Old ships in the new game

Is anyone else having trouble getting the new hods to look as good as the old ones? I’ve tried about every combination I can think of and the old hods still look better than any new ones. Does anyone have any advice as to what works? I pretty much know what doesn’t.

Star trek alien (kng, rom) ships are a bear to get looking right. Round surfaces with bumps are a nightmare. Bump maps and REFL/SPEC don’t seem to play well together. With no SPEC/REFL ships look toy like but the bumps look better. I’ve tried desaturated maps and darkening them also. Darker they look better with a fair amount of SPEC but then the bumps start looking inverted. They throw light in strange directions. Any advice would be appreciated.

can you post a few low resolution png examples of the DIFF, NORM, SPEC, REFL maps you are using, I am having some troubles but I’d like to see what issues you are having

Old diffuse map from HW2 ships

Last version tried with HWRM

Last REFL map

Last SPEC map

These newest maps don’t work as well as the last set. The last set had the DIFF map darkened 25 points, a solid 127 gray SPEC and a solid 51 gray REFL map. This combo looked the best and the gleam from background lighting was working very well but bumps on round surfaces were showing inverted at close range. Very annoying.

Also noted: The cleaner you can make the SPEC and REFL maps the better they look. They don’t like dirt… at least not for ST ships.

Also used a white RGB, black alpha PAIN map to mute the colors. This seemed to work rather well.

For HW2 we used a parallax shader made by CnlPepper and modified by STC. It worked very well but had some artifacts on rounded surfaces. The old hods seem to look good in the new game as is. They had DDS 5 normal maps and do appear to be slightly darker but it works. They don’t seem to suffer from the high specularity in HWRM… I’m almost afraid to touch them…

I have some time tonight if you want to send me a Dropbox link with everything so I can at least understand the problem. Loose files, DAE, everything needed to generate the HOD and the .ship files.

bump maps I have found need to have pretty neutral middles with a very faint ‘detail’ texture and the highs and lows are pretty much white and black for panels or other features. I have found that I need to start with a neutral grey, overlay the panel lines and pits in black and then add some white areas to provide panel popups. outside of baking normal maps I haven’t found anything else looks good (and it is hard to take an existing DIFF and convert it into a good enough bump map to make a quality normal map) I have also found it to be very important to have a high resolution NORM even if the bump it was created from was low resolution, for RODOH ships I am doubling the NORM resolution and leaving the DIFF as is for now unless I am scratch building it. This has the effect of tightening the Normal interpolation and getting rid or minimizing the plastic wrap effect.

REFL seems to work well as being a desaturated diffuse as long as you are okay with the ship picking up the background lighting colors (ships with color will look weird under certain lighting, though TEAM and STRP seem to look okay when DIFF of the same color doesn’t…) if you want the ship to stay its normal colors then this can be near black

SPEC is the one that seems to have the biggest issue, I would leave it almost black unless there is some edge or chrome like piece. In the old HW2 SPEC could be used to give an almost bump map like effect and had a nice overblown bloom in a lot of cases, now this really ends up looking bad. I am finding myself making the brightest area of a ship hull on the SPEC no more than 20% brightness and only a few detail areas when I want a glint am I pushing it beyond 50%. I have had some luck in creating a ‘bulb’ effect by having a very minor GLOW, a very white REFL and a light grey SPEC

Here is the spec that RODOH exported from the original 2007 file I had

and here it is in game

Adjusted significantly down

In game

my current RODOH-> conversion is as follows and it turns out pretty good

  1. open dae in max
  2. change any dxt5 to dxt1 in the material editor as per bitvenoms suggestion
    on ignoring transparency when it is not needed. This also seems to
    help some of the texture coordinate corruption, but not the mesh
    corruption (see below)
  3. take the SPEC.tga channel, copy and rename to
  4. Darken the original SPEC.tga by almost 90% (use legacy option in
    photoshop) and save the SPEC.tga.
  5. Take the DIFF.tga and copy it to a BUMP.tga
    temporary file,
  6. double the BUMP.tga resolution using a sharpen filter,
    desaturate it, and drop the contrast and brighness a little bit.
  7. use the xnormal heightmap converter to generate a NORM.tga from the BUMP.tga using 4Samples
    and a smooth of 1.0 from the lumosity channel

now RODOH is still eating some of the meshes alive, here is one of the worst, almost everything is missing

This is what the old hod looks like before conversion with RODOH

when opened in max the vertices are still there as are the edges, but no faces (not flipped or anything, just gone) all of the meshes I have went through the RDN maya pipeline so they should be the cleanest hods possible to start with. Luckily I have all of the source files, but it is a pain to rebuild (about 15% of the RODOH ships have this problem)


@EvilleJedi. I love your work… lot of time in those maps :smiley:

I’ve found that models with no color do best. FED models don’t seem to suffer from specularity issues as much as darker colors. I rely heavily on bumps to fill out the details because there are just too many odd shaped details on these ships to include them into the mesh.

Here’s an example of a new HODOR attempt… You can see on the front what I’m talking about with inverted looking bumps. If I cut the SPEC way down the model starts to look like a rubber toy.

…and an old HOD from HW2 in HWRM.

@scole: If you still want the ship I can send it… there’s a lot of files…

I’m here to help and if there is a problem, let’s find it. You want the ship in the first shot to look like the second?

@scole Yes. I think I may have found a solution however. I was looking around in the shader file and came across the matte shader. I never thought to use it because everyone was progressing with the new ship shader. Anyway, I tried it and the K’T’inga ship above started looking like it used to. I do like the shine the ship shader gives it though. It may be a matter of playing with the SPEC and REFL some more to get that effect also.

