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TES4 Oblivion's Model System was Studied by Square Enix. Follow

#1 Apr 17 2010 at 2:24 PM Rating: Decent
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After examining all the available official and leaked information about FFXIV, I will refrain from demonstrating leaked information. However, given the vast range of diversity we have seen with FFXIV's character creator, and clothing, we can safely assume that Square Enix has studied some other means of applying clothes to character meshes without consuming excessive amounts of data space.

I will break it down to several sections using TES4 Oblivion and a certain mod that has been made available at TESNexus - the Eisen, based on the FFXI Level 29 WAR Eisenbrust armor set.

Sec 0. Introduction
- Setting up Mod Directory
- Downloading
- Setting up NifSkope
- Displaying the Eisen Armor

Sec 1. The Eisenbrust Armor
Breakdown of the Eisen Armor
- Meshes & Textures
- Customizability


Sec 0. Introduction

- Setting up the Mod Directory
This is the first step you need to do before installing NifSkope and the Eisen armor files. Create a folder on your desktop labeled "TES Modding". Create a subfolder called "Data" inside that folder. Create two folders inside the Data folder, and name them "Meshes" and "Textures".

- Downloading
Okay, here's how we'll start. First, download NifSkope. It's part of a suite of tools called "NifTools" for modding in The Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion, intended for use on the GameBryo engine's propietary model format, NetImmerse file. This is a free tool set available to anyone interested in modding. Download the installer into your "TES Modding" folder.

NifSkope Link: http://niftools.sourceforge.net/wiki/NifSkope

Next, download the Eisen Armor from The Elder Scrolls Nexus. The file is over 2MB, and because of site policy, you must have a registered account in order to download it. Download the file into your "TES Modding" folder. It is a .7z file, which can be opened with WinRAR or other similar compression utilities that support the format. (Many Oblivion modders use the .7z compression format because it has become the "standard" in the modding community)

Eisen Armor Link: http://www.tesnexus.com/downloads/file.php?id=25389

- Setting up NifSkope
Install NifSkope into any directory you wish. Upon installation completion, NifSkope will run. You should have a screen like this:

NifSkope Screenshot 1

Click on "Reader" then go down to "Settings". You will be greeted with a four-tab settings screen, with the file directory listing as blank. Click on "Add Folder", then click on "Folder" at the bottom of the "Custom" box. Browse to the TES Modding folder's "Data" folder on your desktop and click OK. Here you can also adjust your other settings to make NifSkope run more smoothly. That is at your discretion. After establishing your settings and directory, click the "X" button in the upper right of the settings screen. Your settings should be similar to the image shown below.

NifSkope Screenshot 2

Next, open the Eisen .7z file you downloaded, and extract the Data folder into the TES Modding folder. Allow it to overwrite anything already in the Data folder.

- Displaying The Armor
Almost done. Now that the Eisen armor has been installed into your modding folder and is ready to be viewed, go back into NifSkope and click on the "Load" button at the upper left. Navigate to your TES Modding folder, go into Data/Meshes/Armor/NK/Eisen, and then open NKEisenArmor6.nif.

NifSkope Screenshot 3

Once you do that, you may notice that the exposed skin segments of the armor around the hips are pure white. Why? Well, I'll explain that later.

Sec. 1
-Breakdown of the Eisen Armor
Now that you've got the model displayed, let's look at how it breaks down into individual components. The first level of components of this model is the meshes. Start by uncollasping the "0 NiNode Value" item on the left. Adjust the "Name" column width to display them fully.

NifSkope Screenshot 4

What do you see now? We have a list of two different kinds of objects: NiTriStrips, and NiNodes. NiNodes are basically skeleton objects that the model and meshes are bound to. NiTriStrips are the actual mesh objects themselves. Click on the NiTriSTrips object called "up". You will see that the meshes related to that specific part of the model are highlighted as shown in the previous image. Now explore the model by clicking on different objects in the left hand window of Nifskope. You will notice that different components of the model are highlighted.

