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.
So 3DS Max 2012 has been released for about 3 days now and already I’ve had at least a dozen emails pointing out that my SMD plug-ins don’t work with the newest version.
Almost every other release of 3DS Max changes enough in the plug-in API that compatibility is broken with other versions. That requires a new version of the Max SDK, maybe a new version of Visual Studio and often a good couple of man hours re-writing sections of code to work with any changes. For me it’s often more work still as I have a single code source that cross compiles for all versions and I need to know that a change for one version of Max won’t break the others and of course test them.
When will the plug-ins be updated? Well I don’t work a company with an Autodesk subscription license any more and an upgrade to 3DS Max 2012 + Visual studio will cost me about US $2500 – and who has that sort of money lying around? So we’ll have to wait and see. I would certainly recommend you don’t upgrade to 2012 if you’re doing any Valve based modelling right now and if you try the trial, don’t save over your files as you can’t open a 2012 file in an earlier version.
There will however be an update to one of the SMD plug-ins coming soon but only for Max 2011 and earlier. I’ve been expanding some features to the SMD Exporter on behalf of Shawn Olson and Hunted Cow Studios. For most users the upgrade won’t be necessary unless you want the tidier GUI or unless you’re using Shawn’s excellent Wallworm tool.
As for where I’ve been for a year?
Getting a new job, buying an Xbox, getting a girlfriend, travelling the world, working on other projects and generally getting a life 🙂
It’s been over 6 months since I last made a post here. I’m assuming most people had assumed I’d been crushed by stampeding moose.
Actually since last August it’s mostly been two things keeping me from doing more updates – a new job which keeps me extremely busy and I’ve been working almost entirely on Ham and Jam which I hope we’ll be able to release soon.
Regarding the plug-ins and other modding projects, there are some things going on but a lack of free time has meant that updates aren’t as rapid as usual.
A couple of “ongoing” things:
- I’ve been looking into adding XBox360 support to VTFLib/VTFEdit.
- I’ve tested the VTF extensions with Windows 2008R2 (people asked for support) and need to update the installer.
- I’ve been adding support for multiple meshes in the VTA exporter. It’ll make face/mouth cavity animation easier.
- Still trying to figure out a good algorithm to try and recreate smoothing groups in the SMD importer. I’m thinking edge/normal matching and neighbour trees.
All the above are “when I can find the freetime” so don’t hassle me about it please.
Finally people have been asking about versions of my plug-ins for 3DS Max 2011 – just use the 2010 versions. They’re compatible.
Got an email from “superaldo” over at the Steampowered forums telling me he used my 3DS Max VTA exporter plug-in to make new face flexes for his custom player model for TF2.
You gotta check this out. 🙂
Thanks to those who volunteered to test-drive the beta of my VTA exporter. No bug reports came back and all said they had successfully managed to get their face animations working so I figure we’re good for general release!
I’ve written up some rough instructions on how to use it here but basically it’s exactly the same as Cannonfodder’s exporter. The main difference is that you don’t have to delete a lot of stuff before export – just make sure you have the bones and morphed mesh selected and off you go.
Feel free to email me any pics/demos of any models you got working with it! 🙂
I’ve now finished a face-flex vertex animation (VTA) plug-in for 3DS Max 9 onwards and so far, with what limited testing I’ve done it works! 🙂
I’d like to get some of you guys to test it’s for me before I make an official public release so if you’re making character models with custom/new face flexes and using Max 9, 2008, 2009 or 2010 let me know and I’ll send you the plug-in for testing.
The offer only applies to those who know what their doing – I’m not going to teach anyone how to flex rig a model. The assumption is you already know how to do it but are still using Max 5 – 8 and Cannonfodder’s plug-in.
Oh, and in case you missed it I updated all my other Max plug-ins for 3DS Max 2010.
I’ve now re-compiled my 3DS Max plug-ins to support 3DS Max 2010. Grab them while they’re hot! 🙂
The only change has been to the SMD exporter where I’ve added support for spline objects after user requests. I left it out on purpose to stop people using splines in place of bones or dummies in model skeletons. The reason being is that they are very quirky and it often results in the animation in Max not matching the rotation on export. They are fine to use to as controllers to influence the rotation of a bone or dummy but don’t use them as bones themselves. You’ll put yourself in a world of pain.
