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SpaceEmpires.net Newsletter - April 2005
Volume 1, Issue 2 - April 2005


________________________________________________________________________________

SpaceEmpires.net Newsletter
Volume 1, Issue 2 - April 2005
________________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________________

Table of Contents

1) General News
2) Modding News
3) Community News
4) Baseships vs. Battleships
5) The 'X' Factor in SE5
6) Hammer Time
7) Newsletter Information
8) Contribution Credits
________________________________________________________________________________

1) General News
________________________________________________________________________________

The beta test for the upcoming Space Empires V has started in full force. We
wish the beta testers the best of luck in making Space Empires V the best it can
be.

Out of pure generosity, Shrapnel Games has announced that they will host a forum
for Space Empires V, in spite of the fact that they were not selected as the
game's publisher. Many thanks to Shrapnel!
http://www.shrapnelcommunity.com/threads/postlist.php?Board=SEV
________________________________________________________________________________

2) Modding News
________________________________________________________________________________

Suicide Junkie released an update for his Carrier Battles Mod. The mod
attempts to make carriers and fighters the mainstay of fleets. Several PBW
testing games rage on.
http://imagemodserver.mine.nu/other/MM/SE4/Mods/CarrierBattles/

Invasion! Mod was updated to version 0.43. This release was primarily a bug fix
release.
http://www.secenter.org/invasion.php

Some misordered jump gate images in the Image Mod were fixed.
http://imagemodserver.mine.nu/other/MM/SE4/imagemod/planetpack12to12a.zip

Atrocities has released another Neo Standard ship set for SEIV Gold, the SOLOPS.
The set was named after Solops from the Shrapnel Games SEIV Forum. Solops won a
drawing to have a ship set named after him for those who donated to help the
site stay open.
http://www.astempire.net/NASY/nasy/solops/Solops.htm

In the works:

The first alpha version of NullAshton's upcoming Redesign Mod has been made
available.
http://www.shrapnelcommunity.com/threads/showflat.php?Number=337572

Captain Kwok is hard at work on version 0.20 of his Space Food Empires mod. A
slew of new minor racial traits are in the works.
http://sfe.captainkwok.net/
http://www.shrapnelcommunity.com/threads/showflat.php?Number=192608

Discussion and activity on the Babylon 5 Mod has resumed. Topics have ranged
from new weapons systems to supplies to the engine system itself. Val, the
founder of the mod, showed up for a brief moment to make a few posts, only to
disappear once again.
http://www.shrapnelcommunity.com/threads/showflat.php?Number=40938
________________________________________________________________________________

3) Community News
________________________________________________________________________________

The Space Empires Network, a new web ring for Space Empires web sites, was
unveiled on April 8th. It is currently looking for new members. You can apply by
filling out the form on the Join page.
http://network.spaceempires.net/

After many web host troubles, the official web site for the Star Trek Mod for
SEIV has a new home.
http://www.astempire.net/

The official web site for The People's Mod, for the game Space Empires:
Starfury, has moved once again. Its new home is located at:
http://koti.mbnet.fi/dyards/

The Ocelot's Rampant, a story by El_Phil, saw many new chapters in April.
http://www.shrapnelcommunity.com/threads/showflat.php?Number=342864

Urendi Maleldil wrote a new short fan fiction story from the perspective of a
neutral race.
http://www.spaceempires.net/home/modules.php?name=Content&pa=showpage&pid=45

kaekaze announced that he planned to start a local SE4 tournament at his
college.
http://www.shrapnelcommunity.com/threads/showflat.php?Number=347741
________________________________________________________________________________

4) Baseships vs. Battleships
________________________________________________________________________________

Both baseships and battleships serve entirely different purposes in a conflict.
Some players prefer to use the incredible firepower associated with baseships,
while others take battleships to be their canon (cannon?). Arguments for both
causes can be made. This discussion, however, will serve to illustrate the
strengths of battleships over their much bigger brethren.

