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Introduction To Modding The Movies Game

This page will shed some light on the programs we use to Mod The Movies. Over the years a treasure trove of programs were made available. But what are they? And what can they do?

This is not a tutorial. I have a Tutorials Page where you can learn how to use the programs mentioned here. This is, as the title says, merely an introduction. Also, I do not take responsibility for anything you may mess up in your game. Use these programs at your own risk. I am not Activision or Lionhead.

Note: Many of the programs here allow you to modify existing content already found in TM. And sometimes we can modify an existing file, and rename it so that it becomes a new file. In such cases these programs can not, on there own generate a file from scratch. While other programs can, such as CosEd. In the case where they don't it must be extracted from the Movies Game's (.PAK) files. (.PAK) files are compressed containers, storing the files we will need to modify. But we can't if they are locked up in the (.PAK) files. We use MED, (The Movies Game Editor) to extract these files we want to edit. In MED, select "Extract Files" button and then navigate to the file we want to edit, then select a location to extract it to. Once there, and often, it should be renamed to become a brand new file. Then we open this file and make adjustments. Next we save it. Then we make sure that it is placed in a location where the TM requires that file to be in order for it to be used by the game.

Also, be sure to start one game first. Even if you just play it once when it starts. Because that will update the secret registry pointers which tells your computer environment that the game exist and is functional. If not some programs will say, "Hey what gives? There's no Movies Game here." For some programs it is not enough to have it installed, the game must be played at least once.

Cautionary note: If you have Download version of either The Movies, or the addon Stunts&Effects, then many of the programs will not read it's content. The reason for this is that the Download version has an embedded encryption that aims to prevent redistribution. But it also makes the content unreadable by the Modding programs. If you have Download version of S&E and then extract the monster category, then it will contain only the original costumes and not the extra ones. If you install this Monster category (.INI) file in the data/costumes folder, and you already have S&E then any costume that used to come with the addon will vanish. This makes it hard to upload mods to 8EyedBaby as the downloader would have to be warned about the problem. Never get download version. If you reformat your hard drive, then the install file becomes useless. And if you contact them they give you the run around. It is worth the wait just to order it by snail mail.

Here is a list of programs:

  • Audacity
  • Animation Changer
  • Blender Download
  • Casting Couch
  • CosEd
  • FLM Reader Zero
  • Hex Editing Templates
  • MED (The Movies Game) Editor
  • MeshManip
  • Notepad
  • Pak Poker
  • RileyMan's Apps
  • Scene Reblocker
  • StarMaker (which comes with the game)
  • PaintDotNet (Or Photoshop)

And possibly more I can't remember right-off-hand. Evolchil and/or Jabhacksoul made a furniture mover program. Someone made a scene searcher program. There is a mod that will unlock windowed mode so that the game can play in a window instead of a full screen. This is a registry edit. It is always recommended that you do not mess with the registry if you do not know what you are doing. That being said you could open regedit and make the following changes to achieve a windowed game play:

[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Lionhead Studios Ltd\TheMovies]

"FullScreen"="0"

A number 1 will follow fullscreen and just change it to zero. Computers often think one and zero means on or off. Or yes or no. Or right or wrong. Or good or bad. Left or Right. Loud or mute. Known or unknown. Which means that human beings, and their tools, have mastered two states of being. Millions of years of evolution has decided that it is enough for now. It may be that some computers have finally caught on to three, the more dynamic ones, but don't hold your breath. At least Microsoft hasn't yet.

Doing the wrong thing in the registry can mess up your game or even your computer if you are not careful. There is a download for the same regedit function perhaps at 8eyedbaby if it scares you to do it yourself. You can also allow any decade and skip the tutorials at first play.

