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My first GalCiv util, it's a more advanced ship rotating utility than the Stellar Frontier one. It's features are :

  • Accept JPEG, PNG, TGA, PCX and BMP files as input

  • Output the result to PNG, TGA, PCX and BMP.

  • Background color auto detection for filling the spaces left by the rotation. Of course you can still set a color of your choice.

  • Remembers your settings for directory, frame number and save options.

  • Like the SF util, you can also set the number of frames for your animations.

Download here

That said, I'm still working on my 3d TA program. It's just nice to not be doing it ALL the time, instead I work on it a little bit, then switch to GalCiv for a while etc.

-Dark Rain



I've started playing Galactic Civilization and I must say it kick ass. I'm mentioning this because I just couldnít resist participating in the modding community. Since it's a fairly new game there's lots of opportunities for the daring programmer to make his mark (the daring programmer, that's me btw ^_^). I started with the basics, which mean hacking the game file formats. I'm done with the pear library format (that's their hpi equivalent) and the palette format in it. I'm working on the SPR1 format (gaf files) and the multiple save game files to make possible a scenario/map editor.

On another note, I've also hacked the .stuff file format for Eve : The second Genesis and I was well onto my way to finish hacking the format for their 3d objects but the beta ended and I was short on cash to register and it didnít offer enough for me. That being said, it's still a good game. I didnít post it because there was a NDA and I sort of forgot to post it when the NDA was lifted.

Anyway, go check it out, they're in their own section in the sidebar menu.

-Dark Rain



Another screenshot, I got the multiple texture layers working, sphere mapping + basic texturing. Add, delete is working etc. I could probably add some other stuff but this should be enough for the current stage of the developpement of my game.

-Dark Rain



Well, I finaly got most of my "3d editor" working. It's mainly a program to import milkshape 3d files to my 3d engine file format, the .3d format (how original ^_^). It support adding texture layers to a mesh, environment mapped textures and later on a bump map. Of course it support opening and saving .3d files and later on I'll add support for plugins if there's a demand but, that's in the far off future!

-Dark Rain



Ok, the TNT document has already been updated, he's found a feature index he forgot and one that seems to be undocumented even in Kinboat map editor. The feature index is 0xFFFE, so if anyone can help clear this up, it would be really helpful.

-Dark Rain



Update! me22 decyphered the missing parts of the TNT file format while working on his new 3d tnt renderer and he was kind enough to write it down for us ^_^. I've put it up in file format section and I'll provide a link to his program one he's done working on it.

-Dark Rain



Well, as I tought, I restarted work on my 3d engine framework. I restarted from the ground up this summer, mainly because I had ideas about how to improve it and it's fairly fast redoing all that stuff now that I know how it works. I've got a really killer design for the render design, this summer, software design is king ^_^. Oh yeah, here are a two screenshots of tests I ran to check if the render objects were working well plus I wanted to prove to some people that just rendering a heightmap with no LOD and one texture was dead easy ^_^

-Dark Rain



No, no this website isnt dead, in fact I had a pretty cool release that would've been ready in a couple of days. Sadly it turned out to be a pretty bad case of crash and burn as far as projects go. I thought I had a way of making TA maps much, much more smaller than they are right now and they would've been self contained, like a zip file not like the SY map compression utility. Welllll obviously it didnt work out too well since I'm typing this ^_^. What happened is that I hadnt realized that zipped bmp files were about just as small as png files, zipped or not. TA maps are just that, huge uncompressed bitmaps. I thought compressing them to png would give me a much smaller file but as it turned out, compressing a 1mb ta map ufo to png saves about 100-200k. Nothing worth speaking of, so I guess I'll have to can it ;(. Dont know what's next, I'll probably resume work on my 3d game engine.

-Dark Rain



I just added a new file to the file format section, it contains the memory adresses to customise your Totala.exe. It includes how to add additional races plus other nifty stuff like unit limit and file extensions. Vital stuff for any mod maker out there.

Click here to view it.

-Dark Rain



New version of the plugin :

There's a new version of the plugin available, it fixes a small bug, which should make it work on win98 machines now. I also included a REAL help file this time, with the plugin. Gives more details on how to use it.

Also, I put the TA textures up for download because some people told me they had a hard time figuring how to get them. Click here to get them or go to the utilities sections.

Source code uploaded :

I also uploaded all the TA source code I scrounged along the years since most of it is almost impossible to find today. Here's the list : 

  • Kinboat Source : 3do builder, annihilator, Cob Builder, GAF Builder, TA unit Manager, exemple for using JoeD-HPI dll and the TA format files (Some files are missing or outdated when compared to this site repository but it's still a nice reference).
  • JoeD source : Other fun stuff :HPI util source, HPI viewer source. (I know there's some missing stuf but I didnt download it back then when it was still available).

