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Mannon
Initiate

Reged: 05/16/03
Posts: 77
Loc: Texas
NIFLA - Update: Month Two
      #2715591 - 06/22/04 02:13 AM

NetImmerse File Format: Liberation Association (NIFLA)


Greetings!

Well it's been two months since NIFLA started! In fact I'm writing this as the day ends in my time zone. We also had some other interesting news that coincidentally occurred on this same day, so I thought it would be great to throw an update on the board.

First the more incidental news... Although the group sat in obscurity for a week or more as I attempted to collate some minimum dosage of content for the group before making an "official" announcement, the group has been around two months now!

At the tender age of two months the group also, right on this day, surpassed a minor milestone. Today we hit and broke a group membership of fifty! As I write this we currently have fifty-two members registered. (Of course some may or may not be duplicates due to people signing up multiple email addresses, but probably not too many. I'm not going to sweat the small stuff anyway.)

For those of you who may be wondering WTF NIFLA is I suppose a short summary is in order. NIFLA stands for "NetImmerse File Format: Liberation Association".

BTW I don't suppose I ever explained the colon or why NIFLA isn't NIFFLA, if that's the full name. Well, they're related. The group is devoted to the "NIF" file format characterized by that file extension. But the official name of the file format is the "NetImmerse File Format". So in a way we're really the "NIF Liberation Association", but that name wasn't descriptive enough so I put the name of the file format it-self in there in place of "NIF" and added the colon to help hint at it not being a direct acronym. So, if our acronym seems out of whack, don't blame me. ;p Personally, I like it. I suppose that's just a piece of trivia, but there it is.

NIFLA is all about opening up the NIF file format so that people who don't have access to 3d Studio Max can make models for games like Morrowind. I've been immensely frustrated with this since I was originally introduced to the game and community, and I guess I felt like there wasn't any reason the community couldn't fix it ourselves. I knew we had smart, dedicated individuals out there. Knowing full well that my meager coding skills weren't even minutely up to the challenge I figured what we really needed was just to get some people together and have a central location for storing files. So that's what we got.

We aren't doing anything illegal, there's no warezing or even talk of it in the group; just a good clean attempt to FIX a major problem for the modding community.

Thanks to the efforts of many we've also hit another milestone. I don't want to come off seeming too proud here; after all it was not my doing. All I've done is put people in touch with each other for a specific purpose. So, I want to specifically thank Omar and everyone else who has been active in the group for all the help and support they have provided, but especially Taharez for hanging in there with us and actually doing what amounts to most of the work. I would also really like to thank cris_cgs of Assimsoft.com for dropping in and offering the use of his code and research.

The milestone I'm speaking of is Taharez's first alpha release of a NIF export plug in for Milkshape 3d. Now for the disclaimer... Keep in mind it's merely an alpha... version 0.1 in fact, according to T's reckoning. ;p But I thought he deserved a great BIG thank you just for getting us this far so soon!

There's a ton of work left to go, and plenty to go around, but that's what the group is for. I encourage people to test out the plug in and post reports to the group. Bugs, feature requests, whatever... Open discussion in the group can only help. Don't expect Taharez to drop everything to work on your pet peeve or pet feature, and I'm sure we'll all get along. Most of us have real lives in the outside world, so I'm sure we all know not to set unrealistic expectations.

Well, I mainly just wanted to give an update about the group since I have refrained from even mentioning it for so long. It turned out to be quite a bit more interesting than I thought it would be, thanks to Taharez! (Your timing is impeccable.)

This is merely the beginning for us, but what a beginning! I'd say we have one hell of a good start.

So, if you're interested, and you don't know how to get there just follow the link at the top of this post or the one in my sig down below.

Thanks again,


--------------------
-mannon

NetImmerse File Format: Liberation Association (NIFLA)
Help bring creative freedom to more modders by liberating the NIF model file format.

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Taharez
Novice

Reged: 04/30/04
Posts: 15
Loc: Sweden
Re: NIFLA - Update: Month Two [Re: Mannon]
      #2715696 - 06/22/04 03:17 AM

To add something about the plugin itself:
As Mannon already said, it's the first ALPHA release, meaning it's highly feature-incomplete and there's bound to be bugs, etc. Still, it's much appreciated if you could try it out on different models and report any errors, as well as requests. I've already done work on a UI, but as there aren't any options yet, I'll leave it for the next release.

Basicly, what you can expect is that it handles exporting of multi-mesh/material/texture static models, so no animation or other fancy stuff yet Still, it should hopefully be useful.

