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Acquiring the data files?


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I'm currently in the process of orienting myself for a upcoming school project. The project means that we have to develop a small game in a language of our own choice.

I quickly thought: This could be my chance to realize one of my dreams: Cough up my own simple RTS game. As a kid, I loved Dune II, and thus, I figured, why not make my own simple clone of it.

However, my main problem with it are the data files. I'm a programmer, not an artist. I could code my own PAK file reader for Dune II and use that. However: We only have 10 weeks to develop the game, so I want to focus on gameplay, and not on writing utils to extract the data.

My question: Is there a simple tool to extract all the data into a readable format, or is there a very good description of how the datafile is built up? I have no use for existing code, as I want to develop my game in C#.

Thanks,

Toolmaker

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Hi Toolmaker,

First, you can download the Dune 2 graphics from here. Also, you can use the XCC Mixer - a utility that handles various game archives from Westwood games (obtainable here), and I also have a small tool called wwpak that works with PAK files as well.

Cheers,

MrFlibble

[attachment deleted by Gobalopper]

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MrFibble: Thanks, that's awesome! Now only to acquire the font that Stefan uses and we're set. Actually, I just stole em from his demo 3 release.

Stefan:

I've been programming for 7 years now, including some professional experience, so writing a Tetris clone isn't challenging anymore ;). I've did some game programming before, wrote a tetris clone, and right now, I'm making a pacman clone just to get out of C programming course(Teacher agreed to let me pass the entire course if I could write it). Also, I already have a MBO diploma(Doing a HBO study in Utrecht).

We have to write the game in a team($ or 5 members), so we can divide tasks, and aim for a minimal RTS: Pre-built base with a con yard, 2 wind traps, refinery, WOR and a light factory. The player has to collect spice and build some vehicles/troops. We think we can achieve this in 10 weeks, as we made a pretty decent Gameboy Advance RPG in the past 10 weeks, especially since the learning curve for this is much easier.

Next step: Find out how DirectX 9 can aid me in using the 'golden' images and alpha-blend the right color onto it.

Toolmaker

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Do be adviced though; for a 'small' project at school, writing an RTS game is not as easy as it may seem. A tetris clone would be easier.

Don't be discouraged, only just don't take it too lightly, else you might get in trouble ;)

How about Tetris with Concrete slabs? :D
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I'm actually wondering, I've seen on a few sites things about the seeds...

What are these seeds used for? And more perhaps equally important, how do I used them? I already seen the map files, should be quite easy to parse, but those they only contain sand/spice?

Toolmaker

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Dune 2 didn't have any actual terrain map files; the scenario *.ini files contained only unit/structure/spice bloom positions (i.e. only interactive, removable objects), while terrain was generated from a "seed" which is, essentially, a sequence of numbers. AFAIK, no one has decoded the algorithm by which Dune 2 generates terrain from seeds yet (or, at least, the results are not compatible with Stefan's D2TM or Dune Legacy), so the only way to get the original maps is to convert them from saved games (see Stefan's tool pack at the Arrakis download page) As for now, all the maps for the original three Dune 2 campaigns have been revealed.

I guess seed maps are not essential if replicating the original missions is not your goal.

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These files are great! Well, most of them, because I seem to be missing a bunch.

Stefan: I'm not sure if you would do mind to share your "enhanced" files? Because that way, I don't need to bother and extract some of the tiles from the sidebar. Plus, I'd have the sharper files, and I might finish the game completely, after the project is over.

If you do might, I'll extract the files myself, and link together what I need, but it's just a bit more work. Last weekend I coughed up a map class which renders everything. Wasn't too much work. Right now, I want to come up with a easy to extend UI, perhaps a button class, etc. After that, I just need to update my existing C# Engine framework to use the mouse, instead of just the keyboard and I can focus myself on building units/buildings classes.

Toolmaker

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I'm sure Stefan will let you borrow the enchanted graphics, if not he probably has a very good reason. The only thing you should be aware of is that the graphics is copyrighted by westwood studios (now EA). In Norway it is legal to create new images out of old ones, but the lawyers I've talked with said that they were too similar to do that without permission. I don't know if this is a problem at your school/college/university but if it is, maybe you should stick to a Dune 2 inspired game (new graphics).

I hope your team will share the game with the dune community when the project is finnished.

Do you have any documentation on game programming with C# (I want to learn DirectX, as my "dream" is to remake the game Ducktales: The Quest for Gold)?

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I have a bunch of ebooks on the subject. However, I do not have any books on Managed DirectX. If you want, I could share a part of my Managed DirectX 9 engine with you.

I worked on an Asteroids clone in the past in 3D. I used models, and was working on the collision detection before I got too busy with other things, and eventually lost interest. I really need to get going on it again, but perhaps after I finished a 2D game.

My 'engine' contains a few handy sub-systems: Input system, Engine to handle the device and some parts of the drawing/updating, a TaskManager(The input system is a task which gets executed every frame, and has the ability to bind keys to certain events), a GameStack(Pushing new states onto the stack changes gamestate. So in Asteroids, I push a MenuState onto it, and from within the state, I pushed a PlayState when the player selected New Game), a HighRes timer for timing, an FpsCounter, TextureManager, MeshLoader(Only .X models).

I have hosted a few ebooks on C# itself, and you could always try to find Managed DirectX 9 Kickstart. It's a great book, and contains information on making 2D games with either D3DSprite or DirectDraw. I use D3DSprite(Or the Microsoft.DirectX.Direct3DX.Sprite class). Check your PM box for the URL.

As for legality: School doesn't care if we borrow our images, it's for educational purposes. EA owns the IP of all the images, and the entire game concept. They could send Stefan a Cease & Desist letter anyday, but up to now, they didn't. I doubt they haven't found out about yet.

I might just use the grabber, and 'steal' all the images myself from the Dune II pak file. Problem is: I then need to load the palette and save all the bitmaps as non-palette ones. Not really a job I'm looking forward too(Alternatively, I could code up a small program to do the work, but eventually, it probably takes as long as doing it manually).

Toolmaker

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Quote: "about ea, yes, they didnt. And frankly i don't think they care enough about the dune scene anyway."

Of course we're all still a bit shaken up about the April's fools day joke :P

"There's an EA lawyer behind you!"

"Waah? :O [format C:] Run!!"

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