GZDoom modeling tutorial: YOUR opinion needed!

Discuss anything ZDoom-related that doesn't fall into one of the other categories.

Which modeler should I base the tutorial on?

Q2modeler
9
47%
Milkshape 3D
10
53%
 
Total votes : 19

GZDoom modeling tutorial: YOUR opinion needed!

Postby Nash » Wed Oct 03, 2007 2:34 pm

I have been thinking - on and off - about creating a tutorial specifically for GZDoom modeling. It would most probably be a video tutorial because it's easier to learn from videos than from looking at still images.

My main problem here is what program should I base my tutorial on. There are a lot of modeling programs out there, very few of them are freeware, most of them are shareware and the really good ones, the average Doom modder probably can't afford and probably don't even want to bother learning and using.

After a lot of assessing, I have narrowed down my options to two programs: Q2modeler and Milkshape 3D.

I will go over the pros and cons of both:

Q2modeler

The good:

- Freeware
- No nonsense tools and user interface; made for low poly modeling
- Native export to MD2 format
- Vertex animation - no need to setup boned characters for animation
- Built-in UV mapping tool is decent
- Built-in 2-d texture painter so you don't need a separate graphics program

The bad:

- Discontinued
- No primitives; modeling will ultimately take longer, even to make just a simple cube
- Cannot play animations in the editor
- Lack of modeling tools also make it longer to create more complex objects quickly
- No viewport background images; modeling is pretty much guesswork without reference images in the viewports
- Supports paletted PCX textures only
- Software graphics renderer

Milkshape 3D

The good:

- No nonsense user interface - good for low and semi-high poly modeling
- Has built-in primitives
- Decent set of modeling tools - extrude faces and edges, plugins, etc contribute to making complex objects faster
- Native export to MD2 and MD3 format
- Can play model animations inside the editor
- Hardware-accelerated using OpenGL
- Viewport background image support so you can place reference photos in your viewports for more accurate modeling
- Support for a variety of image formats - even Photoshop's PSDs (so you can continue to work with layers even when the image is already textured on to the model)

The bad:

- 30-day limit shareware (about $25 to register)
- Bone animation only, requiring you to fully rig your character before you even start animating; tedious for most Doom modders to care about
- Built-in UV editor is crap; will require a separate UV mapping program (and therefore a longer tutorial because I have to cover the other program as well)
- No texture painter so you'll need a separate painting program (like Photoshop or Paintshop Pro)

As to why I've chosen these two programs:

1) Easy and no nonsense user interface - no Doom modder would really care (or have the time) to learn complex modeling user interfaces
2) Native export to MD2s, which is the only model format relevant here because it's all that GZDoom supports (well technically it supports MD3s too but Q2modeler doesn't export to MD3)
3) Easily accessible by everyone (you don't need to pay to use the programs, though Milkshape does have a 30 day limit but it's still pretty much fully functional before that time expires)

I personally do all of my modeling in 3ds Max 9 and I LOVE it; I'll never go back to any other modeling programs after learning Max's user interface and tools, but it's an expensive package and the learning curve is steep; again, most Doom modders don't want to bother with all that. All they want to do is create low poly models for the only (and rather primitive) format that GZDoom supports.

It is also in my opinion that to compare the two above programs to, say, Blender, Maya or 3ds Max is like comparing the purist pixel spriters' MSPaint (or whatever primitive pixel painting program) to full-blown Photoshop or The Gimp. It's a pretty pointless debate, there's no right or wrong program; it ultimately depends on what the artist wants to achieve and how easy will it be complete his idea in the tool he chooses. All programs will generate an image, it's just a matter of the amount of time and effort required.

Spoiler:


Let me know what you all think.
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Postby Voxel » Wed Oct 03, 2007 2:52 pm

You should base the tutorial on Q2modeler and Milkshape 3D :P
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Postby Nash » Wed Oct 03, 2007 7:01 pm

I see that Milkshape 3D is leading. I take it no one minds that it'll expire in 30 days and if they find it useful, they wouldn't mind registering (like I did back then)?
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Postby Cutmanmike » Thu Oct 04, 2007 5:12 am

WAREZ!!

I voted milkshape because i'm familiar with it (I already know how to do GZDoom models) but one factor makes Q2modeler the choice for everyone. It's free.

The only people who are going to be buying milkshake JUST to make models for GZDoom are warez0rs or insane people (NASH! :P) unless they're planning on using 3d stuff for something else (but in that case you usually want something better like 3ds).

