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May 24, 2022, 04:41:31 PM

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Gmax/Sim City 4 BAT will not import 3D models with PNG textures

Started by MoltresRider, January 07, 2022, 12:20:57 PM

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MoltresRider

This has been a problem ever since I started using the Building Architect Tool well over 15 years ago. I am a lot more advanced these days but one problem (that nobody else seems to have) has been with me since day 1. I am unable to import any 3ds models into Gmax or BAT if they contain PNG textures.

In most cases, I can work around this by converting the PNG textures into JPG files using Photoshop and using the JPG files as the textures. However, in some cases, doing this completely ruins the look of the model. This is because the PNG textures have transparency areas. When converted to JPG, the transparent areas become white, totally ruining the model itself.

This is most noticeable with the Amaterasu model and the Final Fantasy VII Remake Shiva model.

When attempting to import 3ds models with PNG into Gmax or BAT, nothing happens. The model just does not import. No error message of any kind appears or anything. The model just plain does not import and it is as if I did nothing at all. If I import the same model except with JPG textures and no PNG textures, the model imports flawlessly. Models just do not import at all if there are PNG textures within them. I tried the models with PNG textures with just Gmax alone and no BAT, still does not import if containing PNG textures. Models only import with JPG textures.

I posted about this issue three other times in my 15-year span of using BAT and this is my fourth time in 15 years that I am seeking help about this. The last time I asked about this issue was in 2018. In 2018, as well as the other two times I asked about this issue, all I got for responses were people saying that they do not have any issues importing models with PNG textures into Gmax or BAT. Every time, I verified that I am indeed running the latest version of Gmax and everybody who told me what version that they had, my version matched 100%. I did not get a single response as what I could try fix the issue or what could be wrong preventing models with PNG textures from importing. All I got were people saying that it "works for them". Yet it has never worked for me ever.

So, I thought I would try again but this time, I scoured Gmax's settings, menus, and everything that I could find within Gmax itself and I did not find any setting or any option anywhere that would bar models with PNG textures from importing.

I am wondering what else can I do? I clearly works for everybody else based on the last three times I posted about this. It has yet to work for me.

I went looking in 2021 for maybe an updated version of Gmax hoping to fix the problem. All I found was that Gmax is no longer supported and is no longer being offered as a download. A Wiki states that to this day, 1.2 is still the latest version. While the program can still be downloaded on the Internet Archive Digital Library; however, its official source is broken.

What else can I do to get Gmax to accept models with PNG textures? There obviously is some kind of setting or option I have enabled/disabled or some plugin I am missing that is preventing models from being imported.

With Gmax no longer having an official download link, has BAT'ers moved onto something else that I could try?

BAT4Max iirc still requires Gmax and I tried BAT4Max in the past but it always wrote corrupt files.

mgb204

Honestly I can't imagine that such a problem exists unique to you specifically. More than likely then, somewhere in your source application, the method it uses to apply PNG files simply is incompatible with the way gMax imports 3DS data. gMax is pretty old now and formats and standards move on, or maybe your source app never did it in a way gMax could interpret. Either way, gMax is a pretty stand-alone app and the default settings are the same for all of us. So if others could do what you can't, it's unlikely everyone else is using non-default settings or plugins, hence it works for them. You can think of a gMax install as fairly consistent, whereas the myriad of methods (and apps) that can create a 3DS file is open to huge inconsistencies, hence the more likely explanation.

Instead of using JPGs, I'd convert these images into BMP (Bitmaps). You can create a special Alpha channel, which is just a duplicate texture that defines transparency. JPG is a terrible format for 3D modelling full stop. Then again, it's not like gMax doesn't support actual PNG textures. Why not simply remove the material in the source application, before importing it into gMax?, then apply the material in gMax instead.

As for moving on from gMax, actually that's fraught with difficulty and a huge price tag, right now the only free option that works is gMax + SC4BAT.

Note that BAT4Max is NOT intended for use with gMax, rather it's big brother 3DS Max. If you tried to install that, you could very well mess up how SC4 BAT functions.

MudPuppy

This isn't on topic, but this thread has posts from this month about the SC4Bat.  I've returned to SimCity4 Deluxe after many years.  I'm interest in the tools for modifying content.  Creating content may come down the road.  I have ILive reader, PIM-X, SC4 tool. Lot Editor.  I hoped to explore SC4 BAT for modifying existing content but I've hit a wall.  Th SC4BATinstaller.exe won't proceed without seeing GMAX installed and after much searching (Discreet > AutoDesk > TurboSquid) no one offers it anymore.  I wasn't particularly interested in using a tool like Gmax (yet) but is there a way I can install SC4Bat without it?  Any thoughts appreciated.

flann


mgb204

Quote from: MudPuppy on January 24, 2022, 05:19:30 PM
I hoped to explore SC4 BAT for modifying existing content but I've hit a wall.

SC4 BAT can not be used to modify existing content, you can not open an .SC4Model file and edit it as a 3D model, you need a save file from SC4 BAT and the associated resources to be able to edit existing items. SC4 BATs are not 3D models, rather 2D textures wallpapered onto basic 3D LODs, this Isometric fixed-view system is hugely efficient and a core of the game's design.

QuoteI wasn't particularly interested in using a tool like Gmax (yet) but is there a way I can install SC4Bat without it?

SC4 BAT is not an application, it is simply a set of scripts for gMax that allows you to output a model in the correct format for use with SC4. So there is no SC4 BAT without gMax, installing it is mandatory.

MudPuppy

Many thanks mgb204 and flann.  I can now open Gmax, but it's been a long strange trip.  After posting last night I found a backup of Gmax on a USB drive from 2010.  It installed but wanted a registration key.  I emailed AutoDesk support to see if they'd issue one.  I'll let you know if they do.

I d/l flann's link and ran the install.  When I tried to launch Gmax it went through a long list of 'paths' that weren't right but it did put Gmax in my registry.  So I tried the BU version I found and now it boots up just fine.

I appreciated the clearer understanding of Gmax capabilities mgb204.  It seems like I'll first spend more time understanding SC4tool, Lot Editor, ILive Reader and then PIM-X before I explore Gmax/BAT.  But now it's there when (if?) I'm ready.  Thanks again

mgb204

Just to add, you won't get a registration code anymore, that service was long ago passed off to TurboSquid who were hosting gMax until a few years back. They also no longer provide registration codes.

The good news is that security systems when gMax was made were incredibly dumb and you can get around it by simply modifying/adding a few keys in the registry. A quick google search will help you find instructions for doing that.