First, battleships are less expensive to produce, and therefore offer a greatly
reduced production cycle. Depending on the included components it is possible
to churn out battleships in well under a year. The component costs also play a
part in the final total. The comparison can be drawn that the demand on
maintenance might be greater with an enlarged battleship contingent, but usually
by the time battleships and other massive capital vessels come into play,
resource (mis-)management is well under control. In addition many a game will
have been decided long before baseships become a factor. This hinges on the
research and research cost levels set during setup, but is still an important
factor.

One of the battleship's chief advantages over baseships involves speed and
range. Battleships always have the potential to be faster because of their
access to more engines. Baseships are comparatively ponderous, which makes them
tougher to deploy in an offensive situation. Even a single space per turn
advantage is sometimes enough to determine life or death, and a smaller faster
ship will almost always win in this respect. Range is also conditional to
speed. Moving in and out of range for your own firing potential is advisable,
and having the speed to outrun or outmaneuver missile weapons is key.
Battleships are by no means the fastest in the game, but they can easily outrun
a baseship. Baseships find this difficult in most respects.

Baseships, therefore, almost beg to become defensive platforms in most respects.
The argument then is their need. It's just as easy, and often cheaper, to build
orbital platforms instead in order to defend your planets. The one advantage
the baseship truly has over the orbital platform in this case is the fact that
it can be moved to a warp point to defend the border, although a dense minefield
is usually sufficient both to warn you of impending invasion and allow you to
move your system fleet into position to supplement the mines.

RudyHuxtable
________________________________________________________________________________

5) The 'X' Factor in SE5
________________________________________________________________________________

First I'd like to thank Fyron for inviting me to write this short (but hopefully
Helpful) article for his SEnet newsletter.

Sample files for this article can be found at the following address:
http://www.spaceempires.net/files/newsletter/XTutorFiles.zip

I know from watching the boards that there is a lot of interest in how to make
3D models that will work in SE5. I take a stab at making the process a bit less
mysterious. Let me start by listing the tools I will be using.

Anim8or (Freeware 3D Modeling tool from http://www.anim8or.com)
UVMapper Classic (Free version from http://www.uvmapper.com)
LithUnwrap v1.3 (free version can be found here.
http://files.seriouszone.com/download.php?fileid=198 )
ArtGem v1.3 Registered (No longer available, but Google might help)

Note that instead of ArtGem, any paint program will do, use your favorite. I'm
not going to detail mow I make my textures, that might be of interest for
another article.

I can hear many of you mumbling questions like "but what about Doga files?" (Or
other popular 3d modeling programs.) I can only share knowledge I have, and I
have no experience with Doga, sorry.

So, to get things under way, boot up Anim8or and follow these easy steps to
create a simple ship model..

1) Create a cube using the 'Add Cube' tool (Press Shift+c)
2) Once created, double-click on the cube and enter the info as seen in
Sample1.gif
3) Under the 'Build' menu select "Convert to Mesh"
4) Return to the 'Build' Menu and select "Subdivide Faces..."
5) Set the Smooth Parameters to a tension of 1.000 and hit 'OK'
6) Hit Shift+p to enter Object/Point edit mode.

Before we go any further lets do a quick check to see if we are all on the same
track.. In the top left of the display click on the word 'Front'. A drop-down
menu will appear with a list of different 'preset' views. Select Ortho and
compare your screen to sample2.gif (To 'free look' press Ctrl+r (a green circle
should appear around your object.) hold down the left mouse button and drag to
move the view. feel free to play around here to get used to the free-look
controls.) When you are finished playing with this press Ctrl+r again to turn
off free-look. set the display to 'Left' (the same way you set the view to
'Ortho')

7) Hit 'a' to enter Select mode and then 'g' to enter Face Select mode.

We are going to merge a few faces to get ready for extruding our shape. It's
always best to merge two adjacent faces at a time rather than selecting a
grouping of 4 for example. Why you ask? Well, when you group 4 faces it always
seems to leave a 'floating' point in the center of the grouping that will need
to be cleaned up later and by doing things two at a time, it keeps it simple and
avoids these 'droppings' ;)

Ok, Sample3.gif shows the order we need to use to make a clean model. Note that
you left-click to select the first face then right-click to select the second..

