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Old 03-09-2006, 02:57 PM   #1
Mike.nl
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New: AloViewer v0.3, with animation support

Hi,

First of all, I'm new to this forum and this is my first post, so please be gentle with me

Now to business...
Since I haven't seen a description of the .alo file format anywhere (all I read everywhere is basically: wait for the mod tools), I decided to have a go at it myself in some spare time. And I actually found out a lot of information about the files, if I say so myself.

I wrote this down on my website (http://alpha1.dyndns.info/eaw/) along with some screenshots of some models I loaded and rendered with this
(feedback greatly appreciated).

However, I was wondering if people already know this or not. I remember seeing some rendering of a rancor somewhere, but then I wonder why noone has yet created a mod tool.

So I'm basically asking: can anyone use this information, does anyone actually care about this, or should I stop wasting my time?


Update 2006/05/15: version 0.3 is available, now with animations.

Last edited by Mike.nl; 05-15-2006 at 05:16 PM. Reason: Changed title
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Old 03-09-2006, 03:12 PM   #2
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This is very helful. Any chance you could post that program? Also, have you found ways to extract or anything else? Thanks for the info.


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Old 03-09-2006, 03:51 PM   #3
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This looks like the best progress anyone has made so far... good work. I hope the release of the mod tools won't render your work obsolete. But either way... impressive


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Old 03-09-2006, 05:18 PM   #4
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Yes, please post this program. Does it save in .alo? Or can it save at all?


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Old 03-09-2006, 05:41 PM   #5
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A model viewer/importer/exporter would be great... you definitely got the viewing working for you
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Old 03-09-2006, 05:58 PM   #6
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if you could get the polly counts, that would be great.


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Old 03-09-2006, 08:45 PM   #7
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I might be able to write a 3Ds Max (7+) plugin for the format with that info



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Old 03-09-2006, 10:26 PM   #8
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YES!!!! Good luck man. Hope you can get it up and running.


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Old 03-10-2006, 03:14 AM   #9
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I'll have to make a few modifications before I'll post the code:
1) Make it work directly from .meg files
2) Clean up the code (comments, better structuring, better error handling, etc.)

I'll also have to figure out exactly how the bone hierarchy should be applied (my linear algebra is a bit rusty, so I'll have to mess about with transposing and matrix multiplication order). With my current bone usage, the AT-AT looks like a rancor was done playing with it

As to the saving of .alo files, I would recommend against it, until I (or someone else of course) has figured out what the unknown data is for. Well, you could try to save and use models of course, but I'm sure the game will just crash on you

And finally I'll also have to look into the indexing of the meshes. I.e., how does the engine know what mesh to use for what purpose? Is it determined by its name? By the unknown data? By a reference in an XML file? Etc Etc.

So all in all, this was just the first of many, many, many steps.

PS: The poly counts are easy though. Each mesh is a triangle list and the number of triangles is just an integer stored in the file. I'll have my app loop over all model files and meshes and dump the vertex/poly count which I'll put up on the website as well. To give you a taste, the TIE Fighter has a low and high-res mesh with
179 vertices, 248 triangles and 324 vertices, 456 triangles respectively (the high-res mesh is in the screenshots section).

All of this will have to wait until I get back from work though
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Old 03-10-2006, 05:11 AM   #10
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Quote:
I.e., how does the engine know what mesh to use for what purpose? Is it determined by its name? By the unknown data? By a reference in an XML file? Etc Etc.
In XML files you have the explicite filename with alo extension which tells what file will be used.

An exemple for victory

<Space_Model_Name>EV_VictoryStarDestroyer.alo</Space_Model_Name>



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Old 03-10-2006, 05:58 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Orao
In XML files you have the explicite filename with alo extension which tells what file will be used.