There is something that I’d like your advice on though. Some ST alien ships like the kng B’Rel under low ambiant lighting have a very eerie greenish fuzzy glow. Is there any way to simulate this? I tried using the glow map but it doesn’t work very well. The colors are too dark for the bloom to be seen.

@EvilleJedi Try the matte shader. It may help. Just edit the DAE. It’s easier than doing it in MAX.

Need screenshots to even attempt guessing at what this might be.

The engine does bloom as a post-proc - you can’t create materials to force it just for them. So in this case, no - there’s no simple fix. One method that will be very expensive is to create ‘shell’ meshes with very low opacity to fuzz-out the underlying mesh and edges. Sorta-how the engine-glows are drawn. But this is VERY expensive.

In terms of hull/diffuse from HW2C to HW:R - the math is VERY different and yes, you’ll have adjustments. I can sit down and calculate those out (maybe even add a RODOH processing flag to do some of it for you). The main thing is that the colors are curved, which you can compensate for pretty fast. The other big thing is that the scene lighting/environmental maps have (intentionally) a much greater impact on how the ships look. I’d recommend working on a scene with just a single ship it in - nothing nearby, with your shadows set to Dual-light so you can see the ‘ideal’ case for lighting and occlusion.

Bummer. The bloom effect on steroids would have been perfect. I’m not going to attempt to make a shell around the ship for the mod but I’m thinking about making one, for my own personal enjoyment, to see how well it works.

I’ve been trying to get the colors and specularity in line with how I think it should be and can not nail it down. I really like the specular bounce that the ships can have using the ship shader and this is muted a bunch using the matte shader but the matte allows me to come close to the colors that were present before. I’m hoping eventually I’ll come across a combination that will give me the best of both worlds.

And by the way… the timer is working out very well :smiley:

I just found out that the matte shader does not support team colors (I know. I’m slow sometimes) so I’m back to square one.
You guys are amazing. scole, you’re the one that did the finishing of the model maps for SPEC and REFL, I’m assuming. You did an amazing job on the game models and I wish I could figure out what it is that I’m not doing correctly. Oh well. There’s always time to figure it out.

ZIP some of your stuff up and give Cole an example of what you want, ideally - and PM him the link. That way, if he’s up late one night, he can take a look - if you haven’t already…

PM me the same, and I’ll see what I can do to add processing to RODOH (optional) to help make the adjustments faster…

Thanks, man. Offer still stands though, all we need to do is figure out how to get a ship or two to where you like them and the rest will fall into place.

I’ve GOT IT! I finally got in the ball park. I finally have a system that will work and I can pass it on to the other guys. I used the regular DIFF map that I used in the old game. Made the TEAM/STRP overlay gray 105. Used the DIFF map with NO DIRT (Clean map) and desaturated, then made the SPEC map. Took the same map and lowered brightness by 100 (mostly very dark with faint highlights). Made the REFL map. Made a White RGB wt black alpha PAIN map (must have 1 pixel white in the alpha or it won’t save black). I’m going to experiment with PAIN more to see what is possible. Ran HODOR with force DXT1. I think this is going to work for all the KNG/ROM ships. I get the dulled exterior and still have the cool specular effect at low angles. Best of both worlds :smiley:

Thank you guys for the attention and the support. It makes a big difference in my persistence.


from what you posted I am getting the following

SPEC: DIFF desaturated but no changes?

REFL: SPEC lowered brightness by 100

PAIN: all white with black alpha (what does the alpha do then?)

so the TEAM/STRP is washed out using the 105 (I think it only matters in the alpha channel?)

SPEC: not exactly the same as the DIFF map. It should be as clean as possible with no added dirt or grime. I found this helps the specularity to more evenly cover panels with less wash out.

PAIN: for me it mutes the colors reflected from intense background lighting. PAIN I noticed on the Turanic ships so I started experimenting with it. It may also help with shading around high bump maps.

TEAM/STRP: I need to elaborate here. I only changed the tone of the DIFF map in the areas that the TEAM/STRP are located. A light shade will wash. Colors will not look right. A neutral (127) or slightly darker (105) shade looks much better. No not the alpha of the TEAM/STRP but rather on the DIFF map. Sorry for the confusion.

Force DXT1: I don’t know if this makes a difference but I tried the exact same formula with "Force [8888], and without any command. It may not have made any difference.

Something else I changed: I started saving the TGA files to 24 bit instead of 32 bit. The reason was that 24 bit doesn’t include alpha. I was getting tired of having to delete alphas and/or forgetting to delete them. I’m not sure if this made any difference but I figured I should mention it (TEAM/STRP still 32 bit). Now, this may or may not have made a difference but the last go round used this and it turned out good.

This may not work for you with your whitish ships but it may work for your darker colored ones. If you come up with anything better let me know. I’m always looking for improvement :smiley:

These commands are just to control the final texture compression. Often when working you want a fast convert - so you should use Force8888 - so that it doesn’t waste any time and you can get a view of your ship fast. When you are done and ready to create a ‘final’ HOD - use ForceMAP - which means ‘Do what SHADERS.MAP says for each shader’ - because often/sometimes that isn’t DXT1. The Shaders themselves have a ‘preferred’ format for each input.

I may also be adding Greyscale support for TGA in an upcoming update - because MOST of the time SHADERS.MAP wants a single channel from your 32bit TGA to map into a mixed-channel game-ready texture. Greyscale will save both space and avoid confusion.

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