How To Play It
|So, you want to
make your mark on the Rocket Club universe by creating a
brand new object for it. I mean, you want to make
a brand new KIND of object. Something that other
people can then build many copies of, sell to
each other, and blow up.
What could be a loftier ideal than
This page is
intended to focus on the exact steps you must
take to make this happen. For additional details,
please check out the Rocket Club HowTo page.
If you are just
going to re-texture an existing model, you can
probably skip a few steps, but please read this
whole document anyway.
What You Have To Do:
|DECIDE WHAT TO MAKE
Not surprisingly, this is
often the hard part. Plus it is a bit of a moving
target as new classes of objects are added.
Currently, you can add (or will be able to add in
some future release) the following sorts of
(land, water, air, space)
(weapons, shields, etc.)
(pizza, medicine, etc.)
Species (biped, quadraped, winged, etc.)
Animals (Monsters, Pets, Ride-able
(that grow, I hope)
Then, after you
decide what you want to make, think about what
you have seen in the game before which is Most
Like That Thing (tm). Each object that people can
make is defined by a NANO PLAN file.
You will want to
clone an existing plan file
and then modify it until it describes
your new object.
tutorial, let's say we are going to make a new
building piece, and our existing nano plan to
emulate is the 'platform' piece (which is
basically just a hunk of matter of an arbitrary
shape you can drop somewhere. It has no real
behaviour, like, say, and animal does.)
need to come up with:
- A model file, of what it
looks like in 3D.
- One or more
texture files, so it's
not a boring gray color.
- a nano plan file.
So, let's get
|MAKE A MASTER ART
You are an artist. You
are a designer. You are a creative genius on a
mission to improve the universe! You cannot be
bothered with the real time limitations of the
game! You make BIG things, HIGH RESOLUTION
things! Things that need to be BACKED UP so you
don't lose all your work.
So, don't depend
on Rocket Club to keep your precious creations
Make a Master
Art Folder (anywhere you like, so long as it is
not inside the Rocket Club folders) and organize
it in whatever means you like. But for Rocket
Club, you will be creating three sorts of things,
so you might organize it with two or three
- MASTER MODEL FILES. These are the
actual milkshape .MS3D
which include not only the model
definition, but also all your favorite
window settings and options.
- EXPORTED MODEL FILES. Before your
MilkShape Model can be used by Rocket
Club, you have to save it in a special
format. Milkshape can export your model
to about a billion different formats
(From HalfLife to Quake). But for Rocket
Club, we want to use the "MilkShape
ASCII Format." Remember: You
always EDIT your MASTER MODEL FILES, but
you also use Milkshape to 'export' your
models to the MilkShapeASCII Format when
you think it is ready to be used in
Rocket Club. These get stored with a .TXT format, so you
might want to keep them in the same
folder as your master model files. That's
what I do.
- TEXTURES. Your models
will look much better with beautiful
texture images painted on their
triangles. In fact, you get a much nicer
model by having a nice texture on a
simple model than you do with a crummy
texture on a complex model. You should
always developer your textures in full 24
bit color BMPs. They will get compressed
before RocketClub uses them, but don't
worry about that now
Remember: You do
your ARTISTRY in your MASTER ART FOLDER. Later
you IMPORT your ART into Rocket Club (at which
time it gets compressed and renamed).
If you want to
modify something you already did for Rocket Club,
you return to your MASTER ART folder to do the
change, then IMPORT the new version into Rocket
NOTE ABOUT FILENAMES
Rocket Club is
not the open chaos of, say, Well
Your asset file names must be short and sweet
(think 16 characters), and use ONLY
english letters and numbers, no spaces, no punctuation, no
your paint program probably will let you use
other characters, but you'll be sorry if you do!
