Last Resort Mod Blog

Hardware update - November 27, 2015

I decided to upgrade my main PC by ordering enough parts to build a new machine.   Gotta love Black Friday sales.   I ordered an unlocked 4th generation I-7 CPU and 16GB of RAM (and other parts) so I can play Fallout 4 and Arma III.   I haven't had an Intel CPU since my very first PC so it will be a nice change from AMD products.   It won't be a top of the line PC but it will probably be the closest to the top that I have ever built (usually I stick to mid-grade components).

Work is expected to slow down around Christmas so I will hopefully have free time to package up the newest version of the mod for a beta test release in about 2-3 weeks.

Early morning on the set of Murdoch Mysteries 2 days ago.   No snow where I live
but drive 1.5 hours north to where we were shooting and it is a different world.

Note: the anachronistic airplane wasn't part of the shoot.

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Domain Renewal and Other Stuff - November 1, 2015

I renewed this domain name for another year so rest assured I am still committed to this (very) part-time project.   I should take this moment to once again thank Haystakk for very generously hosting this website for free.

I want to continue working on packaging up the newest version of the mod for release but my real life job has once again got in the way.  I will be busy on a Canadian TV show called Murdoch Mysteries until the first few weeks of December.   I have worked off and on this show for most of it's 9 seasons and right now we are working on a Christmas special (we have to use fake snow because there isn't any on the ground yet).

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SCNeditor Fixes - October 13, 2015

One of the most important tools I use every day for the making of this mod is AlienAbducter's SCNeditor that can be found in our download section.  This is a tool that would only be useful to mod makers that want to modify the textures in existing maps when you don't have the original .RMF files.

AlienAbducter was kind enough to include the source code in the release so this weekend I decided to see if I could figure out how to modify and then recompile the code.   I know nothing about CPlusPlus coding so I had to do some fast researching about the language.   I also know nothing about 3D geometry in games and I don't have the time or patience to learn about it now.   I was able to fix a few very minor issues with the app (such as the arrow keys being somewhat backwards when switching between texture resize and move modes).

I also noticed he had experimented with an exporter to dump the map in .OBJ .3DS and .MAP formats.   I reactivated that feature but sadly it wasn't working properly like I hoped (I suspect partially because of how the geometry is built in a compiled map).  There were far too many geometric glitches for it to be useful.

Sometime this week I will upload the newest version with the few minor changes that I made.

After having spent the weekend looking at his source code I am amazed that both he and Furrycat (maker of SCNhacking) have been able to reverse engineer so much about the .SCN file.  It is rather humbling to look through their code. 

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Final Skybox...Honest! October 4, 2015

I know I posted last time in the blog that what I showed you was the final version of the skybox.  I didn't like how high the back hills were in comparison to the church.   I lowered the horizon, added a new second panorama layer captured in GTA5 and I stretched the cloud layer to fit the changes.    I still want to finesse the hills by blurring the edges a little to blend them where they meet the sky.

Sorry, I imagine you guys are bored of reading about this skybox topic.   It is the last you will hear of it...for the church mission anyways, lol.


click to enlarge image

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Skybox Experiments - October 1, 2015

 I started experimenting with making new high resolution skyboxes in my last blog entry.  I also posted a lot of information about the process in this forum thread.

Below is the final result in a side-by-side comparison:

click to enlarge image

click to enlarge image

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New Skybox and Lighting Bug in Church - September 29, 2015

As mentioned in my last blog entry I am presently working on improving the Church mission textures.

I have experimented with a new skybox that I am debating if it is appropriate enough to keep.   The orginal Swat 3 skyboxes consist of 6 images that are 256x256 pixels that are wrapped around to form a 360 degree view that exists outside the geometry of the map.   They are so low resolution that the original skyboxes are mostly just unfocused blobs of colour.

I am testing out a new skybox that consists of 6 images of 1024x1024 pixels. This makes a huge difference!   The skybox was downloaded from a site for map makers and it is almost a perfect replacement for the original.   The only problem is that mountains shown in the background have a lot more trees than do the hills of Los Angeles.  Everything else is perfect so it is hard to reject it.   The horizon line perfectly matches the original and the clouds are gorgeous.   You can partially see the skybox in the image below.

One thing that I noticed when working on the map is that there a slight shadow problem up on the breezeway (second floor) and is something overlooked by the Sierra developers.   If you look at the image below I artificially highlighted the shadow in question by marking where the portal is (it is more obvious when you see it in game).   The shadow is caused by the portal blocking the light and the result is that it creates a few inches of shadow on the top side of the window ledge.

A short explanation of portals:   The way Swat 3 works is you have to divide up rooms into cells and portals are invisible pieces of geometry that help divide up the different rooms.  You have to block all windows and doorways with these portals so that you don't have any leaks.   One benefit of this portal system is that you can control which rooms the light entities affect.  This also can be a problem if you forget to tell your lights to be able to shine into other rooms.  You end up with a hard shadow (like in the image below) of where the light is literally stopped from entering.

click to enlarge image

At first I thought I discovered the problem and how to fix it.  The Church map has a light entity called "sun" (of course it is the main light entity for outside) and in the section where it assigns what cells the light works in I noticed that it mistakenly said the cell "breezeway-low" instead of "breezeway".  That means that the light wouldn't shine in the "breezeway" since the cell "breezeway-low" didn't even exist.    Unfortunately this didn't fix the problem because of the angle of the light the sun entity didn't actually fall in the breezeway anyways.    It turns out that what the developers did to get some cool looking archway lighting on the breezeway is to have a second light entity that only falls inside the breezeway and the belltower.   It doesn't fall on the outside of the building since it would ruin the lighting on the exterior of the building.   This is what caused the shadow and isn't fixable unless the portals are tweaked.  This is not possible without the original .RMF map files unfortunately.

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