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Why is so much quality lost after exporting with BAT4MAX?

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I seem to recall that FSH files, the textures applied to the S3D models of our exported BATs, have their own lossy compression.  I don't recall that anyone has found a direct means to control or block this FSH compression, and so it may be a limit to BAT image quality.  Naturally, compression induced color changes, blurriness, and artifacts will be most noticeable on HD renders.

Sadly, SimCity has long been notoriously anti-WYSIWYG...even SCURK's 256 indexed colors had wonky palettes with chunks of swatches reserved and reshuffled.


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FSH by default are DXT1 (1 bit alpha) or DXT3 (4 bit alpha) and are lossy formats with quite high compression. Furthermore one can only really expect 5,6,5 RGB bits after decompression. The only mitigations available are working in 4x4 pixel blocks, and using 4 key colours per block as all 16 pixel colours are reduced to 4 per block then reconstructed/interpolated on decompression. In general avoid high contrast/saturation to improve things - makes the interpolation less obvious. 

This format was "high tech" in 2003 in the early days of DirectX when memory and GPU resources were at a premium - that SC4 (and other games of the era) has done so well over so long is a testament to how well it works.

Of course today's 4k television and 64bit colour technology makes this look truly archaic - but it's still surprisingly usable and doesn't require oodles of storage and memory for small objects in game.    

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  • Similar Content

    • By Droric
      In 3ds Max 2014 the gamma settings were updated that made BAT4MAX incompatible with it.  This file resolves that issue by specifying the expected gamma values and overriding max's default behavior in the export script.  Set MAX to its factory default settings of Gamma 2.2 for display, input and output.
      To install extract the zip file to a folder and copy the file to the following location.
      Copy CPBuildingMill.ms to C:\Program Files\Autodesk\3ds Max 2014\gamepacks\BAT\scripts
      Please note that this is intended to be installed after BAT4MAX v5 and only addresses issues when rendering out or exporting to a SC4model with 3ds max 2014.  If you are not experiencing extremely bright models (incorrect gamma) exported from bat4max you do not need this!
    • By SimFox
      Major redesign of BAT4Max tool!

      New features
      Glare, Ground, Sky and more

      New Interface
      streamlined and workflow oriented interface

      New easy one click installation
      one-click installation that takes care of everything, including necessary updates to your GMAX+SC4Bat

      Installation instructions and support

      Special notice
      July 27, 2011
      Fully compatible with 3ds Max 2012 / 3ds Max Design 2012.

      Export problems with 3ds Max 2012 and 3ds Max Design 2012 are caused by errors in release version of 3ds Max. To resolve them install Hotfix1 from Autodesk site!
      -Mod edit: Converted old BBCode gibberish to HTML. Note: The Autodesk link seems to just go to the generic knowledge base and is no longer a direct link to the referenced Hotfix1. I've left the exact underlying URL as it was originally. -Cori
    • By SimFox
      This thread is now read-only. If you have a question, please check this post, and also check the FAQ here. If your question isn't answered in either place, feel free to ask it here.
      Advice: BAT4Max might not be 100% compatible with 3ds max 2013 or higher. The most common problems to new versions are incorrect Gamma value (buildings are too bright) and low quality of the building's look (you can notice that on previews). If you're using one of these versions, please make sure to check the settings on the bottom of this post to set the right configurations.
      If you're using 2012 version and your exports look like red/blue/green/black boxes, also check the fix to this problem on the bottom of this post.

      BAT4MAX v5 can be downloaded here:
      What's New in Version 5

      Turns on Glare Camera output shader. Allows for the creation of much more “alive” looking night views.

      Ground and Sky
      Creates and sets necessary properties for ground plane (used to apply reflection source) and sky.

      Darker Brighter Nigght switcher
      Allows to change brightess of the night (between Maxis Nite and Dark Nite) without changing any of the other settings apart from level of illumination.

      Clearing output Files
      Essentially does what old Deltree.exe used to do – removes old project files that could clog your BAT folder. However it does so in an entirely different and Windows version independent way. Additionally the process had been split in two “versions” one deletes only current project related files and another clears entire BAT folder.

      New FSH generation and insertion algorithm
      Now Bat4Mx is finally fully compatible with 3ds Max default installation folder e.g. one containing empty spaces in the path.

