Model Format Suggestions?

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Things are rolling along nicely in my little game programming world, but a small question has arisen. The OpenGL text I'm using for my main reference (the trusty OpenGL Game Programming) implies that MD2 (Quake II) model formats are the way to go for a model structure that is flexible and widely-used. The book is a bit aged, though, so I'm wondering if there are newer formats that support a more efficient storage and retrieval of data.

What do you use / prefer? What formats strike a good balance between compatibility and simplicity?

[Full Disclosure: This question was originally posted as a follow-up in an iPhone thread, but not adequately addressed]
[Edited on 4/20: Book link fixed]

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Post: #2
What makes MD2 better than MDL or MD3?
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Good question - I was hoping you could tell me. A brief overview of the other two options you mentioned left me with the impression that MD2 strikes a good balance between capabilities and complexity. Of course, there are many, many others - one of the pages I came across in my original research was http://cmp.felk.cvut.cz/~pajdla/Doc/3D.formats.html , which provides a dizzying list of 3d model file formats. The aim of this thread, though, is to establish community recommendations and reasons for the file formats commonly used by our fellow developers.

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Post: #4
MD2 is fine by me, and arguably the simplest. MD3 (Quake 3) is better because you get bones. MD5 (Doom 3) is better yet. The problem with all those id formats is that there isn't much (any?) software available for editing on the Mac.

The developer of Cheetah3D, Martin, like every other 3D editor developer for the Mac, doesn't appear to be particularly interested in directly supporting game formats like MD2. Can't say I blame him too much since there aren't that many game developers compared to his regular clientele. Plus, he supports FBX in Cheetah3D, and that is a viable and reasonable direction to take, even for game developers. I expect FBX will remain a solid standard for many years to come. Those are the primary reasons why I'm rolling with FBX myself. Autodesk developed FBX and provides the SDK. Unfortunately, FBX is a major pain to figure out. I got it working, but man it wasn't easy at first. On the plus side, it is supported not only by C3D, but also by the industry standards, Maya and 3DS Max, which are autodesk products.

I guess an alternative would be Collada, but I don't know much about that.

BTW, your link to that book is broken. Looking for your other post, I see it is OpenGL Game Programming. I got that book many years ago. It is indeed pretty outdated. MD2 was much more popular back then. Wink
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Oddity007 Wrote:What makes MD2 better than MDL or MD3?

In general, MD3 > MD2 > MDL...

Biggest problem with MDL and MD2 is that they were created primarily for software renderers. They use planar texture coords, non ^2 textures, and store vertex position in low precision bytes or shorts. So they're prone to texture smearing tend to require a conversion step to play nice with OpenGL. Plus, if you try to blend keyframes you'll get a "wobble" effect (particularly with MDL files).

MD3 is the best of the bunch but as AnotherJake pointed out there aren't many ways to create any of these formats natively on a Mac. I'll also point out that there are a few versions of MD3 out there - the first version used keyframes and "tags" rather than a true skinned/bones system.
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