Tutorials & Guides / [LOCKED] 10 simple tips to make working with GG easier

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Wolf
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Posted: 5th May 2019 16:50 Edited at: 5th May 2019 17:09
Hello there!

There are a lot of little things I learned and got used to while making Acythian. Now a lot of these are not necessarily obvious and might help someone new to the software. I know that most of the advanced users already know this stuff but I bet it can help some users out there. Its not really a tutorial, more a bunch of tips.

And here are ten things to simplify using Game Guru, or simply tweaks to have fun with.

1. Do you wish to have the ability to spray any vegetation you want rather than being stuck to a single choice?
Its easy! Grab any vegetation model you like and give it the "effectbank\reloaded\apbr_veg.fx" shader.
What this does is that the vegetation now has the same swaying/wind animation as the grass and is looking the same. Press the "I" key to start spraying mode and here you go. Infinite vegetation possibilities! and they are now animated too.
Find free grass textures on textures.com.

2. In the setup .ini is a command to increase the maximum terrain brush size. Now making mountainous levels is much easier. Just set it to something like 9999.

3. Paint.net is a free light weight tool that can convert back and forth from .dds textures. There is a batch conversion plugin available somewhere as well. Remember, you need to modify your textures if you want your game to look coherent. You will likely also have to decrease texture resolution from stuff you bought on the store for performance.

4. In your effectbank is a settings.fx file. Here you can tweak a lot of brilliant settings to have further control over your overall games look and feel. You can edit this file with the notepad.

5. You can actually change the controls in the setup.ini by entering the right scan codes. I took the liberty of posting them for you here!


6. When using a laptop and having an editor that lags severely during level creation: close the editor and open up the setup.ini, change pbroverride from 1 to 0. Now you have an extra FPS boost on laptop. HOWEVER, your game will now render faulty, make sure to close the editor and set it back to 1 before you test the game.

7. Remember that GG characters have a whole pool of diverse animations in their .x model files. If you want to gain a significant FPS boost from your NPC's then do this: Import the meshes in your 3d software, I.E. fragmotion, delete all the animations you dont need, export and reimport. If you import an idle NPC, that has only his idle animation and is also imported as a dynamic entitie rather than a char, you can really save a lot of FPS on a town or city scene.

8. If my tutorial on performance is tl;dr for you, at least remember this: Deactivate terrain and water if its not visible (there are ready made scripts for this in your scriptbank) and decrease your camera distance. You'd be surprised how low you can go until you have entities popping in.

9. Remember to always have several copies of your maps. I recommend three. Its very easy to have a change in terrain layout completely ruin a carefully made city level and there is no undo function. You can spare yourself a lot of frustration this way.

10. If you are looking for free content to bolster your collection but are not yet too experienced with models, shaders and converting, try also looking for old FPSC freebie websites. FPSC stuff is already in the right format and you only have to add a shader line to the fpe (even if you dont have shader maps, its for coherent lighting).

Thanks for reading and feel free to post your own little tips.



-Wolf

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DVader
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Posted: 5th May 2019 16:55
Some nice tips there. The brush size one in particular and the grass one
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Avenging Eagle
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Posted: 5th May 2019 17:37 Edited at: 5th May 2019 17:39
You're a hero.

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synchromesh
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Posted: 5th May 2019 19:56
Agreed some great info ..
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DVader
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Posted: 5th May 2019 20:23
Is the keyboard pic new? Great addition if so. Didn't notice it first time round.

It's rare I look at these tip sections and learn something new, but you have me here I may just have been away too long and not kept up with updates and such but this is good info for anyone wanting to push GG a little further and I'm all for that
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Tarkus1971
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Posted: 5th May 2019 20:32
Thanks Wolf, the tip about the veg.fx shader is fantastic.
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Posted: 5th May 2019 23:32
Thanks Wolf

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Posted: 6th May 2019 08:47
Big thanks, Wolf! Very useful tips - especially about grass and brush size!
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Bored of the Rings
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Posted: 6th May 2019 09:58
some very useful tips Wolf, thanks a bundle
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Posted: 7th May 2019 16:02
Quite useful tips Wolf it might go to tutorials threads.
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Wolf
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Posted: 7th May 2019 17:50
You are all very welcome. I bet that vegetation shader thing is quite useful to some of you

@ DVader: I got that pic from the dark basic board but the scan codes are the same for GG.



-Wolf
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Posted: 7th May 2019 18:24
"Thanks for reading and feel free to post your own little tips."

Indeed! That's very nice of you Wolf. We need this info.
As a noob that is trying to learn all there is to know,
I welcome all tips like this. Let's hear them.


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m2design
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Posted: 7th May 2019 21:57
Quick video using a Wolf tip, waving bush. Although using apbr_veg.fx works for a bush (leaf cluster) my trees that require apbr_tree.fx to eliminate ghost edges don't work as well. The trees will wave like the bush but the tree color saturation is diminished too much to be useful.

Great tip and fun to mess with. I think I will work on the tree problem. Would be nice if ,someday, apbr_veg.fx could include the code for ghost edges.


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HarryWever
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Posted: 7th May 2019 22:37
very nice tips here, very usefull.. thanks wolf
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Posted: 8th May 2019 00:40
m2design, yeah when you stare at it like that,
now I notice how "creepy" that animation for
the grass/ bushes is. I guess it depend on the
look of the bush in question though.
It could use someone to go in and give it authentic
waving motion script. This way it is looks more like
plants undulating under the water. Good for water plants!
Wind would have a more abrupt and varied effect maybe.
(not your fault of course!) Oh... am I getting too picky?!



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m2design
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Posted: 8th May 2019 01:08
@GubbyBlips
I totally agree, just playing with what is currently available to see what the effect might be. It is not something I would use for real.
It would be nice though if lua could handle better wind effects. Still a good Wolf hint for some. (Not too picky by the way!)

Grass has never been one of GG's best features, but I understand the constraints based on memory and speed. I do wish there was a better way...

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Posted: 8th May 2019 20:07 Edited at: 8th May 2019 20:07
In terms of grass, I never really use HIGHEST or HIGH for grass shader quality. It adds a reflective glare from the "sun" that passes through buildings and trees and just doesn't look right to me or work with my scenes. Never notice any visual quality loss with lower this setting for vegetation. So it helps me save some FPS.

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synchromesh
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Posted: 8th May 2019 22:07
Very impressive shot … Very natural
Assuming that is GG.
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Posted: 9th May 2019 03:19
Thanks, that's a GG scene in the older dx9 version. I should put together some example dx11 to show whats possible while ranking good fps results as well with the later versions. Cause even that scene was very optimized focused when it no longer needs to be as restricted in certain areas with the newer version of GG.

I try to avoid animated trees. I also dont use the maximum terrain size and camera distance.
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m2design
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Posted: 10th May 2019 19:43 Edited at: 10th May 2019 19:45
Assuming a light breeze this is what I come up with using apbr_veg.fx. The tree is a made of three parts, leaves, and minor branches plus stationary trunk with major branches.
only the leaves and the minor branches use apbr_veg, the trunk and major branches use apbr_tree.fx. Interesting but not practical.
Might want to view the video full screen for best illustration of breeze effect.


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reliquia
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Posted: 12th May 2019 09:41
Nice effect going on there M2 Design.

Perhaps AmenMoses can come up with a script that will just put the tree parts where they belong when the map loads to make it easier to use this approach

Either way looks good.

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Posted: 12th May 2019 11:03
Nice one m2design.
I do not know how it works, but animated trees/grass should be animated only when the player is nearby, just for perfomance sake.
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m2design
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Posted: 12th May 2019 16:38
@ Those who took a look...

As I said this mixed method is not really very practical. Problem is the difficulty in snapping, the tree leaves/minor branches object, over the trunk/large branch object which I don't want animated, also very (hard to match the two objects locations very exact) in the editor. I agree that the distance from the animated tree and the viewer should, somehow, be controlled to trigger the animation. I have no idea what that would entail.
it appears that the apbr_core.fx routine which is called by the apbr_veg.fx routine, assigns a limb to every surface poly in the object (I think). This means I need to use 2 objects for the illustrated effect. One with animation and one without animation. If I use the apbr_veg.fx on my standard tree with out the separation, things get out of control (too many moving parts).

I do like the effect, just don't have the expertise to solve the inherent problems.

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AmenMoses
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Posted: 12th May 2019 17:11
Yep, a script to position the bits and control the animation would be possible but then all the entities would have to be active so if you had a lot of trees you might start to lose performance because of the Lua calling overhead. Would be a neat little project though!
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Posted: 12th May 2019 17:52
@m2design yes I agree that is a very good effect well done sir
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m2design
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Posted: 12th May 2019 18:07
@AmenMoses

#ifdef WITHANIMATION
float4x4 boneMatrix[170] : BoneMatrixPalette;
#endif

#ifdef PBRVEGETATION
float GrassFadeDistance = 10000.0f;
float time: Time;
float SwayAmount = 0.05f;

float SwaySpeed = 1.0f;
float ScaleOverride = 2.5f;
#endif
Above is the section of code from apbr_core.fx that seems to control elements required for animation of grass (also any vegetation).
Is it possible to add variables to this section that would somehow activate or deactivate the tree/grass animation based on distance from the player?
I know I can revise the sway and speed of the animation for control because I have changed them for my current tree animation (in a copy of the apbr_core. fx)
If possible to do this here then a lua script might not be required. (again my limited expertise)

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AmenMoses
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Posted: 12th May 2019 19:06
There are Lua functions to interact with shaders, not really my area of expertise though. I don't think it can be done on an entity by entity basis.

But, as this is a shader based effect it will already only apply to entities in the view port and within a certain draw distance, maybe somebody who knows more about the shaders could confirm this?
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Posted: 23rd May 2019 20:39 Edited at: 23rd May 2019 20:47
I'm able to play with existing shader settings as it's pretty simple to do, but have no real knowledge of the programming language used with fx files. I'm guessing here that the effect is a one off one and not possible to do per entity (close stuff swaying, distant stuff not). I think the shader would have to be completely rewritten to achieve this and would probably be slower because of it (it would certainly use more memory as it would need to save each chunk of grasses unique distance settings. That's a lot of grass.). It would be a cool addition though, along with multiple types of grass that can be placed, rather than messing about with spraying objects to fake it.

Edit Amenmoses pointed out the per entity issue already I see. I'm pretty sure the grass is basically treated as one entity as far as distance fade etc goes. It should certainly be possible to add in the sway values alongside the fade value but would for sure need a re-written or edited shader.
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m2design
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Posted: 23rd May 2019 22:51 Edited at: 27th Jul 2019 15:14

There is no July 18th post on this thread - forum error

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