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 Post subject: Monster Attack by Tarres
PostPosted: Tue Sep 09, 2003 1:30 am 
Member

Joined: Wed Aug 20, 2003 7:22 am
Posts: 37
Truck: <a href="javascript:void(0)"onClick="window.open('http://cownap.com/~mtmg/contests/expo2003/pics/trucks/monsterattack478x354.jpg','win','scrollbars=no,left=80,top=80,width=498,height=374')">Monster Attack</a>
Maker: Tarres
Class: Custom
Verts: <a href="javascript:void(0)"onClick="window.open('http://cownap.com/~mtmg/contests/expo2003/pics/stats/monsterattackstats.gif','win','scrollbars=yes,left=20,top=20,width=670,height=600')">1304/1160/2464</a>
Faces: 1302/1940/3242
Txtrs: 8/4/12
Podzip: Yes
Animated Textures: No
Allow Reflections: Yes
Allow Truck Reflections: No
Readme: Yes, without credits
Download: <a href="http://mtm2.com/~trucks/dl.cgi?dl=875" target="_self">218</a>k


Monster Attack is certainly one of the more unique looking trucks we received for the expo and which can probably best be described as some sort of concept vehicle. Furthermore, it is also unique in that it is both emblematic of everything that is right and positive in our game, and, we loathe to say, it marks everything that can be wrong with truck making and still not crash the game. Accordingly, there's a lot of ground to cover and much to learn, so let's get right to it.

Starting with the readme file, it has always been the policy of the mtmg to encourage sharing and goodwill among the mtm community. As such, while recognizing the validity of permission and credit claims, we've never placed high priority on such matter. However, given the guidelines Tarres sets out ("If you come to an item that confuses you whether or not I made it, E-mail me" and "you can say one of my models is yours IF you modify it so I can't tell it was mine") we recognize his actions with this, and with his other efforts, seem to set up a double standard. Moreover, a readme file should provide some insight into what a downloader is dealing with, and doubly so in the case of a <i>concept vehicle</i> like Monster Attack. This needn't be volumes, but some little info to make sense of rather than "sending you to the next galaxy."

As for the truck itself, Tarres used Drive2Survive's scratch-built Falcon ute model for his starting point, tho the end product is anything but what you'd expect. Although it's hard to identify, the shape of the cab and nose are unmistakable; loading the truck into BinEdit for closer inspection was hardly necessary to confirm it. Tarres has removed the rear tub and cut out the underside to make the body fiberglass-style, and remapped it to a grey blend (on one of the Falcon textures) texture. The effect evokes mixed reactions, with dark grey at the nose fading to light at the back of the vehicle, although this squanders the detail of the original model. The window sections on the cab have been left mapped to the original truck textures, which is fine but leaves a slight red outline around some edges of the windows. Plus it accounts for an extra 256x256 texture in a very inefficient texture pool.

Texture pool notes. When using parts from other trucks or from scrapyards, a maker should always remap those parts to the textures they're using for their own truck. Failing to do this results in your truck requiring multiple textures from which only minor segments are used. This is very inefficient in the game and can cause chugging when racing with other trucks with similiarly high texture counts or in a texture laden area of a track. Let's use the example of the kc lights. Copy the kc pattern from the texture it's currently mapped to onto your own texture. In binedit, open the part then "normalize" it to your truck's texture. Once that's done, it no longer uses the old texture. Now just map the face of the lights to the kc pattern you placed on your texture. Voila, you just ridded yourself of a 256x256 texture. Doing that to all the parts can save texture memory for more productive things in the game.

Fiberglass notes. When fiberglassing a truck it is important to understand that faces are visible from one side only. What that means is that removing the bottom or other parts of the truck will make the remaining sections transparent and very unrealistic in appearance. Notice the <a href="javascript:void(0)"onClick="window.open('http://cownap.com/~mtmg/contests/expo2003/pics/reviews/monsterattack2.gif','win1','scrollbars=no,left=80,top=80,width=527,height=314')">top view</a> of Monster Attack looks normal. The <a href="javascript:void(0)"onClick="window.open('http://cownap.com/~mtmg/contests/expo2003/pics/reviews/monsterattack3.gif','win2','scrollbars=no,left=80,top=80,width=527,height=314')">bottom view</a>, however, shows there's no inner front fenders, hood or roof. In the game, this can be distracting as the sense of proportion and depth become disturbed with the now-you-see-it now-you-don't view of the truck. There are two possible solutions to this problem. First is to make a box-like model and fit it to the inner parts of the truck so those areas are no longer transparent. This can be tricky, and it may be necessary to add extra faces here and there to get a good fit. The second is to strip the body down to bare bones, then save it with a temporary name. Then select all faces, and flip faces in group, then save it with a second temporary name. Now open the first temp model and "insert" the second one into it, then save it using the name you want for your truck. You now have an exact copy of the model inserted into itself but with all faces on both sides of the model. The result being no more invisible faces. The problem with this method, of course, is you double the face and vertex count. You have an option to merge close verticies and delete unused verticies, if you wish, but this may dull the paint and not provide the appearance you desire.

