2010-03-02

The Kumari and Model Ridiculousness

Just to give you a sense of how far I'll go . . .

1.  Take this quasi-accurate model of the Kumari.
2.  Research the file format of Bridge Commander models, since they're not simple LightWave LWOs like Klingon Academy used to use.
3.  Discover that BC uses some delightfully-open-source format you've never heard of before.  ("What the hell's a .nif?")  Discover also that you have to install two different things to make Blender import them, but they're available.
4.  Load up the Kumari in Blender, cursing its standards non-compliant user interface.  Export it to .3ds.
5.  Load up the Kumari in SketchUp.  Be unsatisfied with it.
6.  Go try to find Klingon Academy mods, only to discover that the main storehouse site is dead because some jackass hacked something supposedly damaging files and the slacker running it just shut it down.
7.  Persist and find them anyway, thanks in part to this TrekBBS thread.
8.  Get the Kumari from here.  
9.  Import the .LWOs (since for some reason there are several) to Blender. 
10.  Export the .3ds.
11.  Import the .3ds to SketchUp.
11a.  Change camera view so you can move it to the right spot in the field.
11b.  Change to the dimension tool so you can have a measurement of the ship alongside it.
11c.  Change to the rescaling tool to get it to 360 meters, because there's not a single 3D modeler who ever seems to put models to scale. It's some cultural thing I don't understand.
11d.  Change the camera view because it doesn't work right in parallel (orthographic) view.
11e.  Rescale it to close to the right size, because SketchUp is imprecise in this regard.  Then sit there typing in numbers to get it closer.
11f.  Save that thing so you don't have to do it again.
12.  Discover that the volume calculator can't operate on it correctly for some reason (i.e. at 360m it only reads the same volume as a Constitution, which isn't right at all . . . the Connie is long slender lines and flat saucer, the Kumari's a big fat school bus by comparison).   This probably has something to do with the multiple different .lwo files.
13.  Screw around with the model trying to get it to work.  Fail.
14.  Recalling a superior BC Kumari here, go get it.
15.  Start cussin', because instead of the .nif file format you've gone to all the trouble to be able to load, this is a .bcmod file.  What the hell is that?
16.  Find the Bridge Commander Universal Tool here.
17.  Figure out how to use its standards non-compliant user interface.
18.  Get it to unpack the .bcmod file so you can then steal the .nif file out of it. 
19.  Go find the damn .nif that's in some weird ass location and move it to where your other mods and ship models and whatnot are all in a semi-organized mess foolishly located 15 layers deep on one of your drives.
20.  Open the Kumari in Blender, cursing its non-compliance.
21.  Export the Kumari as a .3ds to the place where you've been putting all the exports.  Chide yourself because you know that you'll never remember what came from where, and so even if you do ever get around to putting all these ships in SketchUp's 3D Warehouse like you've been thinking of, there's no way in hell you'll be able to credit all the right people.
22.  In SketchUp, import the Kumari.  Follow the steps from 11a-11f.
23.  Run the volume calculator.
24.  Cuss because the damn thing didn't even report a volume as large as a Constitution Class, meaning the model's boned somewhere.
25.  Fiddle with it to try to make it work.  Fail.
26.  Go back to the inaccurate Kumari and say tohellwifit, run the volume, and get a decent-looking figure anyway.
27.  Cuss.
28.  Copy the Kumari and paste it alongside a Constitution.   Compare the hull dimensions, ponder how many of such-and-such part can fit into such-and-such other part, and so on.  Accept the 592,291 as being pretty close comparing the two models you're looking at.
29.  Then double-check against the orthographic views of the Kumari at Drex Files, realizing that the big fat ship you're looking at only has the most passing of resemblances to that graceful bird.
30.  Overlay the SketchUp window in semi-transparency and try to stretch and skew the inaccurate BC ship to fit as closely as possible, then rescale it again.
31.  Run volume again. 
32.  Get 314080 cubic meters. 
33.  Gun-shy now, copy this revised model and paste it alongside a Constitution in SketchUp.  Compare the volumes of different pieces in your mind.
34.  Decide it looks okay, and call it a good day. 

It's within a respectable margin of error, so if you don't like it, you can kiss my ass.  (And I say that with love.)