If it's a chair,
call it "chair.bmp" or maybe
"chair3.bmp" if you have made other
chairs, or "recliningChair.bmp" or
Your 'name' will
automatically be added to the file at the time
you import it into the game, so everyone will
know who made it. Your own file names only need
to be unique relative to the things that you
personally have added to the game. So you and I
can both add "chair.bmp" and they won't
|MAKE A MODEL FOR
Most new objects deserve
a new model. The model specifies both the shapes,
and the names of the textures to be painted on
For Rocket Club,
we recommend the MilkShape 3D modelling program:
it is MUCH cheaper than 3D Studio Max and does
what we need to get done. In theory you could use
something else, if it was able to export models
in the MilkShape ASCII file format. But there's
nothing better than MilkShape.
Fiddle with your
model until it is as you like it, then:
- Save it in
your MASTER ART FOLDER as
'modelName.ms3d' (the file you will go
back to if you ever want to make changes)
Milkshape to EXPORT it (File/EXPORT menu)
as a "MilkShape ASCII File" as
'modelName.txt' (the file you will later
IMPORT into RocketClub) Note: YOU
HAVE TO TYPE THE ".TXT" IN THE
up your files as well. And save frequently while
working, changing the name as needed so that you
can get back to favorite past versions should
something go horribly wrong.
And use as few
polygons as you can, put the details in the
textures. We want the Rocket Club Universe to be
able to hold billions of objects, so don't waste
computer power. Other than that, make things as
pretty as you like :-)
require keyframe animations, which I am not yet
ready to document, though you might rummage
around in the stock character files if you are
|MAKE TEXTURES FOR
In case you didn't
already know this, your model file is just
'geometry' and left to itself your model would
appear in the world as just a bunch of shaded
(gray) triangles. What makes a model look really
cool is to have a colorful image pasted onto it.
In fact, a good
image implies all sorts of extra geometry which
isn't even there. Your space ship might have a
fairly flat and bland model, but with the right
texture on it, it looks like it is covered with
little pipes and dings.
When you are
designing the model, you call out these pictures
as 'materials' and give them names like
"wood" and "metal" and
specify which triangles should be displayed with
which material. Later, in the nano plan file, you
will call out a specific texture image to be used
for each material.
I like to use
PaintShop Pro, since it has all the functionality
I need, at a much lower price than PhotoShop.
(Call me old fashioned, but my reaction to
overpriced software like PhotoShop or 3D Studio
Max is to use something cheaper, not to steal
But you can use
any paint program you like. Be sure to do all
your work in a full 24bit BMP formal (no
compression). If you need to edit it later, you
want to have all your bits available to you.
texture files in your MASTER ART folder. Later we
will import copies of them into the game.
Texture Files are generally pretty intimately
connected to their models, in the sense that, for
example, a character 'face' file has to have the
eyes in just the right spot on the texture sheet.
It is an art to do this right, so that's why YOU
the ARTIST have been employed!
But random crap
actually looks pretty cool, too :-)
files are always a 'power of two' in dimensions.
Like 64x64, 128x128, or 256x256. Use the smallest
size you can get away with. Textures eat up
memory like nothing else. You can mix the size up
to get rectangles like 64x128 or 256x128 if that
works better for your needs.
Powers of two
you should consider are:
coarse, but if you just want a solid color,
64 (coarse, but OK for small areas)
128 (good general purpose use)
256 (good high-rez texture for large things
that aren't tiled)
512 (you're just wasting memory)
1024 (you're REALLLY wasting memory)
2048 (get away! you insult me!)
I reserve the
right to 'downsample' your texture if you disobey
|IMPORT THE MODEL
So, you have a model
safely tucked away in your master art folder. And
you used Milkshape to export it as a .txt
"Milkshape ASCII" file. (also in your
master art folder somewhere.)
But to use the
model in the game, it has to be added as an
'asset' and copied to the game's asset folder.
You *could* do this manually, but you *could*
screw it up, so I added something to make it easy
to do automatically.
First you run
Rocket Club and open the ASSET BROWSER (using the
Then you use the
drop-down combo box in the upper right to select
MODELS (the image above is for TEXTURES, sorry,
but models looks similar).
