Destinations lets you create, share and explore different worlds in VR: photogrammetry scenes, game worlds, or anything else that can be represented by a 3D model.
Content included in Destinations to help serve as examples of what can be done:
- English Church - A scene constructed via photogrammetry that has some information about the process we used to create it
- Mars - Another photogrammetry scene using publicly available photos captured by the Mars Curiosity rover. Raw images were found on NASA's website here: http://mars.nasa.gov/msl/multimedia/raw/.
- Hammer Examples - A template map that can be copied and modified that has examples of some simple things creators can do using Hammer and the other Source 2 tools
You can find out more about Destinations on Steam.
Creating a Photogrammetry Destination
In this tutorial, we will walk through creating a Photogrammetry Destination.
There are three main steps to creating a Photogrammetry Destination:
- Taking photos
- Creating a 3D model from the photos
- Creating a Destination out of the 3D model
- If you already have a 3D model or environment in FBX format that you would like to make into a Destination, you can skip to this step.
What you will need
- Digital camera
- This could be a DSLR or Point and Shoot camera.
- A smartphone will work for simple captures as well.
- Photogrammetry software to turn images into a 3D environment, for example:
- 3D Modeling software for cleanup and export, for example:
- Maya or Maya LT
- Modo or Modo Indie
- Blender (free)
- MeshLab (free, does not export to .FBX but useful for working with very high-poly meshes)
- With Maya LT and Modo Indie, be aware that they have a cap on the number of triangles they can export. This may affect the quality of your photogrammetry scene.
- This will include the Destinations Workshop Tools, which you will use to turn your 3D environment into a Destination and upload it to the Steam Workshop.
Grab your camera and figure out what you would like to capture. A couple tips:
- When selecting a scene to capture, be careful of reflective surfaces and translucent objects. Neither do very well in photogrammetry.
- More pictures from more angles makes better photogrammetry. For the simple example we are showing here 200 photos were used. For something more complex like the English Church, around 450 photos were used.
- Playing with scale is something that VR is uniquely suited for. Try capturing small things and making them huge in the Destination. Or the opposite.
- Adam Foster has put together a series of blog posts with detailed instructions and suggestions on taking photos for photogrammetry. Check them out here.
Creating a 3D model from photos
Once you have your photos, transfer them to your computer. There are several photogrammetry programs you can use to create a 3D environment from your photos - for the purposes of this tutorial we will be using RealityCapture and Maya.
- Align Photos
- Open RealityCapture.
- Look for a panel labeled 2D - select and drag all of your photos from Explorer into this panel.
- Click the Start button at the top of the UI (make sure you are in the Workflow tab).
- This will calculate the position and alignment of all of your photos, and create a model from the results - depending on the number of photos your too this could take a bit of time.
- For more information about how to use RealityCapture, you can find a Getting Started guide here. They have also posted a UI tutorial here.
- Define Ground Plane
- Your calculated model may have come out at the wrong angle, to fix this you will need to define the ground plane.
- Switch to the Reconstruction Tab and click Define Ground Plane.
- Click and drag colored rings to rotate the model. The solid bars inside the sphere will allow you to move the model around.
- Use the grid plane to align your model as closely as possible.
- Set Reconstruction Region
- RealityCapture will recreate as much of the environment as it can calculate. This may end up being more than you need for your Destination - to adjust this you should set the reconstruction region.
- Click Set Reconstruction Region.
- To set the region, you'll need to click three times – the first two to define the ground rectangle, the third to define its height.
- Make sure to pan (left click drag) and rotate (right click drag) around the model to make sure the parts you want are contained inside the rectangle.
- Click and drag the dots to resize, and drag the bars in the center to move the reconstruction area.
- Calculate and Colorize Model
- Once you've defined your reconstruction region, the model needs to be recalculated in the defined space.
- Switch to the Workflow tab, and click Calculate Model.
- Once the model is calculated, click Colorize – this will get color info for each vertex.