8) Ok, Merge the top faces of our cube as per the order in Sample3. what's that?
How do we merge the selected faces? Simply hit shift+m to merge. Try it and see
if you end up with the same sample as me. (Sample4.gif)

9) Now repeat this process on the bottom, back and front of our cube. (It should
end up looking like Sample5.gif) Note: I circled some point 'droppings' that
this process left behind. Next I'll show you how to clean these up before
addressing the sides. Use the free-look or preset views to help get to the
hidden sides of the cube.

10) Switch to Top View, then hit 'p' followed by 'd' to enter point and
drag-select mode. Now left-click drag a box around the top and bottom center
points. (see Sample6.gif)

11) with the points still selected hit 'm' and drag the points over the corner
points on the cube. (see note on Sample6.gif) You then return to 'd' Drag-select
the top corner group of points then right-click drag-select the bottom corner
points. Hit Shift+l ('L') and set the max merge point distance to 2.5. Hit OK to
merge the points. You should now have a clean version of the cube as seen in
Sample7.gif.

12) We are now ready to merge the sides of the cube, but only merge them into
horizontal strips. (Do not merge the top face to the bottom face.) See
Sample8.gif. As you can see we again have a few 'droppings' no problem we know
how to move them over and merge them with the corner points. Note this time from
the top view we will drag-select then 'm'ove them down to the bottom corner then
reselect the corner point groupings and merge 'L'

Now the fun will begin, we will extrude the simple shape of our ship..

13) Hit 'g' and 'a' to get us into select and face-select mode. Select the
front, and two bottom faces of the sides. (See Sample9.gif) Use free-look or
preset views to get to the hidden faces. Then hit shift+x then left-click and
drag the mouse to the right. extend the faces about 75% further than the
original cube. The result should look like Sample10.gif.

14) With the faces still selected, hit Shift+k then click drag the mouse to the
left. The selected faces will taper down giving the model something that looks
like wings and a cockpit. It should look like Sample11.gif

Note, in case you have not noticed Anim8or has an 'Undo' feature and it has
several layers so you can often back-step and correct any errors if the samples
are not matching your model.

Just a few more adjustments and we will have our basic model...

15) You may have noticed that the sides of the front cockpit have gained two
faces after that last extrude. Feel free to merge them into one. ('g', 'a',
select, shift+m to merge.) then it's back to top view please..

16) Select the back corner points of the wings and move them back past the back
end of the ship. (See sample12.gif) This should be simple enough, enter
drag-select mode 'd' and point mode 'p' then grab the two groupings and 'm'ove
them towards the top of the screen.

17) One more thing to make the model a tiny bit more interesting.. Got to the
front view and drag-select 'd' the outer most points of the wing tips. then
'm'ove them up to angle the wings upward. (See sample13.gif)

18) The Sample Model is now done, feel free to free-look at the wonderful model
and laugh as much as you want. Once you are ready it's time to export the
model...

19) Enter Object select mode.. Shift+a ('A') and 'a' then select the object.
Then go to the 'Object' Menu and choose 'Export' Export the object as a .obj
file. (I named it XTutor1.obj) Minimize Animator, we will be coming back soon.

Now to start the process of making a UV Map, painting a texture and then
converting it to a .x file that will run in SE5..

Run UVMapper and select 'File', 'Load Model', then 'Edit', 'New UV Map', Choose
'Box mapping' and set the Map size to 256 and hit OK. You should see a cardboard
cutout like image of the different faces of the model. Next go to 'file', 'Save
Texture Map' and set the width and height to 256. Hit OK. It should prompt you
for a filename, but it will default to the same name as the model you loaded. go
ahead and save it. Now from the file menu 'Save Model' and overwrite the
original .obj file. (No worries, we only added the UV Coordinates and they are
needed before we can proceed.) Fell free to close UVMapper now, we are done with
it.

Note: UVMapper saves the UV Map as a 256 color bmp, we will need it to be a 24
bit bmp. (I suggest you use your favorite paint program to convert it before
proceeding)

Next we need to go back to Anim8or. (I bet you thought we were heading for
LithUnwrap next eh? Wrong.)

