Although it might not be obvious at a first glance, there are several dependencies among certain models. It is worthwhile to have knowledge about these issues before you start making own models, because it helps with resource planning and prevents expensive problems later.
We'll describe several typical kinds of dependencies, considering the example of the Cafu DeathMatch MOD: In the Cafu DeathMatch MOD, mutual dependencies affect the human player models and their weapons.
First, lets deal with all “other” models, i.e. those that are neither player nor weapon models: Usually, these other models are not closely related to each other, each of them has a separate piece of game code associated that handles it, and thus they do not suffer from any inherent dependency problems.
Human player models are special, because they are usually intended to be 100% equivalent to each other. That is, if somebody makes a new human player model and offers it for download, you expect it to work exactly like the ones that you already know. In order to achieve this kind of equivalence, two assumptions must hold: The skeleton of the new models must basically match the skeleton of the old models, and the animation sequence numbers must refer to reasonably identical animations.
The animation sequences must match, because the game code has built-in knowledge that, for example, sequence number 3 refers to an “idle (waiting)” animation, and that sequence number 27 refers to an “aiming with a shotgun” animation. It is entirely up to you to animate your model to look at his wrist watch while aiming with the shotgun, or to pick his nose, but it is important that sequence number 27 corresponds to some “aiming with a shotgun” animation – because the same is true for all other models, and the game code relies on it.
The skeletons must also match, for similar reasons: At least the basic hierarchical structure (starting from the pelvis to the most important bones) must be identical, as well as the names(!) of the corresponding bones. However, you are free to add bones to the skeleton as you like, change their sizes or lengths, change their positions relative to each other, and do many other interesting things. You may even omit bones if you want to create a one-armed, one-legged hero. What works and what works not is easiest determined by trying it out, but please do also refer to the next part about weapons.
Weapons do usually come as a set of three models: “world” models, “player” models, and “view” models.
World models are the models that lie around in the world, before someone picked them up. They are usually not animated (or only have a single animation sequence), are independent from anything else, and are therefore in the same category as the “all others” models, so that we need not be further concerned about them.
Player models are the weapons that you see in the hands of other players who have picked up and are using that weapon.
For the following discussion, we'll refer to the “player” weapon model as the “
and to the character model of a human player as the “body” model.
First, if you consider the skeleton of a
_p model in the Model Editor, you will find that it resembles
a partial body model (the bones from the pelvis to the shooting arm are there!), before it diverges into additional bones for the actual weapon.
Here is the crucial point: In order for the engine to compute the proper position of the
relative to the body model, it (partially) has to match the skeletons of both models!
That is, it first computes the skeleton of the body model (depending on its current animation pose).
Then it considers the skeleton of the
_p model, starting at its root, and tries to match it bone-by-bone
to the previously computed body skeleton. If a match was found, the engine simply takes the information from the body model bone also
_p model bone. Only when the matching breaks for the first time, the engine resumes normal bone computing
also for the
_p model. (This way you can for example see a face-hugger in the hands of another player that is wagging it's tail.)
Matches are made by comparing the names of the concerned bones.
As a consequence, if you want to make additional body models for the DeathMatch MOD, and additional weapons, and you want to be able to combine each body model with each weapon, then you have to make sure that they all have a corresponding skeletal structure and bone names!
View models are the models that you see in 1st persons view after you have picked up a weapon yourself. They are also independent from anything else, but the game has usually special code for handling them. Thus, you can well make a replacement weapon for e.g. the shotgun, matching the animation sequences of the existing “view” weapon model according to similar rules as indicated for making replacement human player models. You can also introduce entirely new weapon models, but be prepared that is requires to augment the game's C++ or script code as well.
If you create an own game, things may or may not be different, of course. However, keep in mind that if you want to achieve a high degree of flexibility and ease of maintenance, you'll sooner or later probably experience the same rules and dependencies as described here. They are the – relatively cheap – price for the ability to combine every human player model with every weapon model.