- Meshes & Textures
If you are familiar with modeling in 3D StudiO Max, Maya, or Blender, you will understand that the best way to create a character model is through the use of meshes, segmented polygons of a model that is given its own identity to help make it easier to animate, customize, or otherwise graphically present it in a video game or Computer-Generated Imagery. This "identity" given to each mesh comes with their own set of values that determine how they are presented to the viewer.

Uncollapse the "Up" NiTriStrips as shown. Widen the Name column to show it fully. Now we have six items attributed to that object. Look at the NiTexturingProperty, NiSpecularProperty, NiMaterialProperty items. Those determine how the object will map the mesh with a texture file. Uncollapse NiTexturingProperty. You should be seeing what is shown in the screenshot below.

NifSkope Screenshot 5

The NiTexturingProperty is where the mesh will look for the texture file to render onto the model with. This can be a texture map designed to be altered with RGB values, or it can be a unique texture meant for an extremely rare armor item in the game.

The NiMaterialProperty is where you will find the RGB values of the mesh. This can be used to change the ambient, diffuse, specular, and emissive colors. You can also adjust its Alpha values, which determine its "invisibility", depending on how the textures are made. Some DDS texture files have alpha mapping, which will allow portions of a mesh to become invisible, allowing it to show whatever is rendered beneath it. Glossiness is basically the "shiny" factor.

"But wait! How does this relate to how models in FFXIV works?" you may ask, well. For the answer, move on to the next section.

- Customizability
As you already know, FFXIV has a high degree of character customization, skin colors, hair colors, and the like. How is this achieved? If you studied and experimented with how the meshes interacted in the previous section, that would be readily apparent to you. By studying the GameBryo engine in Oblivion, the developers of FFXIV are giving themselves a strong understanding of how to increase customizability of the characters and NPCs while minimizing the amount of files required for each character. How?

By having a Base Model of each character and NPC as the foundation, and then creating variations on those models by adding different meshes that have different texture addresses that point to the skin texture, the armor texture, the clothing texture, metal straps, and so on. In FFXIV's case, it may be possible that Square has added multiple texture addresses for a single mesh in the same model file, and having the game engine reference the correct address for the correct item in the game.

"I still don't understand?" If you don't, then maybe I'm not doing it right. Remember earlier when you saw the exposed-skin meshes of the Eisen armor being milky white? That's the base model's texture. If you go to the Foot:Legs NiTriStrips' TexturingProperty entry in NifSkope, you'll notice that its address points to a default skin texture in the file structure of Oblivion.

In FFXI, the textures for a given model were all in the SAME texture file, with the exception of the head which is a separate model. This created customizability issues and limited Square-Enix to just one skin color for each race. By adopting the meshing texture illustrated here, they are making it easier to create armor and textures without interfering with your unique character's appearance, in fact they are enhancing the game's visual diversity.

For the DAT modding community in FFXIV, if Square Enix used methods similar to that used with the NetImmerse File format, modding in FFXIV will get easier because then you can alter the mesh information, instead of the entire model (and potentially breaking the model); you can swap out the texture addresses to point to new texture files. Additionally, with NifSkope, you're able to copy and paste meshes from other model into a model of your choosing - an example is that I once found a cape I really liked from another model, but didn't like the armor that came with it. So I opted to copy the cape mesh and paste it into a copy of my favorite armor model.

Eisen Armor With Cape!

In closing, I must emphasize that Square-Enix most likely did not copy the NetImmerse method of models, meshes, and texturing letter-for-letter, but used it as inspiration for their own Crystal Tools Engine. In fact, individual meshes have become a very common technique in today's video game industry, because it becomes easier to texture and is less labor-intensive to map out where the textures will be applied onto the model.