TM offers two ways to use the program. First one is as a game. And it's pretty fun. It isn't the meat of the game. The true wonder of TM is Movie Making. Once you play the game through once, you will unlock the Movie Making portion. That is how Lionhead set it up. You must unlock the Movie Making house by winning the award for it, or playing it until 1960. Once it is unlocked, it will always be available in Sandbox mode. And so is the year 2000 when you get to that year. From then on you can start in Sandbox mode and begin to make your movies right away. Compared to every single other movie making program out there, it is still the easiest way to get to making movies. That being said, there is a way to start this right out of the box. There is a file called, yup, the unlocking.ini file. And it is hidden in windows appdata folders. Google "hidden appdata" if you don't know all ready.

c:\Documents and Settings\[Yourusername]\Application Data\Lionhead Studios\The Movies\

Is where it is at. The folder gets created the moment you first play the game. So be sure to do that first. Then insert the unlocking.ini file there. That is if you have created one with notepad or have downloaded one. You can go here to find out how to make one. I will make a download version of it soon. Once it is in the above location, you will be able to start in any decade and have all the features and extra sets available. A friend of mine said that he couldn't get the haunted set unlocked until he made an extra (.INI) file for it, so it may be that one or two items will not be available yet. But everything else is unlocked.

You may see by now that you can mod the game yourself just by editing the (.INI) files. Most of which are found:

c:\Program Files\Lionhead Studios Ltd\The Movies\Data

As stated at the top. Some files won't be there at all. Actually they are there. But compressed in the (.PAK) files. In the ///Lionhead Studios Ltd\The Movies\Data\pak folder. The game will look to the actual physical locations of the files and folders. If they are not found, it will look into the .PAK files. We used to be able to download addons from the old TMO site that lionhead closed some years back. These addons were injected into the PAK folder as .PAK files. As in other games, it may be that some .PAK files had a priority setting. Otherwise how would a costume (which uses category .INI files) be added? There is no need to make a program to re-compress a mod because the game will allow for actual files to override the .PAK files.

All that means is you may not find the .INI files to edit at the location given until you extract it using MED (The Movies Game Editor). In MED a window pops up asking you what you want to do today. And on the right side is a button called "Extract Files For External Editing". Click the button and a new window pops up. On the right is a list a files you can select. Each name expands the contents underneath. Each name will represent a folder with more files and subfolders found in it - if there is a 'plus' sign next to it. Hit the plus sign and it becomes a minus sign and also the contents expands below. If the name only has a box next to it then it is a file. Folders or files can be extracted by clicking a check mark into the little box next to the name. The next step is to choose a location to extract the file to. For (.INI) files found only in the immediate 'data' folder, you can extract it into your game at the same location. If you place it somewhere else then after editing the file make sure it is placed into the Movies Game installation at the proper location. The best gauge for where to place it is to follow the hierarchy in the list you chose to extract it from.

You can edit (.INI) files using a windows program called Notepad. If asked what program you want to open a given (.INI) file with, tell your computer that you want notepad to do so. Mine always did so by default. Some tips and cautionary notes: 1. Always have the window in full screen before saving it. Be sure to have backups of files before making changes. Make sure that there is a space before the listed names that require it. And make sure there are no stray lines before saving it. MikeDeBoing has pointed out that MED (The Movies Game Editor) often generates faulty (.INI) files, especially with costumes. And these need to be fixed before installing them into your game. (.INI) files tell the game what to do and what things are or where things are. Why? So that these fields can be changed by US :) You can change a lot in the game, or more importantly add new stuff without overwriting original content.

Mods require (.INI) files to work. And many mods will need existing (.INI) files to be altered to allow a new item to become available. This is important. A new costume will have to be found by the game in a costume category. And there is a (.INI)file for every category. For the costume to show up, open the category file with note pad. You will see a list of costumes. First for females and then for males. Each name of a costume has a naming scheme which is important to follow. An f_ for the females in front of the names, and an m_ in front of the male costume names. But each has a tab space in front of that. Which is why you do not see the names start at the far left of the screen, but just a little off the left side. That is important. And no blank lines between costume names or the game thinks the list as ended.

You could also make our your costume category. If you've made a lot of costumes perhaps you may want to make your own costume category. You simply would follow the example of the existing category (.INI) files, but with only the names of the costumes you have made. Or have downloaded. But there is a mother (.INI) file for all costume categories. It is called simply: category.ini. It is a list of the categories of costumes. And a new category would have to be entered into the list. In this case there is one line space between entries.

