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New SOD Exporter for 3DS Max =ALL VERSIONS=

Posted: Thu Jan 05, 2012 1:04 pm
by MrVulcan
Hi everyone and anyone that comes by here nowadays.

I have some good news :)

After putting this off many times, I decided to sit down and write a new SOD exporter for 3ds max. The good news is that the exporter works, with only a few more details left for me to iron out.

= released =

Now, before I release the exporter, I need a little input from anyone that will find this exporter useful.

I have little experience with Armada II models, so I'm not sure what the differences are between the A1 and A2 sod formats. Is it just the hierarchy? Are there additional texture material properties? (ie, bump maps, borg textures, lightmaps.. etc).

Does anyone actually use team colours, and if so, how is this done at present. I have never tried, and the info on this appears to be scarce.

I will need to test the script in various versions of 3ds max. Anyone interested, please tell me which version of 3ds max you use, and I will email you back with details and a copy of the exporter. I might just set up a beta version for everyone in a few days, but I'm still ironing out a few details.

At present, I only have 3ds max 5, so testing for me is not exactly ideal as the current exporter works there too. However, the exporter is written in MaxScript, rather than as a pluggin. This should hopefully imply that it'll work in all future versions of 3ds max.

Ok, you can cheer now :P

Mr. V

Posted: Thu Jan 05, 2012 1:23 pm
by MajorPayne
Primarily the changes between the two are the use of base lightmaps which are texture orientated. If the lightmap is removed the texture and model still looks fine but can't be reused in A1.

For team colours and as I can't remember the last time someone used them you could try looking at stock A1 SOD files with the A1 SOD editor.

Lastly you may be a bit hard pressed to find many who have 3dmax still in the community. You could send me a version if you like. I have both v5. and v6. of max installed on this current PC but anyone who can get hold of a demo version of any version of max could give it a try.

Does this exporter allow conversion to both A1 and A2 format??

Posted: Thu Jan 05, 2012 1:30 pm
by MrVulcan
The exporter will work with A1 and A2 formats. At present it works with A1 format. I am extending it to A2 at the moment, but due to lack of experience with the A2 models, I'm not sure what extra features may be required. Hence me posting here with the question.

I should also have mentioned that the exporter will support animations. This part is not fully implemented yet.

Posted: Fri Jan 06, 2012 1:02 pm
by eddy94
Hi, I use max 5 and 2012 which i can test it on for you and I'm willing to give anyone who asks a copy of max 2.5, 5, 6 and 8. I'm really pleased that there is a new max exporter... this hoepfully means I can do all my mods in 2012 instead of having to port it across between the two versions :)

Posted: Fri Jan 06, 2012 3:11 pm
by MrVulcan
Just a quick update on the progress:

- Team colours are supported by adding "team_" in front of the material name.
- Multiple lighting materials are supported on a single mesh. Ie, a single mesh can have parts that are glowing, parts that have specular reflections, or parts that have team colour applied.
- Rotation and position of all hardpoints is properly recorded. You do not have to specify "hp##" for the hardpoint to work properly. Since any alphanumeric name will work, you can now have "dock" and "repair" hardpoints.

Also made progress with extracting the animation channels in 3ds max. Now it is just a matter of writing the animations to the SOD file.

Lastly, I dissected the A2 SODs and discovered that the format is very similar to A1 at the SOD coding level. Extending the exporter to A2 format will be piece of cake. I also obtained a copy of A2, so I can test the exporter there as well.

Cheers :)

Posted: Fri Jan 06, 2012 3:31 pm
by Dominus_Noctis
Glad to hear of the success, I'm sure the community will be grateful :)

Posted: Sat Jan 07, 2012 5:41 am
by MajorPayne
Well one thing to note in your documention. Animated hardpoints are about the only thing that do not work for either armada game. This was something that Deemon found out with his own model conversions, and he tried for months to get them working.

Posted: Sat Jan 07, 2012 11:30 pm
by MrVulcan
Thanks MaP, I will keep that in mind.

