it appears to be the most capable paint program and the choice of professionals. A new digital camera may be in my future. I have learned:
    - The to set my camera to maximum photo size and quality
    - To size down, not size up, photos for my textures
    - To use a tripod at night.
    - To hacked my camera to shoot in camera raw.

    I hit on two techniques for making buildings. Each has merits:

    The first is straight forward. A texture of the side of a building, complete with doors windows and fixtures, is applied directly. Everything is there, in the right relative locations and particularly for night textures light patterns show across the entire surface as they should.

    For the second texture method, a texture of say corrugated metal siding is tiled on the building side. Then polygons with door, window, and fixture textures are placed in the proper locations hovering just off the base poly with tiled texture. The principle advantage of this method is that a single texture spread over a large building looses quality. A tiled texture shows betters detail. This method is demonstrated in a tutorial by Farfy. http://farfyscenery.katuu.com/ His tutorials are great and he has been very very helpful. Thank you.

    The principle disadvantage of method two is that of the light patterns particularly a night. You also needed a seamless texture that closely matches the building your modeling.

    I know there's a way to use 2028x2028 textures in FSX. It is something to be looked into but at that point your working with a pretty big texture and you would need to start a big photograph. Eventually, I'm sure I'll be able to make much higher quality textures at 1024x1024.

    Any thoughts?
  3. jrhottel

    jrhottel

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    Prepar3d vs FSX

    So far, it looks to me like the basic modeling is unchanged for PP3D. The major advancements are in lighting and texturing. If I'm right, using 3ds Max for PP3D, you can place and control light sources. So you won't have a day and night texture set. Instead, you'll have one set of textures and change lighting by location, season, time of day or any other condition you can think of. That might be to simplistic or maybe even wrong. PP3D does have night modes for textures. Basically, I'm not to figuring out textures yet even though that seems to be the meat of the divergence from FSX design.

    I pointed out that when tiling textures, for FSX, we have no light patterns and, if nothing else, light patterns are essential for night time textures. In PP3D because you setup and control lights, I think, that issue goes away. This has implications for the choice of design methods I described earlier. I'll be interested were this goes.

    Then there are the textures themselves. PP3D textures can have texture, roughness, bumpiness, ect. Textures can be adjusted for diffuse color, secular color, emissive bloom, bump and more.

    Any thoughts, corrections or tangential ideas?
  4. arno

    arno Administrator Staff Member FSDevConf team Resource contributor

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    Hi,

    I think it is more because the two platforms are 99.9% the same. So designing addons for FSX or Prepar3D is almost completely the same.
  5. arno

    arno Administrator Staff Member FSDevConf team Resource contributor

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    Hi,

    About your tiling textures. I think the biggest disadvantage of those is that you tend to end up with multiple textures files when you use this approach (I have done it in the past). Which means you get more drawcalls in the model and a worse performance. For good performance you should try to put all texture elements of your building into one big texture sheet.

    As far as I know Prepar3D uses the same night texture technique as FSX. And lights placed in 3DS Max have no influence on the lighting in the simulator.
  6. hcornea

    hcornea Resource contributor

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    Where did you get this idea from?

    AFAIK, The modelling format in P3D 1.2 is identical to FSX SP2. I am unaware of any "active" lighting, apart from the familiar environmental (day / moon) lighting that everyone is familiar with from FSX.
  7. jrhottel

    jrhottel

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    Thanks for going easy on me. I have found nothing on the difference of designing for PP3D. If designing for both is so similar that's very good news and explains why this is a none topic. I guess the drawcall issue is why you tend to see only one texture sheet on even very complex models like aircraft. What would you do with a sign on a building? My first inclination is to use a separate texture on floating poly.

    I got the Idea about the lights from a number of 3ds Max tutorials and a couple scenes I have made. Nothing in writing or that I have actually done in PP3D. Conversely, with nothing, nothing suggests it wouldn't work. So far I have been focused on what I can do in 3ds Max and not what will actually work in the PP3D. The PP3D SDK does not seem very informative, in that regard.

    So when looking at a PP3D file, will FSX just look at the normal map or diffuse map and ignore a Light map or a bump map? And, from a performance point of you, isn't using of a map such as light or bump analogous to having multiple textures?

