Last Resort Mod Blog

Mission A Lighting Shenanigans - June 30, 2016

I was doing some last minute checks while building the installer for the latest release of the mod but noticed an issue with MissionA (Martin Brenner's house).  If you stripped the lightmaps on this mission and then rebuilt it some of the light entities were missing.   If you look in the screenshot below you will notice a difference in the kitchen lighting.

What I suspect is happening is that the lightmaps were originally built in 3D Studio Max and they didn't have to follow the rules as we know them. Early on in the development of the game they didn't have Worldcraft for map making.

When I examine the .SCN file there are 5 references to a "hall_cell" that doesn't even exist.  Some of the light entities don't work.   For instance there is a light_spot entity just outside the kitchen window with the broken wooden louver that will only work if you change the cell name to "kitchen".   I assume that since this doesn't appear in the original they disabled this light and added the louvers over the window to block the view.

I have yet to discover the light entity that casts the missing light in the screenshot below.  One of the 4 remaining entities that I haven't test yet must be it.

 

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Installer - June 25, 2016

In between playing some new games from the Summer Steam Sale I started work on the installer for version 0.7 of the Last Resort mod.   I still need to update a few things from the old 0.6 installer and I need to make sure it is all idiot proof.  After the installer package is made I will need to test it all out both original disc versions of Swat 3 and also on the GOG.com version.

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Swat.exe and shims - June 24, 2016

gho, the coder behind the very useful DxWnd app, has responded on his forums about the recent frame rate problem that was discovered when "swat.exe" gets renamed.

"I'd bet that the game has "shims" configured to its filename.  As you may know or not, shims are preconfigured patches that Microsoft introduced to its new operating systems (for sure on Win10, I'm not certain starting from when) that patch "on the fly" legacy applications to ensure a better compatibility.  Shims can be applied according to different preconditions, from a particular game path to a given CRC or other more.

I bet that SWAT3 has shims related to its filename, so that if you rename it they will be no longer applied."

It looks like I have to go ahead with changes to the Last Resort Launcher to fix this issue.

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2 Problems 1 Solution - June 19, 2016

Just some quick notes before I head off to bed (busy with real life work next few days).

Problem 1:

I was having a problem with some replacement textures of MissionA not showing up properly in the Last Resort mod.  The troublesome textures almost seemed random.   I double checked my mod folder and my mission folder to see if something in there could have been the problem.  I was banging my head on the keyboard trying to figure it out.   Copy-Cat made a comment in my last blog entry to check the mission directory.   A tiny part of me was insulted that he would think I wouldn't know about that so out of spite I thought to myself "fine, I will check again so that I can stick my tongue out at him that he was wrong".    I didn't have any fan made maps in the mission directory so at first I was feeling smug.   All that I had in that folder were a few of the official Sierra made downloadable maps that were free DLC.    For the sake of due diligence I decided to open up the official Sierra maps in 7zip.   I was shocked to find that they had included MissionA textures in maps like "Civil Unrest".     Ack!  This was the source of the problem all along.

Now I have egg on my face and have to say thanks to Copy-Cat for making the suggestion!

I have since moved all of the replacement textures for Last Resort into a traditional mod that will automatically get activated by the Launcher.  Thankfully mod textures have higher priority than mission textures.   Problem solved.

 

Problem 2:

Bounty2k3 posted in our forums that he noticed that the Last Resort mod gave poor FPS performance but only in full screen mode.   When he tested the mod by forcing Swat 3 into a window the FPS performance was normal.

This surprised me since in the past I have run tests but I don't think I ever tested windowed vs full screen.   Anyway, after a lot of testing, I figured out when the problem occurs but I am still not certain why it happens.

If you rename "swat.exe" to a different name the frame rate issue appears.  The Last Resort mod uses custom hacked executables to give higher screen resolutions and higher texture resolutions.   To do this we have renamed the "swat.exe" to "swat_1024x768.exe" and so on for each different resolution.  This method however seems to cause a FPS issue so this needs to be fixed.

As of right now I am still trying to decide the best solution.  Thanks Bounty2k3 for bringing this problem up!

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Mod priority issues - June 1, 2016

Now that the new 1920x1080 menus are done I continued trying to get the mod ready for release by packaging up all the files.    However when I double check the work to see that everything is working properly I continue to have texture replacement priority issues.

Get ready for some boring technical explanation below:

What that means is when I create a replacement high resolution texture sometimes the game ignores it and uses the original low resolution texture.   If I put the texture in a mod and activate it the game will use the new version of the texture no problem.   This is actually how I work when I am making the new textures (for instance I place all the mission A new textures inside a mod folder called "missiona_new" and then activate it just like any other mod).

Now that I am trying to release a new version of Last Resort when I package everything up the new textures are no longer activated like a traditional mod.  This is when I start having file priority issues.

The only way to fix this is to search out which new textures aren't getting displayed properly and use a hex editor to modify the texture names so the game thinks they are whole new textures.  Not only is this a pain in the ass but it also increases the amount of memory the game will use for textures.

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1920x1080 menus almost done - April 17, 2016

Although this is the first really nice weekend of the spring here in Canada I forced myself to work some more on the new 1920x1080 2D menus.   I was busy the last two weeks with real life work so haven't had any time.

Swat 3's debrief screens are grossly inefficient.    Why are there 15 debrief screens that do almost the exact same thing?   Madness.

The latest Fallout 4 DLC just came out about a week ago and I haven't even had time to play with that much.   The sunlight wins.   I am going outside and getting some ice cream at the old DQ.

 

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