5 comments:

  1. Ha, that sounds like a typical day modding Star Trek: Legacy! I was mostly the stats/balance coder, and didn't do much with the models for that mod project, but our 'modelers' weren't very reliable and disappeared long before the mod project went under, so I still had my share of fun working with models, including all the fun of extracting models (which we had permission to use) from .bcmod files, and then converting them through two or three different formats before converting them into the stupid, proprietary .m3d format MadDoc used for their 3D models, through a player-created add-on program for MilkShape 3D that reverse-engineered enough of the specifics of the format to be able to get an acceptably functional model file conversion...

    In short, I feel your pain.

    ReplyDelete
  2. It's a wonder that anyone fools with this stuff. Hell, I had to virtually rebuild the Xhosa to get it working properly, and even then I could only get it to work right if I turned it on its tail and calculated it upright, otherwise it would fail to calculate the entire midsection . . . I was just glad it was a simple model.

    It looks like the Romulan runabout I acquired is going to require the same attention, unless I can find one from somewhere else. Happily all I had to do to the 2150s-era RBoP was to do some intersecting and edge-smoothing.
    But that's just for starters. My SketchUp model directory is filled with ships that I've had to tag as "badvol", meaning they're broken in some way.

    At some point, though, provided I can keep a decent listing of where all these models are coming from, I intend to start uploading them to the Google 3-D Warehouse so that others can play freely without having to go to all the trouble I'm having to go to.

    And I'm going to upload them with the proper scales. Asshats.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Speaking of stats and balance, I'm partially sad to see that KlingonAcademy.com is now dead. Bridge Commander has its perks, and perhaps Legacy does too (I've never played it), but there was nothing better than fiddling with the KA ship codes and getting a ship properly balanced. I just wish I'd had Blender at the time so I could've added weapons emplacements and whatnot. (A Galaxy with like two phasers? Are you nuts?)

    Of course, I'm pretty sure I had the Defiant way too tough, but we all have our guilty pleasures.

    Of course, I installed some modpack that broke all the work I'd done, and I never really got back to it . . . now I suppose I never will, what with modern video cards and Windows versions not liking the old KA game. But that's a good thing in a way, since I don't have time for such things now and since KA did it so well, I find all other such games lacking.

    Damn shame . . . I wasted quite a few hours on that stuff.

    Then again, I'm also quite pleased to have outlived KA, since I once posted alternative stats to some asshat's uber-SW ship he'd posted and the KA.com owner tried to give me crap about it on intellectual property grounds.

    Handy, though, since his massive non sequitur was sufficiently obnoxious to keep me from becoming more of a contributor to that community, and thus wasting even more time in hollow pursuits.

    (Looks around)

    . . . er, well, those hollow pursuits, anyway.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hahaha...

    Well, I never got the opportunity to play KA myself (didn't have the money when it was new, and then couldn't find it when I did have the money), and I never finished BC (for some reason, the gameplay didn't quite do it for me, and the Sovereign fanboy wanking just turned me off all together).

    Legacy is a fun game, and a good deal from the bargain bin, but was nowhere near the original retail price in value. Partly because MadDoc built it on top of the scrapped code and engine they had originally developed for Armada 3 before that project was canceled, and also partly because it was rushed out the door for a Christmas release and to get it in the 40th anniversary year. So they were working with a limited, out-dated engine intended for an entirely different gameplay genre, and rushed development time.

    That said, it's still a fairly fun game, and relatively easy to mod (though some of the more in-depth stuff is confusing and very headache-inducing). I was originally working on the Heroes and Legends mod, which later became The Legendary Generations mod after a merger with another mod focused on visual effects (HaL was focused on stats). Our intent was to create stats and gameplay as close to canon as possible. We actually came up with the most well-balanced and fun gameplay of all the major mods, I think, though our system wasn't without its flaws (some of which came from the limitations of the game engine).

    I still occasionally poke around with it now and then, as I still have the 3.0 version that we had in development and never released, before the team disbanded due to IRL stuff, if anyone's interested.


    And yes, i know what you mean about wasted time, though I prefer to think of it as a 'time sink', instead of an out-and-out waste... >.>

    ReplyDelete
  5. Discovered that I can also import the MilkShape (what the hell kind of name is that?) files used by Armada 2.

    That's how I had to acquire a Sydney Class.

    ReplyDelete