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Author Topic: VtMR tools / porting to another engine  (Read 4243 times)

rsheffer

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VtMR tools / porting to another engine
« on: 2015-05-20, 20:44:07 »

Hello!
My name is Ryan, I am an old school game developer who used to play a lot of VtMR, especially the Dungeon Master based multiplayer. I recently noticed the game was available on GoG and I bought it up.

Back in the day the modding community was pretty huge for this game, and I noticed it was still going here. It seems the tools never really matured for the game, and I want to change that, however; there might be a better path here, moving to another engine.

The fact is, it would be much easier to work in an engine like Unity or Unreal to make really awesome content, in a fraction of the time. But how would this be done? The data stored in the VtMR binaries are well documented and could be transitioned over to an exchange format such as FBX and then used in any modern engine. As for the games logic and structure, that could be re-written into a relatively generic game for Unity or Unreal. The models, animations and maps would then have to be used very carefully (batch tools to extract the VtMR's assets, convert them, and put them in the proper directories in the other engine), since you wouldn't be able to release the art without incurring the wrath of lawyers who are looking for things to do. I am getting a bit ahead of myself, this is just an idea you guys might be interested in.

In the mean time, I am developing some tools to extract the games 3D art content into FBX format. You could then import that into whatever modern engine you want. If you guys really want to continue working with NOD, I hope to also write an FBX to NOD/NAD. This would allow you to create animated models in Blender or something, save them in FBX and use the tool to convert them to NOD / NAD. I don't believe you guys can make animated models of your own yet so it should be useful.

All of that aside, here is my current progress:

https://github.com/rfsheffer/q2_map_to_fbx
This tool takes a map file and converts it into FBX. This would be part of the process of converting maps over to whatever engine you want.


For my next trick, I am working on a NOD to FBX converter, then after that NAD to FBX. I will be starting github projects for those this week. I hope to get a model converted this weekend. The bone and animation data will take a little longer perhaps, but not much.

Then I will be importing the content into Unity or something as an example.

Ultimately I hope my work will help the modding scene in some way, and maybe stir some interest about a new game in a new engine.

Cheers  :D
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Javokis

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Re: VtMR tools / porting to another engine
« Reply #1 on: 2015-05-20, 22:56:28 »

I'd be careful because you're doing the same thing that Project Vaulderie did before CCP gave them a Cease and Desist letter. The biggest reason why Redemption hasn't been transferred to a new engine has less to do with it not being done and more to do with it not being allowed.
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rsheffer

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Re: VtMR tools / porting to another engine
« Reply #2 on: 2015-05-21, 15:06:49 »

I'd be careful because you're doing the same thing that Project Vaulderie did before CCP gave them a Cease and Desist letter. The biggest reason why Redemption hasn't been transferred to a new engine has less to do with it not being done and more to do with it not being allowed.

If it is done on a per PC basis and the files are not distributed, they have no case. I think the Vaulderie guys ducked out too quickly, they weren't distributing the content either, just the means to port it (at least that is what I understand).
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rsheffer

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Re: VtMR tools / porting to another engine
« Reply #3 on: 2015-05-24, 20:58:40 »

Current progress on model export to FBX

The VtMR materials directory can be specified and the materials will be included inside the FBX. This should help with the batch conversion process.

Next step is the animations.

Source code for import / export of NOD to FBX here:
https://github.com/rfsheffer/nod_nad_to_fbx
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Javokis

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Re: VtMR tools / porting to another engine
« Reply #4 on: 2015-05-26, 11:49:32 »

I wish you the best of luck, but I'll simply be a spectator for the duration of this project. I love the oWod lore and those are the only kind of vampires I truly have a long term interest in. I've never really been interested in attempts to do non-World of Darkness vampires or MMO's for that matter. Hence why I've always stuck with the licensed engines. I can't see myself attempting to do a vampire project with Unity. I have Unity 5, but would rather do something outside of vampires with it since I wouldn't be able to do anything VTM related.
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rsheffer

