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Lord Aquila

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Lord Aquila last won the day on November 20

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  1. @Lord_Chris, that was really insightful! Thank you very much, as I am still learning all of this stuff! I will definitely consider all your time to look into this and your notes on the matter, and I will get back with my results. By the way my specs are pretty strong: core i7 8750H GTX 1070 8 GB VRAM 16 GB RAM However, I will definitely follow your suggestion about which dx the game is set to run in my case, before making any conclusion! Thanks again! 🙂
  2. Thanks! 🙂 I am writing an article where I explain how I did all of this, where it will answer your question in detail, but overall, yes and no. For example, one can achieve a pretty decent result in sea water, without the need of my mod, as the Editor provides options for the sea shader (which I will also show the way in the article). However, if they want the full aesthetic package, they will need this mod, or of course the way to create it themselves, if they want to. Also, if one wants to tweak the river, they have to go beyond the Editor too, as for the river there are no such options in the editor, as the sea. Speaking of which, I realized that SC 2 uses a different graphics settings system, at least for the river shader, which is hardwired within its shader files. This system has references to different LOD types of its basic diffuse texture, which is needed for the river to show at all. Those references vary between this game and S 3. That's why, when I replaced the S 3 river shader with the one from SC 2 (the .vshaderbin files), the river didn't show. Because, it couldn't find the diffuse texture, as the pathing system is different and based on SC 2 Graphics Settings. There are 4 .pak files in SC 2 assets folder, which contain the different LODs of its diffuse texture (.../textures/environment/water_river.colour.dds) and of which the game chooses one that fits your graphics settings. Whereas, in S 3 there are not such files. So, I need to find the right lines within the Shader file, to fix the path finding system to S 3, so that it can find the diffuse texture and finally show the river, in its new better now form.
  3. It is under way. Slowly that is, but I am getting there. 🙂 Thanks by the way! @Lord_Chris, I would like to share a little detail that might help as well. I didn't realise up until now, that the "56 42" file signature, refers to "VBIN", or "V BIN", which translates to something like "v binary", ...in other words..., vision binary file (like the game .v archives, probably because they come from vision engine as well?). So it is a Vision Engine specific file format that probably is the C++ compiled binary result of both shaders and models from the engine, as they have the same signature. (do models get compiled?) I think you are definitely right that it is not an archive anyway. P.S. All this might have been obvious to you since the beginning, so I am not sure I am providing anything new here, but thought sharing nevertheless. 🙂 It seems that, at least to me, I didn't realise it up until now.
  4. Yes, I played with the the water values on that section to make any changes, apart from the foam texture reference, which as I said was inside the shader binary file of the river. Fortunately it worked after changing the path. Yes it does. From what I have got so far, they are the shader files inside the "River.Shaderbin" (for river) and "Water.Shaderbin" (for sea) folders, inside assets/shaders. I tried all sorts of colours, even white, believe me, and they worked only in the case of the water tint colour, which by the way has more of a mask for the main diffuse texture of the river (which is the dds file that gives the river it's actual colour you see). In the sea water shader, it was more obvious. Probably it's not applied to he river. However, I have noticed lines inside the .vshaderbin file, that mention "depthFog" and "depthFogCol", as well as inside the .shaderlib source file. (+ " #define HAS_DEPTH_INFORMATION", which I couldn't find a way to get it working, probably because I have to find and edit it inside the compiled shader file somehow (dx9.vshaderbin or dx11.vshaderbin), which I couldn't. The 'water splash' and 'water mist' files are probably related to some effects objects you can add in the editor. Like the ones in Stronghold 2 editor. So I think they are not related to the shader. Finally, here is the .xml values I currently use, but I am feeling the river looks even worse than before, haha. Also, those apply better on a different normal texture I replaced with, so it might look too reflective or shiny for example. <water_type name="River"> <texture diffuse="textures\particles_and_effects\water.colour.dds" normals="textures\environment\water\water.normals.dds" /> <opacity>0.85</opacity> <flow_speed>0.19</flow_speed> <roughness>0.205</roughness> <normals_uv_scale>0.0015</normals_uv_scale> <normals_scale>1.0</normals_scale> <fresnel_power>4.0</fresnel_power> <fresnel_scale>3.0</fresnel_scale> <fresnel_offset>0.1</fresnel_offset> <water_tint_color r="255" g="0" b="0" /> <dark_water_color r="50" g="50" b="50" /> <bright_water_color r="100" g="100" b="100" /> <shore_fadeout_range>0.04</shore_fadeout_range> <edge_transparency_scale>5</edge_transparency_scale> <reflection_multiplier>0.4</reflection_multiplier> <depth_fog>255,255,255,1.0</depth_fog> <depth_fog_col>255,255,255,1</depth_fog_col> <low_detail_water_color r="0" g="40" b="60" /> <low_detail_scale>0.0006</low_detail_scale> <low_detail_blending>0.6</low_detail_blending> <!-- 1 = All texture, 0 = all tint--> <low_detail_opacity>0.25</low_detail_opacity> </water_type> As you can see, I also added "depth_fog" and "depth_fog_col" values to see if they work, but they don't. I noticed they are float4 type, that's why you see 4 numbers there, but I haven't been able to get something working. Maybe they just don't work this way, or not at all, like you said. P.S. I am working a little bit on the waterfall object. I just replaced the texture for the moment to see how it looks and it comes about quite better. Though the lower flowing parts look a little bit too stretched. (You can see how bad the river looks at the moment)