Editing the (.INI) files puts the game play in your favor. Is it cheating? Yes and No. Isn't it a shame to wait four or five years for a new star to hire? Is that how Hollywood really is? No. In truth there is an endless resource of workers to hire. And you can alter the facility (.INI) files to allow more hireables to line out on the studio. As many as you want. I have found that if you alter every facility for like 30 or 40 wannabes then the game will lag. Because each wannabe on the lot is being animated and everyone being animated at once is a CPU drag. Better to build the facility temporarily, hire who you want, then destroy the building to return the game to normal speed. Also, once I had altered the building and no one showed up. I then destroyed the building and rebuilt another one and then everyone showed up. But then this didn't work again later. In fact what finally worked was just waiting somewhere else until the game's inner clock had enough 'tics' to update itself and suddenly I was getting a lag in CPU. I went to the building and sure enough 40 people were outside waiting to be hired. So if at first they are not there. Wait for the game's clock to update itself. And perhaps wait on the other side of the studio. For instance if you wait at the billboard to watch it change, you may never see it change. But if you go to the other side of the studio and then come back a bit later, the billboard has changed. Game tics and whether the camera is present or not. Another use of (.INI) files is to allow normal or custom props to be also used as lot placeable ornaments.

Changing the (.INI) files opens up your game. But eventually you want to add more stuff. There are two ways to do that. The easiest way is what most people do. They download a Mod and install it into the game. Others will want to make there own Mods. What is a Mod? It is a modification. But in this case is an extra set or extra prop, or an extra costume. Perhaps it is an overlay or backdrop. Sometimes even a new facility. Most mods are contained in a .ZIP file or .RAR file. Compression files that make exchanging files over the internet easy. You can download many Mods for TM at 8eyedbaby.com. Or here at my downloads page. Once you have downloaded the mod, extract the contents of the mod to a workspace (perhaps right where you found the downloaded zip or rar file). Most Mods come with a ReadMe file. A (.txt) file that will give you instructions for installing. Most will tell you what files in the game must be altered to allow it to work. A set is the easiest as it includes all the files it needs. But most of the time, all you need to do is find a "DATA" folder. Once you find this folder, it needs to be merged with another "DATA" folder. One that is already in your TM game's installation path. This way the contents of the first data folder will be injected into the location of the second data folder. In short, add the files and subfolders of the mod to where you game is installed. And doing so is a matter of copying the extracted and or downloaded "DATA" folder. Then navigate to where your game was installed your computer's hard drive. Usually at:

C:\Program Files\Lionhead Studios Ltd\The Movies\

There should already be a data folder there. Paste the copied one here by right clicking on a blank space and select 'paste'. Here is where your computer may start asking you questions. Which is good if you have never done something like this before. But very annoying if you are doing it for the five hundredth time. You may be asked if you want to merge these two folders. Say yes. But wait, there's more. You might find the computer is still asking you questions. Like, are you sure you want to do what you just said yes to? Say yes again. Computers are so smart. If your computer is anything like mine, you may be asked seven or eight questions before it finally finishes installing.



MED (The Movies Game Editor)

A fantastic program. First released in pre-alpha at TheMoviesWorkshop, which closed and was replaced by DCModding Foundry (which has also closed). The full program was released at DcModding. A wonderful program. Nearly complete. The idea was to keep increasing its functionality. As it is now you can do most anything you need to mod The Movies Game using MED. You can download the program today at 3dmovies.com.

What does it do? Create new content out of existing content; which is a matter of loading a set, costume or prop, and changing the details of the item to become something new. You can change the walls of a set to make it into another set. Extracts files for external editing; such as 3d mesh files you can then load into Blender, or extract (.INI) files to make changes to them. Injects new content into the game, such as a new prop, a new set, or a new costume. If we make content in Blender or had made changes outside the program, we can load these items into MED and have MED place these items into the game.

There is a tutorial here.

It also goes hand-in-hand with other modding programs. Most of the existing content found in the game can only be used after it has been extracted from the game's (.PAK) files. MED is the tool that will extract any or all of these files when we need them. After words they can be edited using other programs, such as CosEd and Blender, or even Notepad.



Sound Files

We can add more sound effects or music to our game. This is a function already waiting use in the documents folder. But new sound files must me in .OGG format. In this case, if we have a new song, it needs to be converted into a file format the game requires, which is .OGG. Audacity is the program we use for the conversion. Simply load a sound effect or song into Audacity, then select "export" in the file tab. Select ".OGG" format. It is always a good idea to clear the fields for adding descriptions and notes in the popup window. Some programs get confused by the extra content added, or even left by default. You can hit the clear fields button before selecting ok or complete or the go ahead button. (Maybe it is finish). Choose a location to save the file at. In the documents/themoves subfolder is a collection of folders. Radio is for music you want to here during studio lot navigation. MovieMusic is for songs to be added to movies in post productions. Movie sounds is for sound effects to be added to our movies in post production. I believe voice overs can be added to that location as well. Or if you record one in the game with the microphone, it will/may be stored there. You can also add your own subfolders to the MovieMusic folder to help organize your content better. Audacity is the program that makes it happen.



