Clouds in T3D

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MilkywayM16
Posts: 38
Joined: Sat Oct 03, 2015 7:26 am
by MilkywayM16 » Sun Oct 04, 2015 8:26 am
Hey guys! Long time lurker, first time poster. I know quite a bit about Torque and want to take the time to learn a little bit more. While there is documentation about the cloud types available in Torque, I haven't really seen too many high quality examples of what the cloud systems in Torque are capable of. I'm more specifically referring to the cloud layer, not the basic clouds.

I've played around with the default art asset and all of the settings in the editor and have never really come up with any combinations that really look good. There doesn't seem to be any documentation around effectively creating a new cloudlayer normal map, so I've fumbled around in photoshop trying to best estimate how it will look ingame only to find out that it looks nothing like what I intended.

Basically I get the feeling that the cloudlayer just isn't powerful enough to do the things that I want it to, but I need confirmation from other users of Torque who might have had a better experience in creating some awesome looking results. What are your thoughts on the cloudlayer object?
marauder2k9
Posts: 162
Joined: Wed Feb 18, 2015 7:36 am
by marauder2k9 » Mon Oct 05, 2015 5:14 pm
the artwork for the cloudlayer is controlled in its alpha channel almost entirely i think
Duion
Posts: 1004
Joined: Sun Feb 08, 2015 1:51 am
 
by Duion » Mon Oct 05, 2015 5:38 pm
Even many modern games still just use a skybox, since it looks better, they don't even have tools like clouds as in Torque.
I often use a semi transparent clouds texture as a cloud layer, it is good enough for me, here you can see an example: http://www.moddb.com/games/uebergame/im ... w#imagebox
Chelaru
Posts: 199
Joined: Wed Jul 01, 2015 10:33 am
by Chelaru » Mon Oct 05, 2015 8:15 pm
Yes Duion, but i think we want to see something like this : https://youtu.be/88lir_IJj4c?t=14s
chriscalef
Posts: 375
Joined: Mon Feb 09, 2015 7:48 pm
by chriscalef » Mon Oct 05, 2015 8:48 pm
Well this won't get you all the way there, but if you really want a complex, diverse and realistic sky model with all kinds of clouds, you might consider joining me in my little "borrow as much useful content as possible from FlightGear" campaign. The cloud models are in .ac format and need to be converted to dts (my method has been going through blender to get models into collada, and then importing them into Torque.) They also have flat texture layers in addition to the 3D clouds. Here's just one screenshot, if you look around on flightgear.org and their forums you'll find many more:

Image

I would personally love to see everything FlightGear can do re: clouds and weather imported wholesale into Torque, and I don't think their community would have any problem with it as long as we were open about where the content came from. It's all released under an open license anyway. There is still work to be done on the T3D side, of course, to make sure the sky layers are capable of everything necessary and to work in the 3d models where appropriate. I'm not familiar at all with the sky system so can't help you much at this point, but it is on my list for sure.
chriscalef
Posts: 375
Joined: Mon Feb 09, 2015 7:48 pm
by chriscalef » Mon Oct 05, 2015 9:16 pm
Heh, I couldn't find an easy way to copy out a list of filenames, but here's a screenshot of the top part of my FGDATA models/weather directory just to give you an idea of how many models we're talking about.

Image

The total count is 124. You can browse and download the .ac models from here:

https://sourceforge.net/p/flightgear/fg ... s/Weather/

I don't remember if I had to download a plugin for Blender or not, if it doesn't work for you let me know and I'll find it on the FlightGear site. If it works you can just go to Import->ac model, and then export as DAE, and you're up to where I am so far. As mentioned in this other thread I'm still having trouble importing some textures, and all of the textures have needed to have materials written for them by hand in Torque script.
chriscalef
Posts: 375
Joined: Mon Feb 09, 2015 7:48 pm
by chriscalef » Mon Oct 05, 2015 10:17 pm
Ha, well, I thought I'd try it myself, but so far I can't exactly report epic results. Much of the problem I think is my own ineptitude and general confusion when it comes to dealing with the Material Editor and Torque materials in general, but I wouldn't be surprised if we're having some translation difficulties in our little import pipeline here. This is what I got after messing with it for half an hour or so and trying a handful of different models at random. I still haven't found the little puffy white cloud blobs in the above screenshot, most of these are more planar, and obviously I'm completely wrecking the materials and losing the transparency. Some help from an actual artist here would be awesome. :-)

Image

The smaller blob in the foreground is a 1% scaled down nimbus1, the higher farther away pair of planes is altocumulus1. The others I tried were all more or less planar, the nimbus has been the most interesting mesh so far. Flightgear also does all kinds of animations and other work on these in the engine, so there's no guarantee the models on their own are ever going to look perfect... but the FG side is open source too, and also has a fairly large and helpful community, so sooner or later I'm sure it can all be figured out.
JeffR
Steering Committee
Steering Committee
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Joined: Tue Feb 03, 2015 9:49 pm
 
by JeffR » Mon Oct 05, 2015 11:42 pm
If I had to guess, the models are designed so it's a bunch of billboards to give it a sense of volume, in variable shapes so you can have a cloud 'model' of varying types.

I'd been mulling on doing something like that m'self, so that's pretty neat. What you'd likely need to do is flag the quads in the model in blender with the BB prefix, which tells the TSShape that it's supposed to be rendered as a billboard. This way you can have a single model file with precreated billboards rendered all normal-like with regular materials.

From there, as you said, you'd create materials for the cloud puff textures(really, a script could be written that just while-loops over the files and creates a basic diffuse texture material with the translucency options on) and then use with the model.

Since it goes through the regular materials, it should also at that point shadow cast on the terrain, which would be a fantastic addition.

I'm also in agreement with you, Chris, that a full cloud/weather system would be incredibly useful.

There were some old resources on the GG site that could act as a baseline that would randomly permute through barometric pressures, and have weather events blend in/out based on certain amounts.

It'd be pretty easy to have the ability to define min/max ranges, as well as min/max temperatures, and other such things as well that the weather system could iterate on. With that sort of setup, it'd be fairly easy to configure a map so that during the early morning, between the air pressure, humidity and temperature, you get fog, lots of clouds, etc, etc.

Could even blend clouds in/out on the fly with this by adjusting their alpha level. Spawn a cloud model in, move it given the level's wind settings, and have it fade in and out based on a few parameters pertaining to air humidity, LCL height, etc.

Obviously not all games would need all that, but a full system that could be modified and customized as a base would be suuuuuper cool.
Duion
Posts: 1004
Joined: Sun Feb 08, 2015 1:51 am
 
by Duion » Tue Oct 06, 2015 12:35 am
Ron Kapaun released some clouds in one of his packs, anyone got them working?
chriscalef
Posts: 375
Joined: Mon Feb 09, 2015 7:48 pm
by chriscalef » Tue Oct 06, 2015 12:38 am
Indeed, totally with you on the full weather simulation goal... another thing worth mentioning though is the METAR system, which FlightGear uses to model real life weather coming in from the network of METAR sources at airports, etc. Even if you didn't want to use them in realtime, the codes and a stored history of some of them could let you fake an awful lot of weather simulation, without ever having to deal with the barometric pressure and temperature stuff yourself.

But of course that's nowhere near as much fun. Personally I'm hoping to plug in a full on weather simulator at some point, I seem to have lost the link but I had an open source fire/local weather simulator on tap a while back. It might be overkill for game purposes, but I'm slowly learning the advantages of letting other people do the heavy lifting whenever possible. :-)
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