Last Resort Mod Blog

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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Mission N Church - September 28, 2015

Below you can see what I have been working on lately (the Church mission).   It is a little hard to see in these screenshots but there are several textures that have been replaced and should be more "in focus".

The original dome texture was a 128x128 pixel .TGA file but the Alpha layer wasn't used for transparency.   It was perfect for replacement with a 512x512 pixel .BMP file.   The new texture looks more in focus because it is stretched less than the original.

I have a bad habit of jumping around from map to map looking for textures to replace depending on my mood.  Sometimes I feel like a challenge and other times I just want the easy textures.  Sometimes I just get tired of looking at Google Images or Bing Images for Russian Orthodox church images, lol.

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New Textures & SCN Editor - September 24, 2015

I have been slowly plugging away at making more new high resolution textures for missionB (Getts house).   Below you can see some new wall plaque awards.  I know, they aren't exactly good duplicates of the originals but you get the idea. Sometimes I can't obsess about making it perfect otherwise I would never get anything done.

 

The computer below is better at duplicating the feel of the original.  Please note that I turn off the lighting for these screen captures because this map is pretty dark normally!

 

I would like to spend a second talking about the SCN Editor that AlienAbducter made for us back in 2012.   It has been absolutely invaluable in helping us replace the original textures in the game.   When a new replacement texture is made there is almost always a need to make slight adjustments to the .SCN file.   I am constantly using the SCN Editor to resize or move textures (or even completely replace a texture on a surface).

The only problem is that when I adjust a texture too much the light map can be broken in the game.  The texture will appear black in the game and shining your light on it won't have an affect.   When this happens I have to revert back and start all over.  Sometimes I can't use the new texture I made and I have to compromise.

I know that AlienAbducter has got a lot further into reverse engineering the .SCN file.   I hope that some day he picks up where he left off and continues to develop his .SCN tools.  It would speed things up a lot for me.

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Bad Nvidia Drivers - September 22, 2015

As you can see by the frame rate tests a few days ago in this blog I have been having extremely slow frame rates with Windows 7 64-bit Nvidia drivers.

If you revert your drivers to version 353.62 you will again get good frame rates in Swat 3. If you play the games Metal Gear Solid 5, Mad Max, Ashes of Singularity or Killing Floor 2 you won't want to revert since they contain "game-ready" drivers.

Nvidia Drivers Compatible with Swat 3:

355.98 Sept 22, 2015 - bad frame rate
355.82 August 31, 2015 - bad frame rate
355.60 August 13, 2015 - bad frame rate
353.62 July 29, 2015 - good
353.30 June 22, 2015 - good
353.06 May 31, 2015 - good
352.86 May 18, 2015 - good
350.12 April 13, 2015 - good
347.88 March 17, 2015 - good
347.52 February 10, 2015 - good
347.25 January 22, 2015 - good
347.09 - bad frame rate
344.75 - bad frame rate
344.48 - bad frame rate
344.11 - good

The only way we can get a fixed driver is if enough people report this issue.  Please show Nvidia you care about the classic older DirectDraw and 16-bit colour games.  You can help us by posting in the Nvida forums or by filling out a short bug report: 

Feedback thread for Windows 7 & 8: 
Nvidia feedback thread for driver version 355.82

Driver Bug report (they call it a survey): 
Nvidia Driver Bug Report

Tell them that you are having extreme frame rate drops on the menus of Swat 3 and other older games that use Direct Draw and 16-bit colour depth.  Please also mention the last good drivers were 353.62.

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Frame Rate using '-windows' command - September 20, 2015

When running Swat 3 if you switch your desktop to 16-bit colour and use the -windows command line argument you can can get the game to run in a window at a much better framerate.

When you use this command it overrides your 3D setting choice in the Last Resort mod and uses the 2D menu setting for both 2D and the 3D portion of the game.  Hope I haven't confused you yet.

Below is an example of how you would do this using the Last Resort launcher:

 

Last Resort mod turned on - DirectX hardware rendering -window CLI:

2D Menu Frame Rate:

  • 800x600 - 220 fps
  • 1024x768 - 200 fps
  • 1280x1024 - 179 fps
  • 1440x900 - 214 fps

3D In Game Frame Rate:

  • 800x600 -  280 fps
  • 1024x768 -  318 fps
  • 1280x1024 -  303 fps
  • 1440x900 -  302 fps

 

Last Resort mod turned on - WineD3D (OpenGL wrapper) -window CLI:

2D Menu Frame Rate:

  • 800x600 - 507 fps
  • 1024x768 - 423 fps
  • 1280x1024 - 308 fps
  • 1440x900 - 348 fps

3D In Game Frame Rate:

  • 800x600 -  58 fps
  • 1024x768 -  51 fps
  • 1280x1024 -  45 fps
  • 1440x900 -  45.5 fps

Conclusion:

- Massive frame rate improvement with window mode when using DirectX

- No advantage in window mode with WineD3D (OpenGL) over full screen mode.

Click image to enlarge

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