This then shows
you a list of all the models you have in your own
personal asset folder. As a DESIGNER, you have
your own personal folder in the game's asset
folder. That makes you cool.
To Import Your
- Open the
- Select type
- Press the
IMPORT ASSET button
- Use the
browser window to find your
"MilkShape ASCII" file in your
master art folder.
- Press OK
The second time
you do this, you will suddenly realize that I am
a really nice guy and I make it remember where
you last imported from, so you only have to find
your master art folder once per import type (I
mean, I remember the last MODEL import separately
from the last TEXTURE import. I am just that
cool! All for YOU! Coz you are my BEST FRIEND!)
HAPPENS WHEN I IMPORT A MODEL?
Well, mainly it
just gets copied from your master art folder to
your personal asset folder, plus it gets renamed
a little. When the dust settles, your
"chair.txt" ends up in this file:
Note how your
'author id' (OK, it's your player serial number!)
Gets added to the file name AND you get your own
sub-folder of the assets directory. This is why
your asset can have the same starting name as
The game will
directly use this file. The game will never use
your Master Art folder. It is THIS file which
will be automatically copied to the other players
as they need it.
If you later
edit your 'chair.txt' file in your master art
folder, you will need to import it again into the
assets folder (overwriting the existing asset).
|IMPORT THE TEXTURES
Um, this is the same
thing as importing a model, only now it's for
textures. Again you start by running Rocket Club
and opening the ASSET BROWSER:
TEXTURES (as the type)
- Admire the
list of all textures you have ever
- Press the
IMPORT ASSET button
- Navigate to
your master art folder
- Select one
texture at a time, and press OK
Yeah, I just
realized I should point out that you have to
import things one file at a time.
HAPPENS WHEN I IMPORT A TEXTURE?
This is a bit
more complicated than importing a model, since
the texture is actually modified in the process
(the COPY is modified, your master art version is
Ultimately it is
converted to a suitable compressed format
(currently that's .jpg) and saved in your
personal assets folder. So your texture
"myMasterArt\metal.bmp" ends up as
And THIS is the
file which gets shared automatically with the
|CLONE A PLAN FILE
OK, you made your model,
made some matching texture images, and imported
them into your personal asset folder in the game.
How do you make a new actual object appear.
how do you make it show up in that 'Crystal
Well, you have
to make a NANO PLAN file, of course! This file
defines the object, giving it a friendly name
"Stick of space-butter" and tells it
what model to use, what texture files to use for
each of the model's materials, etc.
HOW DO I
MAKE A NANO PLAN FILE?
Well, you clone
an existing one, of course, then customize it. To
do that you open the ASSET BROWSER again and this
time select a list of PLAN assets.
image above is showing plan assets. Rummage
through the list until you find something which
is very similar to what you want to add. For
example, if you're adding a vehicle, pick some
pre-existing similar vehicle. You COULD pick
anything on the list, but you'll save yourself
some work by picking something similar
Then press the
CLONE ASSET button (this only works for PLAN
assets, by the way).
This opens a
window which asks you to name the new plan. You
must provide TWO pieces of information. The first
is the 'filename' for the plan. This must be a
simple thing like "chair" or
Again, you are
not allowed to use anything but alphanumeric
characters in the file name.
information you provide is the friendly name of
the new object. This is what the end-user will
see. It should be fairly brief, but descriptive
(you can change it later, no biggie, and there is
another field later where you can stick in a
longer 'description' of the object)
ready, press OK, and the plan file will be cloned
(copied) and renamed, and placed in your personal
asset folder. So, if you gave your new plan the
name 'bucket' then it will end up in:
probably exactly what you expected to see :-)
the plan file, the game then automatically opens
the Plan Property Editor so you can customize it.
Until you do this, you have just made an
identical copy of the original object, only given
it a new name. The world probably doesn't NEED
one of those, though I imagine people will do it
anyway. STUPID people. BAD people. You don't want
to be like THAT, do you?