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Re: VtMR tools / porting to another engine
« Reply #5 on: 2015-05-26, 12:38:25 »

I wish you the best of luck, but I'll simply be a spectator for the duration of this project. I love the oWod lore and those are the only kind of vampires I truly have a long term interest in. I've never really been interested in attempts to do non-World of Darkness vampires or MMO's for that matter. Hence why I've always stuck with the licensed engines. I can't see myself attempting to do a vampire project with Unity. I have Unity 5, but would rather do something outside of vampires with it since I wouldn't be able to do anything VTM related.

What about WoD wouldn't be usable in another game? Is it just the lore? Really the WoD lore is pretty generic and could be spun in such a way that it retains what was interesting about WoD but in a different form. I think if anything is going to be done to continue the spirit of WoD, it will have to be done by the community. CCP are a hemorrhaging company which will probably never make anything with WoD.

A good example of a spin off free mod is the Thief re-creation mod http://www.thedarkmod.com/

I think the NOD engine, while in its time was a great engine, is just too hard for a small group of modders to make anything with quickly. Creating a way to port everything to Unity (or Unreal) automatically could re-start the modding community around this game. You would still have to own the original game to get any of the content so it would keep CCP at bay.

Now on another note, if the community here really has no interest in tools for porting to another engine, I could eventually help with exporting models from blender back to NOD. This would allow you guys to work in a better (and free) modeling software and still work in NOD. I don't suggest this because as I said before productivity in NOD is less than ideal.

Cheers,
Ryan
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Javokis

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Re: VtMR tools / porting to another engine
« Reply #6 on: 2015-05-26, 15:52:21 »

CCP looks like it only cares about Eve. I tend to wonder if they grabbed the white-wolf product line because it would be easier to make money off of attempting law-suits than actually investing in new content for it.

The difficulty of modding the current engine is actually what keeps me interested in it - but it's not actually as limiting as people think. If something is too easy, it's too boring. Like Skyrim and what not. I think the common reason the modding community has backed off from the game has more to do with the limitations on modeling through Milk Shape 3d than anything else. Everyone who has attempted to reverse decode the .nad files has failed in one form or another. Lack of being able to make new animations is a big downer for most of the modding community. Not to mention being able to introduce injected graphics pipelines would also be helpful (ENB's or SweetFX).

I think all it would take is someone to come up with a way to override the current graphics pipeline (through a new dll override) along with allowing new animations to be made (.nad import/export) would go a long way with the modding community.
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rsheffer

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Re: VtMR tools / porting to another engine
« Reply #7 on: 2015-05-27, 10:03:08 »

I think all it would take is someone to come up with a way to override the current graphics pipeline (through a new dll override) along with allowing new animations to be made (.nad import/export) would go a long way with the modding community.

It is not a trivial task to override the graphics calls. If you know of the exact DLL in which the graphics engine resides, it could then be reverse engineered to enough of a degree to build a proper mapping of the functions / methods to re-link to a third party DLL. Again, not trivial stuff.

As for creating new animations to .nad, once I write the .nad importer and get all the animations out to FBX, I could write an fbx to .nad and an fbx to .nod. (If you guys really want it)
I don't want to write a plugin for blender directly because I would rather give everyone the choice of which modeling software they use, and any modeling software can export to fbx, then just use my tool to convert the model or animations to .nod / .nad
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Signothorn

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Re: VtMR tools / porting to another engine
« Reply #8 on: 2015-05-27, 15:38:35 »



It is not a trivial task to override the graphics calls. If you know of the exact DLL in which the graphics engine resides, it could then be reverse engineered to enough of a degree to build a proper mapping of the functions / methods to re-link to a third party DLL. Again, not trivial stuff.