Although Anim8or was open in the background, I just remembered that I prefer to
close the program and restart it to make sure the memory is all cleared. (It's
probably safe to just delete the existing object then proceed but I prefer to
reload the program.) If you close and reload like myself, you can save the file
when prompted if you want. In Anim8or select the object menu and this time
import the XTutor1.obj that we just saved in UVMapper. It should look familiar.

Adding the texture. Open the Material Editor Menu 'Ctrl+m' and double click on
the 'New' box just under the 'Apply' button. Next to the 'Diffuse' field there
is a small button with a dot or dash on it. press this button. You should now be
in the Texture Selector window. Click 'Load Texture' and select the XTutor1.bmp.
It will load into the list and you must select it then press ok. You should
notice a 'T' has replaced the dot-dash on the Button beside the Diffuse field.
This indicates that you have selected a bitmap texture. Hit 'OK' again, them on
the materials bar, click on 'Apply.' You should see the texture on the model. In
this case it turns the model white.

Export the model again but this time as a .3ds file. (This lets us skip a step.
.3ds automatically triangulates the model setting up all the required polygons.
(If you want to stay with .obj, don't worry we will be able to triangulate in
LithUnwrap. Speaking of Lith, we are going there now..

Boot up LithUnwrap and load the model. You will see the model UV Map spread out
on the screen and it also loads the bmp as an underlay. Now for the fun, by drag
selecting different parts of the model and moving, flipping, scaling then to be
better arranged on the UV Map it will make it easier to paint the textures. (See
Sample15.gif, the blue shapes are the old UV Map saved by UVMapper and the white
lines are the new arrangement I made using LithUnwrap. (Note I recolored the
UVMapper bmp to make it easier to distinguish in LithUnwrap.)

Once you set up the UV Map the way you like it, you now have to save the UV map
again and then save the model because it has the new UVMap info which matches
the current configuration. So, the process is "File Menu" UV Map, Save. Then
"File Menu", Model, Save. feel free to overwrite the bmp and the .3ds.

Next stop your favorite paint program. I'm not going to go into detail about how
to paint a model, I'll just give you two sample pics to show the before and
after versions of the Texture Map..

See the UVMapBlank.gif for a sample of the UV Texture map before I added the
textures. Notice how I filled the shapes to get a better guide for where to
paint. The XTutor1.bmp is the final version of the Texture Map.

All that is left to do now is load the model into LithUnwrap and then save it as
a .x file. just be sure to save it in text mode and uncompressed. Then load it
into your favorite xfile viewer and see the results of the process. Note you can
load and view .x files in LithUnwrap if you don't have another viewer.

That's it in a nutshell, I hope this humble attempt to show you the process of
making, texturing and converting a 3D model to .x file is helpful to you budding
model builders. I consider myself a rank novice but I'm always willing to share
my knowledge.

It's worth noting that you can load and convert most any .3ds or .obj into a .x
(with LithUnwrap) the only drawback is if the poly count is high, the frame rate
will take a major hit. I converted one of my high poly models I made for
renderings to an .x file and the frame rate went down to 7-12. the Model I made
for this tutorial gave me frame rates of 475-486 FPS. (this was using a viewer
created by Aaron using the game engine.) It lists the frame rates and basically
if I can load it in this viewer it can fit in the game. The current models in
SE5 have an average frame rate on my computer of 360-420 FPS. But you need to
consider that this viewer only views one model at a time.

If this tutorial has left you with nothing but more questions, you have a good
chance of catching me on IRC #SpaceEmpires or on the Shrapnel forums. I'd be
happy to share more knowledge upon request.

Have a great day, and thanks for reading my article.

Cheers! :)

David E. Gervais
________________________________________________________________________________

6) Hammer Time
________________________________________________________________________________

Technical Specifications of the Murphy's Law 4, NSN (Narf Space Navy). Only
current unit of the NSN.