    The question comes back to; what are the actual differences in designing for each sim. Could it be as simple as the FSX project having a few maps removed? Do you need to do anything at all? I did take a test Bgl directly from 3ds Max to FSX but it was not something I had made.

    I need to start experimenting.

    I'll be starting a class on 3ds Max soon. It should be enlightening.

    Thanks, I value your input greatly.

    John
  8. arno

    arno Administrator Staff Member FSDevConf team Resource contributor

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    Hi John,

    FSX also supports normal maps, bump maps, etc. So no need to remove any of those. I haven't designed much for Prepar3D myself, but I think if you make a BGL for FSX it will just work directly in Prepar3D as well.
  9. hcornea

    hcornea Resource contributor

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    Yes. the MDL format is identical. All the same material slots work.

    For the current P3D version, if it was compiled for Prepar3D it will work fine in FSX.

    I am using the Prepar3D exporters to develop FSX models using Max 2012.

    With regard to "lighting", these features have been available in rudimentary form since gMax. 3DsMax offers more integrated ways of using the lighting to create textures, etc.

    The lighting objects in 3dsMax scenes, however, have absolutely no effect in the final exported model.
  10. jrhottel

    jrhottel

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    I have taken several objects from 3ds to FSX now and you're absolutely right, the lighting objects don't export. That I have allot to learn is an understatement.

    The article in Computer Pilot says the Lockheed license is for all applications other than pure consumer home-entertainment. It will be interesting to see if a market develops for PP3D add-ons.

    There is a small aero-club / flight training center at the airport that was the subject of my first project. I'm waiting to see if my work gets much use by their membership. It is my own little market study.

    So, we wait for the DirectX 11 update for PP3D and of course MSF.

    Thank you,

    I think, I now have the big picture.
  11. bob5568

    bob5568

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    it appears the only version that will work with the prepar3d sdk is 3dsmax 2012 32BIT. I have the 64bit version and it won't recognize the aces tools.

    Grumble.
  12. hcornea

    hcornea Resource contributor

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    The only versions of Max that will work with ANY of the plugins (P3D or FSX) are the 32bit versions.

    This is the way it has always been.
  13. bob5568

    bob5568

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    Yep, just had to install the 32bit version, and 3dsmax 2012 with tools seems to work fine.
  14. jyarddog

    jyarddog

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    JR- thanx for the kudos. Prepar3d sounds very good but what keeps me away is the cost. Being retired I cannot afford to get into this.

    There is an entry you can make in FSX.cfg to be able to use the 2048 size texture sheet. It is a simple entry.... I just for got the exact typing. Someone here will know.

    continue with your work and education. You are on the right track.

    BTW- have the latest MCX? I just installed the latest.. now it won't work 5 out of 7 times. I'll just wait til the next inistall is offered I guess. Bob
  15. pfabian

    pfabian

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    Is this still true? Thinking about investing in P3D+SDK. But have 64bit 3dsMax. I think I might need to go ask licensing office then?
  16. hcornea

    hcornea Resource contributor

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    Same license key allows you to install 32bit side-by-side.

    The plugins still only appear to work in 32bit Max.
  17. adamjedgar

    adamjedgar

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    May I ask a small question on this point....

    How does one install the 32 bit version of 3ds max (whether it be 2010,2011 or 2012) in a 64 bit OS??? The autodesk installers seem to automatically choose the 64 bit 3ds max option!
  18. hcornea

    hcornea Resource contributor

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    The custom installation option allows you to install both, from memory.
  19. pfabian

    pfabian

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    Thanks Ian. It would be quite practical for me to use 3dsMax iso gmax, since I have ready access to heaps of 3dsMax learning materials from bottom to top levels (thank you, university).

    Now if only I could ensure interoperability with my colleague with gmax. But I will leave that for another time.
  20. adamjedgar

    adamjedgar

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    eh what custom installation option??? i dont see any custom option.

    I only have the student version of autodesk products...installation options are as follows

    Install products - perform standard installation on this workstation
    Create deployments
    Install tools and utilities
    Read the documentaiton


    oh hang on....i know what to do now!:eek:

    should i share my discovery?:rolleyes:

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