- Roughly 3 million triangles is the absolute maximum for good performance in VR on a high-end machine. 500,000 to 1 million triangles should be enough for high quality simple scenes, and 2-3 million for more complex scenes. Fewer triangles means smaller file sizes and quicker loading models.
- Click Simplify in the top panel - the Simplify Tool panel will show up in the lower left.
- Type your desired number of triangles in the "Target triangles count" field and click Simplify.
- This step calculates the material positions for your model.
- Switch to Reconstruction tab at the top of the UI.
- Click Unwrap - the Unwrap Tool panel will show up in the lower left.
- Select 8192x8192 for "Maximal texture resolution" and click Unwrap.
- This will generate a UV map (texture lookup for the model).
- Create Texture
- Switch to the Workflow tab and click Texture.
- This creates an image file (texture) which maps to the UV map.
- Export Mesh
- Now you are ready to export your 3D environment.
- Click Mesh at the top of the UI.
- In the Export model dialog, make sure PNG is selected under Compression.
- Click OK. This will create an OBJ, PNG, and MTL file.
Preparing your model for Destinations
It is usually worth spending a little time in a 3D modeling program to clean up your model before importing it into the Destinations Workshop Tools. Even if you want to skip this step, you will need to do a file format conversion. At the time of writing this tutorial, RealityCapture will only export OBJ files, while the Destinations Workshop Tools will require FBX files for import. Autodesk offers a free tool for this conversion here in case you do not want to work on your model in a 3D modeling tool.
- Cleanup and export FBX in a 3D modeling program
- In a 3D modeling tool you can re-orient your 3D model, delete unwanted bits, and export an FBX file.
- There are several 3D modeling programs you can use to complete this step (including Blender, which is free). For the purposes of this tutorial, we will be using Maya.
- Open Maya, and bring in your environment. You can either click and drag the .OBJ file into Maya, or use the File > Import dialog.
- Your model will appear without the texture visible by default - to see the texture, press "6". It may show up shiny here - it won't have that effect in Destinations.
- To rotate your model in Maya, press "E". Click and drag to rotate - dragging the yellow, red, and blue circles will rotate around that axis.
- You may have extra faces you'd like to delete. To do this, right click and hold, mouse down to the "Faces" option, and release.
- Click and drag to select faces, and press "Delete" to delete.
- Once you are done, export by going to File > Export All. In the dropdown, select FBX export.
- You are now ready to create your Destination.
Creating a Destination in Destination Workshop Tools
Now that you have a cleaned up FBX file, you are ready to create your Destination using Source 2 and the Destination Workshop Tools. Here, you will learn how to bring in your model, set the user starting point, define teleport areas, and submit your Destination to the Steam Workshop.
- Create your Destination Addon
- Open Destinations Workshop Tools
- For a new Destination, click “Create Empty Addon” and name your addon (this will be used in the file path of your Workshop submission)
- A Destinations "addon" is similar to a Dota 2 custom game. An addon consists of a map, models, materials, Panorama UI files, Lua scripts, etc.--anything that is required to make the addon function.
- Select your addon click “Launch Tools.” This will launch Destinations in Tools mode.
- Bring your model in with Model Editor
- First, we need to get your model into the Asset Browser so it can be used in your Destination.
- In the Asset Browser click the Model Editor button.
- Click "New VMDL from Mesh file", browse to, and select the FBX you created.
- Click OK when it asks if you want to create a new content directory.
- On the dialog window that comes up, select the “…” button at the end of the Destination Directory line.
- Create a folder here called "models".
- Inside of that, create another folder, you can call this whatever you want (the name of your destination, for instance).
- You should end up with something that looks like ".../steamtours_addons/popcorn/models/popcorn".
- Under the "shader" drop down, select "vr_unlit". Since photogrammetry creates models with "baked" lighting, we don't need to worry about adding additional lights to our Destination.
- Under the "Collision type" drop down, select "Collision using exact geometry"
- For everything else you can leave the defaults.
- Click OK. Depending on the complexity of your model, it may take some time to import
- Adjust your model in Model and Material Editor
- Your model should now appear in Model Editor - it may look like it has holes speckled throughout it though. The following steps should fix this.