When adding a new object
to the world, after cloning up a new PLAN file
for it, you will want to customize it so that it
uses your new model and/or textures.
You do this via
the PLAN PROPERTY EDITOR.
You can open
this via the ASSET BROWSER (show list of plans,
pick one, press OPEN button), or it opens
automatically when you clone an existing plan
editor is pretty simple. It shows a list of
properties and their current settings. Just click
on the property you want to change, and then
enter the new information in the lower half of
I include some
helpful comments for each property so you sort of
know what they are for. As of this writing, the
property editor does not yet support ALL the
properties you will want to be editing. But I
promise it will someday.
There is not an
UNDO option here, so be careful. When you make a
change, you are making a change. Right away. You
can go back later and modify your plan files (you
should only modify your OWN plan files, by the
way, and the game will try to prevent you from
messing with plan files defined by other people.)
In the above
example, you can see that the Name and
Description don't match, since I just cloned this
bucket from the platform nano plan. So I will
want to change the Description property to make
definitely want to set all the following
properties on your new nanoplan:
The friendly name seen when people buy
The long description shown 'in the
A very important classification. Too
important to describe yet.
the model asset to use for its model
The texture asset to be used for material
XXX called out in the model.
How large the object is, in meters.
parameter is sort of 'smart' in the sense that if
you say something is 5 meters in size, that
specifies the size of the largest dimension
(height, width, depth). So a tall skinny thing
would be five meters high, but a short flat thing
would be five meters wide. Otherwise preserving
the proportions called out in the model file.
In addition to
making it easier to use the same model for
different sized objects, I did this so we
wouldn't have to enforce some special scaling
units in MilkShape. I figured that would be
impossible. SO use whatever units are convenient
for your drawing needs, and then I will scale the
model at run time to match this value.
|SHARE IT WITH THE
OK, Cool, you have added
a new object to your little corner of the
universe. Now what? How can other people start to
you just use it yourself. Anyone who runs into
one suddenly learns all about it. So make a chair
and drop it in your star system. People visit
you, they see your chair (maybe you sell them a
couple), it propagates.
Or you visit
THEIR star system, and drop your chair.
PLAN file will not show up in their INTEGRATION
dialog. That will change, but probably be related
somehow to the skills system. Or maybe I will
come up with a way to 'securely' sell PLAN files.
Game-wise, I don't really want to sell them in
that sense, since I want people to have access to
new stuff easily.
But on the other
hand, it's traditional to have to skill up before
you can access the cooler designs. I might make
it a plan property (min skill level required, or
facility with the elements used, or something.)
I WANT TO USE SOMEONE ELSE'S MODELS AND TEXTURES?
From one perspective,
this is about YOU adding new things to the world.
BUt you will inevitably want to re-use some
portion of another person's work. This is OK,
since anyone who adds something to Rocket Club is
giving free license for anyone else to re-use it
IN THE CONTEXT OF ROCKET CLUB.
But the thing to
remember is that YOUR assets go in YOUR asset's
folder, and the OTHER GUY'S ASSETS go in HIS
asset folder. Don't be editing assets in someone
else's folder! The chaos you cause will be short
term (his copy will have priority over yours,
overwriting your changes), but you will lose your
If you want to
MOSTLY use someone else's asset, but change it a
little, then make a copy first (clone it) and
edit the copy (which will then be YOUR asset).
I'm not sure completely how we will credit this,
so use your own best judgement, and try to use
the other guy's asset without modification
that, how do you even see his assets? The ASSET
BROWSER only shows two asset folders: yours and
mine (I am 00000001). Well, this is not true. The
ASSET BROWSER is actually designed to be a
COLLABORATIVE TOOL. And the directory drop-down
shows the IDs of EVERYONE TO WHOM YOU HAVE AN IM
So open an IM to
somebody, chat with them, and examine their
You can resize
the ASSET browser by making it wider, which
exposes a preview window, which makes it nice to