Diameter: 12,000 Km

Mass: 5.5 * 10 ^ 24 kg

Density: 6,078,834,631,918 kg per km

Acceleration: +39,385,305 m/s/s to -32,183,050 m/s/s

Maximum Velocity: +241,537,530 m/s/s to -241,395,389 m/s/s

Boarding Defenses, Hull: 50,000,000,001 Impeller Machine Guns, 3,000,000,002
Multi-Frequency 'Lasers', 500,000,003 'Gnat' Intercepter Missiles

Boarding De fences, Outer: 50,000,000,000,004 Ion-Bolt Auto-Turrets,
50,000,000,000,005 Multi-Frequency 'Lasers'

Boarding De fences, Middle: 30,000,000,000,006 Ion-Bolt Auto-Turrets,
30,000,000,000,007 Multi-Frequency 'Lasers', 500,000,000,000,000,008 Seeker
Bot-Missiles

Boarding De fences, Inner: 80,000,000,009 Plasma Lance Auto-Turrets

Boarding De fences, Power Supply, Fuel Hold, Life-Support, Bridge: 1 Narf

Point-Defense, Hull: 850,000,010 Fusion 'Swift' Counter-Missiles

Point-Defense, Middle: 800,011 Focusing Lenses

Small Targets, Offensive, Hull: 700,000,012 Anti-Matter 'Falcon' Missiles

Mid-Range Targets, Offensive, Middle: 600,000,013 Warp-Point Projectiles

Capital-Class Targets, Offensive, Hull: 500,000,014 Focusing-Lens 'Ant-Burners'

Moon-Class to Planetoid-Class, Offensive, Hull: 200,015 High-Core 'Blast-Hands'

De fences: 50 'Shield-Bubble' layers. Theoretically strong enough to withstand
the Murphy's Law' own armament for 24 seconds. 500 Km of armor plating,
structural bracing and other miscellaneous.

Oddments: Gravity-Nullification Generator. For use in keeping the Murphy's Law'
gravitational effect on a system below that of a comet. Only part that always
works. Only part that gets regular servicing, besides the Power Supply and Fuel
Hold

Crew: 1

Notes: Most of the Murphy's Law does not work, due to only one technician being
on duty. The chances of it actually doing anything useful are generally low,
going as low as 1/1,000,000 in certain situations. Standing on one leg and
hopping while entering commands has a known positive effect.

'Till next time,
I'm Narf. And this has been, Hammer Time.
________________________________________________________________________________

7) Newsletter Information
________________________________________________________________________________

Contact Info

Web site: http://www.spaceempires.net/
Email: admin at SpaceEmpires dot net
IRC: #SpaceEmpires on Freenode.net ( http://seirc.spaceempires.net/ )

This newsletter is put out by SpaceEmpires.net. It focuses on all things
related to Space Empires.

To subscribe to the newsletter, you must register at the SpaceEmpires.net Portal
and select the option to receive the newsletter when editing your profile. You
can also unsubscribe from the newsletter in the same manner.
http://www.spaceempires.net/home/

If you wish to contribute to this Newsletter, send an e-mail to the editor,
Imperator Fyron. Any relevant Space Empires related news will be accepted.
Currently, we are looking for writers wishing to contribute articles on subjects
such as game strategy, technical articles explaining various game features,
short fiction, etc.
________________________________________________________________________________

8) Contribution Credits
________________________________________________________________________________

Newsletter editor: Imperator Fyron.

"Baseships vs. Battleships" contributed by RudyHuxtable.

"The 'X' Factor in SE5" contributed by David E. Gervais.

"Hammer Time" contributed by NarfPoitChezBOOM.

The Space Empires series of games is produced by Malfador Machinations.
http://www.malfador.com/

Space Empires IV and Space Empires: Starfury were published by Shrapnel Games.
Shrapnel Games has very limited quantities of both SE4 and SF remaining in
stock.
http://www.shrapnelgames.com/
________________________________________________________________________________

All submitted materials are copyright by their respective owners and used with
full permission.

The SpaceEmpires.net Newsletter is copyright 2005 by the SpaceEmpires.net
Newsletter Staff. All rights reserved.
________________________________________________________________________________





Copyright © by the author, posted with permission.

Published on: 2005-05-01 (6055 reads)

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