I don't know if anyone frequents this bit of the forum any more, but I've been learning Blender as a replacement for gmax to create models for use in MS FSX and, it has to be said, I'm finding the newer software a lot easier to use!
The following are some of the models that I have produced so far. If there's any interest, as I do more, then I'll add to the thread.
Halfpenny Green's Watch Office and Chief Instructors Office 641/41 (I'm aware that the bay roofing is incorrect. sorry! I may revisit this, it was based on photos of a different building, before I found Paul's photo of HG's)
i have briefly used blender and it is one nice bit of kit, I did find the initial learning curve quite different to When I learnt Gmax but it didn't take too long to learn the basics. I haven't used it in a few months as I've used 3dsmax for my modelling for quite a few years.
Only thing to remember especially in FSX is to make sure you keep drawcalls, polygon and texture vertices count to a minimum and add LOD models otherwise the FPS will grind to a slide show, especially with a lot of highly detailed models.
Yes. Thanks for the advice. I've actually used gmax to create FSX models for a while, but the inability to zoom in and the awful live preview render made it really difficult to work out what was going on. That and the fact that it is very difficult to add new elements to a mesh in gmax, whereas Blender is subdivision based and you have a lot more control, is what drove me over to the newer package.
I'm certainly finding it a lot faster to design in Blender and UV Mapping is a lot easier. My experience with gmax hasn't been overly positive - I much preferred 3DS Max, but couldn't afford the £3.5k price tag, plus it goes lease only later this year.
I don't think I'll be challenging your scenery design for a long while yet, but I'm finally able to create things that I feel happy with.
One question you may be able to help with; is there a quick way of calculating draw calls for FSX, do you know? I'm not sure how it works with bump maps and spec maps, etc. I presume each map adds an additional multiple of draw calls, depending on what is calling it? Low vertex count hopefully isn't a massive issue with what I'm creating - the main stores is 1714 and the incendiary store is 5228, which considering all the metalwork and the fact that there will only be one or two incendiary stores visible, I'm not overly worried by at present. If anyone does see a slow down when I let the public loose with it, then I'll take out the metal gantrywork as a LOD, but I know people who will use 5000 vertices to make the components on the roof of a building, which most people then never see!
Right now, by far the biggest hit at Halfpenny Green is from the AI. Unfortunately John hasn't done an AI Anson (yet?), so I'm having to use the Aircraft Factory or FS Addon player models.
There isn't really a way to find out the drawcall use within the sim but you can keep track of it by being aware of what you add to each model.
At a very basic level think of it like this, each material applied to a model can be classed as a drawcall, one building + one material = 1 drawcall
if you have 70 buildings with one material each you'll have 70 drawcalls.
you can reduce this by creating a scene of buildings that are close together and put all the textures for the scene on one texture sheet such as a 1024x1024, 2048,2048 or for high def texture 4096x4096. Personally I put the textures for around six or seven buildings onto a single 4096 x 4096, I can then either use the full res texture or reduce it to 2048x2048 or 1024x1024 as required to save memory space.
So now where those 6 or 7 single models would use 6 or 7 drawcalls, the scene of 6 or 7 buildings now uses only 1 drawcall.
even putting two building per texture you would half the amount of drawcalls.
thats is at a basic level, I think adding bump mapping and specular textures adds extra drawcalls for each material
AI can be a drawcall eaters if they aren't done with optimisation in mind....
hope that helps. any further help just pop over to our forum.