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skremon

VRML for World Maps?

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My team is considering VRML to be used as the world-level file format (for a 3D FPS, mostly with outdoor scenes). The file format looks like it would be easy to read in (hopefully). My question is is VRML good enough for saving levels? We cannot make custom file formats at the moment and we don''t want to use any level editor or file-formats that cannot be used commercially. So, i would like to hear your recommendation please! (VRML can be exported/imported via 3dmax but i noticed when we import the file again it changes the file format a bit!)

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VRML is pretty sweet, unfortunately with it being being designed for the net, the format is designed as text based script. I would say it''d work quite well for level saves for games, but its too slow for anything else.

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VRML is pretty easy to understand, and a useful starting point.

However i''m puzzled over why you cannot make a custom file format? Is there a specific reason? Having a custom file format doesn''t mean you have to write a plugin for your favorite modelling software - although its obviously advantagous.

However you are already using a custom format more or less, becuase you are importing VRML and converting it to whatever you internal format is. So technically to get a vast improvement over VRML (being text based its slower to load and obviously file size is massive) once a level is loaded from VRML, simply export you internal format to a binary file.

All thats left is to add some code to load the binary format back in. Hey presto you''ve got an efficeint and tailored custom file format.

This way your game should load VRML files and your binary files.
VRML can be used during development and testing. Once a level is ''signed off'' just export it to the binary format, and use that in the final game instead.

As to simple file formats, it might be worth looking at OBJ (wavefront I think) or even 3DS ASCII. If you need help with any of the 3D file formats i''d suggest checking out http://www.wotsit.org/ and the 3D graphics file section.

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Thanks for the idea. Yes i did think of writing plug-ins but i don''t have any experience of writing one. So, what are you suggesting is making a vrml-2-binary file. What i would do is read the vrml text file and read in specific data for the world and store them in appropriate data structures. Then i can write those data in a binary file... right? This can be a standalone small .exe to convert the files to custom binary format.... but a rather ''unfrienly'' process without writing plugins...

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Hi Skremon.

Yes more or less, although I don't see the need for a seperate vrml - bin exe. Instead build it into your game engine. That way you can develop using VRML, where its advatnages are that most modelling programs export it, its in a readable format, and easy to make tweaks directly in the file. At some point you can then export a loaded vrml file from your game into the binary format.

So as long as you can import vrml and the binary format, and export the binary format, from the game you'll be fine. Then some time in the future you can investigate writing a plugin to export directly to the binary format.

The big advantage of using this method is that by just writing a vrml importer for you're game you are up and running quickly. Later on when the engine is more solid, and you have a better idea of all the elements you need from the vrml file, you can create the binary format and move over to using that instead.

[edited by - noisecrime on June 19, 2003 8:10:09 AM]

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