UE3 Custom Static Meshes

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In a slight change to plan I am going to move the subject of player direction to tomorrow, and today I am going to be giving another tutorial in Unreal Engine 3; Namely how to Export a 3D model from 3Ds max and import it into a Unreal Engine 3 game.

Again I am going to be using Unreal Tournament 3 as my UE3 engine game, but this process is mostly the same for all UE3 games.

3Ds Max:

I will go over some basic tips of 3D modelling in 3Ds max at a later date; In this tutorial we are simply going to export our model from the program. For this we need a model.

I have built a Box and used the UVW mapping tools to create a layout for my texture, creating this:

3D Model

Its not especially pretty, but it will let us go through the procedure and check that it all works and the mesh saves the material co-ordinates.

I now have a 3D model and a .TGA image file which i have built as a texture for the model.

Exporting:

With the box selected, go to File > Export > Export Selected (in newer versions of 3Ds MAx the ‘File’ menu is now accessed by clicking the Max logo in the top left corner of the screen).

Choose a file name, select to save the file in ASCII Scene Export(.ASE) format and save the file somewhere on your hard drive; Once you click save you will get the following dialogue box appear:

ASCII Scene export dialogue box

The ASCII Scene Export dialogue box

This step is the most likely point to make a mistake; you need to be sure you are exporting all the correct information to your new .ASE file; duplicate the settings in the image above if you are unsure.

Important Note: Make sure you have ‘Mapping co-ordinates’ ticked in Mesh options. Without this selected, your mesh will loose all its texture data and you will be unable to apply a material correctly to it once you have it in Unreal Engine 3!

Once you have the settings sorted out, click ok. Max has now exported your 3D model into a file that Unreal Engine 3 can understand. The next step is to import the model into the game.

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UE3 101: Your First Level

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In this tutorial i am going to show you the basic skills that you will need to create the most basic of levels in Unreal Engine.

You will need a unreal engine 3 game for this tutorial; I will be using Unreal Tournament 3 as an example. You can also use the Free UDK Epic has released.

Opening Unreal Editor

Depending on your UT3 installation, you may or may not already have a shortcut to run the unreal editor program. If you don’t we first need to give you access to the program. If you already have a short cut for ‘Unreal Tournament 3 editor’ then you can jump to the next section.

Navigate to your binaries folder, located in the UT3 installation folder, By default this is in the program files folder.

Locate the UT3.exe folder and right click on it. choose ‘create short cut’, this creates a link you can place anywhere (Desktop is a good place) that will open up UT3. Now we just need to to the link instructions to open the editor instead of the game.

Right click the short cut and choose properties and look for the field labeled ‘Target’. It should currently read something like:

“C:\Program Files\Unreal Tournament 3\Binaries\UT3.exe”

To enable the editor add the word editor to the end so it reads:

“C:\Program Files\Unreal Tournament 3\Binaries\UT3.exe” editor

Now when you use the Short cut, unreal editor for Unreal tournament 3 will start-up rather than the unreal tournament 3 game. Don’t worry if it takes quite a while, it has a slow start-up, especially on the first time you open it! So just be patient.

Unreal Editor

Unreal Editor

The Look of unreal editor for unreal tournament 3 when you first open it.

Now that You have unreal editor open, its time to build your first level. We are going to make a simple box room, texture it, add a few static meshes, light it and make it ready to use.

I am going to assume you have no knowledge of unreal editor for this tutorial and this is your first time trying to make a level.

Navigating Unreal Editor

Unreal Editor is made up of 4 views of your level (In clockwise order from top left – Top, Side, Front and Perspective). Top, front and side are all wireframe viewpoints. Perspective view is a 3D view which is textured and lit as it would be in game.

Top, Side and Front Controls:

  • Both mouse buttons + Dragging forward or backward: Zoom in or out
  • Mouse wheel forward or backward: Zoom in or out
  • Left mouse button OR right mouse button + Dragging in any direction: Pan the view

Perspective Controls:

  • Both mouse buttons + Drag froward or backward: Move view up or down
  • Both mouse buttons + Drag left or right: Pan view Left or right
  • Left mouse button + Drag Forward or backward: Move view forward or backward
  • Left Mouse button + Drag Left or right: Turn view left or right
  • Right mouse button + Drag in any direction: Rotate view left, right, up or down.

Try moving around in each of the views and get used to the view controls, you will quickly get used to it as you will be almost constantly moving around each view port.

As we progress through the Tutorials I will discuss what each button and menu  does and its function in context.
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