- On the panel in the top left, select your model mesh. You'll see new options appear on the right.
- First check the “Use Expensive Vertex Welding” checkbox. This should fill in the gaps – it will take a minute to compute.
- Next, check the “Use High Precision Texcoords” checkbox. This will improve UV accuracy for high resolution textures.
- Next, double click the material in the panel on the left.
- In the Material Editor, check the “Do Not Cast Shadows” checkbox under Shadows. Photogrammetry uses baked in lighting, so there won’t be any additional need to cast shadows.
- Hit Ctrl-S to save and close this window.
- Bring your model into Hammer
- Hammer is the level editor for Valve's Source 2 game engine. This is where everything will be assembled before publishing to the Steam Workshop.
- Go back to the Asset Browser window and click the hammer icon.
- In Hammer, hit Ctrl-N to (or File > New File) to start a new project.
- In the Asset Browser window, find your model (you can use Search to find it in the Asset Browser if needed).
- Drag your model's VMDL file into the Hammer window.
- Your model may come into Hammer very small. Resize it by entering numbers into the "scales" fields on the right. You can also use the scale tool (E) and click and drag the purple box until the model is large enough to see. The example here is meant to be oversized for the player to walk around, so the scales are set to 100.
- For additional information on using Hammer, you can look to the developer wiki:
- Place the Player Start
- This determines where the player will start when they load your Destination.
- Select the Entity button (light bulb icon).
- Make sure the Entity Class is “info_player_start”.
- Click on your map where you’d like the player to start.
- You can adjust the player start position and orientation using the Translate(T) and Rotate (R) tools.
- Placing Teleport areas
- This determines where the player can teleport to in your Destination. There are two types of teleports – meshes and markers.
- Placing Teleport meshes
- Teleport meshes work great for large, flat areas that you would like the user to be able to teleport around.
- Select the Polygon tool.
- Click to add vertices around your desired teleport area until you have the shape you want. Hit Enter when done.
- You may need to Translate(T) and Scale(E) the polygon to get it to the right size and place on your model.
- To make this polygon into a teleport mesh, go to the Materials tab in the center bottom panel. Search for “teleport” and find teleport_area_visible.vmat
- Click and drag this material onto your polygon to apply the material.
- Select the polygon and you should see options show up in the bottom right panel.
- If you don’t see options, make sure “Mesh” in the top right panel is selected.
- Click “Tie Selected Meshes to Entity”.
- Type vr_teleport_area into the filed and hit enter. This gives the mesh you just created the properties needed to teleport the player around.
- Placing Teleport markers
- Teleport markers are great for irregularly shaped areas, or spots of interest.
- Select Entity (light bulb icon).
- In the Entity Class field type vr_teleport_marker.
- Placing teleport markers is as simple as clicking on your model. Like everything else, these markers can be moved around once placed.
- Add a Sky
- Without a skysphere, the background will be completely black.
- We have included a default skysphere with the Destinations workshop.
- Go to the models tab in the bottom center panel and type skysphere.
- Drag the skysphere model into your environment.
- It should be much larger than your model - move it around to center it around your model.
- Test your Destination
- To build and test press F9. Make sure the "Full Compile" option is selected.
- Click "Build". If you haven't saved your changes yet, you'll be prompted to name your map. The name doesn't really matter, as long as there is only one map in your addon.
- Once built, you should be able to test your Destination now in VR.
- Continue editing and testing your Destination until you feel it's ready to submit to the Workshop
- Submit to the Steam Workshop
- Once you are happy with your Destination, go back to the Asset Browser and click the Workshop Manager Button.
- Click on the "+" icon or go to File > New Submission.
- Fill in the fields and select an image to represent your Destination. A screenshot of the Destination works great as a thumbnail.
- Finally, click “Submit” to upload your Destination to the Steam Workshop. Depending on the size of your submission, this may take a while.
- Your Destination will now show up in the Destination Workshop.
- Don’t forget to sign the Workshop agreement, or others will not be able to see your work.
Congratulations! Other players will now be able to download and explore your Destination.