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  • Parallax vs. Normal Mapped Objects

    Height Maps can deliver a superior visual result on terrain as well as static objects. The video demonstrates a material using a Height Map + Normal Map verses the old technique of just using a Normal Map...



    You can clearly see that the Parallax effect provides a superior sense of depth as compared to the version using only a Normal map.

    For a more detailed explanation and to find some tips on how to add this feature to your upcoming Trainz content, check the full Dev Diary Blog here...
    Comments 17 Comments
    1. Dinorius_Redundicus's Avatar
      Dinorius_Redundicus -
      Good to see Trainz catching up to the major game software companies in terms of all these graphics advances. I shudder to think of all the work required if I'm ever going to update my existing creations with the new textures.

      After reading the blog and watching the videos, 2 questions spring to mind;

      - if the height map is the alpha channel of the normal map, where do we now put a specular map?

      - regarding the padding needed on texture atlases, how is this done? My first thought is to create the padding areas as white-to-transparent gradients on a layer above the height map, then merge that layer down into the height map. Is it that simple?

      .
    1. ish6's Avatar
      ish6 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Dinorius_Redundicus View Post
      Good to see Trainz catching up to the major game software companies in terms of all these graphics advances. I shudder to think of all the work required if I'm ever going to update my existing creations with the new textures.

      .
      Agreed with Deane!!!

      Ish
    1. weevil's Avatar
      weevil -
      All these new technologies are great (including last week's update about advanced ground clutter) and really do help to bring Trainz up to date. My concern is with the level of "take-up" we will see among content creators. As far as I am aware there has not been one single free 3rd party procedural track pack (although I admit I'm not very up to date myself these days). That technology has been with us since TANE was released. I can't help but feel that these are yet more examples of objects where we will we get 3 or 4 default offerings included with the product and that will be the end of it. It would be a shame.
    1. ramsay72's Avatar
      ramsay72 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Dinorius_Redundicus View Post
      - if the height map is the alpha channel of the normal map, where do we now put a specular map?
      .

      I'm sorry but I do not speak English

      specular map = Roughness - Green Channel + Metallic - Alpha Channel ( ???? )

      http://online.ts2009.com/mediaWiki/i...etal#Parameter
    1. pcas1986's Avatar
      pcas1986 -
      Quote Originally Posted by weevil View Post
      All these new technologies are great (including last week's update about advanced ground clutter) and really do help to bring Trainz up to date. My concern is with the level of "take-up" we will see among content creators. As far as I am aware there has not been one single free 3rd party procedural track pack (although I admit I'm not very up to date myself these days). That technology has been with us since TANE was released. I can't help but feel that these are yet more examples of objects where we will we get 3 or 4 default offerings included with the product and that will be the end of it. It would be a shame.
      There are several procedural track offerings on the DLS. Look for any asset named "Protrack" as an example.

      However, I do agree that some creators have been a bit slow on the uptake for asset improvements including LOD. The new materials will be a challenge since, from my observations, some changes of technique will be required. I'm looking forward to playing with these new materials.
    1. trainzrule2's Avatar
      trainzrule2 -
      Quote Originally Posted by weevil View Post
      All these new technologies are great (including last week's update about advanced ground clutter) and really do help to bring Trainz up to date. My concern is with the level of "take-up" we will see among content creators. As far as I am aware there has not been one single free 3rd party procedural track pack (although I admit I'm not very up to date myself these days). That technology has been with us since TANE was released. I can't help but feel that these are yet more examples of objects where we will we get 3 or 4 default offerings included with the product and that will be the end of it. It would be a shame.
      I'd look for the LRW track pack.
    1. weevil's Avatar
      weevil -
      Thanks for directing me to those two examples guys. I remember now that I had seen these but neither suits my requirements. They just don't seem to have that "Wow!" effect that, for example, the Marias Pass track pack had many years ago. Anyway, my point remains that unless Auran include a comprehensive selection of assets based around these new technologies, I fear that the selection will be minimal.
    1. norfolksouthern37's Avatar
      norfolksouthern37 -
      Quote Originally Posted by weevil View Post
      As far as I am aware there has not been one single free 3rd party procedural track pack (although I admit I'm not very up to date myself these days). That technology has been with us since TANE was released.
      It still isn't finished (crossing tracks or complex switches) nor does it work properly (inverted lighting on parts, improper placements), this is the main reason for there being few 3rd party packs.
    1. ish6's Avatar
      ish6 -
      Hello Everyone,

      I think this is where the tutorial video channel will come in handy --- I'm not into trainz, since I got a new born, so I just read and follow all of Tony's examples he has stored for the "Next" Trainz; And hopefully by then we get those videos, and maybe I'll get my feet wet again!

