Almost a year since my last post on this blog, it’s becoming a habit…

I’ve now updated all my 3DS Max plug-ins to support 3D Studio Max 2020. The version numbers haven’t changed but I’ve updated the download files to include the 2020 files. Head over to the 3D Modelling tools page to find the links.

I admit I actually had this ported over a while ago but I’ve just started a new job and have been so busy I’ve only just been able to get things uploaded. Sorry for the wait.

I’ve also started a GitHub account for my projects – feel free to check it out. I’ve decided to upload the source code for some of my older projects as they aren’t really that useful any more and someone might want to update them or just learn from it.

I have no idea if anyone still uses my Half-Life Model Viewer but I’ve wanted to update and fix it for a while now. When I first wrote it it was for Windows 2000! I think the original codebase that it was based on is so busted now it barely runs on Windows 10. I might just port it over to QT5 to make it cross platform compatible as a learning exercise if nothing else. Be interested to know if anyone would be interested in it still.

Should also note – it seems like Nem, who I wrote VTFLib with has moved on and isn’t really updating the code any more. It’s got issues and doesn’t compile with newer editions of Visual Studio. I’ve nailed down two off the issues but I think an update of the nVidia library that it uses is desperately needed. I think VTFLib is one of the few tools of mine people are still using so I will endeavour to get it sorted over the summer. It’s Open Source and on GitHub now so if you feel you’d like to contribute, feel free make a fork or submit a push request.

A quick post as the title says it all. I’ve updated my 3DS Max plug-ins to work with 3D Studio Max 2019. Only one change and that’s with the SMD Importer – it now imports the Mesh as an Editable Poly instead of an Editable Mesh.

On another note – I know Jed’s Half-Life Model Viewer has been busted for a while – basically it’s a pre-historic chunk of code that wasn’t much modified from the Mete’s original code base and it’s outlived current operating systems.

I’ve been toying re-writing it as a proper cross-platform tool – for Windows, OSX and Linux, but haven’t had much motivation. Does anyone still use it? Is it worth the effort of updating it?

Let me know.

No, I can’t quite believe it either – an actual update after 18 months of nothing.

Due to various personal factors I haven’t been able to work on any of my old modding tools for a couple of years. I did start porting them to 3D Studio Max 2015 but got about 75% of the work done before life got in the way. Even though I’m not an active modder any more, I still like dabbling with code and as I hadn’t done anything with C++ for a while I decided to revisit my plug-in codebase.

That was a mistake…

A lot’s changed since I last looked at it and I had to re-write a pretty large chunks of code to comply with the latest 3D Studio Max standards and C++11 standards. It took some time but it was an interesting exercise.

As I don’t have as much free time any more and I don’t want to keep mutliple versions of 3D Studio Max and compiler installed, my plan going forward is to try and keep the plug-ins up-to-date, but only to compile newer versions for the latest version of Max. This will keep the workload down to something manageable.

Two plug-ins, SMD Export and Import have had a few updates. The SMD Exporter now has an option to set which UV channel to use for your exported mesh. This might be handy if you use the multi-uv channel approach for packing maps or seamless texture joints.

Also, in Max 2018, I’ve added some code to correctly identify if you’re using a CAT bone, parent or hub and export those as SMD bones. Previously to do this you had to mark the bones as non-renderable so that the mesh of the bone wasn’t exported. Max 2018 should now realise it’s CAT bone and ignore the mesh.

So, off you go – grab the latest versions and let me know how you get on.

Wow, is it really four years since my last post? A lot’s happened since then, far too much to go into detail, but anyway some updates.

I get a lot of email about updating my tools, especially 3DS Max plug-ins and Jed’s Half Life Model viewer. As I don’t do modding any more I haven’t had much motivation but I got the itch to do some coding again so have slowly started updating things for my own amusement.

I’ve tested the VTF Shell Extensions on Windows 8.1 and 10 and they work fine. I’ve updated the installer to work properly with these operating systems so you shouldn’t have any problems. As always, make sure you have the correct Micrsoft Runtimes installed (VC++ 2008 SP1) as well. I could have baked them into the installer but that would have made it a 10MB download.

As for the 3DS Max plug-ins, so far the I’ve got the SMD import and exporter to work on 3DS Max 2015 (and should work on 2016 too as their compatible) and I’ve in the process of porting the VTA export and VTF plug-ins. As soon as I’ve done that I’ll look at getting them to work in 3DS Max 2017.

I’m going to be following a general policy that I’ll probably only support the two most recently versions of 3DS Max as long as it doesn’t require me to maintain and entire new build chain. It seems that every other version of Max requires a newer version of Visual Studio and a code re-build. I don’t have the time and effort to maintain that sort of set-up as I did before so as newer versions come out, I’ll retire support for later ones. I’ll still leave the plug-ins for older versions of Max available – I just won’t back port any new features or bug fixes.