The original style-side bed has been removed, and a chunky triangular wedge attached to the back of the cab from which sprouts a wide hooked shape (maybe an air scoop?). This makes the rear of the truck quite short, and gives the vehicle an appearance similar to the "rockcrawlers" that we've seen some Evo guys build or modify. Fitting one of BigDOGGe's tourney engines under the hood with the blower just poking out makes it look pretty snazzy, although this leaves the engine's drivetrain dangling in the air and unconnected to the driveshafts. Also because the engine was designed for rear-mounting, the exhaust pipes now appear swept-forward.

Driveshaft and axle bar notes. Line 14 "axlebarOffset" and line 16 "driveshaftPos" in the trk file can be used to position the driveshaft and axle bars in the same way one would position wheels or lights. This should always be noted when changing the wheel base and adjustments should be made whenever necessary.

There's also an attachment made from two bar-type shapes fitted to the side of the cab, may be another exhaust pipe, but which may be meant to represent an aerial or something. Fitting two sets of KC lamps is a pretty strange move considering the lights are not aligned to them, and these alone account for another two 256x256 textures (in this case the stock Executioner RAWs). Speaking of textures, this also has the frame textures from Drive2Survive's Devil's Dodge replica, which adds yet another 256x256 texture to the running tally.

The wheels are an interesting set. The intriguing patterning across the rubber is a result of effectively normalizing all the faces to the stock V-pattern tread texture. While a funky idea, the pattern is not consistent all the way around the wheel. And while on the topic of wheels, it should be noted that the axles do not align with the center hub of the wheels.

<center><img src="http://cownap.com/~mtmg/contests/expo2003/pics/reviews/monsterattack1.jpg" width="488"></center>

The problem here is the axles are not symmetrical from top to bottom and the game's effort to center the "model" - not just the axle - forces the entire rig downward. And finally, the tires cut into the fenders on all four corners. It's tempting to suggest a wider wheelbase but with one this short there's no telling the effect that would have.

As for handling, this one is hard to describe. Possible descriptions might be "very loose on the rear end" or "an understeer problem" or "handles very poorly" or "can't recover out of turns because it pretty much acts like it's determind to do what it wants to do, rather than what you want it do" or simply it's "hard to maintain control." The problem is not a hard one to fix, but it does involve a few steps.

Handling notes. The wheelbase describes the distance between the wheels from front to back and from side to side. A short or long wheelbase is when the wheels are closer or farther apart from front to back. A narrow or wide wheelbase is when the wheels are closer or farther apart left to right. A long, wide wheelbase makes a truck more stable. A narrow, short wheelbase makes a truck harder to control. Also, and perhaps this is not widely known, but the wheelbase can also be forward or back in terms of the truck model's center point (we hope we never have to worry about the wheelbase being too far left or right). Anyway, regarding this forward and back idea, in mtm2, there is an optimal position for wheels that will foster greater handling and stability. Consider this diagram:

<center><img src="http://cownap.com/~mtmg/contests/expo2003/pics/reviews/optimumhandling.gif" width="400"></center>

In the case of Monster Attack, the wheelbase is well back of center and is the major cause for the truck's handling difficulties. The solution would be to center the truck model along the X and Z axes, and possibly, depending on the wheelwell position, move it six inches to a foot toward the front. Then adjust the tire positions in the trk file. Let's walk through an example of what this might look like. For the sake of illustration, let's say our truck has a wheelbase of ten feet from front to back. To place the tires in dead center, the trk would look like this for front and rear axle positions.

faxle.ltire.static_bpos.z
5.000000
raxle.rtire.static_bpos.z
-5.000000

For optimal settings, then we'd move the axle forward slightly. Thus,

faxle.ltire.static_bpos.z
5.500000
raxle.rtire.static_bpos.z
-4.500000

This is an example, and you would, of course, have to align the tires to the body of the truck, but the principle is the same. Also, a truck maker will do well to test drive their truck using a few different settings to find the combination that suits their work best. But, as a general rule of thumb, placing the wheelbase a foot back of center instead of six inches ahead of center can make all the difference in the world when it comes to handling.

A couple more points and we'll be done.

The lights are not aligned at all. The roof lights are a foot above the kc fixtures, the headlights are two feet up and behind and to the left of the front bumper, the tail lights are backed onto the headlights and the third, window, brake light is above the cab, and the backup lights are above the rear tires. The only thing that can be said about this is that lights are positioned in the same way as tires. Only time and care are needed to set them right.

Regarding truck models, Tarres is using the redundant *1.BIN and *0.BIN (med- and low-detail) but each is a copy of the main truck bin model which results in game inefficiency. We've already covered this topic when dealing with Tarres' Quakerstate truck (as well as the Wango Zee Tango pair) so there is probably no need to belabour the issue again here. Please see the reviews for those trucks for more detail.

Overall, this is one very interesting and unusual entry. The general concept of it is very appealling, because the appearance is striking and very unique; now we need to work on the execution. This is a truck that looks like it means business, but it's drastically let down by disappointing build quality.


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