This is also all in the utilities sections.

Other fun stuff :

Project 1 : In addition to the animation plugin, I've started making a gaf utilities dll, which will lead to Gaf Edit, my version of Gaf Builder. No load time, no stupid gaf files that get corrupted for no reasons whatsoever.

Project 2 : I'm working on a program to compress map files. Unlike the SY program, it's self contained, meaning that you dont need the tiles on your computer. In short, it'll work exactly like a zip file, except for TA maps. I plan to extend this to a couple of TA formats, to create a kind of TC compression program. It would be really great for TA races that are so farking huge downloads if you ask me. I'm guessing I can attain at least 3/4 the size with lossless compression and 1/2 or 1/4 the size with lossy compression. I'll have to run more serious tests but so far it looks promising. Betcha TAMEC HD and bandwith bill will love it :P.

Project 3 : The biggest one yet, I came up with a scheme to enable polygon shaders (yes polygons) and pixel shaders in TA units. They'll be reachable throught a effect browser that will be plugin aware for 3rd party add on. Any 3d programmer that worked a bit with shaders can understand that it's a really, really powerful feature. It would enable mind blowing effects for TA.

Project 4 : Well with the gaf util dll, the GUI editor is on the table again but it's not that high on my priorities list ie : it isnt fun to do! ^_^.

Well that's that for my projects list. If any programmer with some C++ or VB skills want to help it would be really great because I wont be finished before TA 2 comes it, since it seems I'm coming up with new concepts faster then I can apply them. Note : I can work with VB but it would be kinda akward since all my code base for TA stuff is in C++ now.

-Dark Rain



I monkeyed around a bit with the commongui.gaf . It used to be impossible to edit, but there's a workaround. I used the trick C_A_P gave me for TA:K gaf files having a similar problem. It mainly involves extracting all the data and re saving it with Gaf Builder so that it's in a format it likes. It would seem that this was caused by compressed sequences and NOT by commongui.gaf being a large file. For those interested in how it works, here's a link to C_A_P explanation, browse down to the section called "GafBuilder Pro 2.5 and less".

I put up a copy of my result in the utilities section. It works at 90% but there's a slight problem with in game build menus. It would seem compressed sequences react differently than uncompressed and so the offsets are bit off. I'll have to correct them manualy but in the meantime it's a pretty cool file to have since it gives you a template for skin creation.

Click here to download the new commongui.gaf

-Dark Rain



I just finished a tutorial : Easy Build Picture & Eye Candy. It describes how to easily do build pictures and eye candy without any rendering package like Lightwave or 3ds max, with the use of my 3do to MS3D plugin. Once you understand the process, it takes about 10 minutes from start to the final result for simple build pictures. Unit makers who suffered from poor renders for their build pictures will be able to correct that easily ^_^.

-Dark Rain



Looks like I'm incredibly productive lately, I just finished another project ^_^. Too bad no one will give a damn about this one. I updated the old .3do format description done by Dan Melchione in 1998. There was some missing information and unconfirmed stuff so I just added it from what I learnt doing the plugin. 

Click here to view the new file. 

-Dark Rain


New version of the plugin, 1.0b (yes it's out of alpha). I fixed a couple of bugs :

-=Version 1.0b=-
Bug fixes :
-Tidied up the code a bit
-When you typed the path to a file or
directory instead of using the browse
option, that path wasnt used.
-When there wasnt ONLY .gaf in the 
directory, it crashed.

Click here to download the new dll (other links updated too).

-Dark Rain


Well, surprise, surprise, the importer had bugs I couldnt detect by using only 3 machines all running win2k to do my tests. I fixed a couple of things and I hope this will solve the problem some people have been experiencing. I need more feedback because so far I only have one case where it doesnt work and it's on XP. I need to know if it's all XP user and if it doesnt work for 9x users too. I updated the .dll anyway, and there's no crash bug anymore, at least for me.

Donwload the new dll here (other links updated too).

