So, you want to make a mod for Farming Simulator 19? But you don’t know where to start? No, worries. Here’s a quick guide that will get you going.
First, this short tutorial is meant for everyone who is interested in making models by themselves. This is not a mod editing guide. Or a map making guide.
Second, this will take some time. And patience. No, I’m not talking about reading this guide. I’m thinking about the learning how to mod process.
It’s impossible to say.
But if you’re willing to dedicate a couple of hours per week, I’ll say you are well on your way six months from now.
Sorry, but modding takes time. Learning how to do it, takes time. But I can almost guarantee you’ll be happy you did take the time. Because when you get the hang of it, there’s really nothing you can’t create.
So, some months from now, when you see a seeder, or perhaps a trailer, that is not in the game, you can say “I can do it!”
What this guide will teach you, is how to make a 3D model. It doesn’t matter what you want to create, buildings, vehicles or even animals; It’s all about creating models in a 3D software. Luckily, there’s Blender.
Blender is an extremely powerful and versatile software. And it’s totally free. But it has a steep learning curve. Beginners, who are opening the software for the first time, often find themselves intimidated by its complexity.
That’s why you’ll probably spend your first weeks getting to know Blender.
Luckily you don’t have to figure it all out by yourself. There’re tons of tutorials online for everyone who wants to learn the ins and outs of Blender.
One of the best starting points for a complete beginner is Blender’s own intro tutorials. In a series of well-made training videos, you’ll learn more about these things:
- Navigating the Blender user interface.
- Selecting objects.
- Adding and deleting stuff.
- Creating model meshes.
- How to manipulate those meshes.
- How Blender extrusion works.
- Using loop-cuts, and edge loops.
- And much more.
To us Farming Simulator modders, it’s first and foremost the first two sections that are of interest: The introduction, and the modeling section.
- You’ll find the tutorials here: First steps – Blender fundamentals.
- Another excellent starting point is Blender Guru’s video tutorials for Beginners and Intermediates.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Are you ready for the next level? Ready to create a model for Farming Simulator? Once you’ve gotten the hang of Blender, you should be able to create your very first model.
Pro tips: Start with something simple. Like a barrel. Or a water trough. This early in your modding career, it’s all about training your memory. Your creativity. And muscle memory.
Consider your first models as pure training. Focus on modeling. The more you model, the less you’ll search for functions, buttons and keyboard shortcuts.
At this stage, it’s all about honing your Blender skills. Don’t worry about exporting your first few models to Giants Editor. Not yet.
Farming Simulator relies on the power of your computer (or console). Because computing powers vary a lot, from one computer or console to another, Giants must make sure its games work on as many setups as possible.
You may have the most powerful gaming rig known to man. Or you might play on an older computer with less ram and a graphics card that is several years old. Farming Simulator should work on both. That’s why Giants can’t make a game that is too intense on the hardware.
This goes for Farming Simulator mods as well.
Your model should be optimized to work on both high end, and low-end gaming systems.
Poor Mods = Lag
There’s a good reason I talk about game performance and optimization so soon. Way too often I come across great looking models, rich in details that just don’t work when put in the game.
Sure, you can drive them. Or use them. But those mods create tons of lag.
Why? Because they aren’t optimized. They are too detailed. Or they use too many textures. Perhaps they are broken up into too many parts. And so on.
This adds extra pressure on good Farming Simulator modders.
- You’ll need to be a great 3D artist.
- You’ll also need to be great at optimizing your models.
Luckily, there are some pretty easy things you can do to make great game models. I’ll talk about them soon.
Farming Simulator Mod Rules
Giants’ Modhub is the single best place to get mods. Why? Because Giants’ own Q&A team has tested many of the mods you’ll find there. They’ve made sure the mods live up to the game’s standards when it comes to things like in-game performance.
To make Modhub as good as possible, Giants has given the modding community a set of rules. To get your mod on both computers and consoles, it must answer to all those rules.
I’m not going to list all those rules here (you can download the list from here). But I want to mention one word that is very important: Polycount.
If you’re going to make a great FS mod, polycount should be one of your primary concerns. But what is it?
The short version: Every model in Farming Simulator (like most other game models) is made up by a set of triangles. One triangle is the same as one polygon. From this, we get:
Polycount = The number of triangles.
So, if a tractor is made from 40,000 triangles, the polycount is 40,000. Or 40,000 polys.
Here are Giants’ present polycount requirements for mods:
- Attachments: 40,000 polys
- Trailers: 60,000 polys
- Tractors: 100,000 polys
- Harvesters: 150,000 polys
Find the Balance
If you were to make a photo-realistic trailer, with all its details, the polycount would probably end up somewhere around 400,000 polys. Or even 4 million polys! But putting a 4 million poly model in the game will most certainly give you a horrible lag spike.
That’s why modding for Farming Simulator, or any other game, is all about finding the balance. The balance between mod details and game performance. As a game model maker, one of your jobs is to decide which details to include and which ones that must go.
But there’s good news. Many of those excess details can be faked. With pretty good results. It’s time we talk about high poly and low poly models.
The Modeling Workflow
There’s a way to make very detailed models without hurting game performance. It involves making two versions of your model. And Normal maps. The two model versions are called high poly and low poly models.
- The high poly model – Here you don’t worry about poly count. You just make your model as detailed as you want.
- The low poly model – This is a less detailed version of your model. This is the model you’ll put in the game.
The magic happens when you use the high poly version to make a normal map to be used with the low poly version. In the game, it looks like the high poly details are in place without actually being there.
I know. This involves more work for you. But not as much as you think. Once you’ve created the low poly model, you’ve come a long way. Here’s a much-used workflow:
- Make the high poly model first.
- Often, you can use the high poly model to make a low poly version.
- Now you create the Normal map and ambient occlusion map.
How it’s Done
This high poly, low poly stuff may sound pretty complicated. Luckily, there’re some excellent tutorials out there. Some of the best, come from CG Masters’ Chris Plush. In a series of video tutorials, he demonstrates all the points above.
Although the tutorials aren’t explicitly aimed at FS modders, they work as an excellent introduction to the process of making great models for the Farming Simulator games.
1. High Poly Modeling in Blender
2. Low Poly and UV Unwrapping in Blender
3. Baking Normal Maps in Blender
If you manage to make a knife the way Chris does it, you’re more than ready to make FS mods and put them in the game. Congratulations!
From Blender to Giants Editor
The next step is to get your model textured and eventually into Giants Editor. I will cover this in a later tutorial. For now, happy modeling 😊 Oh, before I close this post, I want to leave you with another great tutorial on high poly/low poly modeling in Blender: