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Re: Improving Original JA2 graphics – Sprite[message #179919] Wed, 02 April 2008 23:02 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Khor1255

 
Messages:1821
Registered:August 2003
Location: Pleasantville, NJ
The reason I am interested in modding THIS game is largely because I am a fan of it's engine at the exclusion of any other I have played. Therefore, using a different engine is not acceptable to me unless...


You want to build a new game from the ground up. In this case I would suggest building a new engine using the best aspects from any existing engine we know of and maybe a few goodies made entirely by us. I would be extremely interested in this since that is my ultimate goal in the gaming community and would provide a valid excuse for spending so much time in pursuit of this hobby.
I have several ideas for new games that I am sure would have mass appeal but this is not what I thought we were talking about here.

What I thought the point was, is to improve on the 1.13 mod by adding layers to the existing sprites. Doing away with the sti format would be a huge graphic improvement and I doubt if it would require adjusting any other part of the code. Making the game 3d would require a new physics engine and since the physics engine is what primarily draws me to the Ja2 system I find that approach completely unacceptable.

I would be interested in working on sprites for the Ja2 engine or helping develop a completely new game but replacing Ja2s physics engine just to accomodate a 'better' graphic quality is of no interest to me.

Why not just make an entirely new game?
Re: Improving Original JA2 graphics [message #179921] Wed, 02 April 2008 23:17 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Starwalker

 
Messages:766
Registered:October 2005
Location: Hannover, Germany
BirdFlu
So, if you change the graphic type from 3 values to more than 3 values the changes in the code
should be quite minimal.

Unfortunately, this seems not to be the case. ChrisL already tried to implement a 4th set, but so far the smallest part of the set (tileset-pics, used directly on the tactical map) makes problems. BigItem and MD-pics seem to be comparatively easy, though

As my former boss was so fond of saying: "If it was easy, then someone else would have done it already".



Re: Improving Original JA2 graphics [message #179925] Wed, 02 April 2008 23:36 Go to previous messageGo to next message
the scorpion

 
Messages:1836
Registered:September 2004
Location: CH
someone else HAS already done it.

[Updated on: Wed, 02 April 2008 23:36] by Moderator

Re: Improving Original JA2 graphics [message #179926] Wed, 02 April 2008 23:37 Go to previous messageGo to next message
lisac

 
Messages:92
Registered:July 2006
Location: Austria
I'm not a coder, so a professional opinion on this what I'm about to say would be helpful (KK, BirdFlu, someone)...

Nobody is changing JA2 physics engine (if such one exists in general - if not, then we're talking about certain pieces of code scattered throughout the source code), nor it is relevant for us. Read once again:

KeldorKatarn
The only job would be to identify all graphics engine parts of JA2, eliminate them, and replace them by the new engine and adjust the interfaces so they fit together. the game itself should not change one bit.

This is imperative.

Everything else is distraction from the right path and can cause highest probability that this project drowns in its own excrements.

The problem is: how the new sprites (graphics) should look like and what kind of engine graphic-wise should we use to achieve that? Obviously, there's no perfect solution, each approach has numerous (dis-)advantages.

What I'd like to hear during this discussion are definitive, available options we got at the moment. And people who can judge these things are coders. New characters will be made in 3D eventually, there's no doubt about that, however extending the work to 2D and creating the sprites depends on the new "graphic" engine and the way it uses graphic content.

So far we've got a few different, but interesting options, like:

- good ol' 2D (just like it is), with "layered" sprites and a new graphic format instead of STI
- combination of 2D and 3D (2D background, 3D for interactive objects/characters)
- 3D (which is definitely a no-no, according to the most, if not all of the, people here)
Re: Improving Original JA2 graphics [message #179930] Wed, 02 April 2008 23:54 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Starwalker

 
Messages:766
Registered:October 2005
Location: Hannover, Germany
the scorpion
someone else HAS already done it.

Why does he not share his experience with ChrisL?


Re: Improving Original JA2 graphics [message #179933] Thu, 03 April 2008 00:00 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Khor1255

 
Messages:1821
Registered:August 2003
Location: Pleasantville, NJ
Of course I like option 1 the best. It seems the only way this might possibly get done.

A change from the sti format would be a huge help to the entire project as well.

What we mainly need to get the layers working is more clours for sprites and making the layers have a pixel extra here and there to simulate the extra bulk armour has. I don't see a problem with using the existing scale as long as we have more colours to make armour stand out from regular clothes.
Re: Improving Original JA2 graphics [message #179940] Thu, 03 April 2008 00:38 Go to previous messageGo to next message
the scorpion

 
Messages:1836
Registered:September 2004
Location: CH
Starwalker
the scorpion
someone else HAS already done it.

Why does he not share his experience with ChrisL?


what do i know??

do i look like a fortune cookie? --> graemlin "achtung" Wink

maybe these guys don't talk to each other. which is a shame. But not a problem of my pay-scale.
Re: Improving Original JA2 graphics [message #179943] Thu, 03 April 2008 01:43 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Marlboro Man

 
Messages:1199
Registered:October 2005
Location: USA
the scorpion
Starwalker
the scorpion
someone else HAS already done it.

Why does he not share his experience with ChrisL?


what do i know??

do i look like a fortune cookie? --> graemlin "achtung" Wink

maybe these guys don't talk to each other. which is a shame. But not a problem of my pay-scale.


Who the hell are you talking about then? You always act like everyone should know what's blowing between your ears.


Re: Improving Original JA2 graphics [message #179949] Thu, 03 April 2008 02:18 Go to previous messageGo to next message
BirdFlu

 
Messages:441
Registered:September 2007
Location: Lampukistan
Quote:
Nobody is changing JA2 physics engine (if such one exists in general - if not, then we're talking
about certain pieces of code scattered throughout the source code), nor it is relevant for us.

Lets say nobody wants to change the physics engine.
There is (or has to be) a world representation in the game. We render this world and we let the physisc engine operate on this world
(compute vesibility, collision detection for bullets). The problem might be, that if we change how rendering works, we may also change the internal
world represention. And this could result in trivial or not so trivial changes in the physics engine. As i don't know how physics
works in JA2, i can't say how many problems we could get. I just hope that we don't have to change the internal world representation at all.

Quote:
3D (which is definitely a no-no, according to the most, if not all of the, people here)

I think, it is not worth the trouble.
But you may want to look closely at "Hired Guns". Is has a 3D engine and pretty much every file is in the open, at has no packages.
There are over 25000(!!!) files distributed over some directories (that's why it takes so *ucking long to install), and many of these
files are xml or lua files. So i would say it could be moddable if the executable doesn't screw up too much.

Quote:
combination of 2D and 3D (2D background, 3D for interactive objects/characters)

The combination itself could be a little bit tricky. I wouldn't rule this option out, but i also can't say that it will work. The problem
that i see is the Z-Buffer. 3D-objects have real depth, but 2D-objects are actually flat rectangles in 3D-space.
I can't say anything specific until i am more familiar with the current graphics engine.


Quote:
good ol' 2D (just like it is), with "layered" sprites and a new graphic format instead of STI

Probably the way that's easier to go fo the coders and one that would preserve the nature and spirit of the original game.

Re: Improving Original JA2 graphics [message #179971] Thu, 03 April 2008 07:56 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Arethusa

 
Messages:26
Registered:August 2006
Location: Connecticut

KeldorKatarn
I really think nobody who has said anything so far in favor of 3D has any idea what he is REALLY talking about (no offense).

Saying that creating a 3d character is easier than creating a sprite.. sorry.. that's crap.. if you want to create a new sprite, the basis WILL be a 3d character and you simply render certain animation key frames into the sprite, and use it. Changing clothes can be done with layers.
I am pretty sure all of JA2's characters, buildings and whatever were first created in a 3d modeling program and then rendered down into the frames of the sprites, since that's simply what you do.
THat's how WIng COmmander 1 created its ship bitmaps, that's how Panzer General II made their combat unit sprites.

You make it sound like 2D was the old school approach and 3d is the modern approach. That is simply wrong. 2D and 3D are a design choice, none is more modern than the other.

At the highest level, the entire point of using 2D over 3D, with rare exceptions for artistic license (and with more advanced shaders, the usefulness of this is increasingly limited) is trading difficulty in content creation and much more limited visuals for faster realtime processing. 2D absolutely takes more time to get off the ground with content creation. If I need to not only create a 3D model but then render it in all animation frame positions and from all angle (conservatively, let's say the eight the game currently uses), that's a lot of work. Even with layering, the number of possible permutations is just geometrically difficult. Moddability is simply not an option with 2D; for example, just look at this thread and this game: nothing has been changed visually in all the years the 1.13 project has been going.

KeldorKatarn
Now let me summarize for you what switching to 3d means.

You have to get a 3d engine, you have to make models. and I mean models.. that means models for every single weapon, for every bulding, table, door, roof, lamp, tree, lake, whatever.

You would have to do this for 2D as well. Granted, terrain generation is simpler when you're dealing with 5 tile brushes in the JA2 editor that's a decade old, but good tools can make 3D content creation reasonably painless, especially when you don't need exceptional detail.

[quote=KeldorKatarn]Then you have to write shaders (how many of you here know anything about GLSL or HLSL or Cg? If none, then forget about it. Fixed function pipeline is a decade old by now, not using a shader based approach will make the game look 10 years old and will not improve a thing.
I am familiar, but certainly not enough to be useful. This is actually (part of) why I agree with you and why I think that making a 3D engine is as bad an idea as redoing a 2D engine. Just rewrite JA3 when it hits in four months.

KeldorKatarn
Then you have to create or learn to use an existing 3d physics engine, since without physics, nothing moves, neither character nor bullet. Collision detection must be worked out, and yes, then a character can be blocked by a door if he is slightly out of standard shape and collides with something.

Whoah, what? A physics engine is necessary if you want ragdolls and physical objects, but it's hardly necessary for actor movement (that can be quite static and simply animation driven). Collision detection is a non issue; all game world interaction would be handled by the established turn based mechanics, which really aren't that hard to port. I guess you'd have to write new pathfinding (especially because the current pathfinding is garbage), but that's really a separate issue. There are a lot of people confusing the issues of realtime games with turnbased games, and they're just not engine related.

KeldorKatarn
Then a damage system has to be worked out, since now the bullet will actually collide with stuff. If you plan on making explisions.. forget about the way it currently works.. if you don't make structures 100% destroyable in 3D, then forget about looking like a modern 3D game. You cannot go 3D and make explosions stay the same, meaning just blend it an explosion sprite and make a part of a wall disappear. THings must fly around, tons but roll around, physically correct (back to the physics engine we are).

You don't need a new damage system. That, again, is a turn based mechanics issue and not related to the engine. However, I agree about deformable and destructible terrain. Even Silent Storm is really crude by modern standards. Granted, UT3 doesn't have anything like this, but in a turn based strategy game, you really can't get away with this.

KeldorKatarn
Then the AI must be adjusted, since pathfinding is different in 3D, line of sight is different, since now it must be calculated with ray tracing. Taking cover is different, climbing roofs is different.. remember.. with a 3d engine, there are no tile layers.. there is no 1st level then 2nd level anymore.. you have 3d. there are no distinct height levels in 3d.
Shooting will be different since now the bullet actually flies and isn't just a fake animation for a pure probability based shot anymore...

Again, not true. If you just have 3D rendering and the same internal mechanics that you have in JA2 currently, there's no change in the way these things function. Silent Storm had distinct height levels. It also had gradients, which do require that sort of calculation, and I think this sort of project would be better with it, but it's not strictly necessary. You absolutely can just fake animation for behind the scenes mechanics; that's how every single turn based strategy game works in 3D, even the ones that take 3D terrain into account.

KeldorKatarn
If you plan on doing this.. good luck, you have just decided to create 80% of a full 3d game all by yourself.
I hope you have 10-20 people on a 10h per Week basis available and the motivation on actually working on this for the next 2-3 years.. and no.. you won't be able to do it in much less than that time and still get satisfying results.

PS: Oh.. and did I mention this? Flat ground looks horrible in full freeview 3d, so you better start on terrain making, line of sight and path finding in full 3d terrain and oh.. try to get some good vegetation shaders going, and you better make your water look great if you don't want to upset the fans.......

So, yeah. Give up both projects now and mod JA3. I've seen custom 3D engines made, and they take time and still to look spectacularly crude. It might be worth it starting from one of the open source engines I linked to, but with JA3 not far off, it really, really, really isn't.
Re: Improving Original JA2 graphics – Sprite[message #179974] Thu, 03 April 2008 10:11 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Starwalker

 
Messages:766
Registered:October 2005
Location: Hannover, Germany
the scorpion
Starwalker
the scorpion
someone else HAS already done it.

Why does he not share his experience with ChrisL?


what do i know??

Well, obviously you do know something, and it would be nice if you divulged your information earlier, and not piecemeal Wink


Re: Improving Original JA2 graphics [message #179997] Thu, 03 April 2008 13:58 Go to previous messageGo to next message
KeldorKatarn

 
Messages:37
Registered:May 2006
Location: Germany
I'm going to repeat this again.. yes you can switch to 3d, yes you can do that without completely rewriting the world representation.. but let me ask you this...

if you want to create the worlds in 3d, but let all objects basically behave as if they were 2D sprites (since that's what they'll do unless you rewrite the physics engine and the world representation), then why bother with 3d in the first place? Because content creation is easier? Sorry but that buffalo bagels. Creating a sprite and a 3d object is one and the same process. You create a 3d model then export it into a format the game can read. For a 3d engine this would be a 3d mesh with anymation keys if it was an animated character, for a 2d engine it would be a picture the model is renderd to from a certain camera angle, possibly a series of such pictures representing the animation frames for an animated sprite.. how one is more work than the other I fail to see. Do you honestly think that a sprite is commercially drawn by hand these days? It is simply a matter of either making a mesh file or a picture file from a 3d model, that's all. The texturing and modeling will have to be done in both cases. Ground textures will have to be done too, whether they'd be put on a ground mesh as a texture or on a tile.. again.. how one is more work than the other eludes me.

Now.. people here seem to think 3d is the non-plus-ultra and that the 2d approach is usually made to trade speed for graphical quality.. I have never heard bigger crap.

There are games that genre wise simply work better with 2d graphics than with 3d and simply look stunningly good.. It is also a well known fact that old 2d games usually look good a lot longer than 3d games, since it is extremely difficult to make a fully blown 3d engine really look good, since evrything has to be rendered realtime and needs a lot of shader programming, shadow computation and what do I know.. in 2d this can be prerenderd and will look just as good since you have a fixed perspective which is for many genres more than enough.

If you want to stick with JA2's general gameplay and its isometric looks, then I fail to see one single argument for going 3d. Saying stuff like "that game does it too" and "it worked for them" is bringing no arguments at all. Other game = other game = not Ja2. Ja2 has a certain interface and looks and gameplay the players love and want to keep.

The original reason for this thread was to improve the sprites of JA2, possibly get rid of the crappy file format and also probably get better lighting for the maps instead of the old looking per tile lighting. All this can be easily done by either improving the JA2 rendering engine, or replacing it with a more modern 2D isometric engine.

How some people think, keeping 2D automatically implies keeping STI files is something I don't understand either btw, and that has been said a lot in the past pages of this thread.

I don't want to sound like Mr. Wiseguy or tell you guys what to do, but giving my personal opinion and speaking from experience of having seen a lot of fan projects and commerical franchises go to ruins.. if you go 3d.. you'll kill JA2. You'll change looks and gameplay in such a radical way that people won't recognize the game anymore and you'll have to recreate and code a volume of stuff you cannot even begin to overlook yet, and you'll still end up with not only a different looking game but a crappy looking game since you have by no means the manpower or knowledge it takes to get the looks of games like Far Cry as some people here might think this community could.
If they could they'd earn big bucks at a game studio now and not talk here.

If you go 2d you have all possibilities you want. You can simply try to improve JA2's rendering engine by introducing a new file format like PNG, by using 32bit tiles and by introducing layers. All that can be easily done.
You can also switch to a rendering engine (JUST the rendering engine, nothing else) that already exists and already provides those services and that was written with isometric tile based games in mind.

Btw.. how bigger tiles would improve looks I fail to see. Bigger just means bigger. That doesn't imply more colors, more layers or anything, nor is it required for that.
Re: Improving Original JA2 graphics [message #179999] Thu, 03 April 2008 15:06 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Mysterious Dr.X

 
Messages:38
Registered:March 2004
Location: Croatia

KeldorKatarn
If you go 2d you have all possibilities you want. You can simply try to improve JA2's rendering engine by introducing a new file format like PNG, by using 32bit tiles and by introducing layers. All that can be easily done.

Then what are we waiting for? Let's do it!

KeldorKatarn
Btw.. how bigger tiles would improve looks I fail to see. Bigger just means bigger. That doesn't imply more colors, more layers or anything, nor is it required for that.

I also mentioned the idea of bigger tiles, because I associate bigger tiles with more details possible to show. I play 1.13 on a 800x600 resolution, because the 1024x768 one makes everything too small imho. With bigger tiles, we could reach the same overview like in the 800x600 - which means: not too small Smile - version combined with better details. If we now also get rid of the old file formats and add sprites, this sounds very good to me!
This is why I say let's start! Of course, I'm not a coder and have no experience in this whole thing at all, but when it comes to tileset-creation I could learn everything that's necessary to make some progress and push this project further.

Another question: Let's say we really change the file format and as a result are possible to display more colours etc. Would this mean that we would have to change every single picture in the game? If yes, what would really cause a huge amount of work, we could also begin to rearrange the interface. Imho it would be great to use the current bigitem-pictures as MD-pictures, which are shown in a mercenaries inventory. Same idea like the bigger tiles -> more detail. To realise this, everything would have to be redone, but if we anyway had to change all pictures, then why not do it that way right from the start?

To all pessimists: many guys here don't believe in this idea or forsee that it will likely be dropped anyway, but hey! We're now on page 26 or something and it didn't go offtopic, as far as I see, which shows me - and should show you, too - that there are great interests in this. Let's not goof on this, but instead start something already!
Re: Improving Original JA2 graphics [message #180018] Thu, 03 April 2008 18:40 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Berserk00644

 
Messages:8
Registered:March 2008
this is all getting to be a bit big for me... i'm still learing MS paint Sad(
anywayif we wanted faster results how hard would it be to recolor the mercs i.e. make the hands one color, forearms another and shoulders a third??? so if a merc has a black shirt on make the value of all those colors black except the hands? could this work for the armor? then maybe we could find a way to add hats? i think for the current LOD this would work fine... and yes i would be alot of work but lees then a 5 year project!

also maybe instead of worryin' bout the guns looking different, maybe we could add more to the game like better explosions, dogs? alot of patrols use them IRL, claymores? different vehicles, choppers
the list goes on... one thing i would really like to see is mercs dragging wounded mercs to safety
or enemys for that matter, i think this would add to the game play greatly... maybe even make it worth your effort to heal enemy soldiers? maybe 10% they'll give you info on enemy sam sites or somthing?
Re: Improving Original JA2 graphics [message #180019] Thu, 03 April 2008 18:46 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Kaerar

 
Messages:2041
Registered:January 2003
Location: Australia :D
Now one thing nearly everyone is forgetting is map creation. If we do manage to replace the sti format (god I hope so!) then we also have to contend with the JSD format for tiles. This holds the data regarding cover and height. They are a b*tch to work with too. We possibly need to either make them more user friendly or externalise the data so we can set heights and coverages separately.

As for the 2D, 3D argument well its all bonkers. The 2D can look great (as shown by that pic earlier), but then so can 3D. I for one would love to see 3D implemented with a proper physics engine too. That way you can have bullet trajectory, drop off, deviation, damage vs distance, hitting objects in the way, etc...
To be against it because it won't be JA2 is kinda silly. Things evolve and if you play vanilla and then 1.13, you will notice 1.13 is a new game in its own right anyway. Very different and contains the features that the community wanted. I personally can't play vanilla anymore, its too boring!

And I am now too tired to continue typing. Will talk later...


Re: Improving Original JA2 graphics [message #180040] Thu, 03 April 2008 20:42 Go to previous messageGo to next message
lisac

 
Messages:92
Registered:July 2006
Location: Austria
Kaerar
...then we also have to contend with the JSD format for tiles.

I agree totally. We need all the (technical) info about STI and JSD files we can get.

Volunteers?

Please write it down in this thread and I'll update it in the design document.
Re: Improving Original JA2 graphics [message #180043] Thu, 03 April 2008 21:33 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Khor1255

 
Messages:1821
Registered:August 2003
Location: Pleasantville, NJ
I don't think changing image format from .sti will require anything more than exporting all images to .bmp than converting to whatever format is agreed upon. Sure, this will be tedious work and long hours but that's all there is to it as far as I can see.

Changing to 3d will require rewriting all the graphics for almost to none improvement. Simply put, if the idea can be done in 2d isometric why not start on this NOW. We can always switch format later but if this idea loses momentum it will never happen.

I don't see any advantage to bigger sprites except the ability to get more detail. If I thought more detail was essential to this project I might consider the bigger sprites issue. But you have to remember, with bigger sprites comes a smaller map view. I know for higher resolution this may not be an issue but what about those of us who don't play on maximum res?

I'd like to see this idea happen with minimal complications. That means keep it simple sweathogs.
Re: Improving Original JA2 graphics [message #180081] Fri, 04 April 2008 02:24 Go to previous messageGo to next message
BirdFlu

 
Messages:441
Registered:September 2007
Location: Lampukistan
Khor1255
I don't think changing image format from .sti will require anything more than exporting all images to .bmp than converting to whatever
format is agreed upon. Sure, this will be tedious work and long hours but that's all there is to it as far as I can see.

Starwalker
"If it was easy, then someone else would have done it already"

Well, first you have to convert the sti files to some other format. Then you need a loader for that special file type to get
the image data into the game. And when you have the data loaded, you have to render it somehow. And here comes the problem.
The blitting functions of the current rendering engine require the STI's special ETRLE format, so you would have to
change the blitters too, and that is inline assembler code. And as far as i noticed nobody wants to get involved with
assembler code. But if we are going to change/replace the rendering engine, then this problem should disappear automatically
(more or less).

lisac
We need all the (technical) info about STI and JSD files we can get.

What exactly would you consider as "technical" info? The bitwise locations of every data-'object' in the file or the 'compression'-algorithm or something else?
Anyway, i think i can give that info for STI files, as i already handled them. I can't say much about JSD files,but i am at the point where i am starting to look into them.
What would also be interesting is a description of the map format, maybe a rough overview for a start.

Re: Improving Original JA2 graphics [message #180084] Fri, 04 April 2008 06:29 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Berserk00644

 
Messages:8
Registered:March 2008
im not sure i'll be much help from this point out seeing that im new to all this
but i must agree there nothing wrong with 2d if its modernized
in fact i really like the idea of keeping it 2d... if i wanted somthing else i'd play somthing else
and yes vanilla JA2 is nothing like 1.13 but thats from a gameplay pov.
i also think that with the available 3d moddels out there that converting them to 2d would be alot easyer then most think. we could use any number of games out there (COD4 BF2 CS:S Rainbow six vegas and vegas 2 Ghost recon games etc etc etc) plus there are plenty of 2d games we could use

but 2d seems to be the way most of us want to go just better 2d



P.S. i agree lets do somthing already... i'll help however i can, just don't expect much i got 2 kids both under 5 and a FT job Smile
Re: Improving Original JA2 graphics [message #180098] Fri, 04 April 2008 11:42 Go to previous messageGo to next message
lisac

 
Messages:92
Registered:July 2006
Location: Austria
BirdFlu
What exactly would you consider as "technical" info? The bitwise locations of every data-'object' in the file or the 'compression'-algorithm or something else?

Yes, something like that. I thought someone on the board should give you a hand with the formats, that's all. However:
BirdFlu
Anyway, i think i can give that info for STI files, as i already handled them. I can't say much about JSD files,but i am at the point where i am starting to look into them.

I see you're getting along just fine with those formats Smile
BirdFlu
What would also be interesting is a description of the map format, maybe a rough overview for a start.

OK people, you heard the man...

I'm signing out for the next few days, sorry.
Re: Improving Original JA2 graphics [message #180317] Sun, 06 April 2008 17:03 Go to previous messageGo to next message
zed

 
Messages:43
Registered:November 2006
there is a guy named CNC gun - he gave a stunning lecture on the JSD engine and it seems he knows best this part of the code. i recommend contacting him in PM to give his inputs and advise.
Re: Improving Original JA2 graphics [message #180321] Sun, 06 April 2008 18:50 Go to previous messageGo to next message
KeldorKatarn

 
Messages:37
Registered:May 2006
Location: Germany
About switching to a different 2D rendering engine:

FIFE has discussed here quite a bit.. but one thing nobody has done.. why not simply go to their forums - FIFE - Game creators' corner - and ask them whether their engine would be well suited for this task and how much work they think this would be.

I am very sure that they'd be thrilled to know that their engine is considered to bring a well known game like Jagged Alliance 2 to a new modern look.
One thing should also be remembered here. their engine was originally designed as a modernized more flexible remake of the Fallout engine. Since fallout and JA2 are genre wise very related I really doubt that it would be so hard to make this work.
But as I already suggested.. why no simply ask the developers.


Edit: Well, thinking twice I took the liberty and just opened a thread there:

http://forums.fifengine.de/index.php?topic=116.0

[Updated on: Sun, 06 April 2008 18:59] by Moderator

Re: Improving Original JA2 graphics – Sprite[message #180472] Tue, 08 April 2008 02:28 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Mauser

 
Messages:769
Registered:August 2006
Location: Bavaria - Germany
guys, one thing i want you to take into consideration when planning on a new/improved graphics engine, would be the following features, from which every future mod would greatly benefit:

1. multiple height levels to allow for trenches, 2 story buildings and cliffs/slopes

2. destroyable and animateable light sources (spotlights).


furthermore, i think it would probably be a good idea, to make a community-wide poll, on which route to take. i.e.:

1. try to improve JA2 original engine

2. make complete new 2D engine

3. use new 3D engine

4. use a combination of 2D engine with 3D engine for characters

5. use FIFE engine

let the people decide or at least take their wishes into consideration.

☆★GL★☆
Re: Improving Original JA2 graphics [message #180492] Tue, 08 April 2008 08:58 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Lt.Havoc

 
Messages:34
Registered:April 2006
Location: Germany

Well, you should join the FIFE forum and ask there if the engine supports multiple hight leves and destroyable light etc. The devs of the engine can surely answer these questions.

Well, a poll would be fine, but I guess the poll wouldnt hardly representative because not every JA2 player is here in the forums and not everyone who is in Bears Pit will answer the poll etc.
Re: Improving Original JA2 graphics [message #180494] Tue, 08 April 2008 10:53 Go to previous messageGo to next message
KeldorKatarn

 
Messages:37
Registered:May 2006
Location: Germany
I'd rather go for a poll among the senior players and specially among the developers,since after all it is them who have to implement it. It doesn't make much sense to ask for the development of a completely new 3d engine (a no-go in my opinion anyway since such a thing takes years) if the developers cannot do it.

About the features.. the FIFE guys already told us that they are open for such questions and would really like to know what we expect from the engine. Stuff like multiple levels and movable lights is certainly something they might like to hear about. Whether their engine can do it yet or not I don't know.
Re: Improving Original JA2 graphics [message #180542] Tue, 08 April 2008 16:43 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Lt.Havoc

 
Messages:34
Registered:April 2006
Location: Germany

Well, thats also true. I just hope that if they coose FIFE, a lot of problems and limitatons vanish that the makesrs of te mod have to deal with a the time. Like the bigger maps thing or the idea to be able to hire more Mercs etc.
Re: Improving Original JA2 graphics [message #180553] Tue, 08 April 2008 18:15 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Daecraban
Messages:2
Registered:April 2008
Location: Germany
Hi Guys!
Im new here!
But i

[Updated on: Tue, 08 April 2008 18:16] by Moderator

Re: Improving Original JA2 graphics [message #180664] Thu, 10 April 2008 01:48 Go to previous messageGo to next message
BirdFlu

 
Messages:441
Registered:September 2007
Location: Lampukistan
I was trying to understand the .JSD file format. But looking for some values of a given file in the debugger
is not really convenient, and so i converted all JSD files to XML files. I'm not sure whether the conversion
was correct, but maybe someone who worked with structure data can look into the files and tell me if something
is wrong. I'm especially not sure about the flags, because they are defined as #define expressions and
their connection to the different data structures is done by name (or not?).

Anyway, has anyone a need for these files, and if yes, where should i upload them?

Re: Improving Original JA2 graphics [message #180672] Thu, 10 April 2008 08:12 Go to previous messageGo to next message
zed

 
Messages:43
Registered:November 2006
PM CNC gun and look in this thread:
http://www.ja-galaxy-forum.com/board/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=152399&page=1#Post152399
this explains some of the things you are dealing with
Re: Improving Original JA2 graphics [message #180683] Thu, 10 April 2008 12:53 Go to previous messageGo to next message
the scorpion

 
Messages:1836
Registered:September 2004
Location: CH
birdflu

sure i'm interested to see that conversion. i think CNC gun has been inactive lately (very busy with job, etc...)
Re: Improving Original JA2 graphics [message #180694] Thu, 10 April 2008 15:02 Go to previous messageGo to next message
BirdFlu

 
Messages:441
Registered:September 2007
Location: Lampukistan
Quote:
http://www.ja-galaxy-forum.com/board/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=152399&page=1#Post152399

interessting thread (still reading)

here is a small example of a XML structure file : "tilesets\0\CAVHOLE.JSD.xml"

  
     J2SD 
    
      <_flag> STRUCTURE_FILE_CONTAINS_STRUCTUREDATA 
    
     3 
     3 
     304 
     0 
  
  
    <_STRUCTURE>
      
         0 
         0 
         0 
         6 
        
          <_flag> STRUCTURE_GENERIC 
          <_flag> STRUCTURE_OBSTACLE 
          <_flag> STRUCTURE_BLOCKSMOVES 
          <_flag> STRUCTURE_TYPE_DEFINED 
        
         0 
         0 
         0 
         0 
         0 
         0 
      
      <_STRUCTURE_TILES>
        
           0 
           0 
           0 
          
             0, 0, 0, 0, 0 
             0, 0, 0, 0, 0 
             0, 0, 0, 0, 0 
             0, 0, 0, 0, 0 
             0, 0, 0, 0, 0 
          
          
          
           0 
        
        
           0 
           0 
           -1 
          
             0, 0, 0, 0, 0 
             0, 0, 0, 0, 0 
             0, 0, 0, 0, 0 
             0, 0, 0, 0, 0 
             0, 0, 0, 0, 0 
          
          
          