For example, a character like Marcus Fenix from Gears of War 2. Can you imagine all that texturing work on that character model being confined to a single texture file? Preposterous, the texture file would become inordinately huge, and mapping out how the texture would be applied to the model would result in a lot of wasted space in the texture file. Imagine it as a 4096x4096 pixel bitmap file. You've got all the textures of Marcus Fenix in that file, and all the space between each mesh segment in the texture file adds up to more hard drive space consumption.

So it is much more practical, in terms of labor and storage economics, to break down a character model into separate meshes and assign those meshes specific values that will call up their dedicated texture information. It has the added bonus of being more modder-friendly.

However, it remains to be seen if Square-Enix will be as friendly to graphics modders as they were in FFXI.

-NK


Edited, Apr 17th 2010 4:25pm by KatoArabel
#2 Apr 17 2010 at 2:36 PM Rating: Decent
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Also, if you think this is too long, and didn't bother to read it thoroughly (for all you TL;DR's), don't post. It's disrespectful to start talking without listening to everything the OP said.
#3 Apr 17 2010 at 3:15 PM Rating: Decent
KatoArabel wrote:
Also, if you think this is too long, and didn't bother to read it thoroughly (for all you TL;DR's), don't post. It's disrespectful to start talking without listening to everything the OP said.


It's also disrespectful to fire off a pre-emptive ********** off if you didn't read it" message before anyone has even had a chance to respond.
#4 Apr 17 2010 at 3:30 PM Rating: Decent
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This community has a habit of TL;DRing. Pre-empting disrespectful behavior is one of my habits.
#5 Apr 17 2010 at 3:32 PM Rating: Good
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Most of that went over my head but it looks like you put a lot of work into it, thanks for the info.
#6 Apr 17 2010 at 3:45 PM Rating: Decent
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Thank you, Tilday.

It is highly technical in nature, yes.
#7 Apr 17 2010 at 4:53 PM Rating: Excellent
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i loved it! however i doubt the modding community will be even more into this than they were in FFXI modding, simply because its a time sink.

if we are able to mod what we wear, you have my word me and mooshywooshy will be ALL over that.
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#8 Apr 17 2010 at 7:36 PM Rating: Good
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very interesting read, especially since i'm currently studying game design. Square certainly has had a lot of room to improve on FFXI over the past years.


Quote:
It's also disrespectful to fire off a pre-emptive "@#%^ off if you didn't read it" message before anyone has even had a chance to respond.
it doesn't come off sounding disrespectful to me, probably because i already acknowledge that i'm not part of the 'tl;dr' crowd that still insist on posting, as a result i don't take issue with it. in fact, i'm particularly glad someone else can stand up to them. it's obnoxious.

#9 Apr 18 2010 at 2:22 AM Rating: Decent
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tl;dr
#10Darrtt, Posted: Apr 18 2010 at 12:50 PM, Rating: Sub-Default, (Expand Post) FFXIV was first announced as "Rapture" in August of 2005, TES4 was released in March of 2006.
#11 Apr 18 2010 at 1:16 PM Rating: Good
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So... forgive my ignorance. What exactly is "tl;dr" ?
No, I'm honestly not trying to start anything, I simply don't know. I've never been part of an MMO message board community before, so some "common" terms are still unknown to me.
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#12 Apr 18 2010 at 1:18 PM Rating: Excellent
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It's a snide way of saying a person couldn't be bothered to read the post, "too long, didn't read".

With that said, stop doing it.
#13 Apr 18 2010 at 1:22 PM Rating: Excellent
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Means "To Long, Didn't Read" or basicly to much text for most people to bother reading as 1 post in a forum. And I kind of agree with that crowd sometimes, keep it simple and to the point if you want people to feel like it isn't a waist of thier time to read.

Edit: hehe pikko got it already :P But personaly I just tend to not post in threads I'm not motivated enough to read.