-Dark Rain



3do to MS3d importer

Can't render easily those beautiful build pic for your units because the SY plugin for 3do files is only for 3d studio max and not YOUR favorite modeling package? Well this little plugin here is the solution to all your problems and more! It allows you to import a .3do unit to Milkshape 3d with full texture and full bone structure, ready for animation or rendering. It will also make you more popular with girls. (Note : results may vary)

"But Dark Rain" you ask, "how is this different from the 3ds max gig?". It's simple, Milkshape 3d is very cheap, only 20.00$, it's also a very small download (3mb) and you can export or import to or from pretty much any format out there, which allows you to use your favorite rendering package, here's the list : 

FormatImportExport3rd party
Half-Life SMDYesYes 
Half-Life MDLDecompile OnlyYes (Compile) 
Quake MDL Yes (Compile) 
Quake II MD2YesYes 
Quake III: Arena MD3YesYes 
Unreal/UT Engine 3DYesYes 
Unreal/UT Engine Skeletal Mesh PSKYesYes 
Vampire: the Masquerade NODYesYes 
Genesis3D 1.0 BDYYesYes 
Genesis3D 1.0 MOTYesYes 
Genesis3D 1.0 ACTDecompile Only  
Serious Sam MDLYes  
Serious Sam LWO/SCR Yes 
Max Payne KF2YesYes 
Max Payne KFSYesYes 
Max Payne SKDYesYes 
The Sims SKNYesYes 
Wavefront OBJYesYes 
3D Studio ASCYesYes 
LightWave LOWYesYes 
LightWave 6.5x LOW Yes 
AutoCAD DXFYesYes 
POV-Ray INC Yes 
Autodesk 3DSYesYes 
RAW TrianglesYesYes 
RenderMan RIB Yes 
Lithtech ABC v11, v12 (NOLF)YesYes 
Lithium UnWrapperYes  
Playstation TMDYes Yes
BioVision Motion Capture BVHYes Yes
Nebula Script YesYes
Jedi Knight 3DO YesYes
GenEdit 3DT YesYes
DirectX 8.0 YesYes
DirectX 8.0 (JT) YesYes


Here are some exemple of build pics made by Grumble with the help of this plugin and Lightwave 7.5 : 

Plugin Interface :

Donwload here
Download source here


Milkshape 3d official homepage is :
Note : there's a 30 day free trial

Note on bugs : 
I know of one and only one unit that crashed my plugin and it's not even a released unit so it's hard to find what the problem is. IF this happens to you, you can still import the geometry and the bones if you uncheck the material check box since the problem is in the gaf importing code. It can be useful if you want to do some animation with the model but it's crashing.

Coming soon : 
An animation plugin for MS3D, it's the same idea as Servo, except this one doesnt crash or wont be as buggy since its integrated in MS3D. It should be ready in a week or two, as soon as I have time to start on it.

-Dark Rain


Well, this website isnt dead even if the last update was a couple of months ago. It was mostly a mix of lack of project and lack of password/username for the FTP that caused this ^_^.

At any rate, there's tons of new material coming, first, I'm doing the interface for the ST:TA conversion. I just started today and I think I had some pretty decent results even if I'm not an artist!

Another project that should bear fruits soon, is a surprise ^_^. I'll just say that it will be pretty handy for modelers and soon after that for scripters doing complex animations.

-Dark Rain


At last, I've moved my ass and finished writting down my findings about the TA:K GUI file format. Mostly because KhalvKalash told me how to get around the bug in scriptor that prevented conversion of TA scripts to TA:K and so finishing the document actualy served a purpose. Now the conversion can proceed in full swing again weeeeeee!

I should post another TA:K document shortly for new and old TA:K developpers about all the bug I found and the fixes to them. Some new that werent found before and some that didnt have a fix beside hex editing ^_^.

Get it here : TA:K GUI.txt

UPDATE : The FAQ file that allows you to fix the scripts, Gaf builder bugs etc is ready, get it here : FAQ.txt 

-Dark Rain


Well Multi Dump 3.0 is released and it's acutaly useful this time ^_^. Here's the short a short description :

Multi Dump... mmm sounds like yet another HPI programô *yawn*. Well you ARE correct ^_^. On the other hand, while it still does the same thing as the other HPI programs, it allow you to do it on a larger scale. For example, say you want to take all the hpi, ufo, gp3 etc in your TA directory and uncompress them into a directory. You open HPI view, open the first file, dump it, wait, close it, open a new file etc etc. With multi dump, you only have to target the directory where the HPI, GP3 etc are and select the target directory for dumping and you're set. 

Of course this isnt all ^_^. The main new feature of multi dump, is that it allow you to combine multiple archive into one in a single operation. Let's say you just downloaded Merciless Creations unit pack for TA (a very good one btw). Well whooops there's like 20 files into the "pack". Have fun enabling and disabling them. Well no you can just target the directory with all your MC files, and have them recombined into a single file. Pretty handy.

As for the rumors about I having done this just so I didnt have to recombine the MC pack by hand, it's all lies! I swear! ^_^.

