NoLimits tutorial and shortcuts?

Thursday, September 8, 2011 6:17 PM
CoasterDemon's avatar

I'm having the urge to start working on NoLimits again, it's been a couple years.

I did my American Eagle recreation:
http://www.youtube.com/user/TiggerCoaster?feature=mhee#p/a/u/0/70P4lVa0Ov0

I had the idea at the time, I may have been taking the long-route. I calculated positions; I think the circles/curves/helices were mapped out with between 8 and 12 X and Y coordinates. It was all done old school; I knew there was probably a quicker way to hold the layout positions while changing my vertical elevation. At the time, I just wanted to get it done, so I did what I knew.

So that's what I need help with :) If I know the approximate radii I want for curves (from a looking down point of view) then I want to hold that layout and add the profile. How do I do that? There seem to be so many tools out there, but I find them difficult to use and confusing at best. Thanks for any suggestions.


Billy
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Monday, September 12, 2011 7:38 PM
CoasterDemon's avatar

Sorry, can't help you, Billy :)

If there was a way to 'lock plan/layout' so when I smooth curves, it wouldn't change radii, etc. There's got to be a way...


Billy
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Monday, September 12, 2011 7:46 PM
Acoustic Viscosity's avatar

I'm not following what the problem is. I would make a flat helix then switch to an elevation view and slide the vertices up the y-axis until I have the profile I'm looking for. If you make very aggressive slopes in your curves, you need to add additional vertices between the end points and adjust their vertical position.


AV Matt
Long live the Big Bad Wolf

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Monday, September 12, 2011 8:03 PM
CoasterDemon's avatar

^Thanks Matt. It's not easy to explain this stuff in words on a forum.

Say for example, I have a perfect figure-8 coaster. The curves are of radius 10 units and the rest of the track is perfectly straight, connecting the curves. When I slide the vertices up the y-axis of the track between the curves from a side view, I'm not getting a true side view of the drop between the curves.

When I use 'smooth', the curves are no longer a constant 10 units radius. The track between the curves is no longer perfectly straight, either. Does that make more sense?


Billy
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Monday, September 12, 2011 8:54 PM
HeyIsntThatRob?'s avatar

Not sure if you've ever heard of it (I'm out of the loop) I've switched to a program called 'Newton2' to design my rides (whenever the heck I ever find time for it). It's a pain to master at first, but once you do, you can make some really cool realistic rides.

My suggestion would be to create the helix using that program and save the element. IMO this would be a good way to start using the program.

Good luck and let me know if you need help.

~Rob

Last edited by HeyIsntThatRob?, Monday, September 12, 2011 8:58 PM
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Monday, September 12, 2011 9:14 PM

Also while you're at it, the guy that made it (goes by entropy around the web) has some good tutorials on his youtube channel.

Basically the difference between newton and using the editor or programs like Elementary is that you have to think in Gs, not geometry. Not very useful for old-school woodie recreations, but near-identical to some of the force-based geometry-generation tools that the pros use in steel coaster design these days. Cool to play with for sure, and capable of producing some extremely realistic tracks in talented hands.

For geometry-based helix-ing, you could try using the Helix Swiss Army Knife (HSAK) wizard in Elementary. Not sure where to find that on the web anymore though... I could email it to you if you'd like though.

Last edited by BBSpeed26, Monday, September 12, 2011 9:16 PM

Bill
ಠ_ಠ

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Monday, September 12, 2011 9:26 PM
HeyIsntThatRob?'s avatar

Yeah, I got a quick second to try a helix in Newton2 and I couldn't make a smooth helix. Bummer. I've never tried Elemenary, I think I downloaded it at one time but it's most likely lost. Bill, mind if I PM you my email for a link or copy of Elemenary?

~Rob

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Tuesday, September 13, 2011 9:30 AM

Please do. I'll email you the HSAK wizard.

In the meantime, you can download Elementary (and a number of other tools of legacy tools of varying degrees of usefulness) at CoasterChamber.com.

You can actually do the simple 'helix of radius X descending Y feet' thing with the included "Helix - Deluxe" wizard.


Bill
ಠ_ಠ

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Tuesday, September 13, 2011 9:45 AM
CoasterDemon's avatar

What if you want a dip in on a curve - but you want to keep the curve radius (from a plan/above view) constant? I guess that is just me re-wording what I initially asked - but much simpler.


Billy
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Tuesday, September 13, 2011 10:40 AM

If I understand you right, just a dip in a curve with constant radius (when viewed from a top-down sort of view)?

"Helix - Swiss Army Knife" (HSAK) can do that. I believe you'd use the AMP parameters to add the dip (e.g. set ampa = vertical displacement of the "dip", ampaos = *I think* 0). Google reveals that HSAK 1.1 is still available at CoasterForce's NL Tools Page.

As with anything - asking for more control means that your tools get more complicated. HSAK will have way more parameters than Helix - Deluxe (even if you won't always use all of them), but you can do much, much more with it (up to and including clothoid vertical loops and assorted variations of corkscrews).

Also, if I remember correctly, HSAK won't do your banking for you - you can either do that yourself manually later (though it will then be unheartlined), or use still another tool, the Auto Heartline Generator (AHG) to do it for you.

