Toolchain overview

Toolchain overview

From BeamNG

Here I will cover the list of programs used for the environmental development of the game and give a description of each.


Textures

Gimp/paint.net

This shows a road texture open in gimp (2.8.4)

Gimp is a free, open source, 2D image editing program useful for creating and exporting textures to BeamNG.

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Addons

Tips

  • Always generate mipmaps.
  • Flatten image or merge visible layers prior to export (dds can only have 1 layer).
  • Exporting, DXT1 is for images with no alpha.
  • Exporting, DXT5 is for images with alpha.
  • See here for more information on exporting: Exporting Textures - DDS Files
  • Use layer masks instead of the eraser when possible; this allows you to make changes later on.
  • Work at a larger resolution than you intend to use (if you are making a 1024px texture work from a 2048px file) so you have more freedom later on.
  • Although it is fairly stable, always save.
  • Name your layers properly; when you have 40 in a single file it can be messy.


Paint.net is also a similar software that works very well and is fairly simple to use.

NJob

Njob, ready to make a normal map from the height map it just created

njob is a free program for creating height maps and normal maps from images. It offers a few settings when creating height maps such as the overall scale (how finely it represents detail)and small, medium and large detail sliders. You also have some control over the way it generates normal maps.

njob does not export to dds however, you need to export to png, bring it into Gimp or Photoshop and then export to BeamNG.

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Tips

  • njob is an extremely fast way of creating normal and height maps
  • njob is not as powerful as manually creating normal maps or heightmaps in many cases


xNormal

xNormal

It is arguable that xNormal's appearance is not really modern but it's a fairly powerful tool to bake different kind of texture maps, like ambient occlusion maps or normal maps from high-poly meshes. It is highly recommended that you create cage meshes if you would like to bake your high-poly details to a low-poly mesh.

xNormal is able to export to dds even though it most-probably doesn't have the correct compression format so you need to change that afterwards to be able to use it in BeamNG.drive.

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Modeling

Blender

The default scene in Blender (2.67)

Blender is a free, open source, 3D modeling program. It is used to model, edit UVs and export objects to BeamNG.

Download: http://www.blender.org/download/get-blender/


SketchUp

SketchUp is a free 3D modeling program that is very easy to use yet powerful at the same time. It is a popular alternative to Blender and it's great for creating buildings and architecture but not vehicles.

Download: http://www.sketchup.com/


Terrain

L3DT

This is Small Island's heightmap showing the result of manual sculpting (L3DT 11.11)

L3DT is a commercial program (the free version is useful, despite not having full features) for terrain generation and manual editing. It also comes with quite a lot of options for how to go about it. It's terrain generation is good but not as powerful or flexible as World Machine 2, however it has manual editing tools that World Machine lacks.

Link: http://www.bundysoft.com/L3DT/

Used for:

  • Generation
  • Texturing
  • Sculpting/modifying


World Machine 2

This is the view of the setup used to generate the basics of what is now Dry Rock Island (World Machine 2.3)

World Machine 2 is a commercial (free version is very limited), powerful, procedural generation program. It's node based interface makes it a really flexible tool to generate terrains with. Although a lot more expensive than L3DT it is definitely a worthwhile terrain tool if you are really serious.

Link: http://www.world-machine.com/

Used for:

  • Generation
  • Texturing
  • Miscellaneous tasks



Scape

Scape is a free program for terrain creation. It is an interesting tool for the beginning of terrain creation if you cannot afford World Machine or something similar.

download: http://www.decarpentier.nl/scape

+ GPU acceleration
+ creates high quality terrains
+ adjustable settings let you create interesting brushes
+ it's a very fast tool, letting you jot down the basics of your terrain extremely quickly
- doesn't support detailed tools like ramps
- no setting for map size
- generally limited uses
- requires another program which can edit and save 16-bit images to crop the heightmap (there are no known free programs to do this, it might be possible in the free version of L3DT though)


Wilbur

Wilbur is a free program which is only for adding erosion to terrains. It hasn't been updated since 2005 and it isn't used for BeamNG officially, but if you're short on money it could be used in place of the two above. Download: http://www.ridgecrest.ca.us/~jslayton/software.html


Others

  • Blender: Free, I am fairly sure it can export 16-bit .png files, last resort, though you could get some interesting results with sculpting
  • Adobe Photoshop: Commercial, quite expensive if you don't have it, not much visual feedback (it's 2D) but can be used to make the base terrain fairly well if you know what you are doing


Audio

Audacity

Audacity is a free, open source audio editor. While not the most powerful editor available it is free and for simple tasks it is quite useful.

Download: http://sourceforge.net/projects/audacity/?source=directory

Tips

  • Save a project file
  • A .wav is not a project file