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DarkOneVenzar
Diviner

Reged: 11/04/03
Posts: 2774
Loc: Realm of Darkness
Re: NIFLA - Update: Month Two [Re: Taharez]
      #2715717 - 06/22/04 03:33 AM

Are you guys going to do somethign like this for Gmax as well? I use it and I find it a pain to get my file from it to 3DMax.

Other then that good job and keep up the good work.

--------------------
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Home of the 8-bit theater
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Taharez
Novice

Reged: 04/30/04
Posts: 15
Loc: Sweden
Re: NIFLA - Update: Month Two [Re: DarkOneVenzar]
      #2715734 - 06/22/04 03:41 AM

Sadly, I can't really run any other modelling progs on this comp, they're too slow ( I run Milkshape in software because I have no real gfx card ). I've never used GMax either, but anyone can download the format description I've uploaded to NIFLA and have a go If there's any questions about the doc, catch me on ICQ or post on NIFLA. This applies to any other app too, of course.

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Om
Diviner

Reged: 01/28/04
Posts: 4262
Loc: Cori Celesti
Re: NIFLA - Update: Month Two [Re: Taharez]
      #2716059 - 06/22/04 06:45 AM

Well Done!

I have to admit that I'm probably the least active of your 52 members, but lets not dwell on that

It would be brilliant if someone could make a plugin for GMax, unfortunately I don't have any of then neccessary skills, but if someone who does did it then I for one would be eternaly grateful

Pleeeease someone, do it!!!

Keep up the good work

Om

--------------------
Glad to be of service - Door

~Omnia~, my EVIL home.


Omnia Chat

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Re: NIFLA - Update: Month Two [Re: Taharez]
      #2716139 - 06/22/04 07:23 AM

Indeed a good start! An alpha exporter already! Not a modeler myself, but I might give milkshape a try.

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JOG
Curate

Reged: 09/15/02
Posts: 745
Re: NIFLA - Update: Month Two [Re: Mannon]
      #2890205 - 08/05/04 12:02 PM

Maybe you can be of help,

Have you found out anything concerning internal textures yet?
This is what I know so far:

Code:

NIFs with External Textures:

string "NiSourceTexture"
Long 0
Long -1
Long -1
Bool 1 (1=external / 0=internal)
string "<Texture-Name>"
Long 5
Long ? (1 or 2 in All NIFs I checked)
Long 3
Bool ?

String "NiMaterialProperty" Or alpha, etc.




Code:

NIFs with internal Textures:

string "NiSourceTexture"
Long 0
Long -1
Long -1
Bool 0 (1=external / 0=internal)
byte 1
Long ?
Long 5
Long ? (1 or 2 in all NIFs I checked)
Long 3
Bool ?
String "NiPixelData"
...
Array (The texture-data)
...
String "NiMaterialProperty" Or alpha, etc.



I want to be able to retexture models that have their textures included, so I modified my Texture Replacer to set the "external-Texture" flag, insert a proper Texture name, and then rip out everything up to the next "NiMaterialProperty".

It works, and in a Hexeditor it looks like any other valid .NIF,
But when I put the model into the render-window, the Editor tells me that it "cannot find create function".

Is there something important missing in NIFs that have their textures within the file, or have I just missed another flag?

From my experience a broken file-format leads to crashes at once, but here the editor complains for all textures first when the files don't exist... So I don't think that I just messed up the file-format.



--------------------
Havish (Updated to v1.2 !!!)

Pirates! (WIP)

My Morrowind Corner

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Re: NIFLA - Update: Month Two [Re: JOG]
      #2891542 - 08/05/04 06:04 PM

Didn't catch a single word of the JOG... On a brighter note, I admire what the NIFLA is doing! You guys are great! Spending $20 bucks on Milkshape instead of $3000 on Max should boost the mod community a bit. If I had any clue what-so-ever about this stuff I would help...oh well. Good luck and god speed!

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Taharez
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Reged: 04/30/04
Posts: 15
Loc: Sweden
Re: NIFLA - Update: Month Two [Re: JOG]
      #2898292 - 08/07/04 01:15 PM

JOG: Your format looks just like mine, and that has worked well so far The problem with ripping out and replacing the NiSourceTexture block is that:
1) the nif file keeps a count of all datablocks ( all Ni* things )
2) a datablock refer to children, properties, etc by their index, which is equal to the position in the file of the given block. That is to say, if the first node ( index 0 ) refer to a block at index 3, it skips the following 2 Ni* blocks and read the next one after that. This way, if you change the number of blocks in the file ( by removing any Ni* blcoks ), the file will be invalid. The only way to compensate AFAIK would be to modify all affected blocks, which is a lot of work.

