Cars for GTA3© and GTA© Vice City
In 2002, game editing (or let alone „modding“) was in its early state. The only powerful tool of interest was 3D-Studio-Max© but it was very expensive and not affordable for any private user. Another tool we know today, that has its origin in this period is Maya© by Autodesk©. It only became popular in the gaming industry after about 2008 though, because official SDKs for games rarely contained official exporters until then. I do not judge which program is better Maya© or 3D-Studio-Max©. Every user should test every program on the market and chose for himself which suits better. Today we have much more (sometimes free) tools available and Maya© and 3D-Studio-Max© have become more similar to each other. I guess, ultimately personal preferences are important. But back in 2002 we had no choice. Fortunately it was not absolutely necessary to use expensive tools, because 3D-modelling with LODs or special modifiers didn’t exist and neither did games that supported their modding. And we are not talking about the quality and options we know from today. Looking at my bills archive, my PC in 2002 had an NVidia© GF4600TI, AMD© Athlon XP 2600+, 512 MB RAM DDR333 and a 120GB HDD. The beginning of my 3D-visualization I came in contact with the creation of 3D-models in 2002, when the game GTA3© was released and other users from the game „Need for Speed©“ began to convert their cars for it. I was fascinated, but not only by the new GTA3©. I was also intrigued by the option to bring custom cars into the game. „Mapping“ I had met and learned with Quake 3 Arena© but not the implementation of custom content. And this subject interested me very much. One year earlier, in 2001, I had joined a group of free US-car-friends in Langebrück (Germany), a small town next to Dresden. In the same year we founded the label Sundaycruiser for the group. Indirectly, the start of my 3D-work has relationship with this group. In 1999 I had bought my Chevrolet Camaro Z28© and my first idea was to bring it into GTA3©, just like other cars from our club. As I have written above, big commercial tools for 3D-modelling were not affordable to buy. Fortunately, mainly modders from the Need For Speed© community joined into the upcomming GTA3© modding community and suggested the tool Zanoza ZModeler “, by the programmer Oleg Melashenko. Compared with modern techniques this tools was simple but it worked very well and taught me to recreate reality in 3D. Scenarios for which modern tools offer lots of help were all handmade in 2002! But in September 2002, when I downloaded the free tool Zmodeler 1©, my first reaction was disillusion. I had greatly underestimated the work and effort. But I did not give up. After a few tests and first simple objects, I chose to start with a conversion of an existing Need for Speed©-car, as practice. In October 2002, I started the conversion of the first car , not without getting permission from its original author (AdR). And well, I started a „repeating circumstance“: modding games, after playing them for just a few hours. I realized that I had more fun with creating or modifying things that with playing the games. Below you find a few pictures of the most important cars that I worked on. If you follow the links you will see that most of the cars are available until today.
My first converted car for GTA3(c). Original author for Need for Speed(c) was "AdR".
On the picture on the left you can see the 1968 Camaro that converted for GTA3©. As I have written in the text above, the original Autor (AdR) gave me the permission to do this. I released two versions of the car. The first one , which had no bonnet and the second one where I added one (my first own mesh, after a little bit of modelling practice). The term „conversion“ may sound little derogatory but it is not! Cars created for Need for Speed©
were closed and not accessible, in contrary to the GTA3© cars. For this game it was necessary to convert the cars to make them usable. This means: separation of the doors, the rear hood, the bonnet, the windscreen and both wings at the front. After that, all visible areas between inner and outer meshes had to be closed with new polygons. The reason is simple: when you disassembled the car, it left no closed surfaces between both. For example at the inner wings or doors. And no trunk, of course. Please imagine that I disassembled the complete car, set the necessary dummies for GTA3©, set all required parts back together and created & textured the missing parts. After finishing the car I wrote its handling-file and packed the required files together for final use.
My second half converted car from a free webside (original author unknown).
One of my next cars was inspired by the last years’ (2001) movie „Training Day“ by „Warner Brothers©“. Because of the few cars available for a conversion (most authors do this by themselves) I browsed the internet and found the free model of a Chevrolet Monte Carlo (1979) . After a huge modification of the cars’ mesh, I prepared it same way as the Camaro and set it up for final use.
My converted 1932 Hotrod (original author for Need For Speed was the user "P R O")
Another conversion was the 1932-HotRod by the original Author „P R O“. As I have written above, the conversion process was almost always the same. - Disassembling the car - Adding new polygons to close open areas - Retexturing, mostly with newly made textures - Creation of new textures when it was need - Damaged parts for the damaged state - Dummies, which the GTA©-engine needs - Paneling of the inner wings under the hood and in the cars’ trunk - Packing and setting up the car with the needed scripts
The same but highly modified 1932 Hotrod (original author for Need For Speed was the user "P R O")
After a little bit more practice, I released a Special Version of the 1932-HotRod .
Original Need For Speed(c) Author for the Vipers base mesh was the user Martin Leps.
My next car, the Viper GTS V1 , was a bigger project and my last one for GTA3©. Due to high demand, I overhauled and tweaked the car several times. There are 3 versions of it. The last one ( Version 3 ) also has an added special wheel- mod by the Author „Rumba“. The original Author of the car was „Martin Leps“, another German modeller from the „Need for Speed©“-modding community. I gave myself a lot of trouble to setup the car perfectly in the engine and added a lot of details.
Original Need For Speed(c) Author for the Vipers base mesh was the user Martin Leps.
GTA Vice City© One year later, in 2003, the switch from GTA3© to GTA Vice City© was not hard. The exporter needed an update but the process remained the same. When the game was released, I first exported my for GTA3© converted cars and adjusted the material files. After that I thought about what to do next. I had the confidence to start my first own car made from scratch and started its construction. Because of one of our US-Car-Club members, who owns a 1968 Dodge Charger© and the movie „Bullit“ with „Steve McQueen“, I chose this car and not my Camaro©. Why? The old muscle cars have more defined edge flows, a detail I rated as „too hard to model“ on my Camaro© as a first car. Sure, I had collected lots of knowledge in the last months, but I wanted to work on an easier car made from scratch, to get more practice. The clear lines of an old muscle car were ideal for this. But nevertheless it was challenge. It took 3 attempts before the first chassis looked acceptable. I didn’t archive the cars or pictures, the reason I will tell you below. After the 1968 Dodge Charger©, I modified the car to the 1969 and 1970 version because these versions shared the same body. From today’s perspective, my 3 versions were ok, but not really good. My motivation for a redo lacked, so I chose to build my next car made from scratch and to gain more experience in modelling. This one was another friends’ car, a 1972 Plymouth Cuda©. I used the same method here and created 3 versions. The 1970, 1971 and 1972 version. It was the same „easy“ job because all 3 again shared the same chassis, with just a few modifications. The other head- and taillights and a few other details was easy done. Fortunately this method of construction is not as much effort as to make 3 new chassis from scratch. When I had finished these, I thought about the modification of the 1971 version to a convertible and realized this too. In the meantime we had the year 2004 and the games Far Cry© and Doom© were released. I took a break from the creation of cars for GTA3© and GTA Vice City©, although I wanted to overhaul the Chargers and Cudas. I decided to do this with the next GTA© title (San Andreas), one year later. Actually, the game was released for PC in June 2006.
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