Seems a small bug slipped through the net with the VTF Shell Extensions which was causing problems with VTF textures generated without MIP maps. I’ve made and update so you can download and update to the latest version to fix it.

In short, images without MIP maps were showing strange, interlaced looking thumbnails. There was also an issue with really big non-MIP images crashing explorer. This was due to the large ammounts of memory needed to generate thumbnails from the fullsize image rather than a MIP level. As a get-around for now the extension won’t attempt to generate thumbnails for non-MIPmapped images greater than 512×512 pixels.

Oct. 26, 2007 @ 03:25

I’ve made a quick update to Jed’s Half-Life Model Viewer to try and resolve some problems with it running under Vista. To be honest, I didn’t realise people were still using it! I’ve re-compiled it in VS2005 and updated some of the libraries which seems to fix the problems. Give it a go and let me know if it’s still causing problems.

Sep. 2, 2007 @ 14:29

Well I knew I was taking a bit of a risk with my first Vista compatible shell extension and yes, some bugs did creep in. I do test my stuff as thoroughly as I can but sometimes things slip through the net. :o(

Thanks to those who did take the time to contact me and report their bugs. The two most common problems seems to be missing C++ Runtime files (Microsoft requires specific versions for applications compiled with VS2005 SP1) and the extensions crashing when you right-click on a thumbnail.

The runtime issue is solved by installing them as necessary – I’ve provided links to them above the shell extension download page.

The thumbnail crash problem I’ve tracked down and have released an update to the extensions. As normal, you’ll need to uninstall the old version before installing the new but hopefully this will solve it.

For those of you still having problems, especially with Vista, please let me know if you’re getting any wierd error messages or so on. The easiest way to track and solve a bug is if I can get reproduceable proof of the bug and enough info to diagnose it.

Been a bit quite of late due to a huge ammount of work to get through… Sorry ’bout that.

Anyway, allied to my previous blog post, I’ve now finished re-writing my VTF Shell Extensions and posted them up for download.

What’s new this version?

Short version: Re-written, added support for Vista and with a much improved installer.

Long version: Updates to VTFLib so that it would compile under Visual Studio 2005 as a 32-bit and 64-bit DLL. ‘ve also added basic support for version 7.3 of the VTF format but that’s only of any interest to you if you work at Valve or are from the future and creating content for TF2. Re-written the actual shell extension code to combine both extensions into one DLL for XP/W2k and inplement some speed enhancements and better error handling. For Vista, I’ve implemented the new Property Handler system. Installer auto-detects what OS you’re running and installs the correct DLLs (32bit or 64bit) to match, handles registration better and adds a proper un-install option in the Add/Remove Programs dialog. (*phew*)

If you’re using a previous version I would recommend you un-install it and update to this new version. Please do use the un-installer as it helps remove the risk of something being left behind and screwing up. The installer for this version will attempt to remove any previous versions but it’s brute force and a last ditch method if it finds any offending files floating around.

UPDATE: Turns out that people installing the extensions on Vista 64bit were having issues. I tracked it down to needing the VS2005 SP1 Runtimes installed first. I’ve added links to where you can download the installer for these files on the download page.

So I took my first tentative steps at programming the Vista shell today. Oh sweet lord what have I gotten myself into…

First up was the problem of actually getting Vista set-up so I could work with it. As I’m going to need 32-bit and 64-bit versions for development I ended up using VMWare Workstation 6 and installing a virtual machine for each version. I must admit I’m impressed with VMWare, especially the fact it lets me run a 64-bit virtual machine on a 32-bit host OS. How it does it I do not know but anything that saves me having to re-partition my hard disk to run a new OS for development is just fine by me!

So my first task was to look at updating my VTF Shell Extensions for Vista. The old versions did work but need to be installed under compatibility mode. If I’m going to port them to 64-bit versions I also need to move them from Visual Studio 2003 to 2005. The Visual Studio upgrade was pretty flawless and I only had to change a couple of small things codewise to get it to compile.