[edited to add: I've also tracked down an old explanation of the different parameters in HSAK, which may help de-mystify the non-obvious ones a bit, or at least help you figure out which ones you can ignore]


[edit again: Depending on your goals, there's a version of this that involves a significantly smaller learning curve... you could always just download a perfectly circular or spherical .3ds scenery object, insert that into the track, adjust it to be the radius of your curve, and just match your track curve to its exterior curve from the top-view. To me, that's a little more fiddly, but if you'd like to stick to control-node handle dragging and stay away from design-by-numbers, it might be more to your tastes]

Last edited by BBSpeed26, Tuesday, September 13, 2011 10:57 AM

Bill
ಠ_ಠ

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Tuesday, September 13, 2011 1:07 PM
Acoustic Viscosity's avatar

Or just do it by hand the way I do. Add vertices to the section you wish to "dip". Don't use that Auto Smooth function. It usually just messes up other parts of the track. I do everything by hand. You don't get perfect precision curvature, but you can get it very close just by eye-balling it in 3D space and checking for kinks in the heartline.


AV Matt
Long live the Big Bad Wolf

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Tuesday, September 13, 2011 1:31 PM

Or get it very close to the shape that you want, split the track sections, and then select it all and use the smooth tool. More vertices will hold the original shape better. I don't believe the smoother moves the track nodes... it should only adjust the handles in an attempt to smoothly connect the nodes.

Further tip: Selecting a node and hitting Page Up / Page Down will move the node straight up or down in space, which can be convenient for dip construction.

Last edited by BBSpeed26, Tuesday, September 13, 2011 1:33 PM

Bill
ಠ_ಠ

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Wednesday, September 14, 2011 12:51 PM

BBSpeed26 said:
Or get it very close to the shape that you want, split the track sections, and then select it all and use the smooth tool.

What I do sometimes is close to that; make the general shape, and add an extra node where you want the dip (or, lowest/highest point of hill, for example). Then I'll split on both sides of that node, and delete the original node, smoothing the whole thing. It'll give you a longer smooth section, of similar G's

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Friday, September 16, 2011 4:03 PM

Gonna have to disagree with the 'delete the original node' bit, and here's why:

When you make a turn like you described, you'll start with three nodes and 2 relatively equal-length sections. It makes sense to add the dip with the middle node, then split the segments on either side, and then smooth it. This will give you the closest approximation to your original shape *and* the best banking transitions.

The banking transitions bit is important - when NL figures out how to 'smoothly' do banking (e.g. con-roll enabled), it uses the 'handle' lengths of the control nodes. Generally, you want the handles to be as equi-distant from the control node as possible. This will do a lot to smooth out jerks caused by banking.

If you delete the original 'dip node', you're at risk of adding a jerk at the two new 'middle nodes' (even after smoothing), because the handles that point down at the dip will be about twice as long as the handles that point towards the first / last node.

All that said, there's an easy way to compensate there: after you delete the node and smooth it, split the middle section, adjust your banking, and smooth it again.

Last edited by BBSpeed26, Friday, September 16, 2011 4:05 PM

Bill
ಠ_ಠ

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Friday, September 16, 2011 7:31 PM
CoasterDemon's avatar

Thanks for all the hints and suggestions everyone - I'm finding that some are really helping! I'm also remembering that much of NoLimits is learning how to jimmy the program, and is somewhat independent of coaster/math knowledge.


Billy
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Friday, September 16, 2011 11:10 PM

Sure is. If I may, there's a pretty active NL community over at NoLimits-Exchange that might interest you for future tip & trick requests. It's a decent mix of old pros and noobs learning the ropes, so wherever in that spectrum you fit, you won't be the only one.

...I don't mean to spam a different site, but CBuzz's NL forum isn't exactly hoppin', so, just a suggestion.

Last edited by BBSpeed26, Friday, September 16, 2011 11:11 PM

Bill
ಠ_ಠ

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Friday, September 16, 2011 11:57 PM
CoasterDemon's avatar

^Great site, BBSpeed! The problem is that I got on there a couple years ago, downloaded a few things (not knowing I had to rate stuff) and now I can't download things. I'll have to figure it out. But I did upload my American Eagle re-creation. I am noticing many of the designs up there look very advanced - with scenery, etc. - while me ride is just a re-creation, nothing extravagant...


Billy
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Saturday, September 17, 2011 4:26 AM

If it's just that you're ratio is below the required % (I think you have to rate 20% of the tracks that you've downloaded), that's solvable by going through your download log and dropping a quick rating or two. You should be able to re-download any coaster you've already downloaded unlimited times without affecting your ratio (FYI). If it's not, I'd register in the forums and "whisper" (=PM) the issue to Mathew Davies, as he's the Jeff of NLE, and would be most able to fix it if it's a site bug.

As far as the scenery bit goes - a majority of the top tracks certainly have it, but there are plenty of people over there who just can't be bothered (I'm for sure one of them). The only tracks I've ever released with .3ds scenery were tracks where *someone else* made that scenery.

I'll take a look at your AE recreation - looks pretty decent from the screenshot.


Bill
ಠ_ಠ

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Saturday, September 17, 2011 7:35 PM
CoasterDemon's avatar

^Thanks, I have been going over the things I downloaded and am happy to see I have an acceptable ratio. What a cool site!

edit - Seems to be a good amount of ... chatter on the forum on that site. Makes me appreciate CB more :) A couple people are saying my American Eagle re-creation may be an 'overrate'.

Last edited by CoasterDemon, Tuesday, September 20, 2011 12:11 PM
Billy
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Wednesday, September 28, 2011 4:06 PM
a_hoffman50's avatar

Nothing like a good old fashioned NoLimits technical thread to remind me just how geeky I am. Thanks guys.

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