How much is it anyway?
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Postby Chilvence » Thu Oct 04, 2007 6:55 am

I would say Blender. I used to hate it, but I have used q2mdl for 8 or 9 years and there is a big fat wall of un-progress you hit sooner or later.

Blender suffers like Max and others in that its one-size-fits all leaves you with lots of un-needed gunk, but if you are going to learn to model, there is also no point in limiting yourself to a discontinued program.

It also completely rips on milkshape 3d. I've used ms3d to animate a character before and it is a horrible program. I wouldnt even begin to think of modelling anything with it, or using it to make uvmaps, whereas blender is great for both of those things (which is why I eventually caved and decided to learn it.). Its also free, and if you might even decide you want to use the rendering or game building features of it at one point.
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Re: GZDoom modeling tutorial: YOUR opinion needed!

Postby Risen » Thu Oct 04, 2007 7:06 am

To use your example: Given a choice between Photoshop and Paint, I'll choose Photoshop every time. Now that I know it intimately, even the smallest tasks are easier than with it than with Paint. I'd much rather use a fully featured program and understand what my limits are. In the case of Blender, there's the added bonus that it's freely available.

So unfortunately I wouldn't find this tutorial of much use unless it was done in Blender. Q2modeller lacks tools that I find necessary to get the job done right. I've gotten much further with Blender, but I'd still like to know and understand it much better.
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Postby Nash » Thu Oct 04, 2007 8:08 am

I'm not going to bother with Blender (or any other program for that matter) because as far as GZDoom modeling goes, it's just overkill for the typical Doom modder. What I mean by this kind of person is, he is interested in making or tweaking existing models, has SOME art knowledge but does NOT want (or care) to learn a full-blown package. He's a simple hobbyist.

My aim is to create a tutorial that'll help that person do just that. I am not intending to make a tutorial on how to make it in the game and animation industry; that's just out of context.

I myself use 3ds Max and I know what kind of crappy tools Milkshape and Q2modeler are; however what I intended to do was a service for the community - and that is to make a tutorial for a modeling program that everyone here has access to. I realize there's this phobia with modeling going around and most of the time it's because the person runs into very intimidating modeling tools.

I wanted to demistify 3-d modeling so that EVERYONE can start making models for GZDoom.

If the user feels that he runs into limitations and wants to do more, then he should consider the larger packages, in which by then I would have succeeded in my goal; I would have educated that person who originally only wanted to make models for GZDoom. By then, he would already have access to lots of other professionally-done tutorials on more advanced modeling techniques and as far as I'm concerned, it doesn't really mean anything to me anymore because it's beyond what I intended to teach.
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Postby Cutmanmike » Thu Oct 04, 2007 8:20 am

Speaking of 3ds, is there any way to convert a file to the correct md3 format from it rather than having to go through milkshape etc?
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Postby Nash » Thu Oct 04, 2007 8:34 am

Depends on what version of 3ds Max you're using.

http://pages.videotron.com/browser/ archives every incarnation of MD3 exporters ever made, but you'll have to find out which version of the exporters would work for your version of Max.

There is no working MD3 exporter for Max 9, though.
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Postby Cutmanmike » Thu Oct 04, 2007 9:54 am

I use 7. When it exports, does it do it correctly? By that I mean not rotate it on it's side (like what happens if you export into a format and import into milkshape) etc?
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Postby Risen » Thu Oct 04, 2007 10:10 am

A newbie guide using a newbie tool would likely be beneficial to some, but not to me.

I'm more advanced, in that I am already capable of building models and getting them into GZDoom. But I know that I am not so advanced as to understand 3D modeling in the same capacity that I understand 2D raster images. There are several areas in which I am completely in the dark about what is actually going on, and getting a usable result feels more like chance than skill.

With more advanced knowledge comes need for more advanced tools. When it comes to generating the mesh, I can operate Blender far and away better and more efficiently than I can operate q2modeler. I've discovered tools like radiosity baking which have made my textures much more believable in GZDoom's non-lighting renderer.

But then there's animation. It's very difficult to find information about animating a model using blender for use with the MD2/MD3 format. Most of the tutorials utilize features that aren't useful to me and I have to distill out what parts of them I can use and what's not supported. That's not an easy task and relies on quite a bit of outside information.

