I guess everybody knows the abbreviation RTFM and of course we all read the fine manual when we are using a tool. But for ModelConverterX I usually only update the manual with every stable release and the recent survey showed that most of you are actually using the development release. So as a result of that I have started a discussion on the forum to find out how you use the manual now and how useful it is to you. I am looking forward to hearing your feedback!
Luckily many of the answers are not too surprising, it seems in general the tool is being used as I had expected. And the features people are missing are those that I had on my wishlist already. And of course there are always some nice new ideas, so I will put those on my wishlist as well.
I would like to put some more focus on two of the results that surprised me most. First the COLLADA DAE format seems a lot more popular than Google Earth KMZ to import models from Sketchup. I find this a little surprising, since I had expected KMZ was more popular. I think the advantage of KMZ is that the textures are contained in it as well, so you never loose them. But it seems most Sketchup users use COLLADA DAE files instead.
Another thing that surprised me even more is that import SCASM files and API macros is not popular at all. Even the recently added functionality to import COLLADA files is more popular already. Since I started developing this tool to convert my old API macros over to the FSX MDL format, I was a little surprised to see that most people perform other conversions with the tool. I guess you could almost say that the tool has a sort of mid-life crisis and is transforming into other functionalities as well.
Once again, thanks everybody for your feedback, it is really interesting to get an overview of how you use the tool!
In the next development release of ModelConverterX you will find a first implementation of exporting animations to FS2004 scenery MDL files. This item was on the wishlist for quite some time already and I have now given implementing it a try.
I am sure you will find some bugs in this first implementation. Some of my test objects still go wrong, but the majority works fine already. So if you find any trouble or have an object that does not yet work correctly, please let me know.
While working on the drawcall minimizer functionality of ModelConverterX recently, I realized that I had to update the way I represent the textures internally in the tool. Try to add minimizer support for night textures and other subtexture types turned out to be must harder than it should be.
So I have now changed this in the ModelConverterX design. But since textures are just an important part of an object, it turned out that I had to modify quite some code (or you could also say that I had broken quite a bit of code). So I am now taking the time to test if everything is still working as it should. In the short term this costs some effort, but I am sure that in the long run this redesign will make it easier for me to add new functions.
Once I have finished the testing, finishing the drawcall minimizer should be a lot easier. I’ll let you know when it is done…
I made my last blog post at the beginning of March and now it seems the month is almost over already. Where did all that time go? I guess it is partly because it has been quite a busy month at work and I also spend some time on finally finishing our wedding photo album.
But there is also some progress on FS related issues. I have slowly been working on ModelConverterX, mainly looking at the drawcall minimizer. And it seems just the other day some issue appeared concerning the materials in the FSX MDL format. I am looking into that at this moment.
Besides that I am also working a bit on the NL2000 project, trying to hunt down some bugs that hurt the performance a bit. We want to make the performance of version 4 as good as we can of course.
I have made a little demonstration video that shows how you can use the drawcall minimzer. In this video I will be converting a KMZ file to a MDL file. In that process I am using the mass texture editor and the drawcall minimizer to make sure the textures end up as efficient as possible. In this case I could reduce the amount of drawcalls from 45 to 6. Enjoy the video and if you still have questions about the functionality please ask them on the forum (in the absense of a manual).
To get a better understanding of how you are using the ModelConverterX tool I have setup a survey. So if you are using ModelConverterX, I would appreciate it if you spend some time to answer those questions. Knowing which functionality, importers and exporters matter most to you, helps me to make the tool even more useful in the future.
For example I have some ideas to change the GUI so that information is presented more clear. But to know if this would really help, I would like to have a better understand if you are normally running ModelConverterX full screen or not.
So thanks already for taking some time to fill in this survey. The survey is on the same server as the ModelConverterX development release and might take a few seconds to load.
Just a quick note that the drawcall minimizer functionality of ModelConverterX will be available in the next development release (in a few hours). Please let me know if there are any bugs or issues.
Today I have been working on the drawcall minimizer and it is going quite well. For the diffuse textures I can now reduce the amount of textures by combining them onto one texture sheet, after which the texture mapping is updated automatically on the model. The biggest problem with this approach is that other textures (like night textures) are not updated yet at the moment. And also I would like to add the functionality to put the colours into the texture sheet as well to minimize the amount of drawcalls further.
But if I can’t fix those issues quickly, I will release the current functionality soon so that you can also use it. While working on it, I have also speeded up the loading of texture files a bit, this should be mainly noticeable in the material editor.
We are back home for a few days now, after enjoying a two week vacation in California. We had a lot of fun there and now that the jetlag is almost gone, it is time to spend some time on my FS tools again.
Initially I plan to focus on ModelConverterX a bit more. I want to finish the function to minimize drawcalls and will try to fix some bugs in the COLLADA reader. Since my posts about using Sketchup it seems many people give it a try, and they find many new bugs as well.
After that I want to focus more on gPoly again. I got some great new ideas for this tool and I am looking forword to continue coding on it. My first focus will be on the functionality to actually export the polygons you draw to FS, since without that the tool does not have that much usage.