Class for Dark Forces Editing
- The Essential Basics Before You Begin
- Conceptualize, Actualize, Refine
- Architecture Overview
- INF Overview
- Texturing Overview
- Objects Overview
- New Items
- LFD Overview
- Sounds Overview
- Beta Testing and Finishing Out
The Essential Basics Before You Begin
LESSON ONE - FILES YOU WILL ENCOUNTER
You're going to run into a whole lot of files when you are editing Dark Forces missions. I'm going to assume here that you've done 2 things: One, that you've finished the game. Two, that you've opened up an original level and looked at it. Here's an overview:
BM Image - This is essentially like a BMP file, except that it has no pallette included in the file. Used for textures on floor, ceiling, and walls. Can also be used as a sign.
FME Object - This is a frame, a one-sided image that stands up wherever you want it. No matter which way you look at it from it appears the same. Used for some powerups, items, and still objects.
WAX Object - This is a multi-frame image that stands up wherever you put it, but it can also move. It is a collection of FMEs put together. Used for enemies, some powerups, and anything animated.
VOC Sound - This is a standard sound file, one of the few types not exclusive to Dark Forces. It is a standard Creative Labs format that can be edited using GoldWave (http://www.goldwave.com). It is used for sounds on INF commands, background noises, and associated with objects such as enemies.
3DO 3D Object - Whereas a WAX is a multiframed image, a 3DO is fully 3D and textured as well. It is a DF format, but easily converted from all other formats. Texturing a 3DO is another matter, but there is a project in motion to create a utility to do it. These are used as large objects meant for scenery or as a craft. The Shuttle and TIE Fighter are 3DOs. These can be opened with Notepad.
GMD Music - A VOC file is for sounds, a GMID file is for music. It is a lot like MIDI files, but a little different. They often include special SysEx commands, called iMUSE commands, to switch between stalk and fight GMIDs ingame, and also to change the tempo and go to tracks inbetween stalk and fight. A special part of GMIDs is that they can contain multiple tracks, whereas a MIDI has only one. iMUSE commands are largely unknown, but there are a few guides out there. GMIDs are used for ingame music and for cutscene music, though there's no reason why you couldn't use VOCs for music in cutscenes.
DELT Static image - A DELT is an image file for use in LFDs. They are used for briefing texts, still images in cutscenes, and textcrawls. You can, however, slide a DELT across the screen, or make it fade away, or make it smaller and smaller until it's gone.
ANIM Moving image - These are to DELTs like WAXes are to FMEs. An ANIM is a collection of DELTs put together. They can be made to move, such as a flying image of the Crow, or can be used in briefing backgrounds, or for your goals in the PDA. You could theoretically move an ANIM, but you probably wouldn't want to. They stay in one place and the image on them is displayed, one frame flashing after another at a specified pace.
PAL GOB Pallette - These are the pallette files for GOBs. They are used for all images in the GOB, so all your BMs, FMEs, WAXes, and so on need to work with the same pallette. Note that even though the extension is the same, they are DF-specific, they cannot be interchanged with a Windows pallette file.
PLTT LFD Pallette - These are the pallette files for LFDs. They can be changed, so you may have one PLTT for one DELT, then another for the next ANIM, and so on, but you can only have one PLTT at a time, it is used for the entire screen.
CMP Color Map - These are used to define how a color looks in certain light conditions. You know that the ambient light level can be changed in DF, this is used to define different things. With it, you can disable the headlight, make it so that in a certain light level, one color turns to another, and so on. This is used in some levels to make everything flash red periodically, it is made so that a certain light level is set to red so that everything turns red when the light is set to that level.
LST Information - These files are located in the GOB but are used to define what happens in the LFD. There will be two of these - cutscene.lst and briefing.lst. These are used to tell DF which cutscene plays when, and what FILM and LFD file to use for it. The briefing.lst file tells DF which level each briefing is for, and which background to use (Jan, Ackbar, Yourself, Jabba....). These can be opened with Notepad.
FILM Cutscene info - These are the files that LST files point to. These are like a director's information sheet, they tell the computer what DELT to show when, what to do with it, and what ANIM to use, the framerate, and what PLTT to use. They are very complex, and I am not very knowledgeable on them.
There are a series of these, all used to tell DF how the level works, its INF, and its textures, along with a pile of other stuff.
LEV Level Geometry - This file is usually huge. It contains all the vertices in your entire level, and this allows the computer to reconstruct a more-or-less-3d model of your level. It should not be edited straight, but can be opened with Notepad.
INF INF information - This file contains all of the information regarding your INF. It is usually rather large as well. It tells your computer how to dynamically modify areas of your level. It can be edited straight with Notepad, but an editor is better.
GOL Goals - This file contains all of the goals that need to be accomplished before the Mission Complete is displayed. It is complex, with several values that will make no sense. It can be edited straight with Notepad.
MSG Messages - There are actually two of these, one of them little used. The main one is text.msg, which contains a list of all the messages that can be displayed onscreen. You can add your own messages at the bottom and use INF to tell DF to display them. The other MSG file is local.msg, located in your Dark directory. It contains various error messages, and should not be modified, but a new one with your level's name can be included in your GOB to override the original. It can be edited straight using Notepad.
LVL Level names - Jedi.lvl contains a listing of all the levels in Dark Forces, their filenames, and a location that seems to point to somewhere on the LucasArts network. After editing, you can change it so that the only level appearing is your own, with your own name. Edit with Notepad.
O Object Tables - The O file contains a list of all the objects in your level, with information such as their location and logics. Complex. Can be opened with Notepad, but very difficult to edit straight.
Please note something with LFD file types - they are 4 letter extensions. This means that when they are extracted, they are shortened. For example, DELTs become DLTs, but there are no DLT files in DF. So in adding a DLT to an LFD, it becomes DELT again. Just something made by one of the pioneer explorers into DF editing :)
Other sources - The DF Specs - download these immediately! You can also open up one of the original levels, I strongly recommend that you do so and peruse them closely.