Hardpoints can be animated on the SOD, but will not be animated in game. This is due to a limitation of the game engine rather than the SOD format. My guess is that the game doesn't sync SOD animations in multiplayer games. A simple fix was to prevent hardpoints from animating altogether.

A bit of an update on the exporter...

All SOD features are now in place. Key highlights from the day:

- Animations are working.. for the most part. There is one minor problem with rotations right now that's making things rotate around the wrong axes sometimes. I have to go over the math to fix this.

- You can animate any node/joint in the hierarchy. Attach any number of nodes and meshes to that node and they will move along with the animated node (as is expected). This is optimized to substantially reduce file size compared to the current SODs.

- Specify animation length. Animation length can be different for every animated node/joint. For example, node_1 can have animation length of 5 seconds, while node_2 can have animation length of 50 seconds. You do not have to add key frames for node_1 to fill the entire 50 seconds of the animations track.

- You can turn off back face culling so that the "back" side of a face remains visible. For example, if you have some kind of plane, empty box or hollowed out shape, you do not have to model both sides of the surfaces. Instead, just turn off the back face cull. You can see this in action when you look at the wormhole; you can see the clouds going around the back of the wormhole. Minor point, but someone might need to use this. I know I do :P

Mr. V

Posted: Sat Jan 14, 2012 5:40 pm
by MrVulcan
I decided to release as an open beta since only a few people have shown interest. It really wouldn't make sense to have a closed beta.

Progress was a bit slow lately as I was dealing with the flu, but now the exporter is almost ready.

- Animations are fully working with no problems.
- A1 and A2 formats are supported

The SOD format does not appear to support smoothing groups properly. There is a workaround, and I am working on that at the moment. :)

Posted: Sat Jan 21, 2012 11:45 pm
by MrVulcan
SOD Exporter is ready. Should show up in the downloads section shortly, hopefully. Let me know if you encounter any problems.

Posted: Sun Jan 22, 2012 2:18 pm
by pepperman
Thanks great news Mr. Vulcan. Once it gets posted up could you drop a note here to tell us under what category it was posted.

Posted: Wed Jan 25, 2012 9:53 pm
by MrVulcan
It seems that admins with access to the downloads can not be reached at present. For the time being, you can obtain a copy of the exporter here:

(see top post)

After a bit of feedback, I'll try to get this uploaded to the downloads section properly. uploaded Cheers :)

Edit: Updated to V1.5.2


• Armada 2 model hierarchy no longer requires a “root” or “scene_root” node at the top of the hierarchy. This should improve compatibility with existing artwork.
• The default save path name was changed to reflect the 3dsMax installation directory. The save path is now “*\3dsMaxRoot\meshes”
• Texture coordinate vertices are welded upon export. This does not affect the mesh quality, but can reduce the file size considerably. The 3dsMax5 plugin exporter contained this feature
• Allow multiple emitters with the same name (e_ename_01, e_ename_02... etc)
• Sprites and emitters can be animated directly without point helpers
• Added rudimentary error handling to the script
• Allow enumeration of materials so that a single material can be used with multiple textures (ie, share a single material definition between multiple textures/meshes/models)
• Fixed an animation export error when using “set key” function.
• Materials that can not be used in Armada are ignored (ie, noise or parametric textures)
• Fixed an error that occasionally occurs when exporting the same model twice
• Fixes to the A2 exporter, no more dark patches.
• Fixed self illumination bug when using enumerated materials

Posted: Sat Apr 07, 2012 4:27 pm
by MrVulcan
Updated the post with the latest version of the exporter. I was unable to reach anyone with access to the FTP to upload the file, so it'll stay here for now. If the link stops working, try to find the exporter at one of the other Armada modding sites.

Cheers :)

Posted: Thu Sep 05, 2013 1:07 pm
by galac
almost every time when i'm exporting .sod i got "export error".. why is that? makes converting a2 ships to a1 much harder

Posted: Fri Sep 06, 2013 10:06 am
by MrVulcan
You have to provide a bit of extra info here. Is this an imported SOD you're trying to export?

What's the size of the produced SOD. 0 bytes?