  5. Thank you! I hope it comes about well done. The sea water shader is not all there is in terms of water of course, so I found a little bit more time today and next I tried messing around with the river. We all know how bad rivers look in Stronghold 3.. They are like glass planes with an animation video projected on them. Too flat, colourless, dull and without depth and form. Things are trickier now however, as the shader properties are not accessible via the Map Editor. What's more, there is a main issue, that I will get to later. I found a solution after a while though, and that is the 'water.xml' file inside the 'definitions' folder in the 'core.v'. There are all the bunch of options there from 'opacity', to 'water_tint', 'normal_scale', etc. I played with those values, but only a few of them worked.. One of them, the 'opacity' which gave this nice depth transition you notice in the sea mod I made, didn't seem to work as such, hence the flat look on the river. There is no transition at all and the value applies to the whole area of the river equally. Here is an example of the best result I could get so far: What's more, inside the xml file there are references to a water colour and normal texture, but not to foam, as it clearly has such option, after I checked the .vshaderbin file of the river shader, which actually pointed to a marsh foam texture. I know foam is not the most important thing, but it's weird why this reference was not inside the xml too. However, I edited the path from there to point the shader to another foam texture, that of the sea for now, to see if it worked, which it did. (I edited the .vshaderbin file with HxD software, as it was the only way to save it afterwards without information loss, as it is a binary file) Anyway, so my main issue is that although there seems to be references to darker and brighter colour choices according to water depth, which means the shader probably supports depth transition (also some 'depth fog' parameter inside the .vshaderbin file), it doesn't render it, and I can't seem to find a way to fix it and understand if it is a bug or done intentionally for some reason. Here is a comparison of the river(above) with the sea(below), which transitions nicely + has an actual water form (erased the shore foam for it to be more apparent): I tried replacing with the sea water shader files, but obviously got an error when trying to paint river on the editor. Then I remembered that in SC 2 the river water actually has some transition and I thought why not trying replacing with those shader files. I didn't get an error, but the water was invisible, althouh the engine recognised it. I thought maybe the opacity form that version has different standards than the S 3 one, so I increased its value, but still no change. Any ideas? EDIT: Forgot to mention that I have noticed there are 2 shader files for river, one for dx9 and one for dx11. Maybe the game is bugged to a low quality dx9 shader rendering? And I need to find the switch to dx11 or at least a better quality dx9 version?
  6. I think I have a little helpful information (I hope). It seems that the shader files of the game (.vshaderbin) have also the same file signature, which implies same format as the .model ones...! I am starting to think this is something unconventional like you said, and more specific, an unconventional archive format (since a 3D model can't be the same as a shader I guess?). I think it makes sense now. I only don't understand why they used different archive formats on the .v and .shmap files than the .model and .vshaderbin. Maybe they just thought, why not getting even more security measures?. I don't know...
  7. I would be very interested to do it! However, it might take a while because of my limited time the upcoming months. Is it ok if it takes a while? Or maybe I can steal some hours and it comes along easier and faster than I think. So yeah, I will start writing as soon as I can. If I see it takes longer than I think, or become unable to continue due to not having enough time, I will let you know. 🙂
  8. Not yet. I wish I had. 😃 And here I thought it wasn't likely to be a pch for some reason... Way to go with my programming knowledge. 😁 It seems we are getting there then. I am glad I helped a little bit. Hopefully, this research will get us similar results for SC 2 and upcoming Warlords, since they use the same engine. Also, see what type of files the latter comes out with. Don't think you are wrong, since the file's signature is nowhere to be found! (at least with current research). I just hope they don't get too chaotic. I agree. Duplicating and getting it from there is the best way to go. If we find out the models' format and I can start doing such a task, that's how I will proceed.
  9. Definitely can be tought! The main skill was finding the "catch" within the sea water properties to achieve the coloring and other shader stuff you see there. Maybe also the ability to make a seamless tiled texture that doesn't seem repetitive, which I think everyone can understand how to do it within a few minutes. However, the main part for me on this mod that really is the icing on the cake is the water normal (mainly the water form) quality, which I wouldn't say it needed much artistic skill to create. In fact it was created for me by the Blender software, after adjusting the ocean modifier's properties, and exporting part of it in a way that it was seamless. So again yes, it can be tought, since the whole process is actually playing with numbers and adjustments, and judging from the result they give you, rather than a super manual process, like sculpting on a mesh, which is the case of terrain sculpting, that it's more of a person's individual skill in my opinion, since it's mainly a manual artistic process. However, I think an article is feasible on this topic too, on how one can achieve better terrain results.