I’ve testing the plug-ins in the 32-bit version of 3DS Max 2010 but I’m assuming that they’ll work fine in the 64-bit version too.
As always, any problems let me know.
Sorry folks. Not been posting at all of late due to some major upheavals in my life of late. 🙁
I’ve been getting a lot of email of late about my plug-ins and 3DS Max 2010 and the fact they don’t work – yes, I know.
Thing is, every time Autodesk release a new version of Max is means I need access to its SDK to recompile the plug-ins. I’ve been lucky in the past that through my professional associations I’ve been able to get access fairly easy but no-one I know is currently using Max 2010. As I’m not a student and don’t have the $3500 to buy a copy myself you’re just going to have to wait a while.
It’s also a bit of a task porting everything to new versions. Max 2010 requires Visual Studio 2008 which I need to run side-by-side Visual Studio 2005 and I need port and test all my code so it can be compiled and works in four different version of Max as well as 32-bit and 64-bit. As efficient as I try to make my code, it’s no easy task maintaining eight versions of each plug-in.
Oh and the VTA exporter – I got a very crude version working for Max 9 working which should be easy enough to port to other versions. It’s very rough around the edges and isn’t very user friendly but it does work – I used it for all the face flexes in the Ham and Jam player models.
Thanks to users who provided good feedback and sample Max files to debug from I’ve managed to nail a couple of annoying bugs in my 3DS Max SMD exporter plugin.
The first bug was incorrect error warnings about a mesh not having Sub/Muli-Object material when using a non-English version of 3DS Max. Thanks to Cherubim Entia for reporting that bug and testing the fix. The second bug was the exporter crashing when a rig contained a lot of mirrored parent bone/objects reported by “ifO” over at Mapcore who provided me with a good description and a Max file to debug from. The fix for this bug should also fix the crash when exporting an animation backwards.
Thanks again to those of you who have reported bugs and sorry I haven’t been able to jump on the problem as quickly as I liked. Hope the updated plug-in fixes most of the current issues.
Blimey. Has it really been two months since I last posted something?
This summer has gone by really quickly and I’ve been extremely busy hence the lack of activity. I got to take a short holiday and went back to England for two weeks for my little sisters wedding. Apart from that I’ve been working like a maniac as we’ve got a product launch due for September at work which means a lot of overtime and late nights getting everything finished. 🙁
As I’m officially and “old fart” I’m afraid that after a hard day at the office I usually fall asleep as soon as I get home which means even less freetime. That said, what freetime I do have is currently spent on some writing projects and Ham and Jam. We’re going from Alpha to Beta soon and starting an aggressive testing programme so that’s going to keep my busy.
I’ve been getting a lot of e-mail asking about the SMD Exporter and Importer plug-ins so I figured I’d make a post here to answer some of the most common questions that people are asking.
For the exporter, I’ve been getting some good feedback from people on a couple of bugs but unfortunately haven’t had chance to address them all yet. The two most common are problems with material types in Max installed in languages other than English and crashes with mirrored bones. The language issue is solved and will be in the next update. The mirrored bones is a more complex problem and may take some time to fix.
I’ve said before and I’ll say again, don’t mirror bones in Max!. The most common mistake people is making is using the Tools->Mirror command in Max. This is the wrong way to do it and simply reverses the axis which is why your getting export problems. If you’re going to mirror bones, use Animation->Bone Tools turn on Bone Edit Mode and use the Mirror button. That will mirror them but keep the axis in the right orientation. For dummies you’ll have to mirror them manually but that doesn’t take too much work.
As for the SMD Importer, again I haven’t had much time to work on it but it’s certainly a lot further ahead that it’s been in a long time. Currently it’ll import meshes, UV, textures and bones although at the moment I haven’t set-up the skin modifier or looked into animation.
I’ll try and post some more updates soon, but in the meantime please be patient! 🙂