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epicabsol

Drome Racers Model Format

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epicabsol

Does anybody have a way to directly read/write Drome Racers .md2 models, and if so, might you share how? I've been doing my darndest to figure out how the files work, but I'm a newbie when it comes to investigating weird binary files.

 

In the event that it hasn't been done, I will share my experiences so far.

 

What I know:

- There's a tool by "WillKirkby" for opening .md2 models from a Lego Racers game (I've never played either of them), but the format for Drome Racers models is incompatible. I've had a look at the decompiled source, but there's a lot of information to wrap my head around (like physics stuff, which I would think is odd for a model format, and... just lots of other extra stuff that looks odd in a file for containing "models" [citation needed], but '.md2' seems to stand for 'model version 2'

- "Terrev" has access to the models and a tool that can view them in their current format (which may be the model files or ripped from DirectX, possibly converted to another format for manipulation / viewing) (evidence). The tool has a skybox and what looks like environment mapping, along with low-quality Gourad shading for specular highlights, so I'm guessing that it's something special / custom, and not a generic industry-standard modeling tool. Is it... you know... ok to distribute or talk about?

- A while ago, someone had access to a lot of the source and a level editor for Drome. (What's the status quo on that?) (Probably not ok to distribute)

- Also, there are Source versions of many Drome Racers models, though those are probably just screen rips.

 

What I have:

- A hobbyist knowledge of Visual Basic .NET (and by extension, C#)

- A workflow for ripping 3d models from DirectX into good formats

- No experience writing readers/writers for binary files without a reference implementation in some language

- Stubbornness

 

What I tried:

- I ripped a model of the Heavy chassis from the game, and converted it to wavefront obj

- I opened the heavy chassis md2 in HxD and found the floating point values of the first vertex's position quite a way in to the file

- I wrote a program to label the first occurrence of the floating point values of the position and normal vectors of each vertex in the model. Results: the first few vertices' positions seem to be back-to-back. Then things randomly skip around. e.g v0.x, v0.y, v0.z, v1.x, v1.y, v1.z, v4.x, v7.z, v938.z, v324.x, etc. (not actual values fyi)

- I the did the same search, except to label any occurrences of two consecutive triangles (a triangle being 3 uint32 vertex indices) side by side in the files. Results: nothing.

- I did the search for any occurrences of the face count or vertex count (as a uint32 if I recall correctly). I found about 20 matches for each, but nothing useful.

 

Notes:

- Would changing values and seeing what effect it has in-game be useful? That seems very time consuming and not useful enough.

- What the heck is all the data at the front of the heavy chassis md2? It wouldn't be physics stuff, as the chassis is (to my best knowledge) only used in the Build a Car screen as a static mesh.

- In the ripped model, the heavy chassis is in 2 draw calls. Maybe different calls per texture, though I don't think it had 2 textures... Would it be stored in 2 parts in the md2?

 

Conclusion so far:

- Compression? The initial good vertex position layout seems to disprove this hypothesis. Idea: something to do with run-length encoding compression? The file doesn't seem very well compressed though.

- Maybe I should try to get the existing LR2 .md2 file format program / code, and then tweak things when it breaks?

-???

- I don't know what I'm doing. Does anyone else get it?

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Mysteli

Drome Racers is on the same engine as Racers 2, but was produced at a different time, hence the differences in the .md2 format. I think Will was planning to add support someday, but never got around to it. But hey, perhaps Will will be willing to give you the source (and his notes) if you can attempt to do something with it to make it compatible, I'd say asking for it is always worth a shot.

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epicabsol

Alright, thanks for the info, and I guess I might take another look through the LibLR2 decompiled source to see what I can gather. IIRC, the loading he's implemented looks for "MDL2" and "GEO1" strings to load the mesh data.

 

Actually, now that I look at it, there are "MDL3" and "GEO2" strings!!

 

Will, I think that you have the potential to unlock the Drome model format! Do you want to give it a shot or may I?

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Mysteli

As far as anyone knows, Will hasn't touched this stuff for 1 1/2 years (:(). So if he would of done something, he would of done it by now.

Who knows, there might be a slim chance that a new person approaching his work could get his motor running, but I wouldn't count to highly on it.

 

I think I speak for most of us when I say that it is nice to see a new potential programmer on the scene.

 

Edit:

10 hours ago, epicabsol said:

- Also, there are Source versions of many Drome Racers models, though those are probably just screen rips.

 

Yeah, I just screen ripped them.

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jamesster
11 hours ago, epicabsol said:

- "Terrev" has access to the models and a tool that can view them in their current format (which may be the model files or ripped from DirectX, possibly converted to another format for manipulation / viewing) (evidence). The tool has a skybox and what looks like environment mapping, along with low-quality Gourad shading for specular highlights, so I'm guessing that it's something special / custom, and not a generic industry-standard modeling tool. Is it... you know... ok to distribute or talk about?

That's one of ATD's old in-house tools, I can't share it or provide any info beyond that. Sorry - though it wouldn't be of any use here anyway.

 

11 hours ago, epicabsol said:

- A while ago, someone had access to a lot of the source and a level editor for Drome. (What's the status quo on that?) (Probably not ok to distribute)

Yeah, that didn't really go anywhere.

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epicabsol
9 minutes ago, Terrev said:

That's one of ATD's old in-house tools, I can't share it or provide any info beyond that.

According to Wikipedia, ATD liquidated over 10 years ago. You've piqued my curiosity - could you share what happened to the rights to ATDs source code in general, and the law (in your locale, I suppose) regarding if / when abandoned commercial code becomes public? I would imagine that after enough time, nobody cares who has the source...

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jamesster
25 minutes ago, epicabsol said:

According to Wikipedia, ATD liquidated over 10 years ago. You've piqued my curiosity - could you share what happened to the rights to ATDs source code in general, and the law (in your locale, I suppose) regarding if / when abandoned commercial code becomes public? I would imagine that after enough time, nobody cares who has the source...

LEGO, EA (the publisher, or at least one of them), Sony (PS2), Nintendo (GameCube), and Microsoft (Xbox) are still around, all of which of course had involvement with the game/development of it and its ports. It's not a matter for any random fans to try to figure out - but it appears LEGO is looking into who has the rights to older games in general, see this topic: http://www.rockraidersunited.com/topic/6993-probability-of-acquisitions/ The best thing to do is just wait and see if anything happens with that.

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Sunchipp

It would be cool to combine the two games but since the models are slightly different it possibly can't be possible. I remember trying to replaced the Bloodhound missile from LR2 with the EMP missile from Drome Racers but it just crashed. One thing that would be cool is having the Raptor Stunt in with the xalax cars and Rocket Racers car in replace with the cow cheat. I find it weird seeing a cow with wheels on it's feet that's why I wanna take that step haha. If a tool for a possible LR2 Drome Racers combination ever comes out I'd be the first to download ???

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epicabsol

Well, I have the Drome model format down, and I could do the LI2 format if I had the time and drive.

(I haven't tried actually changing files yet, but I can read them all)

I'm working on a modding tool for Drome, and I would like to release it as open-source, but most of the code is sloppily thrown together to work as quick as possible. Once I feel like it has some useful features completed (all it has now is model viewing and export, and partial level viewing) I'll publish a release.

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