An exemple for victory

<Space_Model_Name>EV_VictoryStarDestroyer.alo</Space_Model_Name>
Yes, that indicates the model, but I was refering to the meshes inside the model
They do not seem to be really consistently named. i.e., the EV_AT-AT.ALO model contains several meshes such as: at-at_top_lod1, at-at_bottom_lod1, grinder, crusher, crusher, shadow, collisionbox, etc.
The EV_StarDestroyer.alo model contains a EV_StarDestroyer mesh, but the EV_TieFighter.alo model contains TieFighter_lod1 and TieFighter_lod0 as well as MuzzleA_00_Flash and MuzzleA_01_Flash.

Obviously, the "shadow" mesh is used to generate the shadow. But how does the engine know this? does it compare names, i.e. if (mesh.name == "shadow")? or does it use information inside the mesh itself that classifies it? Or this information is simply listed in an XML file somewhere as well.

Either way, this has to be figured out and at the very least documented, but is not really at the top of my list right now
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Old 03-10-2006, 06:39 AM   #12
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I know the mesh is the exact same name as the model.


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Old 03-10-2006, 07:09 AM   #13
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as soon as you can

I've been poking around the campaign and planet xmls as well as the models mpeg and the master text files and I've noticed that there about 20 extra planets tagged which could be added to the game. Some even have there own planet model. However, they lack there own planet/space maps which leads me to believe a map pack could be on the way. Anyway, an .ala or .alo reader would be useful to confirm this.

I'm hopping for a map/mod tools pack soon because I think a truly massive galaxy is possible for this game. I'm talking 80,100, ~150 planets maybe more given that it is possible to add planets, move them around and to rescale their size, or the size of the galactic map in general. So sky's the limit on the overall galactic environment. Just need the tools.
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Old 03-10-2006, 07:42 AM   #14
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Ted. Above 70 Planets the Alamo engine can't handle it on the lower spec Cpus



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Old 03-10-2006, 08:11 AM   #15
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screw em
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Old 03-10-2006, 10:51 AM   #16
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Mmm, no offence, but this is why we're using PCs and not Playstations. The PC is easy to upgrade (I'm about to build my own in a few weeks time, and I got Ds for DT), and it's important to keep up with modern technology to keep playing. If I wanted a guarantee that my entertainment system could handle anything thrown at it by the developers, then I'd go get a console. The beauty of the PC is that we don't have to wait 5 years for a leap. We can go and get it right now.


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Old 03-10-2006, 12:59 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by T10
Mmm, no offence, but this is why we're using PCs and not Playstations. The PC is easy to upgrade (I'm about to build my own in a few weeks time, and I got Ds for DT), and it's important to keep up with modern technology to keep playing. If I wanted a guarantee that my entertainment system could handle anything thrown at it by the developers, then I'd go get a console. The beauty of the PC is that we don't have to wait 5 years for a leap. We can go and get it right now.
I didn't get what you were trying to say, but perhaps it was something like this?

"Why should we care about the lower specs, they should upgrade their computer?"

Sorry, I disagree. The PC is NOT easy to upgrade, as it costs money. I certainly do not have 500$+ to spend on upgrading a PC.



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Old 03-10-2006, 03:48 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by T10
The beauty of the PC is that we don't have to wait 5 years for a leap. We can go and get it right now.
Correct you are...

... but the curse of the PC is there is always newer equipment out almost monthly. Making it expensive and tidious to upgrade.


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Old 03-10-2006, 03:59 PM   #19
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i never upgrade my comp i always buy one of the top ones on the market then in 2 - 3 years i buy a new one my last comp was: 2 ghz 512 ram 5200 nvidia(crap stuff) i just got my new one: 6 ghz 2 gig ram 6200 nvidia 256 mb 320 gigs of space. although my new one cost a lot of $$$$ my last one was actually more expensive then my new one so in turn computer prices are finnaly (yyyyyyyyaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyy!!!!!!!!! lol) going down my first computer ever had: 16 mb ram 300 mhz and no vid card with 10 megabytes of space and i got it for $3500!!! no one should complain about computer prices since they have droped down a ton! back on topic the program looks promising cant wait to see it




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Old 03-10-2006, 04:01 PM   #20
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On the subject of PC specs, you're all missing one important thing-- you wouldn't have to install the map pack if/when it does come out.