      New Interface
      Changing interface is often a risky proposition. People get accustomed to certain things and the effort needed to update old habits has to be justified. I was keeping in mind these points when I was re-designing the Bat4Max interface and I believe, well at least hope, that I managed to strike the balance. Old users will not be totally lost in the new interface, while new users are likely to find it more intuitive and flowing, like in “work flow”. This is particularly applicable to the export procedures that are not 1, 2, 3 easy…

      New Installation procedure
      While I have always tried to give explicit and exhaustive installation/set-up instructions the whole thing was repeatedly been proven to be too much of a challenge to many, particularly those not too keen on the whole “computer thing”. So it was clear that something has to be done to clear this rather pointless burden away. In this version of Bat4Max installation is no more that selecting one file and following on screen instructions. No more need to move around files and some such!
      Installation will also add/update necessary files to your GMAX+SC4bat provided you’ve installed those into default location e.g. C:\GMAX If, on the other hand you’ve used some custom installation you would need to do that manually. You’ll find necessary files and relevant folder structure in C:\GMAX after installation of Bat4Max v5.

      New interface overview
      Roll-outs have been rearranged in more logical (imho – suggestions are welcomed) flowing order.


      Sky new
      Pressing Sky button sets Mental Ray Physical Sky procedural Map as a background for your scene. After pressing Sky it is recommended to press desired rig button in order to set Physical Sky to the desired output.

      Set Rig For
      Buttons in this frame are pretty self explanatory I think Each creates Lighting rig and tunes all the necessary settings for each of 3 lighting conditions.

      Change Nite new
      Buttons in this frame alter brightness of the Sky Light in Night Lighting rig independently from all other settings (FG, AA, Glare etc). This allows you to keep all your custom setting when switching between two Night versions when you do night export. Darken and Brighten buttons only work with Night Rig. Glare sets “good for most” glare camera output shader for night scene. You can still manually change those to your liking/needs by instance dragging it from Render Setup->Renderer->Camera Shaders->Output to any slot in Material Editor.

      Troubleshooting group
      Delete Rig Lights
      Does exactly what is says.

      Reset Lights & Cameras
      Re-establishes link to CameraLigtRig x-Ref file located in folder specified in BAT4MAX.ini

      There are some changes in this roll-out.

      Custom LODs new
      Buttons in this frame are to help you create custom LODs for your model. The key word here is “help” not create custom LODs for you. The later is impossible by definition. Here is how it works:

      button creates basic LOD – scene bounding box that encompasses EVERY geometry object in your scene (that includes ground plane as well as any other hidden/frozen etc geometry you may have there), names it LOD3 and converts it into editable poly. Now you can dive in and make it whatever you want it to be! Once done simply click on

      LODs 4&5
      and copies of your modified LOD will be created and named accordingly. LODs are now kept on their own separate Layer.

      Automatic LODs
      This button simply creates 3 identical basic Scene bounding boxes places them on LODs layer and names them accordingly.

      Ground new
      Pressing Ground creates a plane (1x1 km by default) places it at XYZ =0 on a new Layer and freezes it in order to prevent accidental movement and sets it to be invisible to camera. It will also checks for your version of 3ds max and in case you have a compatible version it will supply you with instructions and open dialog window where you would set it to be invisible to FG (Final Gather) rays. This step insures ideal lighting conditions, but only possible in 3ds Max Versions 2009 and newer. Setting has, for now, to be made manually as these properties are not yet exposed to MaxScript.

      Show / Hide
      Shows or hides LOD3 (so you could edit it) or your model (Hi Res Geo)

      Preview Roll-out
      The layout of the roll-out had been re-arranged to save some space and to provide some logic (shows proper export sequence eg South-East-North-West otherwise the functionality is same.

      Rotations / Zoom allows you to select desired view for preview, while “select for Zoom5” SDoutput – basically normal Zoom5 view, or HDoutput – Zoom6 is substituted for Zoom5.

      Clear Output Files
      This roll-out makes come back to Bat4Max after a long absence caused by incompatibility of Deltree.exe used in old functions with newer OS. All scripts here have been completely re-writen and perform their functions without any external help.

      Clear Current new
      Deletes all files related to the current project (Sc4Model has to be selected in Export Sequence – SC4Model Name).

      Clear all
      Deletes ALL output and other technical files generated by BAT4Max. Basically clicking on this button will return your BAT folder to the pristine – just installed state.

      Export Sequence Former Export roll-out
      Here we have the biggest changes to both workflow and interface reflecting it. Buttons/operations behind them are arrange in a sequence of actual export.