  10. Thank you. Though my free time is limited and not consistent at the moment, but I hope I can provide with results from time to time.
  11. Hello Stronghold Nation! After playing this game a while back, I remember I was quite frustrated, first because of the bugs, but mostly because of the unfinished and rushed stuff. For example, the mechanics and maybe objects that never surfaced, although probably planned, or the quick terrain brushes they did to finish the maps on time, as well as the poor quality of the sea and river water objects. I can see where the game might have ended up being, and I always wanted an improved 3D version of the first game, with new well-thought campaigns, but also as importantly a really well done environment that immerses you into the game's theme and atmosphere. The engine used in this game has more capabilities in terms of environment quality, than it seems to the average person who fires up the game and enters a campaign, a siege, or freebuild map. So, I decided to see what I can do to improve some environment assets, such as the water shader, for a start. So I made this mod. It features a realistic sea water for the game, by exploiting the shader properties on the editor, as well as changing it's normal map and foam textures. This gave a very nice result in my opinion. 🙂 Next priority for me is to see what I can do with the terrain quality. As I have realised, playing with the editor, the terrain system offers an astonishingly high resolution to play with! (see last image) Painting on the terrain is really high res too, which instantly offers for many terrain ideas (i.e. distinct rocky surfaces) to come to life. So, I tried making a coastal part of the terrain (though unfinished) for a test to see where I can get in terms of quality, and how well it goes with the sea. (see image 4) I would really like to see your thoughts and criticism!
  12. Oh, ok, no problem! I thought I was doing something wrong. 😛 It was quite fast indeed. However the mod doesn't have many actions behind it, so it was complete in quite a short time. I wanted to make some terrain fixes also on the original maps before submiting, but I thought it best to get something already done out there, since it can stand as a simple mod by itself. 🙂 I will send it to you via PM, I just hope I am not adding another task to you, if you are busy. Many thanks for the reply and your interest overall! 😁 Also, I have some strange news about the .model files of the game. I did a little research. First, I tried renaming a file's extension to every format MeshLab supports, and tried importing each and every one to see if the software recognises any. I didn't have a good result, but the closest I got to an actual result, is the .xyz format, which is a type of point cloud information (strange for such a file), that the software didn't give me an error and at least recognised the model's vertices, though it showed nothing in the viewport. (see image 1.jpg) After that I thought of something I should have done first, actually. Checking the file's signature. So, I used a hex editor to open it and searched for it's signature on the most complete list I could find on the internet, but the weird thing was, that it was not listed... (see image 2, 3) The closest values (56 43 ...) are those of a pch format, which I doubt is anything close to what we are looking for. What sort of rare type of format did they use? I don't know what else to try, so I will leave the models as they are for now and play with other things. Also, the geometry is not the most important thing for me now to mod, as I can at least do so with the textures, like you mentioned, and I have other priorities that have to do with the game funtionality and mechanics, as well as environment graphics (which at current state do not quite compliment the capabilities of the engine). The only thing I wanted to know is which formats work with the game if I want to add some models in the future.
  13. I seem to be having an issue trying to submit my sea water mod, I get this error after completing all the requirements and hitting submit.. Also, it took quite a while before getting this message. Also, is there a thread about the download section, so as not to bump this one with any future issues I might have? I didn't seem to find one after a first search.
  14. Many thanks for the help! I will keep you posted!
  15. Thank you! I will upload when I have something ready. 🙂 And no problem for the late reply. I am a busy man too and I understand. 😀 I tried pasting all the files back to the game uncompressed with the folders, to see if the game works. However, it didn't. I am guessing all the files within the .v archives are hardwired to be read this way and not uncompressed. So the game doesn't always fall back to any folders that may exist when it can't find a specific file inside a .v format? Too bad, because that would make my trial&error part of the moding process much faster and easier. Of course the .model files can't be corrupt, what was I saying, dumb me, otherwise they would not work ingame, lol. 🥴 What you say make sense. How didn't I think of it. They might have renamed the files extension from i.e. '.obj' to '.model' just like that. Have you tried every mesh format to see if it is imported on any program? Because I am thinking of going super nerd mode and try importing the files in each and every mesh format in MeshLab, to see which one works. Yeah, probably that's my only bet.. I use photoshop fairly often in architecture school and other hobbies, so I know my way around. I also use the Nvidia tools for editing dds formats, so I am all well-equiped. 😁 Lastly, I would really like to check if it is possible to add additional models to the game (units or buildings for example), that can also be functional, and how much modable the game is, in general. If I know correctly, in Stronghold 2 that is not possible? All in all, first thing I have to do before moding, is to understand how the structure of Stronghold 3 works, the programming language (I think it's lua?) and how every part of it is related to each other. EDIT: Oh I forgot to ask. I can't seem to be able to open the game's original maps in the Editor, as they are locked. Is there a way to unlock them? I would really like to make some changes, as well as copy the water properties I just modified, because I have to do it for every single map file that has water. Only the its textures automatically change everywhere.
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