***Edit***
@EAWFAN-
There are no 6 Ghz CPUs on the market right now. As a matter of fact, no one has reached 5 Ghz without liquid nitrogen cooling.



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Old 03-11-2006, 05:57 AM   #21
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Quote:
6 ghz 2 gig ram 6200 nvidia 256 mb 320 gigs of space.
Whohao 6 GHz are you sure about this ?

What do you use to cool it



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Old 03-11-2006, 07:14 PM   #22
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^^^^
Yeah, all that CPU power would go to waste with a GeForce 6200



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Old 03-11-2006, 07:22 PM   #23
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i know the 6200 sucks but it came with the computer so im not complaining yet i am saving up for the 6800 512megabytes for $1000 but by the time i get that it will be time to buy a new comp so i will upgrade my next one for the computer i have now it has 2 fans and liqued that are really quite but for the graphics card the everything else really makes the graphics look awsome i always have my graphics in the highest setting and never stutters, lags, or freezes. and yes i do have 6 ghz i have a dual core so 2 3 ghz prossecers hoping to maybe upgrade to 8 ghz for my b-day in 1 month and a half




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Old 03-11-2006, 08:51 PM   #24
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How far off topic CAN this thread go?

Stay tuned and find out!
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Old 03-11-2006, 09:38 PM   #25
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really cant wait for the program although i bet the EAW tools will be easier this should keep us busy




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Old 03-12-2006, 04:04 AM   #26
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You don't double the effective clockspeed when it's a dual-core. They both operate at 3 Ghz, thus the effective clockspeed of your CPU is still 3 Ghz. Also, dual-core is still one physical CPU. Anyone who tells you otherwise has no idea what they're talking about.

Anyway, to keep this post on topic, I can write a 3Ds Max plugin as soon as the animations and shadows, ect are cracked.



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Old 03-12-2006, 08:44 AM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jmac7142
Anyway, to keep this post on topic, I can write a 3Ds Max plugin as soon as the animations and shadows, ect are cracked.
That would be great if you make such a plugin. But can you make it for multiple versions? I use 3d Studio Max 5.
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Old 03-12-2006, 03:43 PM   #28
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Allright, time for an update. A couple of things since last time:

* I have put the program (and its source) on the website (http://alpha1.dyndns.info/eaw/)
Now, as I said on the website, but I'll repeat it here:
I've never written anything this 'big' that was released to anyone. Of course, I have good hopes that it'll actually work on most computers, but getting Direct3D to work portably can be a nightmare with all those different cards out there. So if for any reason it doesn't work, say so in this thread and please describe the circumstances.

* We all know about the original MegExtractor, but it had a 'WTF' value. I found out what this value means. There is now enough information to write arbitrary files to .MEG files.
Of course, my applications is a read-only app, but with this information, someone can create such a writer.
Again, see the website for information.

Finally, I don't think I'll be having a lot of spare time over the next days, but this program is far from finished. I plan on at least adding a bones overlay, and then getting into animations.
And also, if anyone knows their way around a hex editor, then please, open up some .alo files and figure out what the unknown data is for

Have fun browsing the models!

Last edited by Mike.nl; 04-10-2006 at 07:58 AM. Reason: Different site
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Old 03-12-2006, 04:06 PM   #29
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Pretty sweet man, checking it out right now, nice stuff. It goes a bit slow on models as you check them out but that could be my video card.. Although it works on most stuff pretty well. Not sure, and as you said, it is very early in stages. Anyways thanks a lot, looking forward to someone who makes a 3ds max plugin for it!
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Old 03-12-2006, 07:17 PM   #30
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Nice mike! And welcoem to lucasforums!