           0 
        
        
           0 
           0 
           -2 
          
             0, 0, 0, 0, 0 
             0, 0, 0, 0, 0 
             0, 0, 0, 0, 0 
             0, 0, 0, 0, 0 
             0, 0, 0, 0, 0 
          
          
          
           0 
        
        
           0 
           -1 
           0 
          
             0, 0, 0, 0, 0 
             0, 0, 0, 0, 0 
             0, 0, 0, 0, 0 
             0, 0, 0, 0, 0 
             0, 0, 0, 0, 0 
          
          
          
           0 
        
        
           0 
           -1 
           -1 
          
             0, 0, 0, 0, 0 
             0, 0, 0, 0, 0 
             0, 0, 0, 0, 0 
             0, 0, 0, 0, 0 
             0, 0, 0, 0, 0 
          
          
          
           0 
        
        
           0 
           -1 
           -2 
          
             0, 0, 0, 0, 0 
             0, 0, 0, 0, 0 
             0, 0, 0, 0, 0 
             0, 0, 0, 0, 0 
             0, 0, 0, 0, 0 
          
          
          
           0 
        
      
    
    <_STRUCTURE>
      
         10 
         8 
         100 
         1 
        
          <_flag> STRUCTURE_GENERIC 
          <_flag> STRUCTURE_OBSTACLE 
          <_flag> STRUCTURE_BLOCKSMOVES 
          <_flag> STRUCTURE_TYPE_DEFINED 
        
         1 
         0 
         0 
         0 
         0 
         0 
      
      <_STRUCTURE_TILES>
        
           0 
           0 
           0 
          
             0, 0, 0, 0, 0 
             0, 0, 0, 0, 0 
             0, 15, 0, 15, 0 
             0, 0, 0, 0, 0 
             0, 0, 0, 0, 0 
          
          
          
           0 
        
      
    
    <_STRUCTURE>
      
         2 
         7 
         100 
         1 
        
          <_flag> STRUCTURE_GENERIC 
          <_flag> STRUCTURE_OBSTACLE 
          <_flag> STRUCTURE_BLOCKSMOVES 
          <_flag> STRUCTURE_TYPE_DEFINED 
        
         2 
         0 
         0 
         0 
         0 
         0 
      
      <_STRUCTURE_TILES>
        
           0 
           0 
           0 
          
             0, 0, 0, 0, 0 
             0, 0, 0, 0, 0 
             4, 4, 7, 4, 4 
             0, 0, 0, 0, 0 
             0, 0, 0, 0, 0 
          
          
          
           0 
        
      
    
  



While, i was dealing with writing the structure xml files, i thought i could do the same for maybe prof.dat or other .dat files.
The problem is that i can easily create these files, but i can't read (parse) them again. So they are of limited use right now.

Re: Improving Original JA2 graphics [message #180711] Thu, 10 April 2008 16:51 Go to previous messageGo to next message
the scorpion

 
Messages:1836
Registered:September 2004
Location: CH
wow

that's awfully long for such a small .jsd file *omg*
Re: Improving Original JA2 graphics [message #180719] Thu, 10 April 2008 17:57 Go to previous messageGo to next message
BirdFlu

 
Messages:441
Registered:September 2007
Location: Lampukistan
Quote:
that's awfully long for such a small .jsd file *omg*

Well, that is the problem with xml files vs. binary files, they tend to be huge. The amount of information is small, but all the surrounding tags make it so long.
And your program can't read these files "just so", it has to parse them (more or less slowly). But xml files are "human readable" (really?) and can be changed/processed
with a simple text editor. I think for modders it is still a good thing, as they don't have to rely on some binary editors (which may not even exist).

Edit : all converted xml files take around *** 40 Mbyte *** in total, but only around 2 Mbyte when compressed

[Updated on: Thu, 10 April 2008 18:02] by Moderator


Re: Improving Original JA2 graphics [message #180727] Thu, 10 April 2008 18:30 Go to previous messageGo to next message
the scorpion

 
Messages:1836
Registered:September 2004
Location: CH
jsd editors do exist, and the file you took as an example is rather a small entry there. That's why i fear working on larger files would be extremely hard.

current jsd editors can only load "normal" jsd's, not special jsd's like buildings, doors, animated objects, etc basicly everything out of the ordinary is currently not possible to do.

So maybe if the xml data would allow working on those files, that might give them a big edge.
But for a simple object, a jsd editor is probably way easier and faster to handle. Is it thinkable to have some sort of dual-system, where both a packed, human-unreadable .jsd file is supported as well as expanded, readable .xml texts?

probably very unelegant i guess ;-D

or maybe it's just a question of having a top notch jsd/xml editor tool along with these suggested xml's.
Re: Improving Original JA2 graphics [message #180730] Thu, 10 April 2008 18:51 Go to previous messageGo to next message
BirdFlu

 
Messages:441
Registered:September 2007
Location: Lampukistan
The .jsd or .xml file is just a representation of structure data on disc. Internally you still use the given data structures.
Changing the way how to read or write data is not that big of a deal, but if the jsd-editor can't show the non-normal files, their
xml representaion won't help either. Then the gui of the editor has to be changed.

BTW, what is a normal jsd? I've seen files that hava the flag STRUCTURE_FILE_CONTAINS_STRUCTUREDATA
or STRUCTURE_FILE_CONTAINS_AUXIMAGEDATA or both.

As i create the xml files automatically, i have not looked into all of them, so maybe something went wrong somewhere. The files that
CONTAINS_AUXIMAGEDATA look half-empty to me and have no flag most of the time, but maybe that's the way they should be.
Can you give me some examples of normal and non-normal jsd's?

