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Wavelength | Your Game Editing Resource | Using Complex brushes (Realistic Cliffs)
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Using Complex brushes (Realistic Cliffs) [Print this Article]
Posted by: TorQueMoD
Date posted: May 18 2003
User Rating: N/A
Number of views: 9508
Number of comments: 1
Description: Using more complex brushwork
This tutorial assumes that you know the basics of level design using World Craft and how to use the vertex manipulation tool.

For a long time I had been using several brushes when designing levels where one complex brush would work just as well, speeding up compile times and lowering r_speeds. I also never thought to use more complex brushes to make my level look more interesting.
I will explain in this tutorial some basic ideas as to how you can use complex brush work to make your levels more interesting with better overall quality.

What is a "Complex" brush?
For matters of this tutorial, a "Complex" brush is anything other than a 6 sided cube. The block or cube is what most level designers use as the basic brush when creating levels in World Craft. It is used to create floors, walls, beams, crates and so on. Using the Vertex manipulation tool, blocks can be made into some very interesting and attractive geometry that will make your level look more pleasing than a flat square room. However, the same method can be applied to cylindrical brushes to have a more powerful effect.


Now that I've explained what I am about to teach you, I can show you how using Complex brushes can help you with your level design. Lets start with the very basics and how you can use one Complex brush in place of two simple brushes when turning a 90 degree corner into a more interesting angled corner.

Typically if one wanted to create an angled corner wall, you would do so by aligning two block brushes as so...

user posted image

And using the Vertex Manipulation Tool to pull back the corner vertice of the top brush...

user posted image

Ending up with a much more interesting corner wall. Now typically there is nothing wrong with creating your corner wall using two block brushes. However, once your level starts to get larger with 32 corner walls like the one above using two brushes to create each wall, along with all the other geometry in the level, you're going to have quite a lot of brush work with not much to show for it. Many brushes increase VIS times and can also increase your r_speeds. If you were to use one Complex brush to make up all 32 corner walls, you will have halved the number of brushes used, decreasing the VIS time dramatically. Here comes the allmighty question... How do I create this corner wall using only one brush? The answer is really quite simple.

Instead of using two block brushes, we're going to use one cylinder; a 5-sided cylinder to be exact. Here's what you do...

Draw out a cylinder as you would normally in the top view where we want our corner wall to be. Make sure you set the 'faces' value to 5 and press enter. Now using the Vertex Manipulation tool we can move the vertices of our cylinder to form the corner wall above.

user posted image

Using one Complex brush instead of two also makes the overall brush area larger meaning that instead of having to render two small brushes, VIS now only has to render one large brush for each corner. Large brushes are rendered much faster than small brushes. Instead of using 64 brushes to make our 32 corner walls, we are now only using 32. This also makes things easier for VIS as there aren't as many brushes to render.

Using Complex brushes in place of two or more simple brushes can be used in many different ways than shown above. The corner wall is the most simplistic example that I could think of just to give everyone a basic idea of the possibilities. Try inventing some ways of your own to use one complex brush instead of several simple brushes. The best way to learn is experimentation.

Now we all know how everyone loves realistic looking cliffs right?

Lets take a look at how we can use Complex brushes to make some simple yet elegant cliff walls. First of all lets delete our corner wall brush as we will no longer be needing it.
Lets start by creating a 6 sided cylinder in the top view that is 256 x 256 units or 16 x 16 squares at a grid size of 16.
Why a grid size of 16 you might ask? Well 16 units (1 square) is basically the size a thin wall would be in relation to the size of the player in game. Like the inside of a door frame or maybe the size of a support beam. Pillars are around 4 squares or 64 units which is the width of the player in game, and door ways are usually 6 squares or 96 units high. It just keeps the scale of your level at the right size. (every 8th square is highlighted forming even larger squares that are 128 x 128 units)

Using the Vertex Manipulation Tool move the corners of the cylinder out to form a square with the two extra vertices lined up along the far left side like so...

user posted image

The 4 corner vertices should be lined up to form the square with the two extra vertices aligned as follows. #1 in the center of the left side and #2, two squares (32 units) below the top left corner vertice.

Now we are going to move the vertices around to form the top of our cliffs. Lets move our vertices into position to shape out the top of our cliffs. I'll write out the exact distance each vertice should be moved and then show you a picture that should bring it all into focus. First we'll grab the top left vertice and move it 7 squares (112 units) to the right keeping it in line with the top right vertice. Now we'll move Vertice #2 three (3) squares to the right along the same vertical level (don't move it up or down). Vertice #1 should remain where it is, and the bottom left vertice should move 4 squares (64 units) to the right keeping in line with the bottom right vertice. If you have followed my directions carefully, you should now have a shape that looks like this...

user posted image

Now that we have the top of our cliffs ready, we can work on the bottom. We have two choices with the bottom brush; we can use a simple block brush with vertex manipulation which will actually look fairly decent, or we can use a more Complex brush which will look even better but will add slightly to the wpoly. Considering the nature of this tutorial, we'll use the Complex brush however, I will also include a picture of the simple brush bottom for comparison.

Still in the top view, lets create another 6 sided cylinder that is 256 x 256 units and place it directly underneath our top brush. Again we will align the vertices to the left side of the square, this time with the two extra vertices positioned as follows: #1 four squares (64 units) from the bottom left vertice and #2 five squares (80 units) from the top left vertice. As always, here's a picture to help you along...

user posted image

Now we can move the vertices to the right in order to shape the bottom of our cliffs. Lets move the top right vertice 4 squares (64 units) to the right to line up with the bottom of our top brush. Both vertice #2 and #1 can be moved 2 squares (32 units) to the right, and the bottom left vertice, 6 squares (96 units) to the right. Our bottom brush should now look as such...

user posted image

Now you've probably been wondering why we've been making our cliff brush in the top view. The reason for this is simply because by default World Craft draws all cylinders vertically in the top view so it is easiest to simply make our brush in the top view and then rotate it in either the side or front views for use. Now that we have finished creating our cliff brush, lets group the two brushes together so we can arrange them more easily when creating our level. With the brushes grouped together, we can now rotate them in the side or front view so they will be standing vertically in game. Now there are two ways we can rotate the brush to appear properly in game. You can select the brush in the Front view and choose 'Transform' from the Tools menu (CTRL + M) then make sure Rotate is bulleted, enter 90 as the ' Value' and press Ok. Or you can click twice on the brush with the left mouse until the rotation symbols appear and rotate the brush by hand. I personally prefer to rotate the brush by hand making sure the edges of the brush are perfectly level; as using the Transform command can sometimes cause the vertices to misalign with more complex brushwork\. Either way will work just fine for this tutorial.

With our cliff brush rotated appropriatley it's a good idea to line it up along the nearest highlighted grid line as this keeps the level looking clean in World Craft and will make your life much easier in the long run. We can also widen the brush so that it is 128 units wide. This is just another scale formula I use when mapping.

user posted image

We now have our basic cliff brush that can be used to create the walls of our level. Considering the size of this tutorial rather than going into exact detail of where to place each brush so that you can create a level identical to my own I'm going to leave you to create your own level while allowing you to download the source file of my level so you can see how I used the simple brush we have just made to make an area with realistic cliffs.

user posted image

Download the example RMF for this map

From File Planet

From Counter-Map

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User Comments Showing comments 1-1

Posted By: EarthQuake on Dec 26 2003 at 16:15:27
The images to this tutorial need to be hosted on WL, not PHL.
Now, they probably can't be recovered.

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