As for JHLMV and anything else, most of those need to be re-written from scratch as the original code was written way back in the days of Windows 98 and it’s just broken. Who knows when that will get an update.

Apr. 8, 2012 @ 13:59

Once again it’s been over half a year since I last posted anything here so I figured I should bring people up-to-date.

A lots happened over the past six months both professional and privately and as a result I’ve been pulled further and further away from game modding and programming.

In short I finally freed myself from a job I’ve been doing for almost ten years and have started working for a large multinational internet company. It’s big boy stuff and it’s a lot of responsibility and taking a lot of my time and energy. Sadly it’s not the game industry job that I’ve wanted since I was twelve but hey, thems the breaks life gives you.

Coupled with that I’ve found myself becoming more and more disillusioned with modding, specifically the Source Engine which had so much promise but just seem to of fallen flat on it’s face. Valve fan-boy that I am I’ve stuck with it but there comes a point when you look at things like CryEngine and UDK and you wonder why the hell you keep banging your head against the wall with the Source SDK. I could rant for hours about it but that’s just a waste of energy at this point.

I’ve also been forced to “kill my darling” by making the tough decision to step down as team lead on Ham and Jam and cease all involvement in the project. Ham and Jam is still going – I think – as I handed it over to the few of the team left. This was probably the hardest thing to do as it represents four years of work and £6000 out of my own pocket invested and was so close to completion. That said, it taught me a lot about how NOT to develop a game and also sadly a lot about being careful who to trust and who to let be part of your project…

So in conclusion a lot of changes and a lot of tough decisions I’ve had to face including the one to stop doing anything with my tools and plug-ins for the foreseeable future. I’m not saying I’ll never pick them up again at a later point, I just don’t know if or when that might be. What little free time I have right now is just too valuable to spend working on something I’ve lost the motivation and passion for. I’ll leave my site up, just don’t expect any updates for a while.

In the meantime I’m sure Canonfodder will keep you provided with Max plug-ins and I heartily recommend you check out and support the work Shawn Olson is doing with Wallworm which has replaced and in some cases exceeded the ability of much of my work.

Until anon, Jed

I had a bit of free time so I managed to do a quick update of the Windows Shell Extensions, specifically to add support for version 7.5 VTF files.

There aren’t many big changes but as part of an update/clean-up of the code I’ve re-written the Windows Vista/7 thumbnail extension to use the new API that came with those versions. Several people told me that they also run on Windows 2008R2 so I’ve now officially added support for Windows 7 and 2008R2 to the installer. I’ve also changed the version number to 1.7.5 to reflect the version of VTF that it supports.

There are still a few 7.5 version files that it can’t create thumbnails for but it seems that is down to a problem with VTFLib more than with the shell extensions themselves.

IMPORTANT: Please un-install any older version of the extensions you have installed first before installing these. There have been some changes to filenames and trying to install this on top of an older version will cause conflicts. The installer should detect and warn you about an older version but for your own sake, un-install the old version first. You can do this from the control panel under “Add/Remove Programs” or “UnInstall a Program”.

One final note. For Vista/7 you also need to install the Visual Studio 2008 SP1 runtime pack. Links for this are given with the extensions download link. I could of included these in the installer but it would of been a 11Mb download instead of 0.5Mb. :/

Aug. 14, 2011 @ 17:40

Finally…

I’ve updated all of my plug-ins to include support from 3DS Max 2012 now. The VTF importer now also supports version 7.5 VTF files. I know a lot of people wanted them and I apologise for the delay. Real life gets in the way sometimes and takes priority.

I’ve tested them as thoroughly as I can but if you do find any bugs let me know. Remember to tell me how to recreate the issue you’re having and if possible send me the file that is causing the problem. No, I’m not going to steal your models – yes some people are that paranoid.

One final note – I’ve now officially dropped support for Max versions less then 9. Keeping a separate build environment going for that was pointless as it’s so old so I’m afraid no VTF importer for older versions of Max.

I haven’t added any new features this time around, but I have a few in the pipeline so keep watching this space. For now, just re-download the ZIP file which will have the 2012 included in it.

I’ve had a lot of e-mail and comments here on the blog about updating my 3DS Max SMD and VTF plug-ins to Max 2012 so I thought I should give you a quick up date. It nothing else it might stop some of the hate mail I’ve actually got over it. Seriously, to quote Wil Wheaton, “Don’t be a dick” – I do this in my free time and share it with you for free.

For anyone who has upgraded to 2012 I hope you kept 2011 installed as well and haven’t saved over your source files. The first release of 2012 is buggy as hell and if you don’t believe me, just check out the list of fixes for Service Pack 1. I seriously pity anyone who dived in with both feet. Even with SP1 people are still having problems, I know Shawn Olson (writer of the Wallworm Model Tools) has been pulling his hair out with the CAT animation system.