Im using this to see protype skins of my fall of the republic mod!



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Old 03-12-2006, 11:29 PM   #31
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I got an error, dont know what it means...

Quote:
Caught exception from .\engine.cpp:488
invalid call
if you could look into this, that would be great.

EO


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Old 03-13-2006, 01:01 AM   #32
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It crashes alot



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Old 03-13-2006, 01:27 AM   #33
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Epytron_Omega, that means the CreateDevice call failed. Apparantly Direct3D doesn't like the arguments with which I call it. Can you say what graphics card you have?

And Admiral Sith, can you be more specific? Does it crash when you start it? With an exception or Windows' "Invalid Operation" dialog? And what were you doing when it crashed?

And about it going slow (Jouten, whar are your machine's specs?), on my machine (AMD 3200+, GF 6800GT) it runs smooth, but that's a high end machine and lower-end performance testing is a bit... difficult without access to a lower-end machine

Anyway, I'm afraid the reports are a bit one-sided as all I hear about (understandably) are the cases where it failed, making it seem like it fails all the time. So I'd also love to hear from people where it runs right (machine specs also help); that way I can at least get some sort of percentage on how often it goes wrong and with what.
Right now I've got two reports of it working and two of it failing... so that's 50%
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Old 03-13-2006, 02:36 AM   #34
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I mean just randomly crashes



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Old 03-13-2006, 03:28 AM   #35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike.nl
Epytron_Omega, that means the CreateDevice call failed. Apparantly Direct3D doesn't like the arguments with which I call it. Can you say what graphics card you have?

And Admiral Sith, can you be more specific? Does it crash when you start it? With an exception or Windows' "Invalid Operation" dialog? And what were you doing when it crashed?

And about it going slow (Jouten, whar are your machine's specs?), on my machine (AMD 3200+, GF 6800GT) it runs smooth, but that's a high end machine and lower-end performance testing is a bit... difficult without access to a lower-end machine

Anyway, I'm afraid the reports are a bit one-sided as all I hear about (understandably) are the cases where it failed, making it seem like it fails all the time. So I'd also love to hear from people where it runs right (machine specs also help); that way I can at least get some sort of percentage on how often it goes wrong and with what.
Right now I've got two reports of it working and two of it failing... so that's 50%
Okay... I've just downloaded it to see if it works or doesn't (since it's "only" a viewer yet I don't really need it, but don't get me wrong... you're doing great!).

And yes... it works perfectly, a windows dialog to set the gamedata directory would be nice though


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Old 03-13-2006, 04:06 AM   #36
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It works flawlessly. However I found the interesting thing which is collision box for fighters. It is twice their actual size.



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Old 03-13-2006, 04:50 AM   #37
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike.nl
Epytron_Omega, that means the CreateDevice call failed. Apparantly Direct3D doesn't like the arguments with which I call it. Can you say what graphics card you have?
I'm getting the same error message as Epytron_Omega. My graphics card is a 6600GT 128MB. Would be great if you eventually add functions for importing/exporting meshes to the .alo format
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Old 03-13-2006, 04:54 AM   #38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Orao
It works flawlessly. However I found the interesting thing which is collision box for fighters. It is twice their actual size.
Guess to make them easier to hit... isn't their some kind of "collision_box_modifier" or something?


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Old 03-13-2006, 10:30 AM   #39
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I got an error massage, too:
Quote:
Caught Exception from .\managers.cpp:81
I couldnt start and test that programme ...

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Old 03-13-2006, 10:49 AM   #40
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That one's easy. It couldn't find or open a file (maybe I should make my errors a bit more verbose ). If it happens when starting the program, it's probably about MegaFiles.xml.
So check if you specified the correct path on the commandline if empire at war is not installed in the default directory. Make sure you specify the path to the GameData directory. Put quotes around the path if it contains spaces. Also make sure this file isn't exclusively locked by some other process.
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