I want to convert some ships (well, actually a LOT of ships) from SFC:OP to Armada 2 so I can add the Gorn, Hydrans, ISC and Orions to the game. How do I convert .mod to .sod?
import .mod to ms3d then export to .sod after applying the proper changes to textures,hps,etc.
if you don't have the plugin, it can be downloaded here: Milkshape SOD importer/exporter, Star Trek: Armada 2 Downloads, Star Trek: Armada 2 Modeling Tools
Do I want ms3d or milkshape? Advantages/disadvantages of each? I've also heard of something called Maya, does anyone here use it?
i've not heard of Maya. But i believe that 3Ds max is the other program you meant to mention, it is of a higher quality, however it is slightly more... expensive... I use MS3D and it works great for me. Granted it takes some getting used to, but once you get the hang of it, it can be your best friend.
Maya is a similar modeling program to 3ds max though i have no personal experience to judge it on...i believe few in the community actually use it, 3ds is a better modeling program hands down followed by Ms3d further down the list (its a fairly basic program, simple and cheap) Personally i use Lightwave kinda a middle ground between the 2. Can handle large poly models, easy to use, friendly, fun, and various addon and plug-ins, more epensive than Ms3d (25 usd) and 3ds Max (i believe somewhere in the area of 120+ USD)
Where have you seen 3dsmax for $120?? All the things I see online say it is $3k or so. I want to do team colors so what do I need for that?
Applogies if this might seem long but I've tried to include as much in the way of information as possible to help you.
Ho hum. To begin with 3ds isn't a modelling program. Its a standardised model format which has been in use for almost as long as 3d modelling has been around. It was originally created by the makers of 3dmax studio which is why the plugin carries the original name of "Autodesk 3ds". It does has advantages and disadvantages though:
1) The model format uses the 8:3 DOS style filename which means that nearly all the time you need a filename with no more than 8 main characters and the 3 character extension. I've not come across a 3d modelling program that can use 3ds based models and have more than 8 characters, but it might be possible when reverse converting some unique game formats. 2) One major flaw with this format when loading a model using Milkshape 3d is that no model can be over 65,535 polys or 65,535 vertexes so trying to load a model with more than these figures will results in said model either creashing the program (or more likely) a message error being received by the user. 3) The file format is widely used almost right across the 3d modelling program board. I''ve so far only come across Gmax which doesn't have the 3ds plugin directly available for it (earlier versions of Gmax mind you. Its possible that later versions do have it), so getting a 3ds model loaded is a lot easier than looking for a specific plugin for the program you regularly use.
Now for some info. Your 3d modelling program selection is quite high but only a bare handful of 3 of this small list below are confirmed to convert to SOD with only 1 capable of directly importing non-stock models:
- 3dmax studio: Have been found to be the most expensive of the whole lot although I've read that student licences are normally around 1/3 or 1/4 the price of the program but can be as low as the price that FallenGraces states if you look carefully enough. Its learning curve is normally a long one and whilst you can use it for low poly modelling isn't really suited to it. For reference here, look to a site/forum known as Scifi-Meshes if you want to see the kind of capabilities that max is available to. Be warned as well that from version 7 or lower is quite difficult to find and also that max is quite resource hungry depending on your model poly counts (the highest level poly count to date I've seen on a model is around the 12 million mark). You require version 3, 4, 4.2, 4.5 or version 5 to be able to convert to Armada's model game format.
- Lightwave: Supposedly the next in the higher level model programs. I've tried, IIRC, version 6.5 (it may have been an earlier version that this though) and found it to share a partially similair layout with 3dmax. The main screen, though, isn't quite so cluttered with icon buttons but for all intents and purposes is of a similair vein to 3dmax in its capabilities. Mind you. In models that I've gotten hold of, I've found LW to be able to handle curved and rounded objects far better than max when rendering. Not sure on whether there is definately an exporter plugin but I've never come across one.
- Maya: Functionality is similair to the two above and I've seen some beautifully rendered scenes with it. Other than that I've not had much experience with the program so I would suggest having a look around on the necessary forums that support it.
- Deep Exploration: This is a wierd one this. Anyway, DE comes with, and therefore supports, a wide range of both 2d image and 3d model formats (I would say moreso than the others in thier stock versions (without any additional downloaded plugins)). I've also found it useful for importing some strange file formats with minimal fuss so if your converting from one format to standard 3ds its a great help. Not sure on the price of the latest version but its not cheap to buy.
