VTF Shell extensions update – VTF 7.5 supportMon, September 12th, 2011 @ 22:33

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. :/

3ds Max 2012 plug-ins released.Sun, August 14th, 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.

Yes I’m still here…Thu, April 22nd, 2010 @ 13:32

Err Hello,

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.

3DS Max 2010 support for VTF and SMD plug-ins.Mon, May 4th, 2009 @ 23:57

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.

Yeah I know, I’m late…Sun, May 3rd, 2009 @ 02:26

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.

3DS Max VTF Importer UpdateMon, June 23rd, 2008 @ 14:30

I’ve made an update to the 3DS Max VTF Importer plug-in to add support for Max 2009. While I was at it I took the opportunity to re-write some bits of the code and stick some optimisations in. Not much but every little helps.

If you’re installing this new version please make sure you delete the old plug-in file from your Max plug-ins folder before you install the new one. It’s especially important for 64-bit Max users.

Tales of Ham, Jam, SMD importers, Max and more…Mon, May 19th, 2008 @ 00:35

Been a while since I made any posts about what I’m up to these days so I thought it was about time I did. Not that I made many before but anyway…

In what little free time I’ve had over the past three months I’ve been hitting the Ham and Jam code pretty hard, doing what feels like a huge amount of coding to try and nail all the bugs we found in our last play test. There’s still some small niggles but if the hlcoders mailing list is to be believed, their inherent SDK bugs and hard to fix and not likely to go away.

Anyway, of the new thing to add was the deploy system for weapons with a bi-pod which, after two false starts, actually works now. The process of doing the deployment and swapping animations wasn’t too hard – it’s just all the other crap you have to deal with like the logic to check if you should be allowed to deploy and limiting player movement, preventing weapon selection, etc.

TF2 Heavy imported into 3DS Max 9

Still, apart from the art asset side of things, game play wise Ham and Jam is really starting to come together and resemble a proper game now.

I’ve been working quite a bit with 3DS Max plug-ins over the past week too and finally found a couple of hours to do some more work on the SMD importer I’m writing for Max 9, 2008 and 2009. I made a bit of a breakthrough today in that I made the first successful test run of the mesh re-construction code and apart from a small few snags at first, it actually works!

TF2 Heavy imported into 3DS Max 9

This may not seem like a big deal, but when you consider how an SMD file stores data it’s actually pretty cool. SMD files store each polygon in your model as a separate un-joined triangle. The problem with importing data like that is you get a huge number of duplicate vertices and your polygons aren’t actually connected together. As a result, you can’t smooth them out or set the normals properly as anyone who’s tried to use the MaxScript importer will know. The code I wrote analyses the data coming in from the SMD and uses some logic to reconstruct the mesh as one continuous mesh rather than separate triangles.

Lastly, you’ll probably of noticed over the last month or so I updated all my VTF tools to support the 7.4 texture version which started shipping with the Orange Box games. It took a while to do, mainly due to VTFLib which they rely on being a bit out of date. Nem usually handles the releases and while the code was there, he’d got really busy and didn’t have a chance to get it out as quickly as usual. Still, not biggy, it’s done now so hopefully everything should handle EP2/TF2 textures just fine now.

That’s all for now. Back to work…

Oops my bad – VTF Extensions fix.Fri, April 25th, 2008 @ 17:58

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.

3DS Max VTF plug-in update.Mon, April 14th, 2008 @ 21:30

Following on from yesterdays update of the VTF Shell extensions, I’ve now update my 3DS Max VTF plug-ins. These now support 7.3 and 7.4 VTF formats and I’ve included a 64-bit build. The Max 9 version should work in 3DS Max 2008 as well.

VTF Shell Extension 1.0.6 – VTF 7.4 support finally!Mon, April 14th, 2008 @ 02:41

Sorry it took so long, but I finally updated my VTF Shell extensions to support the 7.4 VTF format as found in Team Fortress 2/The Orangebox.

The delay was due to both Nem being busy with real-life stuff and unfortunately losing the code to the Photoshop plug-in which meant a re-write. This lead to the new version of VTFLib being delayed and as so many of our tools rely on it, we couldn’t update without it.

Anyway, everything is updated now – Nem has released the new VTFLib, VTFEdt and his Photoshop VTF plug-in with 7.4 support and I’ve updated my XP/Vista Shell extensions. I’ll update the 3DS Max plug-ins hopefully in the next couple of days. I’ve also updated the documentation for VTFLib.

One new feature though that’s worth mentioning. Since VTF 7.3, the VTF format has added support for “resources” embedded inside the actual VTF file. This was originally added, I believe, to better support features on the XBox360. What’s nice is that developers can add any custom resource and data they might need.

This gave me a brainwave.

Often you find VTF textures all over the place and if you’re creating a Mod it can be a right pain-in-the-arse to keep track of texture assets. Wouldn’t it be great if there was some sort of metadata inside the actual file containing useful information about who made the texture, how to contact them and what game/mod it came from? Basically EXIF for VTF files.

Well that’s what we implemented. Using a custom “Information” resource you can now embed useful information into VTF files for TF2/Orangebox using VTFEdit. You have the basic author and contact info, your texture version number, what game/mod it’s for and include a short note. My VTF Shell extensions can show this info as part of the detail columns in XP or in the properties view in Vista.

So you know the drill – un-install any previous versions of the shell extensions you have installed and make sure you have the Visual C++ 2005 SP1 runtimes installed if you don’t already.

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