Edited, Apr 18th 2010 3:24pm by zurinadrg
#14 Apr 18 2010 at 2:11 PM Rating: Good
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If it was an in depth analysis of 14's actual graphical system then it wouldn't be a tl;dr subject. We actually have access to an early, maybe even final version of it and yet you go on with baseless speculation by comparing a game released in 2002 to a game released in 2006. It's just plain silly when we already have the game code available. Also, the OP has an air of...hmm, I'm not sure the word, but I've seen it numerous times in forum posts such as this. The OP just likes to hear themselves speak (or in this case type) and they want to eat up all the good feedback by camping their thread and trying to oust any and all opposition. So in short, tl;dr.
#15 Apr 18 2010 at 4:02 PM Rating: Good
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As far as I can tell FFXI used one mesh for the body with another mesh for the head with a very basic material system on armor. Armor were separate meshes that would float over top of each character at all times even if it was invisible and thus different armor was merely another skin on the same mesh. That helped eliminate overhead as far as swapping in mesh data on the fly focusing only on textures. ( Might be wrong on this one )

So basically most of the overhead was texture information that made up the brunt of diversified memory usage. Which still sucks for the PS2 since the **** thing has so little memory..

They seem to be leveraging the tech for palette swapping on textures to a greater degree in FFXIV. In FFXI it was commonly used on gear to give it a different color like lizard boots and dusk boots for example. Now that same tech is being applied to skin color and the likes.

They supported bump maps in FFXI on the PC version for years however the textures were rather low resolution to really have an impact on visuals. Higher res bump maps on world geometry, and now normal maps on characters is going to be the main visual difference between FFXIV and FFXI since it encompasses the more robust material system that they currently have in place.

Occlusion culling appeared to be grid zones with far plane. Turning the far plane off resulted in visibly viewing forced culling of locations in large outdoor areas. Using world space grid, and in some cases, hand placed volumes to dictate visibility. This appears to be unchanged in FFXIV. I was never able to confirm if FFXI had portals on hand placed volumes. World of warcraft uses a very similar method short of the world grid space technique opting more for far plane culling. Bethesda's engine uses a more advanced portal zone method for interior spaces but relies almost entirely on heavy LOD + Far plane for anything outside. Bethesda's engine is All Hand placed volumes and all hand placed portals. ( Allot of work imo )

Of the 3 I imagine that Bethesda's engine is hardest to setup correctly on interior spaces and outdoor LOD requires a pre compiled mesh to swap in at longer distances. This mesh is **** to compile needing huge amounts of computing power.

FFXI is not a terrain based 3d engine nor is FFXIV making them two of the most unique engines I have ever seen in action. They use modular prefab geometry for the world space then apply a height map to them during the compile process. Its actually quite ingenious imo but it is the sole reason FFXI has gained a reputation for having people getting stuck on small elevations on the ground. Hand created modules with a precomputed height variance must have been a ***** to work with. I imagine a sh*t load of trial and error just to make the world space explorable...

AI is actually node based in FFXI those monsters were particular good at tracking you down and training everything on the way. The AI in WoW appears to be similar using hand placed nodes as well in interiors and instances but follow a much more simplistic AI algorithm on exterior world space. Oblivion's 3d engine uses NAV meshes, which work pretty much the same way as hand placed nodes. Nav meshes are hand built and VERY tedious to work with but is also far more both more unreliable and more advanced than WoW and FFXI at the same time. That was most likely because the AI in Beths engine work on scheduals.

You cant mess around with MMO AI they either need to be killing you chasing you or roaming in his preset location.. In WoW if they even suspect that the AI is stuck or unable to reach you they make the ******* invulnerable. FFXI AI never needed that because it was far more well designed in that respect since the AI pretty much NEVER got stuck on anything ever.

Honestly I think the point the OP is making, comparing FFXIV to Bethesda's engine design is more coincidence. Most 3d engine these days follow the same methods in design but differ only in actual implementation tbh. because its the only methods that give the best results given current hardware limitations. Engine design is stagnant short of the latest experimentation with Voxel and superior rendering pipelines using Voxels.

