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Darksaber's X-Wing Station

Thank you.

Please read the Disclaimer and Copyright.

I would like to thank JM for giving me permission to post his tutorial on my website.

For other very useful Tutorials please visit JM's XWA Expansion Guide

Thanks go to Darksaber for proving this was practical and possible.

As you know the Low-Detail model is what is used when the ship is far enough away from the players point of view that a box with the ship drawn on will look the same as the full detailed model and when it is also much more likely that the player will be able to see several of the ship (e.g. the entire squadron) rather than just a few or one (e.g. the fighter the player is dogfighting with).

This option is most critical for using with Fighters (Base OPT only) as they are the ships which both change range fastest and which are normally the most numerous in a mission. In some ways it seems less necessary for starships as you less often get far enough away from them for the LOD model to be able to be used (especially if the LOD is a box-with-textures) but since this is not a great deal of extra work this option should be included.

Here is a short step by step guide :

  • First thing to do is to make your OPT and to plan how you are going to very greatly simplify it. This should be as low a facecount as possible - remember that you can view the TG LOD models by importing the OPT into OPTech which will give you some idea of how they simplified their models.

  • Now carefully take pictures of your OPT (I used printscreen, pasted the screen into PSP, and then cut out the required part of the screenshot) which will become the textures for the LOD model. You can do this in either ACE or OPTech - the advantage of ACE being that if this is how you made your OPT then you'll have a project file to load already while the advantage of OPTech being that if you decide to include the FG colours that this program can display them.

  • Resample / Resize the pictures down to small sizes (32*32 or 64*16 for example or even smaller), reduce their colour depth to 256 colours and save as bitmaps.

  • Make the boxy DXF of your OPT (or you could do this before the previous steps). This should be low enough in facecount to easily be able to be (and should be) a single mesh.

  • As a new ACE project import the boxy DXF and texture it. This should not take too long considering how few faces you will be working with. Save the project and save as OPT.

  • Start OPTech and create a new OPZ. Import either your full-detail OPT or your LOD OPT- save - Import the other OPT - save.

  • Select the LOD mesh and then holding down Ctrl select the main hull or section of your full detail OPT and then click the Assign LOD button.

  • Type in a deliberately low value in the Cloaking Distance box for the mesh.

  • Save the OPZ and save as OPT.

  • Now go into XWA and set your Use Low Detail Models setting to minimum and fly a skirmish with your OPT. You should see the change which will confirm that you now have a LOD model in your OPT.

  • Load the OPZ again and put a "proper" value in the Cloaking Distance box for the mesh. The best way to decide what value you require is to simply look at comparable TG OPTs.

  • Save the OPZ and save as OPT.

  • Again go into XWA and this time the change should occur further away. I had previously suggested that you should keep the Use Low Detail Models setting at minimum and adjust the values so that the switch would be just on the edge of being visible or slightly beyond with this setting. On reflection this is a stupid piece of advice as this would mean that the Use Low Detail Models setting would change between barely visible distant switch and totally invisible very distant switch rather than (as with the TG OPT Values) between visible close switch and invisible distant switch.

  • Having thought it through I'd now advise changing the Use Low Detail Models setting to about 3/4 of maximum (to allow for a margin of error) and then changing the values in OPTech to make the switch just on the edge of being visible so that the player can bring the distance much closer into visible or further away into being invisible.get used (which would make adding them pointless).

  • Once it is working fine - Congratulations, you've finished.

The above method of box with texture is useful for fighters and can be used for starships as well (example the TG CRS and to an extent the TG Dreadnaught) but an alternate method for starships which is worth considering is to use a more complex model and simply omit the smaller details (example the TG ISD and VSD).

This will obviously have a higher facecount than a box with textures (so it will have less of an effect each time) but since it can be used at much closer range the LOD model will be more likely to actually be used and have the effect. Which method you use depends on the design of the ship, how large it is (hence how far away you'd have to be for either method), and how many of them may be in the mission.

If the starship is reasonably small then you'd be more likely to have more than one in a mission, so a greater need for facecount reductions, and more likely to reach a distance at which this ship looks small enough that a box with textures will work fine (like with the Dreadnaught).

However if the starship is a large one then conversely it is more probable that you'd more often only have one or two. so less need for facecount reduction, and less likely to reach a distance at which this larger ship looks small enough for a box with textures to work - and so a reduced detail model with more normal textures may be better (like with the ISD or VSD).

Or of course you can compromise and have a model which is more detailed than the 5-Box LOD model of the CRS but much less detailed than the ISD or VSD model - which is the method used for the TG Winged CRS.

CRS LOD
(detail in texture)

W/CRS LOD
(small detail in model)

VSD LOD
("high" detail in model)

 

I managed to get the LOD model for the IRD done in about 3 hours (even with the FG colours which meant 7 sets of 4 textures (28) rather than just 7 textures) from start to finish so you can see that compared with the amount of time the rest of the OPT can take this is fairly insignificant.

Remember I've only done this once (so far) so any corrections / additions / tips are welcome.

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