Re: Improving Original JA2 graphics [message #180734] Thu, 10 April 2008 19:23 Go to previous messageGo to next message
the scorpion

 
Messages:1836
Registered:September 2004
Location: CH
for example, basefrn1.jsd in tileset 0 is a very generic file containing nothing special, a bunch of small items that can only be placed individually and have no relation whatsoever to each other

build_01.jsd, and, any "house" (labeling is usually build_"number""eventualletter".JSD) on the other hand is, in my terminology, a very complex .jsd as you have to be able to create a house using those, not just a single wall tile or a single piece of roof.

also, when certain tiles are destroyed, e.g. a wall, a different object from within the same .jsd will take its place, as opposed to "normal" jsd's, where the destruction partner is an structureless external graphic (without any jsd information linked to it)

intuitivly, there must be a lot of additional code/ different file structure/ info storage with these jsd files that with the other files because when builing houses in the editor or destroying houses ingame, much more complex actions must take place.

then next in the "0" tileset, "fence.jsd" is, if i remeber correctly, not loadable via editor and it must have that "fence" tag somewhere or "canjumpover" for certain structure objects which current editors don't display.

interestingly, sandbag.jsd can be loaded and edited, just the "canjumpoverobject" thing apparently can't be controled that way.

i never tried loading a cliff jsd but it may also have special data

roof_01.jsd, as well as any other roof, has special info to it as well, not loadable via current editors

satdish.jsd, which can be found for example in tileset 28 finally, is an animated tile that cannot be loaded either. It even has another .jsd file for its shadow, as the shadow is animated too.


i guess from a coder point of view, that terminology might not help at all, be misleading or whatnot. But logically/ intuitivly, there must be noteworthy differences between these files.




Re: Improving Original JA2 graphics [message #180735] Thu, 10 April 2008 19:28 Go to previous messageGo to next message
the scorpion

 
Messages:1836
Registered:September 2004
Location: CH
i'd guess from the terms used that STRUCTURE_FILE_CONTAINS_AUXIMAGEDATA is used for example in satdishs.jsd, while satdish.jsd has both, structure data and auxilliary image data?

and i think these types of jsd's are so far unsupported... at least i wouldn't know of a tool that could handle them, but others may know more than i do.

the STRUCTURE_FILE_CONTAINS_STRUCTUREDATA type jsd is probably the normal, by jsd editors supported type.
but that's just my guess based on the terminology.
Re: Improving Original JA2 graphics [message #180739] Thu, 10 April 2008 19:48 Go to previous messageGo to next message
BirdFlu

 
Messages:441
Registered:September 2007
Location: Lampukistan
I don't know, why the editor cannot handle all the types of data. They look all the same to me. I mean the flags are different but the rest has pretty much the same structure.

here is an example of : tilesets\28\SATDISH.JSD.xml

  
     J2SD 
    
      <_flag> STRUCTURE_FILE_CONTAINS_STRUCTUREDATA 
      <_flag> STRUCTURE_FILE_CONTAINS_AUXIMAGEDATA 
    
     10 
     10 
     10 
     480 
     0 
  
  
    <_AuxObjectData>
      
         0 
         0 
         0 
         0 
         8 
        
          <_flag> AUX_ANIMATED_TILE 
        
      
      
         0 
         0 
         0 
         1 
         8 
        
          <_flag> AUX_ANIMATED_TILE 
        
      
      
         0 
         0 
         0 
         2 
         8 
        
          <_flag> AUX_ANIMATED_TILE 
        
      
      
         0 
         0 
         0 
         3 
         8 
        
          <_flag> AUX_ANIMATED_TILE 
        
      
      
         0 
         0 
         0 
         4 
         8 
        
          <_flag> AUX_ANIMATED_TILE 
        
      
      
         0 
         0 
         0 
         5 
         8 
        
          <_flag> AUX_ANIMATED_TILE 
        
      
      
         0 
         0 
         0 
         6 
         8 
        
          <_flag> AUX_ANIMATED_TILE 
        
      
      
         0 
         0 
         0 
         7 
         8 
        
          <_flag> AUX_ANIMATED_TILE 
        
      
      
         0 
         0 
         0 
         0 
         0 
        
        
      
      
         0 
         0 
         0 
         0 
         0 
        
        
      
    
  
  
    <_STRUCTURE>
      
         21 
         42 
         100 
         1 
        
          <_flag> STRUCTURE_GENERIC 
          <_flag> STRUCTURE_OBSTACLE 
          <_flag> STRUCTURE_BLOCKSMOVES 
          <_flag> STRUCTURE_TYPE_DEFINED 
        
         0 
         0 
         1 
         0 
         0 
         0 
      
      <_STRUCTURE_TILES>
        
           0 
           0 
           0 
          
             0, 3, 3, 3, 0 
             3, 3, 3, 3, 3 
             3, 3, 3, 3, 3 
             3, 3, 3, 3, 3 
             0, 3, 3, 3, 0 
          
          
          
           0 
        
      
    
    <_STRUCTURE>
      
         21 
         42 
         100 
         1 
        
          <_flag> STRUCTURE_GENERIC 
          <_flag> STRUCTURE_OBSTACLE 
          <_flag> STRUCTURE_BLOCKSMOVES 
          <_flag> STRUCTURE_TYPE_DEFINED 
        
         1 
         0 
         1 
         0 
         0 
         0 
      
      <_STRUCTURE_TILES>
        
           0 
           0 
           0 
          
             0, 3, 3, 3, 0 
             3, 3, 3, 3, 3 
             3, 3, 3, 3, 3 
             3, 3, 3, 3, 3 
             0, 3, 3, 3, 0 
          
          
          
           0 
        
      
    
    <_STRUCTURE>
      
         21 
         42 
         100 
         1 
        
          <_flag> STRUCTURE_GENERIC 
          <_flag> STRUCTURE_OBSTACLE 
          <_flag> STRUCTURE_BLOCKSMOVES 
          <_flag> STRUCTURE_TYPE_DEFINED 
        
         2 
         0 
         1 
         0 
         0 
         0 
      
      <_STRUCTURE_TILES>
        
           0 
           0 
           0 
          
             0, 3, 3, 3, 0 
             3, 3, 3, 3, 3 
             3, 3, 3, 3, 3 
             3, 3, 3, 3, 3 
             0, 3, 3, 3, 0 
          
          
          
           0 
        
      
    
    <_STRUCTURE>
      
         21 
         42 
         100 
         1 
        
          <_flag> STRUCTURE_GENERIC 
          <_flag> STRUCTURE_OBSTACLE 
          <_flag> STRUCTURE_BLOCKSMOVES 
          <_flag> STRUCTURE_TYPE_DEFINED 
        
         3 
         0 
         1 
         0 
         0 
         0 
      
      <_STRUCTURE_TILES>
        
           0 
           0 
           0 
          
             0, 3, 3, 3, 0 
             3, 3, 3, 3, 3 
             3, 3, 3, 3, 3 
             3, 3, 3, 3, 3 
             0, 3, 3, 3, 0 
          
          
          
           0 
        
      
    