Oblivion, is a very different beast from FFXIV or WoW however, similar methods used to customize armor are more coincidence than planed actions. Oblivion is a **** of allot more likely to introduce armor that is a completely new mesh and skin than any MMO that exists today simply because of the vast difference in the environment between sp and mp.

tech wise FFXIV is only a little more advanced than FFXI but it does add up.
It was very hard for me to read the op. I can probably answer any questions you have on this topic and I love to talk about 3d engines. :)

Quote:
In closing, I must emphasize that Square-Enix most likely did not copy the NetImmerse method of models, meshes, and texturing letter-for-letter, but used it as inspiration for their own Crystal Tools Engine. In fact, individual meshes have become a very common technique in today's video game industry, because it becomes easier to texture and is less labor-intensive to map out where the textures will be applied onto the model.

For example, a character like Marcus Fenix from Gears of War 2. Can you imagine all that texturing work on that character model being confined to a single texture file? Preposterous, the texture file would become inordinately huge, and mapping out how the texture would be applied to the model would result in a lot of wasted space in the texture file. Imagine it as a 4096x4096 pixel bitmap file. You've got all the textures of Marcus Fenix in that file, and all the space between each mesh segment in the texture file adds up to more hard drive space consumption.

So it is much more practical, in terms of labor and storage economics, to break down a character model into separate meshes and assign those meshes specific values that will call up their dedicated texture information. It has the added bonus of being more modder-friendly.

However, it remains to be seen if Square-Enix will be as friendly to graphics modders as they were in FFXI.

-NK


Your right, splitting up models and working on each piece separately is very common. But your also forgetting about multiple material ids on a single mesh also being very common. In the case of Marcus he was originally done as one model then split up later on into separate pieces.

Another thing
Oblivion licensed special tech to allow for facial customization though. If this is the case that FFXIV will do a similar method then you are looking at a much harder time making custom content in FFXIV. It will be a pain to make sure every bone on the model is named correctly and works within the constraints of such a system without help from SE...

Edited, Apr 18th 2010 6:22pm by thorazinekizzez
#16 Apr 18 2010 at 4:47 PM Rating: Good
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Quote:
Pikko said:
It's a snide way of saying a person couldn't be bothered to read the post, "too long, didn't read".

With that said, stop doing it.


Thank you for the answer, I'd like to think the 2nd part wasn't at my post directly.

In case it was however, I did read the OP. The subject matter isn't something I truly care for, seeing as I'm not a "modder" and I plan on playing on my PS3. Where I don't think modding is a viable option. Therefore I didn't comment on the subject until I had a valid opportunity to ask something relevant.

Back to the original subject, I wouldn't be surprised to learn that SE had taken some things from Oblivion. It was said a good while back that SE was going to look at other successful MMOs on the market and tweak things that work in those to work in a Final Fantasy setting.
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#17 Apr 18 2010 at 4:54 PM Rating: Decent
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Siralin wrote:
If it was an in depth analysis of 14's actual graphical system then it wouldn't be a tl;dr subject. We actually have access to an early, maybe even final version of it and yet you go on with baseless speculation by comparing a game released in 2002 to a game released in 2006. It's just plain silly when we already have the game code available. Also, the OP has an air of...hmm, I'm not sure the word, but I've seen it numerous times in forum posts such as this. The OP just likes to hear themselves speak (or in this case type) and they want to eat up all the good feedback by camping their thread and trying to oust any and all opposition. So in short, tl;dr.


Actually, I am pretty sure the OP offered to create this post in another thread if they received enough interest in it, which clearly they did, and put time and effort into explaining it for people who wanted to understand it better than in the original thread the idea was found in. But way to completely misjudge someone because you have nothing valuable to offer this thread. I personally find it nice to see someone creating a thread with actual substance instead of a joke thread full of fluff. At least the positive feedback in this thread is somewhat merited. The only person thread-camping and raining on people's parades around here is you. Is it really so hard for people to walk away if they have nothing constructive to add to a discussion?
#18 Apr 18 2010 at 5:22 PM Rating: Default
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The intent of my OP is to illustrate that modding in FFXIV will likely be much more complicated than FFXI, in terms of how the model is constructed and used.

