Reply To: Modeling guides

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By the looks of it I guess it’s my video you watched. And you’re right, that tutorial would’ve dragged out way too long for modeling alone.

The modeling part is the easy part, believe it or not. All though it can take a good amount of time to make the model, it’s still the easiest part because getting the model into the game can be what’s gonna leave you hairless when things don’t work out and you don’t know what to do about it.

I doubt there’s any 3D Max + Train Fever specific “this is how you model, this is how you convert the model, and this is how you get it to work in the game” kind of tutorials – much like my tutorial wasn’t LightWave specific, except that the tools I used may be named something else in other 3D apps.

I understand you want a 3D Max to Train Fever specific tutorial, but in all honesty, you’re better off starting to learn 3D Max in general. There’s not really anything special about the way models are made for Train Fever alone, more like a general guideline for games and game engines.

So where do you start?

Get going with low poly modeling. That’s what you should aim at. Make trains or other vehicles with as few polygons as possible (I think about 10.000 polygons per model is mentioned in a blog post on the main site).

The next part is making a UV map and texture the model. And that’s about all the work that is done within the 3D app itself, except for measurements for the game engine to know the bounding box and possibly position of doors or other elements.


To sum it up in a process tree:

  1. Research your model (photos, technical data, blueprints).
  2. Plan ahead – will the model have animated doors? Make those objects separate from the main body.
  3. Make the model to real world measurements (low polygon object). Adjust things like the track width and wire height as needed – such as making the wheel position slightly wider and stretching the pantograph.
  4. Optimize if needed, like skipping some details that won’t show that good, or aren’t necessary for the in-game view because of the viewing angle or zoom level.
  5. UV Map the model.
  6. Texture it (Color map, normal map, reflection and specular maps).
  7. Save to the appropriate format the model converter of your choice accepts.
  8. Start looking into other assets or mods for the game, learn how things are set up and start working with your model. Take note of measurements (height, width, lenght etc) for bounding boxes, animate the doors and so on.
  9. Make a test-game, set the model to be free and be available right from the start so you can keep testing it until you’re happy with it – then adjust cost of purchase and running costs.
  10. Test in-game. Adjust texture maps or model files as needed. Adjust the different asset files needed (such as timing for door animations, position of bogies and so on).
  11. Test the final version a few hours or days, share with friends or others you count on to give you feedback to make the release of your mod as solid as possible.
  12. Release the mod.
  13. Enjoy the feedback, and listen to the users if they have suggestions. Take the final call whether you’ll adjust or change based on the feedback you get.


I’m actually planning to make a tutorial series where I create a mod – but all in LightWave – as that’s what I use. The model itself won’t be LightWave specific, but the modeling process, the tools I use and the steps to get to the end result will obviously be different from Max. But take it from me: watching someone create something in a different app won’t necessary be a bad thing. It may enlighten you about ways of dealing with tasks or problems in a new way. I actually watched a 3D Max tutorial on making a steam locomotive recently.. Gave mee plenty of ideas!


But for the record: LightWave is only $995 these days. That’s a complete modeler, animation and rendering package at one heck of a price. On top of that, there’s a plugin I use for modeling which is of tremendous help, LWCAD.. If you should chose to go with it, I’d be happy to answer any LightWave related questions.

  • This reply was modified 9 years, 6 months ago by olahaldor. Reason: Added links to the tools I use