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Follow a practical guide to building 3D cityscapes for games. IAuthor Adam Crespi constructs a city block in 3ds Max utilizing low-polygon modeling and advanced texturing techniques. The course shows how to model common city elements such as buildings, intersections, curbs, and roofs and explains how to expand a city quickly and easily by reusing existing geometry in a modular way. The course also sheds light on simulating real-world detail with baking, lighting, and ambient occlusion techniques and offers a series of best practices for exporting to the Unity gaming engine.
One of the neat things about working in unity is we can take 3ds Max scenes straight in. However, that's a double-edged sword, as occasionally we forget to clean up a scene and we get things we don't want coming into game. In this example, I have a high res window that I used to bake out ambient occlusion and shadows. I have a low res piece of a scene, a wall with those windows in it that's textured and ready to go. I've also got a light and I was using this to test out the shine in normal maps. I've been playing with this material a little bit too.
Pressing M for the Material Editor shows that I have a Bump of Normal and in that Normal, I've opted strength to 12. When we are going into game, we want to make sure that our materials work as they're supposed to at a strength of 1. That's very important as there is not really a way to adjust the strength. It's either there or not. Additionally, we need to do some cleanup. Just because we can bring an entire scene in doesn't mean we should. What I will start out with is making sure I have the scene saved as a working version with all its components, in case I need to go back and revise the bake or the shadows.
Then I will save a copy or do a Save As, saving a selected object for export. I'm going to start by deleting things I don't need then I will save a copy of the scene. The high res model will get deleted. I'll take the light out as well. I have lighting in Unity I can use. I'll check my layers, looking on the Layer menu and noting I have an extra layer in here. This layer has nothing on it, but I can't delete it because it's the active layer. I will make the default layer the active one, and now I can pick this layer called high detail and delete it.
I will right-click and choose Unhide All, making sure that there're no extra objects. I will make sure I don't have any cameras in the scene. That really all I've got is what we can see right here. One simple wall with its texture. In the Material Editor, only materials applied to objects come across. I need to note which pieces to bring in. The material will come in and I will have to go get these maps and apply them. Now I'm ready to save this scene and bring it in.
I may want to move the pivot as well. I'll go to the Pivots and IK tab and Affect Pivot Only. I may want to use the Align tool or the Snap Settings and align the pivot down to one of the corners for easy use. I'll change my snap, pressing Shift and right-click and choosing Pivot points. Now with the 3D Snap on, I can select the pivot and move the pivot down to snap on a corner of the object. Now when I rotate this, it will spin cleanly and if I need to align the pivot on a precise coordinate to match up with something else, I can. I will turn off Affect Pivot Only.
I'm ready to export this object out. I'll choose File > Save As and save the selected just to make sure. When I save the selected object, I will call this brick wall. Now in unity, I can bring this in. Here in Unity, under Project, I can right-click and import a new asset. I'll pick that 3ds Max scene. Selecting my brick wall Max file allows me to bring that in with its materials.
When this comes in, I have one scene with one mesh and one material for it. This is as clean as I can get it. I will drag that brick wall into the scene. Press F to focus or zoom in and make sure I can see my object. Notice I've also optimized it, that I've made sure that the normals are facing in the right direction. Right now we're seeing the wall from the back, where it's invisible. It's important to check this. Unity renders single-sided pieces as I've got. I want the brick wall to face out.
Here is my material. I may want to rename this or be careful with it as I bring it in. Alternately, I can skip the materials and make Unity materials with correct names. I'm going to change this shader over to a Bumped Diffuse. That allows me to bring in my normal map as well as my Base Color. I'll import those in and then show the selection of them. I will right-click, choose Import New Asset, and go pick those textures.
I've imported my images into Unity. Notice that down here in the bottom of the Preview, it's showing me how big that texture is and also the size and how it compresses. The normals do the same. But what we want to do is make sure we test things out in 3ds Max, getting it as close as possible. We can see that Unity, in this material I have very, very few properties to adjust. I will choose Select in the Texture for the Base Color and pick wall section. There's my diffuse map.
I'll select now the normal map and put it on. I need a light to be able to show this better. Although it's not bad, I can see when it comes in, my textures read nicely on the wall. My object is clean. I am going to mark this as a Normal map, choosing Fix Now, and I should see that lighting change. We can just see a little bit of change on the windows and also on the brick. One of the things this tells me is that I need to adjust this map and make it a little stronger so it comes across.
Planning is very important. So is having a clean scene. It's very easy to have extra objects and spend more time culling through rubbish you thought you had left behind than it is actually to make the game. A little planning goes a long way and a little scene cleanup and proper naming will go very, very far.
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