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JOG
Curate

Reged: 09/15/02
Posts: 745
Re: NIFLA - Update: Month Two [Re: Taharez]
      #2899234 - 08/07/04 05:56 PM

Yep, I figured out that much meanwhile (Thanks to the NILFA List )

Now I'm changing the Overall-ID count in the header, as well as all references in "NiNode" "NiTriShape" and "NiKeyFrameController".

(The ID is the Number of appearance of the "Ni*" in the .NIF, starting with 0 at the first "Ninode", right?)

Well, now the Errormessage is gone, and when the Texture-File is missing, I get the first and second "Missing texture" message, but then the Editor crashes again. So something is still missing...

I'm sure I did everything right, but even that simple NIF I use for testing (Lady E's PalmTree) needs about 40 entries changed. A simpler NIF (a cube or just one plane) would be great. (Preferably in two versions, one with and one without internal textures)


--------------------
Havish (Updated to v1.2 !!!)

Pirates! (WIP)

My Morrowind Corner

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Taharez
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Reged: 04/30/04
Posts: 15
Loc: Sweden
Re: NIFLA - Update: Month Two [Re: JOG]
      #2901204 - 08/08/04 03:45 AM

That's strange, I thought that would work.. Are you changing the dataID property in TriShape too? You can use the NIFLA test files to test, look here: http://games.groups.yahoo.com/group/NIFLA/files/Model%20Analysis/NIF%20-%20Exported%20Files/
The Test3 file may be of most interest to you as it contains a file exported with different texture options. Good luck!

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JOG
Curate

Reged: 09/15/02
Posts: 745
Re: NIFLA - Update: Month Two [Re: Taharez]
      #2901314 - 08/08/04 04:40 AM

Quote:

Are you changing the dataID property in TriShape too?




Yep, below is the logfile my ripper produces. It fits to the tree-structure the NIF should have. I'll check now if really all of those changes were applied to the file correctly.


Quote:

The Test3 file may be of most interest to you as it contains a file exported with different texture options. Good luck!




Thanks! I'll have a look.

Edit:

Okay, seems like the ID-Changes are correct, the only differences between the original Test3.Nif with external textures, and my ripped version are in the "static" 66 Byte Datafields... In "TexturingProperties" and "Nishapedata". I guess you don't know anything about what their meaning?

Here is the Ripped Test3.NIF together with the logfile my ripper produced.


--------------------
Havish (Updated to v1.2 !!!)

Pirates! (WIP)

My Morrowind Corner

Edited by JOG (08/08/04 05:10 AM)

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JOG
Curate

Reged: 09/15/02
Posts: 745
Re: NIFLA - Update: Month Two [Re: Taharez]
      #2901930 - 08/08/04 08:52 AM

Yay!

It think I've found it!!!!
Code:

000004C0: 00 0E 00 00-00 FF FF FF-FF 13 00 00-00 4E 69 54   NiT
000004D0: 65 78 74 75-72 69 6E 67-50 72 6F 70-65 72 74 79 exturingProperty
000004E0: 00 00 00 00-FF FF FF FF-FF FF FF FF-00 00 02 00 
000004F0: 00 00 07 00-00 00 00 4C-14 50 0C 00-00 00 03 00  LP 
00000500: 00 00 02 00-00 00 00 00-00 00 00 00-B5 FF 00 00 
00000510: 00 00 00 00-00 00 00 00-00 00 00 00-00 00 00 00
00000520: 00 00 00 00-00 00 00 00-0F 00 00 00-4E 69 53 6F NiSo
00000530: 75 72 63 65-54 65 78 74-75 72 65 00-00 00 00 FF urceTexture



The yellow longint is another ID!!! (The one of the associated NiSourceTexture) I've changed it from $0D to $0C and the ripped test-nif loads into the editor!!!

I'll change my program now, and see if it also works with other NIFs or if there are still more hidden ID's.

Edit: BANZAII!!!!!!!!! It works!!!

Here's Lady E's palmtree original, untextured and retextured as proof.


Thanks!!!



--------------------
Havish (Updated to v1.2 !!!)

Pirates! (WIP)

My Morrowind Corner

Edited by JOG (08/08/04 10:28 AM)

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Powerc80
Acolyte

Reged: 06/15/03
Posts: 140
Re: NIFLA - Update: Month Two [Re: Mannon]
      #2901982 - 08/08/04 09:27 AM

Yeah! Cheers!

Thanks for making my copy of Milkshape useful!

--------------------
Need a good and freeware archiving (ZIP) program? Try 7-Zip!

Want freeware spyware removal? Try Spybot!

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Taharez
Novice

Reged: 04/30/04
Posts: 15
Loc: Sweden
Re: NIFLA - Update: Month Two [Re: JOG]
      #2902323 - 08/08/04 11:42 AM

Great! Glad we could be of help And thanks for catching that Id, i'll update my spec and exporter.

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