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Erik Johnson
02-27-2002, 01:18 AM
I had a request to make a basic guide to making smooth coasters in NoLimits. A lot of it is impossible to explain and just takes time and tweaking to figure out. I'll do my best to explain how I go about making a smooth turn and inversion. First a few general tips:

1.) Use all of your views, especially the 3D view. Get a good look at the segment from all angles and try to make it look fluid from any prospective.

2.) It is often easier to make a section in a new file on a straight line and transfer it over to your track as a new element. This is particularly useful for making straight hills or bunny hops that have to appear at an angle in your coaster. See the bunny hops in Superman: Ride of Steel (http://www.coasterforum.com/boards/showthread.php?s=&threadid=13625&highlight=Superman) and the first drop and drop off the break run on Marmot (http://www.coasterforum.com/boards/showthread.php?s=&threadid=17007). To save an element, highlight all segments by clicking them and holding the control key. Once highlighted, go to file and save element.

3.) Ride your coaster in the editor over and over again. Being in the first person position can make it very easy to see any places where the coaster may make an influid motion.

4.) This is the big one, and it's really hard to explain. To make smooth curves, you want to make the vertices look smooth. In the above view, you want to have the vertex's line be tangent to the curve, meaning it touches at exactly one point, and is perpendicular to the imaginary radius of the circle at that point. I probably lost a lot of you who don't know your geometry with that one, but it's the best I can do. In the 3D view, you want to try to line up so that you're looking straight at the vertex. From that angle, you want to make your vertex's line parallel to the spine of the track. You also apply these same concepts when riding in first person mode.

Starting with inversions, I tend to be really lazy, so I'll often start with a prefab element from NL's pretty extensive set. I find, however, that most of the elements are not exactly the way I want them to be, so I modify them a lot. I'll often stretch the zero-gravity roll out. An important trick for modifying prefab elements in selecting more than one vertex. This is done by holding the control key while clicking on the vertices you wish to select. This allows you to alter one segment while keeping the others constant. Sometimes, I also like to alter the shape of the loops, in particular the parts of the cobra roll as I did in Marmot (http://www.coasterforum.com/boards/showthread.php?s=&threadid=17007). The prefab cobra roll is pretty rough so I fount myself rounding out the tops of the half-loops, and stretching the half-corkscrews down. This was done by trial and error mostly, which is what NoLimits coaster-making is all about.

For some reason, making some things in NoLimits can be very simple while others are much more difficult. Making an overbanked turnaround is very easy while making a set of regular banked S-turns can be very hard. Getting the hang of the way the banking works can be a little tricky. Basically, you want to make at least two segments for every turn you do. This is because the degree of banking you specify is what shows up at the end of the segment. It transitions to that degree throughout the segment. You'll often want to use three segments with the first and third as banking transitions and the middle one as the main part of the turn where the banking stays constant. Making these three segments seem as smooth as one can be tricky. What you're ultimately trying to do is eliminate any kinks from the coaster. Make sure to look at the vertex from all angles and make it look fluid from all angles. Once you've done that, chances are the curve will be nice and smooth.

That's about all I can think to write. I'll check up on this thread every now and then so that any of you who have questions can ask and I will try to answer them to the best of my ability. Hope this helps you to build better quality coasters.

Coasterbp
02-27-2002, 02:23 PM
Great job, Erik, thanks a lot for the tips.

I have also found out that in NoLimits, sometimes, less is more. But not all the time!

A lot of times, when trying to do something complicated, I thought that I needed to have a lot of vertices. This is sometimes untrue. I can't give you a good example off the top of my head, but I have found that sometimes, just deleting some vertices where it's bumpy, stretching control points, and over two or three vertices makes it smoother. But not always the case.

I use the 3D, first person perspective a LOT. I'll drive back and forth over the vertices numerous times, making small tweaks along the way, to see what works to make it smoother.

Also, when doing larger courses, keeping your vertices far away from one another will also help.

Have fun everyone!