Download here
Download source here

-Dark Rain


It's been pretty calm on the graphic front lately, I've been doing a lot of modifications to my engine framework. Mainly, I changed the way some objects worked together, I had done a lot of sloppy work and poor encapsulation to get things up and running faster. 

I can already see some ppl pointing out that it's what happen when you dont plan your code and start coding right ahead. Well I must say I dont regret it, I was only trying to experiment and learn how stuff worked and the code I wrote for the particule engine, model etc was well made, it's just the peripheral stuff like the memory manager and texture manager etc that werent very well done. I wanted to concentrate more on what I was doing rather than be distracted.

At any rate, I kinda like the new scheme I came up for loading media data, it's pretty flexible.

On another note, someone asked me why the hell I was posting all this here, it's a TA utilities website after all.... right? Well yes it was at first, but now it's more of a developper diary then anything else. I like to post here and look back on what I did, it gives me a sense of perspective and if someone is interested in my experience all the better ^_^.

-Dark Rain


Well, I got the particle engine polished, additive blending, sprites, physics etc. Here's a screenshot of a proto torch fire I made in 2 mins : 

Of course, it's much, much more impresive when it's moving and actualy looks credible ^_^.

My next project is to simulate an ocean along with my terrain engine. I'm trying to emulate the work of these guys here. Pretty damn impressive piece of work IMHO.

-Dark Rain


TA Profiler news : Well it looks like there was a couple of bugs regarding 3rd party maps. Slower is looking into it and said he'll fix it someday ^_^. On another note regarding TAP, I released the source code. I completly forgot to do it after the release, so here it is : Download.

Engine :
Well, as usual, I completly, lied, I got sidetracked and did a particle engine instead of implementing Inverted Kinematics. It was a one night job that took a week. I always pushed back doing it and only worked on it 20 mins at a time ^_^. So I guess I can apologise to my imaginary audience :P

Screenshot will be avalaible soon, for now I only have particles without sprites working so it looks like a bunch of random pixels when it's not moving.

-Dark Rain


There has been a bit of confusion it seems about the screenshots I posted on 11-09-2001. I did not retexture the krogoth, it's the good ole CD texture job. The krogoth was rendered using my proto engine which is nameless for the moment. The screenshot was just to demonstrate the quality improvement in the renderer. Now on to the "real" news ^_^.

Ah well chrome mapping wasnt looking so good, kinda because my chrome texture wasnt very good. At any rate, I had fun with the effect by simulating an explosion reflection on the pyro. Not the best looking because the explosion bmp was cheap (again) :


A pyro getting busy!


Large explosion!


Well what matter, is that I got multi texturing to work with some environment mapping. I'm gonna do some work with Inverted Kinematic (IK) next. I'll probably have the krogoth do Kung Fu moves ^_^!

-Dark Rain


I just added Bilinear filtering/Trilinear Filtering with Mipmapping and I must say the results are awesome! It shows a fair bit in the still shots but it really shines when they're moving ^_^. Here's a before/after screenshot of Mr K : 


(click to zoom)

Next on the list is some speed optimisation that wont be visible either on the screen or in the FPS (not enough poly to strain my 3d card) but they'll be useful later. After that I'll go for more eye candy, environment mapping, particle effects, details mapping etc.

-Dark Rain


Well, textures are working again in my engine ^_^. I thought that while I was completly rewritting my gaf libraries, I might as well make a basic texture manager. Lots of features to add, like mip maps, enviroment mapping etc but it's going well. Here's a screen shot from Mr K rendered and a golly with textures and lightning : 


(click to zoom)

(click to zoom)

-Dark Rain


As you might've guessed by now, (for those who care) the release wasnt only delayed by my having to write the docs ^_^. I'm not trying to make up excuses, I'm just explaining what happened. 

The truth is, that I found a very minor bug for Win98 machines that would've taken a bit of work to iron out. Things being what they are, I tend to really get totaly captivated by new projects. So I didnt take the time to do it until tonight, because I started a very interesting project with OpenGL before I found out this one wasnt done. Well anyway, I gathered my courage and stopped working on the new one to finish it ^_^.

You can get Ta Profiler HERE. Props to Slower for the original idea and the program core.

In case you were wondering what the hell I was doing here's a sneak peak : 

Texture isnt enabled in this shot because I'm currently modifying my library that read gaf files.

-Dark Rain


Well, I finaly found the time to make a half decent layout. What's more, Visual TA Profiler is officialy ready! I'm in the process of the writting help files and after that it'll be done.

PS : Yes it's programmer art, sue me I cant do better ^_^

-Dark Rain