What I need is a newbie guide using a better featured tool, so that I can understand how all the basics fit together and why they do. (Specifically, I'd like it to be for Blender since I'm not in a good position to be spending money on tools of this nature)

If I'm not your audience, so be it; but you did ask for my thoughts.
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Postby Chilvence » Thu Oct 04, 2007 2:31 pm

Nash, I simply would not bother with milkshape3d, nor encourage anyone else to use it. Despite the fact that it costs 30 bucks when Blender is free, it is severely lacking in long term usability. It does the bare bones of what you need for a Quake 3 era model, but the simple fact is that every implementation feature wise is severely trounced by Blender.

Skeleton rigging can take hours to get right in MS3d, yet with Blender using the envelope rigging, you can be away in 20 minutes. I am not exaggerating, personally I would say you can go much faster than that. Not only that, but when I last used MS3d (admittedly a long time ago), it had hideous bugs in its animation system that cost me hours of extra work.

I couldn't even work out the uvmapping in MS3d, I gave up and resorted to using npherno's skin tool. Which is probably the worst thing to do, since it forces the crappy md2 format on you (another thing which I would not want anyone to suffer again). However after marking a few edge seams on your mesh in Blender, you can literally unwrap the whole thing to a usable level with one button.

It's also worth mentioning, that while I do believe learning to model with raw vertices and triangles may be slightly beneficial to your overall understanding of 3d, it is NOT n00b friendly. Any other tool you can name has a much more intelligent method of generating a mesh, even if it takes a while to actually find it. That in itself is often the main problem, there is no 3d equivalent of the 'line' tool in so far as the obvious usage and intended effect.

My personal favourite method is edge extrusion, since it allows me to build models almost exactly like I would have in q2mdl, but with a turbo speed boost. I would usually start a model with one flat plane, wrap it around itself on one axis and then build the rest on that single loop.

You might as well learn how to do it 'properly' from the start, then at least you aren't jammed in a corner with that hurdle to overcome later. Believe me (and you may well know, if you remember any of my long posts about this subject here in the past), that is not the position you want to be in.

I also find your statement that you aren't trying to help people enter the industry belittling and shortsighted. Perhaps your motivation is just wanting to see the Zdoom forum crowd actually start to use the modelling features of GZDoom for once, I do not know. But you are going about it the wrong way in any case. The right thing to do is to encourage people to try to get something out of 3d-modelling in general, then they can decide if they want to build a wad file with some models, and they will probably be good at it. If you just force people to learn modelling as fast as humanly possible, they will probably come out with crap and then have a hard-learned skill that they find hard to expand on in future. THAT is what you have to consider, not whether or not any individual is a prodigy destined for rockstar-fame or not, that viewpoint is exceedingly shallow.

So my point is, whatever you think is worth learning, it is worth learning properly. I know q2mdl so well that I can predict when its going to crash with 100% accuracy. 90% of my modelling hobby was spent on this. But it is the program equivalent of a hammer and some nails, you can use the damn thing even if the head is nearly falling off and your 'nails' consist of random bits of rusted metal you pulled out of a door frame 16 years ago, but that doesn't mean that it is good... you may have to suffer the bloat for learning something more modern, but as long as you aren't paying for it, it makes no sense to learn the old and rusty version.
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Postby Nash » Thu Oct 04, 2007 4:08 pm

Cutty - Go to http://www.maxplugins.de/ and moosey over to the 3ds Max 7 section and look under the exporters section to see if it's supported.

Risen - Have you seen this page? It appears to link to a working MD3 exporter with animation support and has a tutorial too. I didn't really read it though so I wouldn't know if it's useful to you.

I couldn't even work out the uvmapping in MS3d


I know. Under the cons list of Milkshape 3D, I did mention that the UV tools inside it are crap and I had to use a separate program to do the unwrapping.

Perhaps your motivation is just wanting to see the Zdoom forum crowd actually start to use the modelling features of GZDoom


Correct. But if I'm going to tell people to use Blender, then I don't think there's a need for me to do this tutorial. They might as well go over to the Blender community where there are tons of better tutorials.

Which leads me back to...

All I wanted to teach was how to get Doom modders use GZDoom's model capabilities. But teaching people here how to use Blender is really not my goal (and I wouldn't be able to do it well anyway... I am already too acustomed to the 3ds Max workflow and keyboard shortcuts).

Well seeing as the only replies I'm getting are from people who already know how to model (which isn't a bad thing, thanks for participating guys), I gather there's not really much interest in the subject and I take it no one's really interested in the tutorial... good thing I didn't start on it yet.
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Postby Risen » Thu Oct 04, 2007 5:15 pm

Thanks for the link, I'll check it out.
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Postby Cutmanmike » Thu Oct 04, 2007 6:27 pm

Why don't we just have tutorials for each program eh?
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