Quote:
Quote by Siralin: We actually have access to an early, maybe even final version of it and yet you go on with baseless speculation by comparing a game released in 2002 to a game released in 2006.


Just because it's a different game doesn't mean that there are vastly different techniques being used. Like the example I brought up with Marcus Fenix (GOW2 Main Character), it would be impractical for the FFXIV developers to use the same methods as FFXI because we're in the High-Definition age, and having high-definition textures in a single file is just ridiculous - unless it's a compressed archive, which is a different issue altogether.

The short of it is, I am expecting modding to be much more complicated in FFXIV due to the increased level of detail with the models, and the use of individual meshes within the model. One purpose of this thread is to make sure that anyone (who is accustomed to modding in FFXI) planning to mod in FFXIV is aware of the complexities involved with current-gen and next-gen modeling. Instead of waiting until FFXIV launches, people can start drafting out their modding plans in accordance with the level of difficulty the new DAT format will present to the community in today's modeling environment.

Also, to the person that mentioned Rapture (FFXIV) starting in 2005 and Oblivion releasing in 2006: That doesn't make any difference. When Rapture was started, it was in the pre-development stage, where they were discussing how to build the world, testing various concepts using mockups, and building a vast repository of information regarding the world of Eorzea - such as monsters, characters, lore, and so on. All of that is done mostly during Pre-Development. Actual development work on FFXIV most likely started at least a year or two after the announcement, when they began to accumulate tangible results (models, game documentation, maps, working pre-alpha game engine, etc) to present to Square's brass.

Even after two years of development, Square most likely did not finalize the standard for character models until sometime between 2007 and 2009 (when the Alpha was first demonstrated). Plenty of time for Square to study how other people did their modeling.


Pro tip: If you've never studied or participated in video game development, don't open your yap in an attempt to shoot down someone's thread. You'll just look stupid. Thank you.

#19 Apr 18 2010 at 6:08 PM Rating: Decent
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Quote:
Also, if you think this is too long, and didn't bother to read it thoroughly (for all you TL;DR's), don't post. It's disrespectful to start talking without listening to everything the OP said.

Quote:

It is highly technical in nature, yes.

Quote:

Pro tip: If you've never studied or participated in video game development, don't open your yap in an attempt to shoot down someone's thread. You'll just look stupid. Thank you.


::eyeroll::

Quote:
The intent of my OP is to illustrate that modding in FFXIV will likely be much more complicated than FFXI, in terms of how the model is constructed and used.

Do you think anyone was expecting a game released in 2010~ to have more simple models than a game released in 2002?

Considering how highly you seem to think of yourself, one would think you'd be saying something somewhat deep, instead of just stating the obvious. In addition, I'm not sure SE was very friendly to graphics modders in FFXI. You had a model viewer, yes, and .dat modding wouldn't get you banned, but I expect to see more stringent security measures that prevent any modding.
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#20 Apr 19 2010 at 11:16 AM Rating: Default
why would SE study a model system from a cosole game? SE said they studied concepts from other MMO's. is TES4 an MMO? it sure as **** isnt so why the ^%$& would you think they studied something from this game. you come here talking about some nonsense that doesnt matter at all because its all pointless speculation, then get mad when people dont want to read your wall of text.

its pretty much common sense that the character models will look better and have more options for customization than its predecessor, which was released almost a decade ago and the whole point of your post, that you clearly worked so hard on, was already understood by everyone. not in the technical jargon that you put it, but if you asked any potential player if FFXIV was gonna look better and have more customization than FFXI they all would have said to come out from under your rock.
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#21 Apr 19 2010 at 1:43 PM Rating: Decent
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Oblivion was also developed for the PC. It also has a large amount of mods for the PC version. I would suggest you stop thinking that everything developers do is for the console platform.

