Naming Conventions

Folder Structure

It's always nice to be able to find what you're looking for. So I figured I'd give a sample folder structure for your files to live in as we progress with the project.

Wk#As#_Alpha - since we'll be working on a couple of different versions over this time, describe where you're at with your main folder
Resource - native file formats
Images - this is where you put your raw image files; saving a layered PSD is always a good idea so you can make revisions easily.
Models - stick your 3DS Max files in here
Textures - textures used in your 3DS Max file
Export - exported formats that you will import directly into Unreal packages go here (example: OBJ, FBX, or PSK for model export and BMP, JPG, or TIF for images)
Level - different versions of your UnrealEd file (UT3 files) saved here
Package - your saved or exported Unreal packages
This is just an example. Use whatever works logically for you and allows you to easily find your stuff. Dumping everything in one folder is not incredibly effective.

Naming Conventions

Being able to glance at a file and know what it is without opening it is a priceless time-saver! I'm not trying to enforce a file naming convention with an iron fist, but it does make life easier by far.

For instance, we've broken our project down into three main pieces, so we can name most files according to where they belong:

t - Takkan's Room
r - Route to Observatory
o - The Observatory

Example: t_bedroll.bmp or o_statue.obj

Notice we didn't describe what type of file this is in the name. The file extension (BMP) and icon association (Photoshop file) also tells you a lot about the file. For instance, two dimensional images will generally be textures for our purposes, so we can assume this is the bedroll texture for Takkan's Room. OBJ files will generally be meshes/models, so that's the statue model for the observatory!

But what if an asset is used in more than one area? For this we'll just need a good description of what it is.

Example: small_table.obj

It's considered good housekeeping to use underscores instead of dashes in file names. Also, we either capitalize or we don't. Inconsistent capitalization is a really speedy way to make things harder than they need to be!

For your own assignments that don't pertain to the project, feel free to keep doing what works best for the instructor or class.
I personally use the "hdecker_wk#as#" format because it's clear and to the point.

Important Notes

I'll also take this time to put out a friendly reminder about saving multiple versions of your files as you work. Yes, it takes up space and yes, you could forget to do it… but when something horrible goes wrong with your file you'll be glad you can retreat to a previous state. No amount of Undo can save you from some disasters. I don't know how many times 3DS Max has screwed something over royally for me (though any program can do it.)

Lastly, UnrealEd is NOT your friend. It likes to crash, so save often. BUT don't use Ctrl+S in an attempt to save. Unreal is cruelly set up so that Ctrl+S subtracts the current brush from the world. Ctrl+L is your savior, the save shortcut. Ctrl+E is "Save as."

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