VTF Thumbnails in Vista

Holy crap! It works in Vista!

I’d been considering looking at the new IThumbnailProvider interface that Microsoft provides specifically for Vista but I decided to stick with IExtractImage. Vista still supports this interface and testing the plug-in, it still works as expected and the thumbnails are drawn to my liking. I do have to say, I love the way you can scale up the size of the thumbnails – very handy when you’re trying to find a texture.

Since the last version of my VTF shell extensions, I’ve been added a few more functions to it to try and make it as useful as possible. Things like more informative tool-tips, better column info support and possible a properties sheet with all the data on the texture. Some of these functions came about for a “special” version (1.0.4) which I wrote for Valve to use in-house.

What has thrown a spanner in the works for me is that Vista no longer supports some of the interfaces I was using for these extras. IColumnProvider which I was using for the extra info columns in detail view has gone and been replaced by Property Handlers. I’m still chewing through the documentation for these and trying to get the SDK sample to work but it seems I’m not the only one having issues.

So at this point it time it seems that the next release, 1.0.5, will be the updated extensions for W2k/XP, Thumbnail view only for Vista and hopefully 32-bit and 64-bit versions. Oh and maybe an installer which doesn’t make Vista light up like a christmas tree.

In the meantime, if anyones had any luck with property handlers with Vista, let me know.

Jul. 2, 2007 @ 19:52

It’s been over a month since my last blog post as I’ve been so damn busy. First was Nordic Game which was a blast, followed by a sprint to the airport for two weeks in England. Home after that and back to work where I’ve spent the past couple of weeks testing software for FLIR cameras. On top of that theres been the backlog of my projects to catch up on.

Needless to say, I haven’t had time to work on my tan…

It’s been over a month since my last blog post as I’ve been so damn busy. First was Nordic Game which was a blast, followed by a sprint to the airport for two weeks in England. Home after that and back to work where I’ve spent the past couple of weeks testing software for FLIR cameras. On top of that theres been the backlog of my projects to catch up on.

Hilmar Pétursson from CCP

Hilmar Pétursson from CCP gave the keynote ‘The Tao of Virtual World Societies’.

Nordic Game was great and I’m greatful to Ben Sawyer at Digital Mill for making it possible. We’d worked together previously on a few projects at Transmodrify and it’s always nice to meet up in person.

The conference itself was an eye opener and a nice change to talk and listen to people from the development side of games than the fanboys/end users. I spent most of my time circulating between tech talks, discussions on the relationship between producer and communities and serious games – using game tech for training and education.

Between session breaks

Between sessions. Time to network and charge up on coffee.

Many business cards were swapped, idea’s shared and thoughts discussed and I made a lot of useful contacts. It was certainly well worth going and something I would recommend to anyone interesting in the industry to do – even if like me you’re “just” an indie game developer or someone looking for a job in the industry. Never underestimate the value of “pressing flesh”.

If I get my act together maybe I’ll get invited to be a speaker one year! 😀

So to other news.

Ham and Jam has been stuck in a rut the past couple of months or so due to a lot of our team being at school/university and sitting final exams. I’m pleased to say that this past week things have picked up again now that everyone is done and free for the summer. We’ve also found a coder to help us get over a few hurdles and an animator which means that hopefully all the v_model weapons will be get done and animated. Who knows, we might even get a beta out this year!

As for my projects, I’ve hopefully solved a few minor problems with my development environment and can start moving forward. I’ve managed to sort out legit copies of Vista x86 and Vista x64 so I’m hoping that I can have a go at porting some of my VTF tools to work with Vista and try and build a 64-bit version of my Max 9 SMD exporter.

I’ve also been getting a lot of email asking about an SMD importer for Max 9. Yes, I am working on one but I have a lot of other commitments which have to cleared first. All I can say is be patient and watch this space and I’ll make regular annoucements when something more concrete is available.