Anyway, several of the bugs in the first release directly affected my plug-ins. Some might ask why Canonfodder’s tools weren’t affected – well I’ve never seen his code but I’m guessing I use a different area of the 3DS Max API so he got lucky in that respect. I had a lot of problems with the SMD exporter crashing mysteriously and the importer failing to create anything at all.

So without much here ado, here’s where we are.

  • SMD Exporter – Recompiled against Max 2012 SP1 SDK. A few quick test exports seem to be O.K. but I’ve sent it to a few trusted friends to test it more thoroughly. If no big bugs manifest themselves it can go out.
  • SMD Exporter – Recompiled against Max 2012 SP1 SDK. A few quick test exports seem to be O.K.
  • VTA Exporter – I haven’t had a chance to re-compile it yet but there’s a couple of features that I want to add to it. Autodesk say the method I use to interact with the Morpher modifier is now depreciated and I shouldn’t use it, but the new one is a sample/use-at-your-own-risk. Nice. Thanks for that you $#!”#”%&/!’s
  • VTF Importer – The plug-in uses VTFLib and the latest version on Nems’s website doesn’t seem to support the new 7.5 format. I’ve made my own version that supports it but I’m a bit worried about causing conflicts if Nem does update soon.

Other stuff…

  • VTFShell Extensions – For Windows Vista/7 I’ve re-written the extension for scratch using the new IThumbnailProvider API interface. Much more proper, much more slick. Needs some refinement and it can go out for testing. Need to resolve the issue of VTFLib not supporting 7.5 yet though.

So please, bear with me. If anyone wants to help me test then drop me an e-mail but keep in mind you’ll be getting possibly buggy, pre-production quality code and I can’t guarantee it won’t destroy your house and everything within a 20km radius.

May. 18, 2011 @ 14:51

A bit weird this but since I got back from Italy game companies have been throwing a lot of free stuff my way. First up was Valve with a complimentary copy of Portal 2 on my Steam account followed up by a FedEx box from the US containing Steam/Valve branded key lanyards, t-shirt, hoodie and a bunch of Portal 2 posters. Thanks guys!

But yesterday was a real surprise. I got an email from Xbox support telling me that my MW2 edition XBox360 elite *may* have a problem caused by a recent software update pushed out via Xbox Live. Apparently it makes a number of titles unplayable and there’s no work around.

To be honest, I haven’t had much of a chance to use my Xbox since I got home (Still need to get a couple of achievements on New Vegas and Flashpoint:Red River is still sealed) so I hadn’t noticed any problems. Still Microsoft has decided that just in case they will send me a brand new XBox 360 Slim + 250Gb HDD + 1 year of Xbox live membership for the trouble. Bloody hell!

I was a bit sceptical when I got the e-mail and thought it was a scam and called them up but it’s legit and totally free.

So I just got back from my summer holiday in Tuscany, Italy. Amazing trip and a break I sorely needed. Funny though what inspires you to go to certain places and in this case it was a computer game.

Yes my girlfriend and I are a pair of gamer geeks and I really got drawn into the history aspect of Assassins Creed 2. I loved the little historical snippets, I loved the way the buildings looked and I really wanted to see it for myself. My girlfriend loves Italy anyway (she’s been several times) and had played part way through AC2 herself so there was no resistance to the idea.

So off we went, flew to Bologna (cheap flight) rented a car and drove down the Autostrada to Florence. Believe me, everything they say about Italian roads and their drivers is true.

We spent four days in Florence and made it a point to walk around the entire city and visit as many of the landmarks from the game as possible. Naturally the game doesn’t represent them 100% as they are today (the game being set in the Renaissance period) but it’s a weird feeling standing in front of an enormous cathedral and realised that no, puny human, you can’t free climb that. I did however make it up Giotto’s Bell Tower (There are 414 steps and no lift – as the sign warns) and was suddenly struck with a vista of Florence I suddenly felt at home with – I realised that thanks to AC2 I knew Florence better from the roof tops that street level. One thing for sure, there’s no way on earth I’d leap off that into a stack of hay.

After our 4 days was up we drove down into Tuscany proper and stayed in a small village called Strove near Siena. From there it was just a 10 minute ride to Monteriggioni and an hour to San Gimignano and it’s famous towers.

Our three days up, we decided to drive the long way home and rather than drive straight up to Bologna we went cross-country from Florence to Forli via the Apennine Pass. Wow. I wasn’t expecting a road like that. 30km of 90 degree left and right turns with no more than 20m of straight between them. Starting at sea level, rising to 850m (where you end up driving through clouds) and back down again. Sheer cliffs either side, fog, rain, slippery gravel patches and ominous shrines ever so often marking where people have died. It was nothing like the gentle gallop in AC2 and when we finally arrived in Forli, the entire town was close. I kid you not.

So excluding Vienna we managed every single location in the AC2 game, all the historical landmarks in the database and yet didn’t find a single chest or feather.

Geek holiday – Achievement unlocked.

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