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Wavelength | Your Game Editing Resource | Modelling For Half-Life
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Modelling For Half-Life [Print this Article]
Posted by: Spider
Date posted: Feb 08 2003
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In this article I will address what it will take to create models for Half-Life. Simply, it's as easy as creating a model and a skeleton, animating and exporting, then compiling it. It will be more flexible than making models for vertex-based animation, because of the skeletal animation engine. For more information about the advantages, see my [URL=] comparing skeletal vs. vertex animation.

Valve uses 3D Studio MAX[/URL] with Character Studio, so I will cover these tools. You must be familiar with MAX to understand this, although there is a shareware model editor available at called MilkShape 3D.

Thanks to Valve's Doug Wood, Chuck Jones and Ken Birdwell.

1 > Modeling

Weapon polygons range from 400-900. Monsters: 3000 divided by number in average group. If the monster is underwater then it's halved.

1. Build model in a reference pose. For monsters that will use a biped, it's best with arms out from the sides, fingers spread out, and legs slightly apart.

2. Create Multi/Sub-Object textures in the Material Editor and apply them with the Material modifier, even if there's only one texture. Textures are 256 color, they have their own palette, and saved as .bmp. You can use as many as you'd like, just keep the total file size under 150k, although for multiplayer models it's best to use a few as possible. UVW Mapping is flexible, so you don't just have to apply them as planar maps.

3. Create a biped for monsters, or bones for weapons and resize them to the model. You can also add standard MAX bones to the biped.

4. Apply the Physique modifier and adjust the vertex assignment.

5. Save it, and export it as your base model in a root starting pose, such as a comfortable standing position.

2 > Animation & Export

6. Animate it at 30 fps, using your root pose as the first and last frames, except for the death animations. 30 fps is the maximum frames per second. For idle animations, it can be made to run slower in the code.

7. Export each as separate file (also save it as .max file for backup). You can use biped animation files (.bip) from other animations or reuse your own for different models.

3 > Compiling Model

8. List the animations, model and skin in .qc file.

9. Run Valve's studiomdl to compile it into an .mdl, and you're finished.

4 > Advantages of 3D Studio MAX and Skeletal System

Can modify mesh at any time, or replace the mesh.
Textures don't need to be applied only as planar maps.
Biped animation files can be used for other models.
Can export body parts or textures separately, to be controlled by the game engine.
Can set fps with 3D Studio MAX or engine.

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