-=BP

Erik Johnson
02-27-2002, 04:35 PM
I think one example of where less is more is the "half corkscrew" part of a dive loop. It can be done very smoothly with only one segment. Good point, bp.

SFoTFreeek
02-27-2002, 07:04 PM
Great Tips very useful

slipknot8527
02-27-2002, 10:34 PM
Thanks a lot. Those were quite helpful but I still need more basic.

1. What is the best way to top off a lift hill? Mine always looks deformed.

2. While in the top view I will make a u-turn and it will look good. When I go to the side view it is very distorted and crooked. Is there anyway to keep the track going in a level line from the top view?

3. How come when you put two vertices close together it bends! God, that is so frustrating! Do you know what Im talking about? Instead of traveling in a straight line, it does a u turn.

4. Could you explain to me all the different track banking options....in lamens terms?

I am very well versed in AutoCAD and have won contests with it, but this editor is giving me such a hard time! I want to build coasters but I cant even build a banked drop! It's an amazing game, but so frustrating! Help Erik!

Erik Johnson
02-27-2002, 11:22 PM
Okay, let me see if I can help.

1.) Start by making a segment that gently tilts upward from level to say 45 degrees or so. Adjust the control points on both vertices so that it's a smooth curve upwards. Do this is the side view. In the above view, make sure it is straight. You can tell it is straight against your grid lines. Add a new vertex and place the end point approximately where you want your lift to top off. Click on the segment (not a vertex) and go to edit, make straight. This will make the segment perfectly straight. To top off a lift B&M style, I usually make an arch that goes about one to 1.5 large blocks to the right (in side view) and has the two vertices in line. See crude illustration #1 below.


_
/ \
o o

Crude illustration #1


Then, make another piece that levels off. You don't want it to be as steep as these crude illustrations.


_
/ \
o o
\_____o

Crude illustration #2

2.) This happens to me too. If you make it look right in the top view, you're one step closer to making a perfect turn. You just have to make it look good in the other angles. That's just the way it works.

3.) I think this is just another NoLimits fact of life. I'm not sure why it does this. You just have to keep playing with it.

4.) There's only one way to bank a turn. There are the little bank controls in the upper right corner of the screen. Just play with them to determine how much you should bank the turn Like I said in the first installment, you need at least two segments to make a good banked turn, but sometimes, particularly if you're turning more than 45 degrees, you need three.

Bottom line, keep playing with it. Don't lose hope, and try not to get too frustrated.

taintedhand
02-28-2002, 10:17 AM
nice illustrations, really. those are great tips. i am almost finished with my screenshot guide to creating smooth track.

Erik Johnson
02-28-2002, 06:03 PM
Yeah, those illustrations really didn't come put right because of the way the forum software works. It'd probably be best to disregard them or you'll be more confused. Having a screenshot-based guide should be really cool.

slipknot8527
03-04-2002, 07:04 PM
Okay, I've got a pretty good handle on this thing. I'm still having one problem, the initial hill. Could you talk me through SIMPLY making a banked drop...like for instance the drop on Talon or Kumba? That seems to be the hardest for me...making it look correct.

Erik Johnson
03-05-2002, 12:57 AM
Those are really tough. I can't really help you that much with it. Just look at pictures, and keep playing around with it. You'll get it right eventually.

abg1788
04-03-2002, 01:15 AM
Good job Erik - your coasters are pretty smooth! I also find that if you exxtend the arm of the vertex pretty long, i will be a lil smother.

Smoky
04-05-2002, 07:26 PM
Since we were on the subject of lifthills heres an example.