      It's very interesting thought, and hopefully it's not just eye-candy stuff that just goes by the waist-side as time goes by --- We get the tools, the tutorials ... I can mass produce!

      Take Care all
      Ish
    1. TimLee_TW's Avatar
      TimLee_TW -
      Another thing I am concerned about, it is should we paint AO on albedo map?
      According to this topic on marmoset, the albedo map should not combine with lighting, AO and cavity map.
      The example albedo map on wiki shows the same way what we did on the old approach(except for lighting).

      But on the internet, some artist actually tend to paint AO on albedo map for their realistic-looking model.
    1. Pencil42's Avatar
      Pencil42 -
      Quote Originally Posted by TimLee_TW View Post
      Another thing I am concerned about, it is should we paint AO on albedo map?
      According to the Wiki, the AO map gets its own channel in one of the texture files, so we would no longer paint it on the albedo map:
      http://online.ts2009.com/mediaWiki/i...etal#Parameter
    1. TimLee_TW's Avatar
      TimLee_TW -
      Quote Originally Posted by Pencil42 View Post
      According to the Wiki, the AO map gets its own channel in one of the texture files, so we would no longer paint it on the albedo map:

      whereas the diffuse map frequently included burned-in lighting (pre-baked ambient occlusion, etc.) The albedo map should never include pre-baked lighting, as that would interfere with the correct operation of the PBR equations.

      Sorry I haven't read through wiki completely. But the example texture on the wiki is definitely the
      diffuse map, hope they will replace it with correct albedo map in order to prevent misleading.
    1. WindWalkr's Avatar
      WindWalkr -
      Quote Originally Posted by Dinorius_Redundicus View Post
      - if the height map is the alpha channel of the normal map, where do we now put a specular map?
      We no longer use a specular workflow. Check the wiki for full technical details (the Material Types page has been updated). Google for "PBR Metalness Workflow" for non-trainz-specific 3D modelling advice.


      regarding the padding needed on texture atlases, how is this done?
      This isn't a new technique, nor is it anything Trainz-specific. You just need to ensure that you leave gaps between one section of the texture that you use in your UV mapping, and another such section within the same texture. The more "incompatible" the textures are, the more gap you may need to leave.

      It's also a common mistake (in textures with alpha) to have your solid geometry surrounded by a black zero-alpha background. This will cause a black outline on your visible geometry due to texture bleeding. Instead, you need to maintain the same color into your padding space even though the alpha drops to zero.

      Exactly how you do this in Photoshop (or some other tool) is up to you. This is just image editing- you don't need any fancy techniques or tools (though some exist to help automate this kind of thing).

      chris
    1. WindWalkr's Avatar
      WindWalkr -
      Quote Originally Posted by norfolksouthern37 View Post
      It still isn't finished (crossing tracks or complex switches)
      We consider the system complete. There are certainly options for enhancements that we could make to the system in the future, but saying that it isn't complete now would be like saying that non-procedural track isn't complete. The simple fact is that it works well for the track features that it's built to support.


      nor does it work properly (inverted lighting on parts, improper placements)
      As far as I'm aware, this all works correctly. If you're aware of a bug, please ensure to use our beta bug reporting mechanisms to submit feedback (or even bring it up on trainzdev, since you're a member there afaik?)

      cheers,

      chris
    1. Zeldaboy14's Avatar
      Zeldaboy14 -
      Amazing! N3v, your still able to impress me after 4 years of fun! Being a content creator who's still learning the normal mapping, this will be a fun challenge to tackle with the blueberry wafflecar someday!
    1. pcas1986's Avatar
      pcas1986 -
      Quote Originally Posted by WindWalkr View Post
      ...
      Exactly how you do this in Photoshop (or some other tool) is up to you. This is just image editing- you don't need any fancy techniques or tools (though some exist to help automate this kind of thing).

      chris
      When I bake my textures in Blender, I usually allow a few pixels around each "island" of the map. This means you need to examine the UV map to ensure there isn't bleeding between islands.
    1. n3vpolsen's Avatar
      n3vpolsen -
      Quote Originally Posted by ish6 View Post
      I think this is where the tutorial video channel will come in handy
      This is correct. We will utilise the twitch tv channel, Trainz wiki and forums to provide detailed information and asset examples so you have all the information needed to create your own assets using these new technologies.