    <_STRUCTURE>
      
         21 
         42 
         100 
         1 
        
          <_flag> STRUCTURE_GENERIC 
          <_flag> STRUCTURE_OBSTACLE 
          <_flag> STRUCTURE_BLOCKSMOVES 
          <_flag> STRUCTURE_TYPE_DEFINED 
        
         4 
         0 
         1 
         0 
         0 
         0 
      
      <_STRUCTURE_TILES>
        
           0 
           0 
           0 
          
             0, 3, 3, 3, 0 
             3, 3, 3, 3, 3 
             3, 3, 3, 3, 3 
             3, 3, 3, 3, 3 
             0, 3, 3, 3, 0 
          
          
          
           0 
        
      
    
    <_STRUCTURE>
      
         21 
         42 
         100 
         1 
        
          <_flag> STRUCTURE_GENERIC 
          <_flag> STRUCTURE_OBSTACLE 
          <_flag> STRUCTURE_BLOCKSMOVES 
          <_flag> STRUCTURE_TYPE_DEFINED 
        
         5 
         0 
         1 
         0 
         0 
         0 
      
      <_STRUCTURE_TILES>
        
           0 
           0 
           0 
          
             0, 3, 3, 3, 0 
             3, 3, 3, 3, 3 
             3, 3, 3, 3, 3 
             3, 3, 3, 3, 3 
             0, 3, 3, 3, 0 
          
          
          
           0 
        
      
    
    <_STRUCTURE>
      
         21 
         42 
         100 
         1 
        
          <_flag> STRUCTURE_GENERIC 
          <_flag> STRUCTURE_OBSTACLE 
          <_flag> STRUCTURE_BLOCKSMOVES 
          <_flag> STRUCTURE_TYPE_DEFINED 
        
         6 
         0 
         1 
         0 
         0 
         0 
      
      <_STRUCTURE_TILES>
        
           0 
           0 
           0 
          
             0, 3, 3, 3, 0 
             3, 3, 3, 3, 3 
             3, 3, 3, 3, 3 
             3, 3, 3, 3, 3 
             0, 3, 3, 3, 0 
          
          
          
           0 
        
      
    
    <_STRUCTURE>
      
         21 
         42 
         100 
         1 
        
          <_flag> STRUCTURE_GENERIC 
          <_flag> STRUCTURE_OBSTACLE 
          <_flag> STRUCTURE_BLOCKSMOVES 
          <_flag> STRUCTURE_TYPE_DEFINED 
        
         7 
         0 
         1 
         0 
         0 
         0 
      
      <_STRUCTURE_TILES>
        
           0 
           0 
           0 
          
             0, 3, 3, 3, 0 
             3, 3, 3, 3, 3 
             3, 3, 3, 3, 3 
             3, 3, 3, 3, 3 
             0, 3, 3, 3, 0 
          
          
          
           0 
        
      
    
    <_STRUCTURE>
      
         21 
         8 
         100 
         1 
        
          <_flag> STRUCTURE_GENERIC 
          <_flag> STRUCTURE_OBSTACLE 
          <_flag> STRUCTURE_BLOCKSMOVES 
          <_flag> STRUCTURE_TYPE_DEFINED 
        
         8 
         0 
         1 
         0 
         0 
         0 
      
      <_STRUCTURE_TILES>
        
           0 
           0 
           0 
          
             0, 0, 1, 0, 0 
             0, 0, 2, 0, 0 
             0, 2, 2, 2, 0 
             1, 0, 2, 1, 0 
             0, 0, 0, 0, 0 
          
          
          
           0 
        
      
    
    <_STRUCTURE>
      
         21 
         8 
         100 
         1 
        
          <_flag> STRUCTURE_GENERIC 
          <_flag> STRUCTURE_OBSTACLE 
          <_flag> STRUCTURE_BLOCKSMOVES 
          <_flag> STRUCTURE_TYPE_DEFINED 
        
         9 
         0 
         1 
         0 
         0 
         0 
      
      <_STRUCTURE_TILES>
        
           0 
           0 
           0 
          
             0, 1, 0, 0, 0 
             0, 0, 2, 0, 0 
             0, 2, 2, 2, 1 
             0, 1, 2, 0, 0 
             0, 0, 0, 0, 0 
          
          
          
           0 
        
      
    
  


I watch the files in the internet explorer, where i can fold or unfold single sections, so it doesn't look so cluttered.
I may me a little harder to work with viewers or editors that don't support folding.

Re: Improving Original JA2 graphics [message #180742] Thu, 10 April 2008 20:01 Go to previous messageGo to next message
the scorpion

 
Messages:1836
Registered:September 2004
Location: CH
then the editor doesn't support the flags (obviously i'm not a programmer so i'm already lost here)

but the terminology makes sense, satdish contains both the actual structure data (size of object, hitpoints, etc.) as well as the tie to other graphics (animated).

Makes perfect sense.

What about build_1.jsd or fence.jsd, do they also contain AUXIMAGEDATA? or auxobjectdata at least?


so, auximagedata is in fact more than just

<_flag> AUX_ANIMATED_TILE

my simplistic conception was way to shallow as it looks.

Re: Improving Original JA2 graphics [message #180751] Thu, 10 April 2008 21:23 Go to previous messageGo to previous message
BirdFlu

 
Messages:441
Registered:September 2007
Location: Lampukistan
You have one or two flags in the header of the file (STRUCTURE_FILE_CONTAINS_STRUCTUREDATA, STRUCTURE_FILE_CONTAINS_AUXIMAGEDATA).

With flag "STRUCTURE_FILE_CONTAINS_AUXIMAGEDATA" you have as many "AuxObjectData" sections as is said in "usNumberOfImages" (see header)
and as many "RelTileLoc" sections as said in "usNumberOfImageTileLocsStored".

With flag "STRUCTURE_FILE_CONTAINS_STRUCTUREDATA" you have as many "_STRUCTURE" sections as said in "usNumberOfStructures" or
"usNumberOfStructuresStored" (these two differ sometimes, not sure why).
Each "_STRUCTURE" section contains one "DB_STRUCTURE" section and several "DB_STRUCTURE_TILE" sections.

Build01.jsd and Fence.jsd have both StructureData and AuxImageData. I will not post the contents of these files,
as they would look like the examples above just with different values, but i can upload all files somewhere so that
everyone can take a look at them.

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