Darrtt, I am under the impression that you have nothing to contribute to the thread. Both of your posts have had very little of worth, and I would appreciate it if you would avoid posting in this thread in the future. I am only interested in constructive posts, not people interested in trying to drag a thread through the mud just because 'they' think it's worthless.
#22 Apr 19 2010 at 2:01 PM Rating: Excellent
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Siralin, if it's tl;dr, then just move on.
#23 Apr 19 2010 at 3:14 PM Rating: Decent
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Pikko wrote:
Siralin, if it's tl;dr, then just move on.


Read his post again. Basically he is saying the OP was posting to boost his ego, which in turn makes it TLDR. He is also saying that if there was actually .dat info from XIV that was being presented this might have been an interesting read.

At the end of the day it would seem ridiculously old fashioned if SE didn't break up the files to add greater customization. I think that SE should implement something along these lines to allow for customization of armors (coats of arms, guild icons, etc on armors and this scheme would allow it).

Edited, Apr 19th 2010 5:18pm by burtonsnow

Edited, Apr 19th 2010 5:18pm by burtonsnow
#24 Apr 19 2010 at 7:53 PM Rating: Good
Not to rain on anyone's parade, but there are a few things that might be worthy of consideration when it comes to the OP's initial post in this thread.

It doesn't really take a whole lot to figure out that the OP's post stems from the modder point of view. You don't even really have to understand many (or any) of the technical details to realize that the OP's interest in this as it applies to FFXIV lies in the modding of .DAT files, regardless of any generic interest in gaming graphics.

The FFXI community came to the conclusion a long time ago that SE wasn't opposed to .DAT modding. This was a conclusion that was reached during my time playing FFXI, but it failed to take into consideration certain key details, the most noteworthy of which being that SE simply hadn't implemented the systems necessary to identify people playing with modified game files.

The FFXI model viewer was a fairly popular application. In the absence of an in-game dressing room, it gave people a chance to see how their character would look with different kinds of gear equipped. It also gave players an opportunity to take a close-up look at a lot of monsters they might otherwise have never had the chance to see because they neither had the time nor the interest to invest countless hours standing around an HNM camp waiting for a spawn. In that aspect, the model viewer was a rather harmless application and whether or not its existence was a no-no relative to the terms of the end user agreement is a very large gray area, and one I have no particular interest in debating.

.DAT modding, however, is not so much of a gray area. It falls under the auspices of pretty much any EULA/ToS that has been written in the last twenty years when they include the clause that says roughly, "...the user may not redistribute, modify, reverse engineer, decompile, yadda yadda any files associated with the software..." Now, I don't want to be the pedantic guy and say, "Don't do it because SE said no!!", but I would ask that you consider a few things.

My concern based as much on the response to the OP as it is on his initial post is that some people may not be aware of the potential consequences of .DAT modding. (ie. actually editing game files as opposed to simply reading them to view in a third party application). Some of these consequences (depending on a variety of factors) may include:

1) Cheating - Modifying monster models to make them stand out. There has already been one post on these boards from someone advocating the use of a PC to play FFXIV instead of a console because playing on PC gives users access to hacks, including changing mob textures for specifically that purpose: making them stand out so they're easier to spot, target, and claim.

2) Server resources to redistribute "corrupted" .DAT files - Ever have one of those FFXI patch days where the patch downloads at a snails pace and if you're lucky enough to have it complete without conking out and requiring that you start the process over, you've still lost out on potentially hours worth of game time while the server chugs along trying to get the data to your PC? How do you feel about having that problem worsened by servers working that much harder to replace .DAT files that failed checks and are flagged as corrupted because someone edited them and forgot to swap in their unaltered backups before they started patching?

