How First Strike creates a weapon by DMR Weapon creation, like many of our other creation processes, follows a somewhat simple 5 stage progression. Nothing we make is made in a void, that is to say, when you make something, you aren't the only one who uses it. Once you are done with your part of it, it get's passed around like a cheap "escort". In order for other people to do their part with your creation, certain guidelines must be followed for them to do their work efficiently. The following is the list of those guidelines for a weapon, meant to facilitate the team-based creation of models. Alright, let's make a weapon! The first thing to do is check out the weapon loadout list or check with xEROhOUR to see which weapons haven't been created yet and are unassigned. OK, we've found the weapon we want to model, or one has been assigned (always let xEROhOUR know if you are working on something, to avoid duplication of efforts). Note: In all stages you can edit a file (PROGRESS.txt) in the readme folder to describe your progress. You should at least put your name, the date, and what you did. This not only helps you remember what you were doing when you come back to it next week, but helps others know how far along you are and what your plans are to do next.
Stage 0: In this stage you've just begun work on your weapon. You need to start by creating the correct file/folder structure to keep track of your progress. All weapons should have a folder named after the weapon as the top level directory. For this stage, you need to create another folder in the main one called "0-WIP". Create your scene in Maya/Max/whatever you use and save the file as WEAPON_NAME.max in the 0-WIP folder you just created. Work on your model and just keep saving it to this folder. This folder can be used as a dumping pit for all of your work, create as many files as you need while working in this stage. Caution! Be careful how you attach certain parts of the mesh. The following parts of a weapon need to be separate (as in "can be selected independently") from your main mesh: Magazine (or clip), Trigger, Bolt, Butt. Keeping these parts separate helps with the importing/animating of weapons down the line. OK, you're done working on your model for the night, so you shutdown your PC and head for bed. NOT!!! Always, always, always, always, always, always, zip up your entire weapon directory and upload it to the dscompsol.com FTP server. This way, if (heaven forbid) your computer spontaneously implodes in the middle of the night, you have it backed up somewhere. Or (heaven forbid again) you get hit by the school bus on your way to work or something, someone else can pick up where you left off (after properly greiving of course).
Stage 1: When your model is to the point where the entire mesh is complete and all the aforementioned parts are separate, you need make sure you and everyone else is satisfied with this being the finished model. Name your mesh after the following convention: weaponname__genericFirearm (two underscores). Name each of the separate parts as follows: 1 -the magazine, 2 -the trigger, 3 -the bolt, and 4 -the butt. Create a folder called "1-Mesh" in your weapon's main folder. And now all you have to do for this stage is simply save the completed mesh file in the 1-Mesh directory. And of course always zip and upload your file to the FTP server!
Stage 2: Since Stage 1 didn't take you any time at all, you figure you're ready to jump in to stage 2. Hold on, cowboy! First you need some background on the BF2 Hierarchy system. Check out BF2 Hierarchy before you go any further. OK, so the basic hierarchy of a weapon is as in the following screenie.
The parts highlighted in red are dummies, the ones in light green are your main mesh, the ones in dark green are your parts for animation. Important! The part I have selected under lod1 is the scope mesh. This mesh will be drawn in first person when the player zooms in to look down the sights or through the scope. If this is a sniper rifle, you probably only want a simple plane with an alpha texture painted on it, otherwise it will be the parts as seen when looking down the sights. Note: Don't worry about the nonvis_ and col1 parts for now, they aren't required to be part of your weapon and can easily be added later if deemed necessary. Create the necessary dummies and link them up as shown in the BF2 Hierarchy page. Create a folder called "2-Hierarchy" in your weapon's main folder. Save your completed scene to this folder. And of course always zip and upload your file to the FTP server!
Stage 3: Skinning is a process I don't understand very well. I know there's some unwrapping that goes on, a 2d skin is then created based off of the unwrap and that material is then applied to the 3d model. Beyond that, I'm pretty much lost. Maybe Ram or someone can share his knowledge of the process with everyone here. After the skinning process is completed, the skinner should create a folder called "3-Skinned" in your weapon's main folder. Save the skinned mesh file as well as the textures in the 3-Skinned directory. And of course always zip and upload your file to the FTP server!
Stage 4: For weapons, you may be able to use the vanilla BF2 animations. Animating, like skinning, is a process I don't understand very well. I know a skeleton needs to be created, the skinned mesh vertices need to be attached to those bones, and then those bones get moved around from one "key" frame to the next. Beyond that, I'm pretty much lost. Maybe Alxcote or someone can share his knowledge of the process with everyone here. After the animation process is completed, the animator should create a folder called "4-Animated" in your weapon's main folder. Save the animated scene file in the 4-Animated directory. And of course always zip and upload your file to the FTP server!
Stage 5: Almost done! Next a weapon gets imported and coded. If all of the LODs, Cols, and hierarchy is complete as it should be by this point, the importing of the weapon should be easy and the guys who know how to tweak settings should be able to modify the weapon in-game so that it comes to life the way it should. Once the weapon is imported into the editor, several files are created, those files should be included in the next folder we create called "5-Coded" in your weapon's main folder. Save the generated files as well as your tweaks in the 5-Coded directory. And of course always zip and upload your file to the FTP server! After all of these Stages have been completed, the result should be a fully functional weapon. Of course the success of this process working is to make sure everything is done in the correct order, with only one person working on one part at a time. If everyone does their own part and we can get these models churning out very quickly, with less frustration all around.