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Models make up:

  • Creature appearances
  • Placeable appearances
  • Item appearances
  • Tileset appearances
  • Visual effects

They are MDL files that can be either compiled (by the game or a compiler) or be in ASCII (inefficient but useful if you've decompiled and need to make tweaks/have the original uncompiled models).

Model Bones Limit

Bone notes. Dem bones. Dem bones. The bone limit has changed throughout NWNs lifetime:

  • 1.69 and earlier: the bones were tied to a skinmesh, and you could have 17 of them.
  • NWN:EE up to patch 8193.19: bones are tied to the model, and you can have 128. Which is both better and worse than 1.69, since if you breach the limit you can't cut up the model into multiple skinmeshed nodes.
  • NWN:EE patch 8193.21, we're back to bones being tied to a skinmesh, but you can only have 64 of them in a single node. Models do support multiple skinmeshes however.

Model Triangle Limit

There is around a 11K triangle limit for individual models. This is 65535/6 (specifically 10922.5 limit). It primarily is important for large tiles and placeables.

Model Editors

There are a few model editors of note.

Blender

Blender is available for free and has Neverblender as a supported and more up to date plugin for NWN:EE being developed in tandem with Blender releases and NWN:EE features.

GMax / 3D Studio Max

GMax was used (and still is) for NWN development with the help of NWMax plugins. See this tutorial for a download and guide or this plugin page. It is however considered legacy and doesn't support all the NWN:EE features.

Model Compilers and Decompilers

There are several model compilers all with their benefits and drawbacks.

Game Compiler

The in game compiler has all the game supported features and is highly recommended to use.

It has the small drawback of generating vert normals from smoothing groups so can generate seams (only applicable on complex models with multiple skinmeshes).

It also needs to have the model(s) to compile loaded in the game in many cases, so get a module with the models placed in it. Once done run these commands from the Console or use the command line parameter.

These all output to a new folder in your user data folder: Documents\Neverwinter Nights\modelcompiler

Console CommandParametersDescription and Notes
compileloadedmodels

Compiles all loaded models, including binary

compileloadedasciimodels

Compiles all loaded models, only ASCII.

compilemodel <name>
<name> is a resref name, eg; "mymodel" for "mymodel.mdl"Specific model, will load and unload it for you even if it is not currently loaded
Command Line ParameterParametersDescription and Notes
nwmain.exe compilemodel <name>
<name> is a resref name, eg; "mymodel" for "mymodel.mdl"

Same as the above console command; will compile the model and exit the game immediately

Have the model file somewhere the game can find it - eg the override folder

Command Line Script

On Windows save this as a .cmd file inside your Documents\Neverwinter Nights\ folder, then put the files to compile in Documents\Neverwinter Nights\development

It's set for the Steam version but alter the path as needed. REM uncomments a line.

::---###############-############-#########-######-###
@echo off
setlocal enabledelayedexpansion
::---###############-############-#########-######-###

call :void_main >"%~n0.log" 2>&1

                goto :end
::---###############-############-#########-######-###

:void_main

rem set "CWD=C:\Users\[user]\Beamdog Library\00785\bin\win32\"
set "CWD=C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps\common\Neverwinter Nights\bin\win32\"

for %%F in ("development\*.mdl") do (
    START "" /D "%CWD%" /WAIT /MIN /HIGH nwmain.exe compilemodel "%%~nF"
)

               goto :eof
::---###############-############-#########-######-###

:end

Blender

Has a newer set of plugins in the form of Neverblender which support newer NWN:EE model things, and can export models using normals if you have two different skinmeshes in one model.

Clean Models EE

This tool can do two major things; it will clean up errors in models and do some work on them and compile them, and now for EE properly decompile the new EE model elements back into usable ASCII: https://neverwintervault.org/project/nwnee/other/tool/clean-modelsee

The older version is still available but is now out of date: https://neverwintervault.org/project/nwn1/other/cleanmodels3

NWMax for GMax/3D Studio Max

Now quite out of date plugins called NWMax "max-exported models use smoothing group, not explicit normals". It contains no updates for NWN:EE.

nwnmdlcomp

Considered entirely out of date for NWN:EE now, see other options above. It has both compiling and decompiling options, but both do not support the latest NWN:EE features, and crashes decompiling things compiled in the engine. This is used in NWNExplorer still which is why that will crash on newer EE compiled models.

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