3) Game staff resources - So Bob Coder knows the ins and outs of .DAT modding and can figure out if he's botched something somewhere and it's causing problems with his ability to run the game. Joe Sneaky doesn't, but that didn't stop him from downloading a third party editor and through vast boneheadery or simply a bug in the editor, all of a sudden every time the game tries to load a male Miqo'te model on screen, his game crashes. Do you want your GMs and customer support staff tied up trying to help Joe fix the problem he created?

It is not at all uncommon for an MMO developer to include as a part of the game certain systems that monitor what is happening on your computer as it relates to the game software and report back to the service provider those things that are suspicious. These monitoring systems can report such things as recognized third party cheat applications resident in memory at the time you are running the game, instances of files that do not match the files that were distributed through installation or patching, log files to track the use of non-sanctioned (ie. private) servers, etc. Will SE incorporate anything like that into FFXIV? Who knows? Given that they've announced that they've made plans to combat RMT from the ground up this time around, it wouldn't surprise me in the least to find that included with FFXIV are systems specifically to monitor what is going on with the game on your end to ensure that everything is as it should be.

If you're excited about a model viewer, cool. If .DAT modding intrigues you (even if it's just to make aesthetic adjustments to the game's graphics for gits and shiggles), be aware that you may well be putting yourself on thin ice. This is offered not as a chastisement or a doom-and-gloom meanie-head kaiboshing of yet another idea. Simply as a warning. Mod your .DATs at your own risk...it is an EULA violation and it may create consequences for you.
#25 Apr 19 2010 at 8:30 PM Rating: Excellent
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800 posts
So I actually did read the whole OP, and yes, it was too long. The first two thirds is all about modding in Oblivion. The comparison was nice, but we really don't need a step by step guide on how to Mod in Oblivion in an FFXIV forum. The last third is comparing the logical meshing system Oblivion uses to what the OP thinks FFXIV will use because FFXI had an out of date modeling system. Gee, who'd have thunk a 10 year old game would be out of date and that a newer game would be more modern.

I'm sorry, but I think it's obvious SE is going to have a much better modeling system in FFXIV than they had in FFXI. Other than lifelike-ness, it bears no resemblance to Oblivion and we know SE is very anit-modding. MMO's aren't about end user modification of game files. That's single player territory, that's how they multiply play time on console games. MMO's are about character development. In fact, modding defeats the purpose of MMOs. Why strive for that awesome piece of armor when I could just .dat swap it for a Bronze Harness?

SE will support character customization. They won't support modding. They are two very different things.
#26 Apr 20 2010 at 8:15 AM Rating: Default
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84 posts
Aurelius, great response.

Granted, DAT modding can be done to make monsters easier to target or more identifiable in the game environment. This is one type of modding I do not support. The only thing I would ever support for modding in an MMORPG is the player character -- your own.

The brevity of this post is for a reason: I have classes in an hour. Gotta go!
#27 Apr 20 2010 at 2:00 PM Rating: Decent
KatoArabel wrote:
Aurelius, great response.

Granted, DAT modding can be done to make monsters easier to target or more identifiable in the game environment. This is one type of modding I do not support. The only thing I would ever support for modding in an MMORPG is the player character -- your own.

The brevity of this post is for a reason: I have classes in an hour. Gotta go!


The potential consequences I listed are also things that SE would be aware of. As a developer, they have reasons why they disallow modding in their EULA.

It's not so much a case of, "If you're going to mod, don't use it to cheat, make sure you don't botch your files, and if you ***** something up just reinstall and leave the GMs/customer support people alone." It's more a case of, "These are the reasons why SE may, as part of their approach to dealing with RMT and hacking, choose to incorporate a system that tracks the presence of 'corrupted' .DAT files. They may not. We don't know. And since most MMO companies frown heavily on cheating and dislike the idea of either having to spend more money on additional resources (hardware or staff) to accommodate people who aren't cooperating or watching the quality of the service they offer suffering for it, they have ample motivation to take a hard line with it."

Again, this is only to make sure people understand that there are risks inherent with modding as opposed to thinking that it's fair game with no chance of anything coming back on them.
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