I used 3 pieces, a brake piece for the rise (influenced by Arrow's use of brakes before some of their lifts), a regular lift for the section going up, and a regular lift for the crest. You can of course do whatever you want (like make the crest really long [TOGO style], add a dip after the crest [B & M], put a long chain section at the bottom, etc.) The drop after the lift (the regular track part) is an 'ejector seat' style bend (used on CP's Magnum)

Hope this helps :D

cedar_point_lover
04-06-2002, 06:19 PM
Thanks for the tip on using the 3d thing along with the 2d editors thats making life really well. I used to not go over it as much as i am doing for my current invert than what i am doing now. I like it because usually the 3d editor you move faster than the ride will.

birderboy
04-06-2002, 11:34 PM
Thanks for the tips Erik! I thought they were explained really well.


Originally posted by Coasterbp
I have also found out that in NoLimits, sometimes, less is more. But not all the time!

A lot of times, when trying to do something complicated, I thought that I needed to have a lot of vertices. This is sometimes untrue. I can't give you a good example off the top of my head, but I have found that sometimes, just deleting some vertices where it's bumpy, stretching control points, and over two or three vertices makes it smoother. But not always the case.


One thing I didn't agree with Erik on was the prefab elements. I don't even want to look at them anymore. They're horrible.

How does this relate to bp's post?

The reason the prefab corkscrew and the cobra roll, especially, are so freaking jerky is because there's way too many vertexes. For a loop, corkscrew, or hill, you just need three vertices: One at the entrance, one at the peak, and one at the exit. I don't have a clue as to why Ole wants to shape his corkscrews with 5 vertices or a hill with 4. That's beyond me. The 3-point system is not only much smoother, but much more flexible as well.

IMO, the prefab elements are beyond repair, whatever tinkering you do to them is wasting time and smoothness. If possible, try and make all your elements by hand, no prefabs.

Buster
04-07-2002, 04:09 AM
For a loop, corkscrew, or hill, you just need three vertices: One at the entrance, one at the peak, and one at the exit.

I disagree. YouŽre right about loops; three points are enough to make simple loops.
But as soon as you come to circular elements, the 5 point system is better. If you make a corkscrew the way you described it, youŽll have a terribly jerky flow. This also goes with Schwarzkopf-style loops; you need 5 vertices to recreate them.
The same rules apply to Cobra-Rolls, Sea-Serpents and BarrelRolls.
If you by chance have the V1.1 Update, look at the corkscrew in the elementpack. I calculated those and they are accurate to a centimeter. IŽm sure that you canŽt get a similar flow with only 3 points.

Buster.

birderboy
04-07-2002, 09:46 AM
Originally posted by Buster
But as soon as you come to circular elements, the 5 point system is better. If you make a corkscrew the way you described it, youŽll have a terribly jerky flow. This also goes with Schwarzkopf-style loops; you need 5 vertices to recreate them.
The same rules apply to Cobra-Rolls, Sea-Serpents and BarrelRolls.
If you by chance have the V1.1 Update, look at the corkscrew in the elementpack. I calculated those and they are accurate to a centimeter. IŽm sure that you canŽt get a similar flow with only 3 points.

I agree that barrel Rolls are kinda tough with 3, but all of the others are quite easy to make smooth with just 3.

For a Corkscrew, you just need to stretch out the control points of the vertices out until they're close to the control points of the next/previous vertex, depending on which one you're fixing.

Same can be said of cobra rolls and sea serpents

Schwarzkopf loops are easy, just move the entrance and exit right beside the peak of the loop in top view, use C2 on the peak, and stretch out the control points to the exact same lengths.


Granted, it's possible to make them smooth with the 5 vertices. I thought the corkscrew in the update was pretty good. But I just find it much easier to use three. It's still extremely smooth, but it's MUCH more flexible, IMO.

Buster
04-07-2002, 06:48 PM
Would you mind sending me an example-track with a cork, SeaSerpent, SchwarzkopfLoop and anything else you got on stock?

IŽld really like to study your approach. If it really works as good, it would help me a lot.

Send to buster@danimation.com

Thanx.

RCT loser
07-22-2002, 02:56 PM
O.K, I keep getting this rocking sorta thing at the bottom of my camelbacks, does anyone know how to fix it or make it less noticeable? Also, how are you calculating the track?