How To Make An Auto-Animated Prop
If you want to make an auto-animated prop, then you will need animation files for it. You will have to look over The Movies Game's large number of animation files and then test them to see which ones will work with your prop. You can download Rysto's all Movies Game Animations from Machinimods.com Or you can use MED (The Movies Game Editor) to extract the animation files you want. You can also view these animation files using Gleem's FLM Reader Zero, and Animation Changer.
There are two ways to turn a mesh into an Auto-Animated prop. One is in Blender, and the other is with MeshManip. With Meshmanip, select the group first and then click edit above and then select from drop down menu modify. Or in Blender, once you have all the items ready (like the body, head, accessories), go up to help and from the drop down menu select ID Property Browser. Then click on the menus bar until you see a flag. 0 is negative. 1 is positive. You will see auto-animated. And may already be set to zero. Erase the zero and make it a one.
Next you need the mesh to be a prop to place on sets. Open MED and pick a prop. Change it's base mesh with that of your new Auto-Animated prop object created in Blender or modified in Meshmanip. Then, change the name of the prop and the name of the unique identifier. Then, make a thumb, then go up to file and select commit to game.
The next step here is applying an animation file for your prop. The animation file needs to be the same name as the unique identifier. I keep the mesh name and the unique identifier the same to avoid confusion. Only the name of the animation file needs to have an "aa_" in front of it. I have a flying bat prop. And I borrowed the animations from the dove prop (which is an Easter egg hidden in the game, something Lionhead never released. Someone is screaming at me. Oh yeah, the front gate of the studio lot has a flying dove.) Anyways I borrowed the animations from the dove and renamed them aa_p_aa_bat1_v00.anm. The aa_ is the only part of the name the bat doesn't have. The name of the bat is p_aa_bat, which in other files is p_aa_bat1.dds (found in the props folder), p_aa_bat1.ini in the propblueprint and set dressing folders, I even have one in the props folder. And p_aa_bat1.msh in the data/meshes folder. The animation file then will always have a aa_ in front of its name. Now the armature or bones of the bat prop were taken from the dove, so only the dove and this new bat will work with these animation files. Using the dove animation file I renamed them to aa_p_aa_bat1_v00.anm.
I also added a _v00 at the end of the animation's name. Because the game wants to see a number to the animation. Why? Each auto-animated prop can have more then one animation. So any additional animation file would have to be further named "_v01" and then "_v02". When there is more then one animation the game picks from them randomly. The dog prop found in the miscellaneous category has many animations. Barking or just sitting or sniffing the ground. The game chooses randomly. If you have your own AA dog prop, you could add animations from dog scenes, like dog attacking. And the dog, once you place it on the set, would be forever attacking.
Here is a list of the game's Auto-Animation files it uses for its AA props. To give you an idea: List Of Game's Auto-Animation Files.
Later I will post pics of these details. Only one other thing to add. Sometimes the game just doesn't like something we made. Usually when it comes to Auto-Animated props working. In bender everything will look right. In MeshManip everything will work right. Yet the game will refuse to animate it. When this happens I start over completely, following the same steps I took to make it in the first place, and then it will work. Why? No one knows yet. But sometimes an auto-animated prop will just not work. Also, sometimes the prop wont animate at first. Being placed on the set a costume prop will be standing in a T position, only to have it move in the next go around. Why? Some of the animations we picked the game refuses to use... at first. Other times, as we may have only choose one animation, it will work,only to have it not work in the next scene, and then it will work again later. Confusing? But what can we do? Yet sometimes they work perfectly.
Update:What causes meshes to occasionally or repeatedly mess up, (or even not at all), is something found in it's property flags. Each Mesh found in the Movies Game has a Unique Identifier Number that determines how an object is handled. And the export scripts generate a new one at each export. So if the number is wrong for a given Movies game situation (scene/studio situation/driving or bluescreen) then the game gets funny and the object may "malfunction". Sometimes it may even in a constant state of exploding all the verts or polygons. There needs to be a way to force write these ID numbers. Perhaps a Hex Editor could do it. Though I have looked over the meshes in one and could not find the numbers found in Blender. But this could be because these numbers are being written on the fly by the import export scripts? Just speculating.
So these are the steps:
Tips: Setting up your model to become a prop. It must have an armature. Costumes have the costume armature: 507812352. Each object parented to this armature has (or should have) weight groups. A weight group is a group that has verts assigned to it. Those verts will move to the bone the weight groups is named after. The "head" weight group are verts that move to the "head" bone. Some objects you may want to be apart of the project, like some hats, may not have a weight group. If a hat does not then you must give it a weight group and call this group "head" and then assign all of it's verts to it. Be sure to delete verts poking out from hair or the head itself if it can be seen poking through the hat object.
All of the objects must have weight groups and must be children of the armature. You only need one empty pivot and one Blender group. You can delete all the extra pivots you do not need. If you do then all of the names of the deleted groups must be removed from the objects. Those object would then all be parented to just one "Blend Group". And should have the only that Blend Group's name in the button's menu. The stuff you delete in Blender (such as materials and blend groups) are still in Blender's memory. To get rid of unwanted Blender memory stuff there is a trick. Save the project as a .blend file. Open and save the .blend file 3x's and this tells Blender to forget stuff it no longer needs (has no more users).
In the end, the only difference between a costume and an auto-animated prop is the flag set either in Blender or in Meshmanip. The flag called "Auto-Animated". Some costumes already come with a head, such as gorillas and bunnies. The only thing you would have to do there is set the flag to auto-animated and export it back into the game and then use MED to make it a prop. With costumes that do not have a head, you will have to give it one. I have all Starmaker heads in a file I can append from. I will post a link to a python script that imports Starmaker heads ready for Auto-Animation. 3 (.HD) Import Scripts For Blender
The reason for the script is because Auto-Animated props can not have face weight groups. Face animations happen as a separate pass in the game and auto-animated props never have a chance to receive this pass. So the face will end up crazy. So delete all face weight groups and re-assign all verts in no group to the "head" weight group. Or use the script linked above.Animation files for Auto-Animated props must have a "aa_" in front of the name. If you have a prop called "p_aa_bunny.msh" Then the animation should be called "aa_p_aa_bunny.anm". They go in the "data/animations/high/autoanimated" folder. Each animation has to be made for the armature of the prop you are making. Dog animations can not be applied to human costume props. They can but won't move right. A horse has a bone called "head" and so does a human, and the head bone will end up moving, but nothing else will as the other bone names do not match.
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