More than likely rldirect.dll. It contains all the dx info and such, the exe points to it. You've probably figured it out by the time you've read this, but I thought I'd post just in case.
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rsheffer

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Re: VtMR tools / porting to another engine
« Reply #9 on: 2015-05-28, 13:20:07 »

So ultimately you guys want to wrap the DX7 API and convert the calls to DX9 calls so you can use one of the graphics override packages like SweetFX? Would be a fair bit of work, DX7 was pretty wild west.
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rsheffer

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Re: VtMR tools / porting to another engine
« Reply #10 on: 2015-05-29, 00:08:29 »

I did a little bit of research for you guys last night, and I found a tool which gets you half way to where you want to go.

https://github.com/jarikomppa/dxwrapper

This DX wrapper wraps all of the direct draw calls being made by VtMR, you can then pass those calls onto a more advanced API (DX9). I needed to make a change to the project for it to work with vampires ddraw calls but it was a small change I will ask the author to add in.

Here is an image of the call log generated by the wrapper (it is part of the graphics init stage):
http://puu.sh/i4xP0/40ff41fdc6.png

This is as far as I am willing to go with this. Somebody will have their work cut out for them, but it would be pretty cool to see a graphical overhaul of the game.
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Javokis

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Re: VtMR tools / porting to another engine
« Reply #11 on: 2015-05-29, 11:12:49 »

To be quite frank, DX API programming isn't my area and I doubt many others will take you up on that offer. The idea is certainly a long shot, but it is safer [from a licensing standpoint] to add engine plugins than it is to port to a new engine without authorization. Admittedly, the Project Vaulderie team backed down too quickly when CCP did not give their blessing. On the other hand, I wouldn't want to deal with the drama that's going on with the license either.
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rsheffer

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Re: VtMR tools / porting to another engine
« Reply #12 on: 2015-05-29, 20:10:15 »

Using 'plugin' to describe this doesn't seem right, more like 'dirty little hack'  ;)
Since the project would be free and would require the original VtMR content to even function, it isn't much different than modding the original game. From a lawyer standpoint on the other hand, you would probably be right.

If the source code for the game was released by nihilistic, I would jump all over that and help where I could; but hacking this would be way more work than it is worth.

If you guys were working in an engine like Unity, you would be able to get sooo much content out the door quickly. Sure there is a lot of fun in hacking these old engines, but in the end the content doesn't look good enough to entice new people to be interested, and the time would be wasted.

This is just my opinion of course :)

Cheers, and have a good weekend.
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Signothorn

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Re: VtMR tools / porting to another engine
« Reply #13 on: 2015-06-01, 06:50:56 »

Using 'plugin' to describe this doesn't seem right, more like 'dirty little hack'  ;)
Since the project would be free and would require the original VtMR content to even function, it isn't much different than modding the original game. From a lawyer standpoint on the other hand, you would probably be right.

If the source code for the game was released by nihilistic, I would jump all over that and help where I could; but hacking this would be way more work than it is worth.

If you guys were working in an engine like Unity, you would be able to get sooo much content out the door quickly. Sure there is a lot of fun in hacking these old engines, but in the end the content doesn't look good enough to entice new people to be interested, and the time would be wasted.

This is just my opinion of course :)

Cheers, and have a good weekend.

I mentioned this thread to AtrBlizzard (Project Vaulderie), who was messing around with Redemption in Unity. He said he might reach out to you about the potentials of a port.
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rsheffer

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Re: VtMR tools / porting to another engine
« Reply #14 on: 2015-06-03, 19:36:40 »

Still working on this. The latest issue is the bone positions in relation to the verticies. The bones appear to be in a t-pose as you would expect, but the verticies are set in an idle animation. You would think the verticies would be in a t-pose as well. I am trying to figure out how to possibly translate the verticies back into the t-pose OR setup the skeleton as the idle. It would be best if the verticies were in a t-pose so I am going to go with that first, might have something todo with the included inverse bone matrix per bone definition.
On the bright side, bones are in and are influencing the proper verticies, they are just not in-line with the mesh. In cases like chests however, they look fine.
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