HowTo:Create Ships in Wings3D

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Sad Note

Since I'm wrapped up in real life for some time now I do not actively develop or maintain the plugin anymore ... chances are high that it will not work at all with a current version of Wings3D. Not to speak from myself switching to blender just a few weeks after I stopped developing the plugin.

So in order for people to still access the plugin (be it working or not) and/or usign the source code I've uploaded it here:

This file not only contains all versions of the plugin ever made, but also the latest nightly and the images used in this howto.


Vega Strike has grown as an open source creation over time, and most contributors use other open source programs to produce models for the universe. Where using the following guide, we recommend you have Wings3D and the (LINK BROKEN, See top of the page; Xmesh Export Plugin) installed to model using the following format; see HowTo:Install Wings3d for instructions on obtaining Wings3D and the Xmesh Export Plugin.

This howto assumes that the version of the plugin you're using is 1.3b4 or newer. If you want to stay with the old plugin look at Howto:Create Ships with xmesh plugin 1.3b3. The old format for lights is no longer used by the plugin script.

Feel free to use a different modelling program, but it must be able to export models in .obj or .xmesh format (for later conversion to .bfxm format).

Lastly, we recommend following the processes below in order, until you know what you're doing.

Creating Your Model

The first (and most enjoyable) job is to design and draw your model (the geometrical object) within your program. The way to create geometry in Wings3D is fairly self-explanatory, but if you have problems refer to the Wings3d homepage (especially the tutorials page or the tutorials thread, and the manual section of the discussion board).

Rename the objects you create to something good sounding: [Window] -> [Object] -> mouse_button_right_small.png RMB on object -> [rename]


  • Don't give multiple objects the same name, they will all be written in the same xmesh file.
  • Don't name an object like this: "tag_....."
  • Do not use materials (or vertex color or whatever this is called) in Wings3D (in combination with the plugin of course; especially not the hole material). The (correct) use of material colors is not yet supported. Normal 'textures' are supported fine though :)

Modeling tips

  • start with a simple cube
  • stay with low polygon-count (no extreme round shapes, etc ...)
  • Please consider the poly count recommendation

Orientation of the objects

  • front= Z-axis = blue
  • up= Y-axis = green


Additional points

Once your basic design is complete, Vega Strike requires a few additional items created on your ship.

Creating weapon mounts

These are the locations of the physical mount points for the weapon systems of your ship. Vega Strike uses independant weapon models, and requires these mount points to know where to attach them.

  • mouse_button_right_small.png -> [Vegastrike Tags] -> [Mount (Weapon)]
  • place it where you want to have the weapon (move/rotate/...);
    • The point in the 90° angle is the base - attaching to the ship;
    • The longer side of the triangle must point in the direction the weapon should point.


Creating turret mounts

Similarly, if your ship is to mount turrets, these points must be recorded.

  • mouse_button_right_small.png -> [Vegastrike Tags] -> [Subunit]
  • the type of the subunit is specified in the config.txt
  • place it where you want to have the subunit (move/rotate/...);
    • The point in the 90° angle is the base;
    • The longer side of the triangle must point in the direction the top of the turret should point;
    • The shorter side of the triangle must point in the forward direction.


Creating docking ports

If the ship is designed to be docked to (e.g. a capital ship or large cargo vessel), the docking points must also be recorded.

  • mouse_button_right_small.png -> [Vegastrike Tags] -> [Dock]
  • place it where you want to have the dock (the point in the 90° angle is the base).


Creating engines

Lastly, create the points for the engines.

  • mouse_button_right_small.png -> [Vegastrike Tags] -> [Light (Engine)]
  • Place it where you want to have the engine.
    • The point in the 90° angle is the base;
    • The longer side of the triangle must point in the direction the engine should point (normally points back).


"Spot" lights should have another position than their aim point.

Assigning UV-maps

You need the UV-data and a texture to display the ship correctly in VS. If you didn't do that you will get some scrambled geometry. In the worst case it won't even export.

Converting texture maps

  • Use an image manipulation program to convert the .tga files to a compressed (smaller) file format vegastrike can read like png or jpg;
  • Edit the name of the image files in the .xmesh files

Some image manipulation/convertion programs are at Links:Graphic Applications.

Saving and exporting

  • Save your file as .wings
  • now you have two options:
    • Select [File] -> [Export] -> [Vega Strike (.xunit/.xmesh) ...]
    • Select [File] -> [Export] -> the grey square right of Vega Strike (.xunit/.xmesh) ...In this dialog you can set the export options. (they will be saved in your Wings3D-Preferences and not in the .wings file);
      • Export as cockpit - use BSP=binary space partition;
      • Ignore export-config - Ignores the conf files located in .../exportdir/config/*;
      • Export image maps (as TGA files) - check if you want to export the texture maps (as tga-files);
      • Use Scale for whole xunit - Uncheck to scale single objects/xmeshes;
      • Export scale - the value which is written into the xunit/xmesh;
  • If you are using the config-export method you must EDIT THE CONFIG.TXT to meet your idea of the ship;
    • the sample config.txt included in the plugin has a editing-description in it;
    • the sample data is located in the xmesh_sample_data-directory in your Wings3D-dir (to be precise they are in .../YourWings3dDirectory/lib/wings-0.xx.xx/plugins/xmesh/xmesh_sample_data);
    • some tips for editing config.txt:
  • Note that you must enter a name with the extension .xunit in the export dialog, but it will be cut away by the plugin
  • The files are saved like this:
    • Unit Files: like specified in the config.txt;
    • Object/Mesh File(s): yourmodelname_objectnameinwings.xmesh;
    • Texture Map(s): yourmodelname_objectnameinwings_diffuse.tga.

to check the correctness of the files rename them into .xml and drag them into Mozilla, IE or another XML-understanding browser. They will show you an error if the syntax of the file is corrupt.

Creating logos (a workaround right now)

  • Search in Wings3D for a polygon you want to put the logo on;
  • Switch to vertice-mode by pressing [v];
  • Select all vertices of this poly one by one and write down the numbers displayed in the upper left corner of the screen;
  • also remember the name of the object, the polygon is owned by;
  • Edit the xmesh file of the object and insert this before the <\Mesh> line.
  • See Definition of the Logo here: Howto:Edit Mesh Files.

TIP: You can scale the tag-objects as much as you want. Also the length of the sides can vary (but they must not be the same length). Be sure it has an rectangular angle where the position Point is.

TIP: If you don't see the logo, make it very big to locate it.


Description of xunit

Wings tips and tricks

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