      Export LODs
      this is a first step of any export. Pressing this button will export LODs from your scene as “yourMaxFileName.3ds” to your GMAX root folder so that you can export them in GMAX BAT to generate SC4Model file. The button is un-numbered since this is once-only step per any model (well, unless you change you LODs)

      (1) Select Target Model new
      Opens dialog window to your Plugin folder you’ve specified during installation of Bat4Max. Here you can select desired SC4Model file generated in GMAX BAT.

      (2) Day Export new
      this button runs normal export. After model is fully rendered FSHs are automatically* created and inserted into SC4Model file you have selected in previous step. This button could also be used for old style/original day/night combo export.

      (3) NiteExport new
      this button runs commands for specific truNite night export. First of all it checks if current scene is a night one. In it is not it will inform you and offer you choice to either abort export or proceed. If the scene is in fact a truNite one export will start automatically and after it is finished night FSHs will be created and inserted automatically* Current Material Libraries these refer to the old/original day-nite combo export method description of which could be found in the readme for Bat4Max v2. * Dialog/info windows will pop-up during the procedure informing you about completion of various stages of export, process will continue after your reply/acknowledge of info.
      Compatibility and pre-requisites

      Winodws XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7. 32 and 64 bit version of all these system are supported. For Windows 7 (and perhaps Windows Vista) UAC – User Account Control must be disabled prior to installation of Bat4Max v5. After installation/setup had finished if you want to turn it on again you would need to enable write rights (or full control rights) for your account/user name for gamepacks folder. Alternatively you can keep UAC off… 3ds Max could be uinstalled into any folder including one with empty spaces in path, like the default one, eg. C:\Program Files\Autodesk\3 ds max ####\

      3ds Max
      Core functionality of this version of Bat4Max is compatible with 3ds Max 7 -2011. Some of the features require newer versions of 3ds Max. Recommended version of 3ds max 2010 and newer. Both Mental Ray and Scanline (for basic functionality) are supported. 3rd party renderer support (V-ray, FinalRender etc) is untested...

      GMAX + BAT
      GMAX + SC4Bat installed into default folder (eg C:\GMAX) is must! First of all without GMAX + SC4Bat you wouldn’t be able to export anything. Default installation path is required because during setup of Bat4Max v5 some files will be updated in your GMAX SC4Bat as well.

      Installing BAT4Max 5
      Special note on UAC (User Account Control) in Windows 7 and, perhaps, Windows Vista (not confirmed). UAC in Windows7 blocks any write operations into “Program Files” folder. As a result neither setting not operation of BAT4Max is possible while UAC is turned on. So if you are running these versions of Windows please disable UAC prior to the installation of BAT4Max v5. After installation had been finished you would have 2 options – either keep UAC turned off, or turn UAC back on but allow to yourself (your user name) full control of \BAT folder Alternatively you may install 3ds Max outside of “Program Files” folder.
      Download LINK Unpack to the location you’ll be aware of – for instance on your desktop Start up you 3ds max In the menu select MaxScript -> Run Script and navigate to the location you have unzipped downloaded archive (see #2) and select BAT4Max5_Installer.mzp and follow on-screen instructions.

      During installation run Bat4Max v5 checks for previous installations of Bat4Max and removes it. This is necessary in order to avoid conflicts and to stray, none working elements in the interface.
      So if you have something there so important that you need to save please do so prior to running installation.
        Since Gamma setting in older version of 3ds Max (prior to max2009) hasn’t been fully exposed to Max scrip and in Max 2010 has troubles accepting setting made by MaxScript at the end of installation Scripts would automatically open the Preferences Dialog window. At the moment there is no way to open it in a precise tab, so you may have to click on Gamma and LUT TAB. Then depending on your version of Max either simply click on OK without doing a thing (in Max 2010 and 2011) or alter some settings like show on following pictures
      3dsMax 7:

      3ds Max 8 - 9:

      3ds Max 2008 and 2009 (2009Design):

      in 3ds Max 2010-2011 (also Design versions) there is no need to manually alter any settings, just press OK! How to Use
      LetThereBeLight-truNite Workflow