- Blender: Classed as supposedly the best of the middle scale range. Its best feature is that its also free and I know of several people who have used it to its full potential, with the results being quite impressive to say the least. To my knowledge there is no SOD exporter plugin for this, unless someone has taken the time to write one.
- GMAX: A gamer version of 3dmax studio. Gmax is missing a few of the functions of max but not many to really be noticable unless to do a long comparison of the two programs. As with Blender, Gmax is free and supports a wide selection of file formats. It was designed specifically for game modelling so is better for control over mid to lower poly count ranges. No SOD plugin has been made that I'm aware of but I do remember that a (now) long gone, and little known, modeller friend of mine was trying to write one. No idea on the status of said plugin though.
- Ultimate Unwrap 3d: Commercial version of Lithium UVMapper. This was originally designed, not for directly creating models or any kind but for setting up UV maps for textures. What this means is you would have an already created, but untextured 3d model and its texture set, and use Lithium UVMapper to apply said textures and resave the ready-to-convert model. UU3d supports a good selection of plugins but be warned. The trial version WILL NOT SAVE. You will have to buy the program but at least you can see the models anway. It is also a bit more versatile with regards to functionality when compared to Milkshape 3d. Its also the only program from this selection that has a non-stock plugin that can import SOD models (there are a few SOD model exceptions that throw up an importing error but for the most part it'll work fine). Price is around $40 at the moment, but if your planning on using this for non stock or other game model importing then its highly useful and low cost.
- Milkshape 3d: My own personal choice of modelling program. It was originally designed for the creation of humanoid models for first person shoot-em-ups (Quake, UT etc.etc) so supports them well. Over the years though plugins for many file formats have been created including SOD so for Armada based modelling it can be the one single modelling tool you might use. Be warned at this point though, there are a couple of useful primatives missing from the program (the torus (donut) is a prime example), so you may need one of the other programs to help fill in for the missing features if you get to grips using this to its fullest. Cost as FallenGraces states is around the $25 mark which AFAIK is well worth it. Be warned though. Milkshape is highly memory dependant. The more memory you have the higher the poly count models you can import (although this is true for them all I've found milkshape to be the least tollerable with a low amount of memory). It can also export to SOD format but the publically available importer can only import stock SOD models.
Now to the question answered:
MOD format which is used exclusively by the SFC based series stands for Model Object Definition (or at least it did in the days of SFC1 and 2). Of the programs listed above, I know of only 3 that can import MOD based format models: 3dmax studio (this seems to be the tool of choice for SFC modellers), Ultimate Unwrap 3d and Milkshape 3d. Of the three you are far more likely to have best luck with importing if using 3dmax studio (UU3d somtimes reports vertex or face errors and won't load the model, while MS3d may load models with inverted faces which require a bit of messing with the model). Almost ALL versions from 3 onwards of 3dmax will load ANY version MOD file so its definately the most versatile of the bunch for this.
As you've probably found when looking at the files for a SFC based model you've seen that the model uses BMP based image files. These won't work with either Armada game so will require conversion to Truevision Targa (TGA) based image files and then reloading onto the model. However, once thats done your good to go for hardpointing and final conversion to SOD. As for team colors. To be honest they aren't exactly the best of things to include but IIRC there is at least one tutorial style reference manual (which is a bit old now but should still suffice) known as "Westworlds Big Book Of Modding". It should be in the tutorials section here and if it isn't try Armada Fleet Command - The Ultimate Star Trek: Armada Series & Birth of the Federation Download resource on the web! (but you'll need to register there to download anything).
one important question first, do you want to convert the stock SFC-OP models or some user made??
I have made models for both game series Armada and SFC and its easy to convert the Stock models from SFC series to Armada series if you have Milkshape3d and the correct plugins and know the basics of Hardpointplacement and texture conversion. :)
Armada series uses TGA file format textures and SFC series uses PNG or BMP file format textures, so you need to convert from PNG or BMP to TGA to get the corret texture format for Armada models. For the texture conversion you need a program that supports the alpha channel of TGA's to get the correct lightmaps in to the TGA.
explaining more here would be to much, have a look in all those tutorials available and try to learn the basics and ask here if you have problems, someone would always answer.