MIPmap-effect Texture Guide

A few days ago TstarGermany made me aware of this video featuring a new texture-technique ,called "Mipmap-effect", with which the appearance of textures can be changed ingame dynamically. Basically this technique makes use of the MIP maps which are contained in every .dds-file. By default, MIP maps are smaller replica of the original image and serve the purpose of showing textures in the depth (from the players point of view). They can be modified though to represent completely new textures.
But forget about the technical side first, let's watch this video that shows some of the ideas I had for it with regards to RPG.

These are the textures which I have changed in the video's mod (in order of appearance):
· StadiumPlatformD.dds - rotated the standard image 90°, kept MIP maps untouched
· StadiumWarpAuvent2D.dds - made the horizontal and vertical lines in the standard image white, kept MIP maps untouched
· StadiumPillarD.dds - added transparency to the MIP maps, standard image no transparency
· StadiumRoadTurboD.dds - added arrows to the standard image, MIP maps without arrows
· StadiumPlatformFloorD.dds - transparency added to standard image, MIP maps no transparency
· Advertisement Sign ("157285") - added numbers to standard image, MIP maps no numbers

All those textures and many more with transparency can be downloaded here: http://www.vinummusik.de/Trackmania/MipMapTextures.zip

So here is a small guide on how to do these effects.
You will need a program that supports the dds-fileformat and can display Mip maps, like Photoshop.
Open a diffuse .dds-file of your choice (normal and specular maps work as well) and then make sure to check the "Load MIP maps" box.

You will see that an image appears which is divided into two parts. On the left side the standard image is displayed, on the right the MIP maps are shown (in this case 9 MIP maps). The standard image is being shown when the player is very near an object which displays this texture; the 9th MIP map is shown for the biggest distance to an object. You can edit any of the Mip maps now.

For example for making the texture invisible for a certain distance, go into the channels-menu in Photoshop and add an Alphachannel by creating a new layer (if not already existing). White represents no transparency and black 100% transparency. Below, the image is completely transparent.

If you want the texture only to be transparent in the distance, make the Alphachannel of the standard image white. I also made the first Mip map grey to get a smooth transition ingame:

Save the texture in DXT1, 1 bit alpha and check the box "Use Existing MIP Maps:

When having understood this, modifying the color and appearance of the individual Maps is very easy. Here I added numbers to the standard image. Players would now first see no texture, then a brickwall, then a brickwall with numbers when approaching the texture.

A tutorial on TMC can also be found here: http://forum.tm-creative.org/thread-1922.html

I haven't tested this technique long enough to give an accurate evaluation about the potential applications in RPG but it's looking quite promising. The question will be how alphachannel modifications can be integrated in a useful way and to which degree modifications on the RGB channels will be used except for graphical gimmigs. Is it possible to change atmoshpere's with this? Can new challenges and enigmas be created (I think signs hold great potential here)?
Leave your thoughts, ideas and maybe even experiences in the comments :-)


Brainshaker said...

Nice tutorial Hawk :)
Even if it is still too complicated for me^^
I think it isnt possible to change the MIP maps with paint.net so I havent a chance to do this^^

Anonymous said...

mmh the mod\texture pack does't work :\
have I to change the file name or the destination folder?
or maybe is simply becouse i have TMN and not TMU...
This normally can work with PC2 too?
Anyway nice tutorial :)

HawkGer said...

It works with PC2, I tested. It also definitely should work with TMNF.
You can't put the zip that you downloaded into your mod-folder. You have to open it and put the zip "mipmaptest" into it. Then it should work.
If you want to test the other textures create a new mod (.zip) and put them in there or overwrite the files in the mipmaptest.zip-mod.

Anonymous said...

Wow, it looks like an awesome feature when it comes to RPG tracks! matto

stromek said...

ahoj, i just tested this brand new feature
and have to say yo! thx for it!
... but use it wisely...

Pål / Tecfan said...

thanks for the tutorial!

Anonymous said...

Ligeli said:
Very nice tut!
But (of course) i got a problem..
My Signs are just black from distance, and not transparent.
Do you got any idea why this happened?

Anonymous said...

Ligeli said:
or to say it in another way..
I tried this method with some signs. But any of them got transparent. Always black. I'm in the middle of a RPG, and i want to use this nice mip map effect in my new track. And its a kind frustrating. :P
Hope u can help me :D

HawkGer said...

Ligeli, you can't make signs transparent. It's because TM displays those signs textures different than the other textures. If you are referring to the texture that got transparent in the end, that's just the Stadium PlatformFloor texture - see:
StadiumPlatformFloorD.dds - transparency added to standard image, MIP maps no transparency

Sorry to disappoint you ;) GL with your RPG anyways..

Anonymous said...

Aha, that explain it all :P
But the first transparent wall, that shows number
in the other side of the wall.. witch file is that? That can't be StadiumPlatformFloor.D?? Thats the floor under the pole.
Or are every StadiumCircuit.D also transparent??

HawkGer said...

StadiumPlatformFloorD is also being displayed on the block 5-1-3, not only on the floor under the pole. So yes, I just made that texture transparent...haven't touched StadiumCircuitD ;)

Anonymous said...

Igntul said...
umh are you sure the mip map can be done also with Photoshop CS2? i dont think it can open that...

Anonymous said...

"QUOTE" Igntul said...
umh are you sure the mip map can be done also with Photoshop CS2? i dont think it can open that... "QUOTE"

I just did it in CS3 ;)

Go to : File/script/NVIDIA_mipster

that will give you a mip map of a dds.

You need the DDS plugin, of course ;)


Anonymous said...

would it be possible to make a mod where everything is invisible but appears when you get close with mipmap ?
that could be really fun!

XT3 said...

I see something coming

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