      Exporting Day
      Set your scene
      Easiest and quickest way to do so is by running LetTherBeLight (click on Day button). This will set units, render, anti-alias, and final gather, gamma and color correction to the values optimal for your particular version of 3dsMax needed for both export and preview. I would also recommend clicking on Sky button (for 3ds Max 2008 and newer users). Strictly speaking this is "required" only when your model has some reflective elements pointing at sky. Create your model.
      Do NOT create any night time lights or texturing, this is gonna be you day scene. Read following section for instruction of doing truNite export.
      note that in order to use preview you would need to create LODs for you model. Create/Edit LODS.
      You can do this by either pressing Automatic LODs button in LODs roll-out, or LOD3 button if you need custom LOD. Once you have finished editing the LOD3 click on LOD4&5 to finish LOD setup.
      One word of caution: go lightly on LODs remember that they should be as simple and low poly as possible so to not overburden the game’s ancient 3d engine Export LODs to gmax.
      This could be accomplished by pressing Export LODs button in Export Sequence roll-out. Script assumes that you have installed your GMAX and GMAX BAT into default locations. If this is not the case you would need to do it old fashioned manual way by selecting LODs and then choosing Export Selected from File menu. Export LODs in GMAX BAT.
      Open BAT (GMAX) and import LODs. If you have been following all instructions precisely you’ll find them (as a .3ds file) in the list that will open when you select Import command in File Menu of GMAXBat. Make sure that “convert units” option is NOT selected. SD or HD.
      Decide if this models should be exported as SD (standard definition – pixel perfect Zoom5 and 2x stretched Zoom6) or HD (pixel perfect Zoom6 and 2x reduced zoom5).

      Typically HD export is only sutable for smallest models - trash cans, benches and like. or traffic signs at which you wish texts to be redable.Things that would be typically looked at at biggest zoom - Zoom6. Anything else should be exported as SD, since this way you would get better qualtity Zoom5 views.

      If you choose to export an HD model, the HD option must be checked in Gmax, before exporting the .SC4Model file, and in 3ds Max, before exporting from 3ds Max.

      Make a selection. Done that, press Export button. You’ll be asked to save the GMAX file. Do that and give it appropriate name so you could easily identify your coming SC4Model file later in 3ds Max.
      Once export is finished you can return to Max and Exporting from 3ds Max.
      In Export Sequence Roll-out:
      Press (1) Select Target Model button. It shall open the window showing you your SC4 Plugin folder. Select desired SC4Model and make sure you’ve selected same settings for SD/HD export as in GMAX BAT, when exporting the LODs.
      Press (2) DayExport
      Acknowledge on-screen dialogs that will inform you about completion of the various stages of export process.

      You're Done! Nite Export
      TruNite is a special technique for generating night time views. It builds on two main principles:
      Total Mask covering entire model.
      This is done to prevent ugly blending artifacts that are bugging many traditional night views and to allow for a full range of night effects such as specific night reflections, alternative models and textures/materials etc. Special night general lighting.
      This could deal away with strong shadowing that is so unrealistic for night views. With truNite instead of one single day/night export (providing your model has any kind of night lighting) you would do two separate exports – one for a day view and another for a night one. This solution has several significant benefits. It cuts on errors during export in a major way as vast majority of those occur during day/night switch by the export scripts. Since for the BAT export script truNite is just as another day render none of that ever takes place. Also for a larger models such separate exports may be beneficial because the wouldn’t occupy your computer for exceedingly long time at once Another advantage is a big reduction in overall, combined export time (by as much as 30%) since truNite deals away with night mask render pass.
      The only “drawback” of this method is that you model will “jump” from day to night view rather than go through the whole dusk routine. Another point that has to be taken into consideration is that both day and truNite models should occupy exactly same space (location) in both files and that their outline must be the same.

      TruNite night comes in two flavors selectable in LetTherBeLight roll-out
      Maxis nite
      This will create night view that blends with default lighting and coloring scheme used by Maxis for SimCity4 Darker Nite
      This generate much darker and less blue view which is broadly compatible with existing Darker Night mods. Special truNite DarkerNight mod will be release at around Xmas day. Nature of truNite makes these two flavor mutually exclusive. So if you want to provide community with both version you should do two night exports. If you decide to do only one I strongly suggest to chose Maxis one for it.

      If you decided to go with two version BAT make a copy of your just exported day scene (prior running night export), name these accordingly, but remember that you can alter only first part of the model name and not the alpha-numerical end of it.
      Create your Night Scene
      Open your previously saved day scene and make to it any adjustments you see fit. This may be lights, special textures or even alternations to the model (as long as they fall into same outline as a day one.

      Important note!!!
      Do NOT use any of the traditional naming conventions like nitelite- or night- prefixes for your geometry or lights Type of night - Maxis or Dark selection
      Cress one of the Nite buttons in LetThereBeLight roll-out. This will create appropriate Lighting rig and settings for gamma and color correction, etc. If you use 3ds Max 2010 and newer you may click on Glare button. Select Model file for export
      Click on (1) Select Target Model button and select the same model you have previously exported as a day view. If you have two versions (Maxis and Dark ones) choose appropriate Export
      Press (3) NiteExport button
      Acknowledge on-screen dialogs that will inform you about completion of the various stages of export process.

