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How to create working vehicle models?

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I would like to know how to create new models for train engines and coaches, buses, cars etc. And in other words: vehicles. I would also like to create appropriate textures for them. :}

Firstly, I would like to confess that I have absolutely no knowledge of modelling. I have modded many games, but all I make is text based mods like editing stats and similar things. As for Simcity 4, I have not even modded it till yet. And after seeing the marvels you guys create, I am interested in modding this game too. Especially since I think making vehicle models for this game would be easier due to smaller models.

So, asking as a newbie, how do I create vehicle models with proper textures and make them work? What programs do I need? How do I replace the vehicles (especially trains and buses) with those? :???:

  Edited by Priyon  

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Making vehicle models for SC4 is considerably easier than it is for a lot of other games, but there are still some guidelines to be followed.

Firstly, you'll need to make the models. There are two options for this. You can use gmax or 3dsmax and make your vehicle model and wrap it in there, which is the recommended method, or you can make it by hand from an existing 3DS file in ilive's Reader.

You can get gmax for free from Turbosquid (The only remaining official source, they also posses the registration system needed to run the program for the first time). 3dsmax isn't free unless you're either a Full-Time High School or Full-Time University Student or (last time I checked the license agreement, this was allowed under the Student system) Unemployed. If you fit any of those three, you'll have to go to the Autodesk Education Community and register there.

There are a few special considerations to be made when making your model. For example, all vehicles have to face the same way because the game always assumes one direction is the front.

Making a vehicle for SC4 is like making a vehicle for a 90s racing game, concentrate on making the model accurate but low-poly, use textures to fill in the details and never model what the player isn't going to see (for example, the underside of the vehicle is generally a wasted group of polygons, you're never going to see it). Also make sure that your vehicle is of a similar scale to the Maxis and other CC vehicles. There was a recent example on the STEX of a vehicle that was scaled too large, and it sticks out like a sore thumb. Modelling things like wheels on a car aren't really neccessary, the wheels are static (unless you animate them, in which case they'll always spin regardless of whether the vehicle is actually moving) and generally will make your vehicles look strange compared to the others in the game.

Now onto getting it in-game. I'm going to use some Modding lingo in here and try to explain it as best as I can. Usually, you'd either create a Model Override (make your models have the same TGI, the type, group and instance identifier) or create a new vehicle with the associated spawning LUA. I don't know how to do the latter, you'd need to talk to someone that actually does traffic modelling, but the former is very simple, just import your model in Reader using the 3dsmax function (it works for both 3dsmax and gmax files as far as I'm aware) then set the TGI to that of the vehicle you want to replace.

Of course, someone who actually makes traffic models (someone like Vortext) will be able to help you much more. There are also tutorials floating around which will be of much more help than my wall of text, have a look on the Omnibus or over at SC4Devotion for those.

  Edited by jdenm8  

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  • Original Poster
  • Thanks to both of you. :)

    I already had Google Sketchup 8, and downloaded gmax right away.

    Now that I have all the tools, I will try out those tutorials. Instructions are hard though...

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