So far, the levels you’ve been able to create have been just terrains. Now it’s time to bring in more interesting stuff, namely models or, as they are called in Zombie, Brushes. Please note that Brushes in Zombie are not exactly the same as in other engines, where brushes are pieces of primitive geometry that are used to carve settings out of solid geometry. Because conjurer only allows direct edition of terrain but not of other environments, Zombie Brushes are all other types of models you add to a map to create an entire environments: all types of props that you add to the playable stage.

In order to add such models to a level, you need first to create them in an authoring tool, namely 3DStudio Max, currently the only external tool supported for direct export to Zombie assets. You should have already configured 3DS Max 9 with the Exporter Plugin for Zombie. If that is the case, let’s move directly into 3DS Max and create our first non-terrain Zombie object.

Exporting models

You are assumed to be a qualified artist and 3DS Max user. If that is the case, you’ll be able to put together some simple geometry such as a cube or a sphere. Before exporting, you should apply a material to it, using the material editor in 3DS Max, but using materials specifically designed for use in Zombie.

To do that, open the Material editor in 3DSMax and create a new material, but choose a Std Zombie Material in the Material/Map Browser:

When you select such a material you’ll notice that the Material editor changes to a custom set of editable sections:

You’ll learn about all these values, but for now, just scroll down to the Zombie Maps section. This is where you can assign texture maps to specific slots in Zombie materials. As a simple example, we’ll just create a simple material with a single, diffuse texture on it. Hit the button that is located right by the ColorMap check box.

This will bring up a new Material/Map Browser where you should select zBitmap. This will tell Max that you are creating specifically a texture compatible with the Zombie exporter. When you select it, the Material Editor will show yet another section where you can specify the image you want to use for your texture, by browsing texture files:

When you have your texture selected, you can go back to the Material, where the freshly created zBitmap will have been assigned to the ColorMap slot in your currently edited material. Now you can drag and drop the material in the shape you just created as usual, and see how it looks.

Now it’s time for the actual export process. Look for the Zombie menu and select Export Options. This will present the options that configure the export process: what it is you’re going to export, and where. Let the Brush and Game library options selected, and note the Entity Class and Library Folder fields. You use these values to specify the name that the model you’re about the export will have in Zombie (Entity class).

This object is called a Class for the same reason the Terrain class you created in the previous tutorial: you’re not creating an actual object in a map, but an asset from which you will make copies once you are editing a level. But we’ll get to that later, for now just give it a name. In zombie, class names are capitalized and can’t contain spaces or symbols other than letters, digits and underscores. And class names can’t repeat across your entire Game database, so keep that in mind before you rush to name your classes with the first name that comes to your mind: all classes in zombie exist in a shared namespace.

Additionally to a name, you should specify a library folder. This is just for convenient organization of your classes, so that you don’t have to look for a class among thousands of them, by keeping them grouped by whatever criteria suits you better. The Zombie exporter won’t let you add folders to the library, so you’ll have to do it in Conjurer. But let’s forget about that now, just select general and click Export.

If everything goes right, you should have a new class, and all of its data (collectively named an asset) in your game repository, and in your game library too. Shutdown 3DS Max and open Conjurer, so that you can see how to use it in a level.

Placing models

Now it’s time for you to know about one of the most useful tools in Conjurer, the Grimoire. This is the Class library, where all game-relevant classes are created or exported. This includes terrain, static props, animated characters, and all sorts of game objects. It is the main database of data and behaviors, and provides a few useful tools to play with them.

Open the Grimoire with Ctrl + G or selecting Grimoire in the View menu. You should see a window that for now is quite empty.

The left panel of the Grimoire lets you browse through all classes currently in the system. If you did all previous steps correctly, by clicking in general you should see now a thumbnail in the right panel, with the name of the class you just exported. This means that you added exported correctly that class into the game library and now you can use it for a number of things, most notably, to create instances of that class, or as they are called in Zombie, Entities.

Open the level you created in the previous tutorials, and select the Object Placer tool in the toolbar. Now select the class in the Grimoire, and move the render window to some relevant place. Now left-click someplace on the terrain, and (after a short pause to load all required geometry and textures) one object like the one you modeled and textured will appear in the place you clicked in the terrain.

Maybe now you’ll understand why the render window is called Summoner in Conjurer: it is where you “summon” new objects into the world you are creating. Better yet, you can click on the terrain as many times as you want to in order to create as many Entities of this class as you want to.

You’ll notice a coordinate axis in the center of the entities you place this way. This is the Object Editing Tool, and you’ll know more about it in the following section.

Editing Entities

Creating new entities is not enough to create levels, you also need to adjust their position and size, or perform other operations on them. The Object Editor Toolbar provides you with some tools to that purpose:

In the render window, left-click one of the entities you just placed. It should turn reddish to signal that it is active. By selecting the Translate, Rotate and Scale tools, you can change the position, orientation and size of it. For example, try selecting Translate, then dragging one of the axes that appear when the objects is selected. Try the Rotation tool and move the mouse while dragging to rotate the object over the selected axis. Try scaling the object similarly.

This way you can adjust the object’s location. Try selecting different objects and use the same process to modify them. When you have all your objects in its right place, remember to Save All your changes before exiting Conjurer. Remember also that the Undo and Redo tools are available too for both object placement and edition.

In this tutorial you should have learned the complete pipeline of models, from the authoring tool, down to their existence in a zombie level. There are lots of intricacies you need to learn about zombie materials, class management, object edition, etc. You will find the details about all of these topics in the corresponding pages of the Conjurer manual, but it is a big step nonetheless, now you should understand better how does a model fit into the game creation pipeline, and you’re ready to move on to adding more interesting stuff to a level.

Oh, I forgot. As always, press F2 to enter Game mode and see your objects as a player will. Remember that with Conjurer it is not only a game you’re creating. It is a game you’re playing too!

Next: Working Copy