      You're Done! That’s all!
      Your model now has both day and night views!
      in case you need to do another night export repeat same procedure, but choose appropriate lighting and target file.

      BAT4MAX v5 can be downloaded here:

      Use of SimFox Day´n´Nite mode is strongly recommended with DarkNite models produced with this version of Bat4MAX as Lighting levels and hues used in truNite DarkNite export as realized in this version were calibrated to fit with this modd.

      SimFox Day´n´Nite modd can be found on STEX.
      Manual Settings to 3ds Max 2013 or Higher Users
      Since 3ds Max 2013, BAT4Max has some natural incompatibilities that can be fixed with some simple manual settings:
      Gamma Fix: if your renders are too bright (gamma is incorrectly set) try the following fix,
      Sampling Quality: you need to change the Sampling Mode to every single new project you start. In newer versions it's set as Unified/Raytraced by default and you need to change it to Classic/Raytraced. Now your models will look way better.
      To do it, you just need to click on Render Setup icon > Renderer tab and set the configurations as shown below:

      Skylights & Environment Lighting (IBL): at the same Render Setup window, click on the Global Illumination tab and change the Skylight Mode from Skylight Illumination from IBL to Skylight Illumination from Final Gather (FG).

      Fix to 3ds Max 2012
      Important: Are you using 3dsMax 2012 or 3dsMax Design 2012? Do your exports look like this?
      (Red/ blue/ green/ black boxes?)
      You need to update Max (apply Hotfix 1) before your updates will work! Download the appropriate version here:
      Hotfix1 for 3ds Max Design 2012 32 bit
      Hotfix1 for 3ds Max Design 2012 64 bit
      Hotfix1 for 3ds Max 2012 32 bit
      Hotfix1 for 3ds Max 2012 64 bit
    • By rsc204
      I've just come across a post by @Reddonquixote over on SC4D, it would appear our problems with using BAT4Max on newer 3DS max releases are over. In one of the scripts is a reference to a function that was removed entirely from 3DS Max, it would appear that trying to call this function was causing the scripts to fail on newer 3DS Max releases.
      Now of course right now, this isn't hugely tested so I don't want to jump the gun, but it seems if 3DS 2017 works with this fix, then it should work for earlier affected versions, am I right in saying that's 2016, possibly 2015 too?
      Anyhow, all credit obviously goes to RDQ for finding this problem, but rather than everyone edit their scripts. I've made a patched file you can simply use to replace the one with the faulty reference (attached).
      Instructions (Readme included with fix also):
      Download/Install BAT4Max as usual Find the install location for the scripts included with BAT4Max
      Default = 3DS MAX INSTALL DIR\gamepacks\BAT\scripts Copy the included SF_LtbL_functions.ms file, overwriting the original
      Remember to backup the original (just in case), by copying/moving it elsewhere outside of the 3DS Max install path Lastly, if you've not already don't so, don't forget to also get the Gamma Fix for 3DS Max from here too: Disclaimer: I personally use 3DS Max 2011, so have no way of testing this fix. But it can't cause any harm, it either works or it doesn't. Worst case scenario, restore the original file and you are back to square one (i.e. it still doesn't work).
      Lastly, please can those who might make use of the patch confirm if it works and which version of 3DS Max they've applied the fix too. This will help greatly with troubleshooting the issue for other users and helping ensure 3DS Max can be used for batting models into the future.
    • By tiemanjw
      I created a model museum ship I'd like to put into the game.  My main focus is eye candy (having museum functionally would be a bonus).  My problem is now that I've completed the model (pictured below), I have no idea what to do.  I've tried exporting, and have moved the model around in an attempt to "offset render".  That seems to allow me to move it around, but I don't know what to do other than that.
      My objective is
      1) keep the red part of the hull below the water (it is below z=0 in the model, and the LOD stops at z=0)
      2) get the brow and stairway over land, but off the "lot" itself.  This would be to allow me to place the ship next to an existing park of my choice (probably one of the PEG CDKs). 
      3) not have any underlying textures or cause any water bugs.
      Is there a tutorial or can someone help walk me through this process.  I have several boats I'd like to export and get into the game this way, and would appreciate any help given.

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