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[Nel] Build gamedata process overview

From: Cyril 'Hulud' Corvazier
Subject: [Nel] Build gamedata process overview
Date: Fri, 23 Aug 2002 15:56:11 +0200

i will give you an overview of the NeL project "build_gamedata".
The aim of this project is generate final data, compressed, tested, ready to burn on the client CDROM using
the top most data level used by the artists (MAX and TGA files) to avoid manual export processes.
We are using this project intensively for Ryzom. We have 2 computers running 7/7 24/24, generating data,
lighting terrain with pseudo radiosity, collisions etc.. All ryzom data pass through this process.
First the data pipeline:
Your artist's data must be available on the network through a file server called for exemple, 3DA.
You need to install the build_gamedata project on a large disk space free, multi processor, multi multi gigahertz, computer. Let's call it MOULINETTE. :-)
MOULINETTE must be setuped to find 3DA and must have a read access to it through a drive letter. No write access needed.
MOULINETTE must have a 3dsmax installed, working, with all NeL and production plugins correctly installed.
MOULINETTE must have cygwin installed, working, with /bin directory added to the system PATH.
MOULINETTE extracts data from 3DA, calls 3dsmax to export NeL informations, converts and builds long pre processes, and finally
installs final data in a specified directory. We have a "Ryzom" specific frontend to build_gamedata to perform some checks and
pack data in NeL package format. It also grep the final log file with the word [eE][rR][rR][oO][rR] :-)
Deeper in the process:
build_gamedata must be setup. It is done by files located in /cfg
* site.cfg:
This file is the local file to configure. Only this file must be edited each time you install YOUR setuped buid_gamedata process on a computer.
You must specify here if you want draft (quick) or final data. You specify the 3dsmax installation directory and the database directory.
(The artist's file server should be mounted on a drive letter). It gives also the client data to install final data.
* config.cfg:
This file is the global configuration of the build_process ie, if you have several build processes (on your artist computer for exemple), they
should have the same config.cfg file. You will select here the processes to complete, the timeout gived to each tools to perform ther task (to avoid
blocking processes), some export options (like lightmap resolutions), some informations about the landscape.
* directories.cfg:
This file gives the location on 3DA of each media to export. You can have several directories for each.
It gives the installation directory structure and the location of final data in the istallation subtree too.
* panoply.cfg:
This file is the config file used by the tool panolpy_maker.exe
* properties_draft.cfg / properties_final.cfg
This file are the config file used by the zone_lighter and some other tools. One file for draft, one file for final quality.
Once edited, you must setup the process: run 0_setup.bat
If you want to clear everything, 1_clean.bat
Then, export time: run 2_export.bat. This batch will export data from the database into build_gamedata.
Now build the data: run 3_buid.bat. This batch will do preprocessces like computing collisions, welding, ligthing.
Now install the data: run 4_install.bat.
And once again, 2_export.bat ...
Deeper in the process
If you take a look at the content of the processes directory, you will find a subdirectory per NeL media.
Each of this directory have the same batch command than build_gamedata. You can build
specific media by using this batches. Some processes must be done before some others.
The order gived in config.cfg is the good one.
The file "Howto export.txt" should describe each build process in details, but right now, it is not up-to-date.
I hope this overview will help you.
Cyril Corvazier
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Sunday, August 18, 2002 3:20
Subject: [Nel] landscapes, geometry and characters...

hello, i' ve found the various tools now, i must have overlooked the 3D/tools directory...
i've got much more information to go trough now, but it would be nice if someone could give an overview on the contentcreation of a NeL project.
I'm setting up a game project with a friend, of wich you'l definitely hear later. we're still buidling the team and such, it would be our first project, but we're confident in it.
We're looking into the NeL engine/library, since this is one of the first of its kind for MMOGS. To get acqainted with it we first want to be able to put some of our own content in snowwballs, maybe altering it to become our testbed for our gamedesign...
So, an overview of the gamedata directory and how the main workflow goed would be great to get us going.
Oh, and i have another quick question, our game really would need dynamic landscapes. we've thought on various techniques, one more exotic then the other, but we might look into creating a springbased system now...would it be possible to get to the patchcontrol points ingame? or are the zone patches 'compiled' into meshdata ? And I don't see if it would be possible to get landscapes moving as a whole, since zones have welldefined coordinates. Any help / thoughts ?
regards, Cyberdigitus

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