Creating Ingame Models
This guide is intended to teach you how to get models for units to show up in the game. This is also applicable to other meshes such as trees, rocks, props and projectiles. We will only be covering aspects of modelling specific to Supcom, and cover some common mistakes when dealing with Supcoms specifics.
- A knowledge of modelling - this guide will show the supcom-specific aspects of making the model. If you are new to modelling in general you should pick a software of your choice and become profficient in that first.
- Blender or 3DSMax - Forged Alliance uses a proprietary mesh file format, and there are custom exporters written for these two programs. In our example, we will be using Blender to export the model for the game.
- The appropriate Supcom exporter for the above program. The Blender version can be found here.
Making The Model
While making your model, it is good to plan ahead so that you can save yourself time when it comes to unwrapping and texturing it later, as well as how it will move, if needed. To help guide us through the process we will be following the development of the T3 ASF for the Nomads faction, a custom faction added in a mod to Supcom.
The idea of the unit was worked out beforehand, and a complexity was kept in mind - Supcom models are low poly, so making the models with as few polygons as needed ensures that it wont suffer from performance issues, while not compromising on quality beforehand. To get an idea of how many polygons to use, export some models with similar uses from the game and check how many they have.
- In our case, the ASF of the other factions have 300-1100 vertices depending on the faction, with Seraphim being the most complex. So we don't want to end up with more complexity than that.
- We know that our unit is going to be symmetrical, so we will be modelling only half of it and then dubplicating it later, so that the UV unwrapping process is easier. To aid this we are splitting it in half early on in the process, and know which parts to keep identical in advance, such as its 4 wings.
The model needs to be unwrapped so that it can be textured. UV unwrapping is not covered in this guide, but there are some considerations:
- Supcom uses one square texture per mesh, so when unwrapping ensure that all the UV faces are in the same material.
- Typical texture sizes are 256x256 - 1024x1024. Lower for projectiles. In our case we will be using a 512x512 texture. Larger textures cause the game to slow down while loading them so they should be kept as small as possible.
- Maximising the use of the texture is strongly encouraged, so designing units where textures are reused by faces, symmetrical geometry and culling uneeded faces is encouraged.
- Supcom uses point bones that have an orientation, but no length. For this reason they may appear somewhat strange in Blender, whose bones also have a length. This is not an issue however.
- The model needs to be rigged correctly, and all the bones should have a unique name. The base bone name will be what the exporter exports the mesh file as, but it can be renamed.
- Bones with more than one parent are in theory supported by the engine but so far only single parent bones have been made to work.
Animations are supported by supcom, but exporting them again makes them hard to edit