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Good tools for indoor-map editing / architecture

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A few million years ago, I picked up Lightwave and used it ever since for making my indoor maps. Or at least the raw geometry files to begin with. It works pretty well, though being an allround tool, I'm pretty sure my specific "indoor-game-mapping" needs are probably covered by more specialized tools throughout the years.
 
So, can you guys advise me a program/editor that:
* Not TOO difficult - I'm a programmer, not an artist :p
* Excels in geometry/UV editing
* Focusses on indoor mapping - corridors, rooms, windows, door portals, stairs)
* But can also do more funky shaping (arcs, bows, curves, pipes - damaged stuff)
* Does (auto) UV mapping / texturing
* Gives a good preview (can fly or walk through it, gives a good sense of the dimensions)
* Can import/export at least OBJ files
* Can do (auto)subdividing (I'll need a certain degree tesselation for vertex-painting purposes)
* Produces "clean" models, suitable for a game. Not a billion triangle mess with holes.
* Cheap / free would be nice
 
 
For the info, asides from a good preview, I'm not looking for advanced renderers, or "complete" game-engines like Unreal where you can insert entities and everything. Just need an OBJ file with geometry, texture/material names & UV. All further decoration is done by my own tools.
 
 
Then again, it shouldn't be too simplistic either. Especially when trying to make damaged rooms or more advanced details (wires, curved pipes, bricks/planks sticking out of a surface). This is where an advanced modeller like Lightwave does its job, but it misses a bunch of "boosters" to get a corridor with proper UV mapping up quickly, nor does it give a decent preview. I always have to import models first before I can get a good sense of sizing, in essence, you're already one step too late then.
 
 
 
I never tried Max, Maya or other "big guys" except for Blender, which -I've been told- has a map-editor or something. But the few times I tried it, I ran quickly out of patience as I couldn't even figure out how to move the camera hehe. Well, anyhow, advise???
 

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Blender is the tool that bet matches what you want.

It's free.

 

*Programming is done in python that only takes about a week to a month to learn.(If you can already program)

 

*Has all of the geometry tools. Blender's spline modeling needs work, however as a person who often has to clean up models of other artist I wished spline modeling will be banned. Spline modeling is dirty, you always need to clean up when done and it is often faster to just make the same model using a different style of modeling.

Blender makes up for it's lack of spline modeling with great tools for the other modeling styles.

 

*Blender can be used to make corridors, rooms and any thing you can think of.

There are software that will make fully furnished rooms with a few quick steps, they use preset meshes that won't work in most games as each game has it's own set of parameters. Also making levels with software like this will cause all the levels to look the same and can also brake license agreements.

 

*Blender is grate at making curves and advance forms, it only needs the modeler to know how. Damage can be modeled or sculpted.

 

*Blender has a smart UV project option that is as good as most Auto software. There is no software that can Auto unwrap any mesh without some kind of loss in quality.

If software like that existed I would be using it, UV unwrapping is %50 of  modeling.

 

*Blender can give you a openGl preview, but with modern engines like Unity and Unreal it is best to view the model in engine as fast as you can.

 

*Can import and export all standard formats and a few obscure ones.

 

*Yes can subdivide, auto and manual.

Like I tell my customers tessellation is only good for organic shapes. To make the height map the modeler has to model every brick, then the tessellation has to divide the mesh into thousands of polygons to show those same bricks, each brick can be made for 10 triangles. It is cheaper to have a wall with every brick modeled than to have a wall using tessellation to show every brick, it's also faster to make.

 

*Clean meshes depend on the modeler not the software. Although sub-D modeling is considered to be the cleanest and can be made with Blender. Spline modeling is dirty, so the modeler has to clean it after making the mesh, it takes a lot of time so modelers will often pretend to be to busy to clean the mesh.

 

*Did I mention it's free?

 

 

For your game engine I recommend Unreal or Unity, in that order. There are others however Unreal and Unity is the best, in that order.

Panda 3D was good for small games.

 

Lightwave is good for rendering, if you where making a movie I would recommend a Blender+Lightwave combo; because Blender has better mesh tools.

For games I recommend Blender.

3DS Max is like Blender+Lightwave it has all the mesh tools and the render tools.

 

 

If learning Blender was frustrating don't expect any other software to be better, it takes 3-4 years to learn how to be an average 3D modeler and all the software use similar tools.

 

If there was some software that could make 3D models, by a touch of a button then there would be no use for a person; you can program a computer to press it's own button.

Edited by Scouting Ninja

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Sounds Blender deserves a second chance then. And yeah, "takes 3/4 years to learn", I'm afraid I can't get around that, but it was worth a try, maybe some unconnvential auto-magic software for these exact purposes exists.

 

Thanks for diving into detail on all those points!

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If you find Blender to be intimidating, might I make a recommendation? On Udemy, there is a course called 'Learn 3D Modelling - The Complete Blender Creator Course' which is pretty cheap and will get you up and going with Blender better than anything else I'm aware of. The main instructor does a stellar job, and of all the other Blender related courses offered by Udemy, this one stands head and shoulders above the rest. The content is massive, and it is all of the highest quality. One of these days I need to go back and finish it :-)

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I never tried Max, Maya or other "big guys" except for Blender, which -I've been told- has a map-editor or something. But the few times I tried it, I ran quickly out of patience as I couldn't even figure out how to move the camera hehe. Well, anyhow, advise???

 

 

Blender isn't meant to be learned by impatiently poking around and seeing what happens; so many things are "hidden" in sensible but non-obvious keyboard shortcuts, menus, and windows.that the beginner's ignorance becomes a roadblock

Invest time in a course, as suggested, or in following along books and tutorials. I've rarely found the official Blender documentation satisfactory, as it is usually badly edited, incomplete, and/or obsolete.

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I tried doing some level editing recently after not doing any for a decade :D
I picked up sketchup to do all the environment modelling. It can do simple geometry really easily and somewhat complicated things after learning a few tricks. Most of it is based around drawing 2D shapes and extruding them. It does auto UVs by planar projecting textures onto surfaces, but not advanced UV tweaking, which is is perfect for rough environment modelling.

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Again thanks for the replies guys. Stubborn as I am, I'll try to wrestle through it myself to begin with, but I certainly keep this course in the back of my mind.

 

And good that you mention Sketchup. I completely forgot about that one, Making a bunch of rooms and a window was minute work indeed. Though I can't remember if adding slightly more detail like stairs, skirtings, rounded ceilings or beams was possibly. I guess it does that as well.

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And good that you mention Sketchup. I completely forgot about that one, Making a bunch of rooms and a window was minute work indeed. Though I can't remember if adding slightly more detail like stairs, skirtings, rounded ceilings or beams was possibly. I guess it does that as well.

I'm certainly no artist  :lol: here's the game environment I was working on with it: https://imgur.com/a/lE0gb
There's a lot of great example work in sketchup warehouse though: https://3dwarehouse.sketchup.com/model.html?id=ue093a4d4-c175-4b81-9b90-13619336b6c1

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