Making New Scenes

Scenes are selected in Custom Script House. A movie that is to be exported to the hard drive from The Movies Game is a sequence of selected scenes which will tell our story. 10,000 or more to choose from. They cover most of what a person needs to develop the story. But we can make more. There are several programs that will do this. And I have made a few tutorials on how to use most of them. First we need to know what a scene file is composed of and how the game knows a scene exist. Knowing those details are the most important part.

A scene file has an extension: .FLM (for film). Another file of note is the .ANM (animation) files. These are files that move stuff. They target the 3d objects called in a scene. Several 3d Objects contain data that moves them. Cars move across a set. Doors open. Costumes and heads walk, talk and move. Dogs and horses. Helicopters and space ships. All of these are motivated by animation (.ANM) files. The only time this will happen by itself is in the case of an auto animated prop. You can place a horse or dog prop from the miscellaneous category (I believe also a flag pole with waving flag) onto a set or onto the studio lot. They will be moving. In this case the game looks to where animation files are located and check to see if there is a file that is assigned (simply by name) to the prop. You can visit my tutorials page to find out how to make your own auto-animated props.

If you want to make new scenes there is good news and bad news. First the bad news, we can't create a new scene from scratch. The good news is we can make a new scene using existing .FLM files. There are three programs that edit existing .FLM files. The key here is to understand what a .FLM is and how it is called by the game. (.FLM) files are, in themselves, a script. A script of computer code that outlines a sequence of events. For The Movies Game this also includes data about the scene being filmed on the studio lot. And also the actors and props getting ready for shooting. Those details can be modified as well. Scene files (.FLM) have an order of events that can be altered to obtain a new scene. Also a list of animations that are performed during the scene. This means that within (.FLM) files is a list of (.ANM) files being called. And they can be changed.

Animation Changer does just that. You load a (.FLM) file into the program, then you receive a list of the animations being performed in the scene. Select one and then you can change it with a few button clicks. After the appropriate changes have been made you must save it as a new scene file, which means it must have a new name so as to not overwrite the original scene file. It also has to be called properly by the game and I will tell you about the requirements further on after I detail how the programs make them.

Scene Reblocker allows for even more changes to scene files. It can rotate a scene or move it across the set. This program is great for making quick and simple changes to a scene.

The best program to date for editing (.FLM) files is FLM READER ZERO. This is the real tool of the mad scientist. A scene has lots of elements that can be altered. Not all of them have been understood yet. But a great deal is. This program is pretty advanced and requires some familiarizing. You can change what prop shows up on a set. Or merge two scenes into one. Or even three four or five. You can change the costumes into props or props into costumes. You can change the locations of items that are being animated on the set. Also redefine what the cameras do. There is a tutorial here for this program as well.

After you have made the adjustments to your scene, or have edited a (.FLM) file, it is time to save it as a new file that can be called by the game. The location of these are important. The game knows which scenes happen on which set by where the (.FLM) scene file is located. Since there are some 40 or more sets in the game, there is a collection of numbered subfolders. And there are two collections. A scene is made up of not one, but two files. One is a (.INI) file which tells the game a scene exist. And the other is the (.FLM) file which is the actual scene. The (.INI) files are located: data/scene/(numbered folder) and the (.flm) files are at: data/scene/interactions/(numbered folder). Both the (.INI) file and the (.FLM) file will share the same name. If the (.INI) file is opened using notepad, it will reference the (.FLM) file which is important to change when adding a new scene. Go to my tutorials page for a better description of what you will need to do to make a new scene. You can also find a list of which subfolder numbers match the set they appear on.

FLM READER ZERO can also create new studio lot interactions. Or new reactions to ornaments and facilities.



Casting Couch

This program is a sister to the StarMaker App. Starmaker allows you to make custom actors, actresses and directors. You import them into your game using the Stage School Facility. Starmaker gives you a limited number of points to add to the star's attributes and features. The rest would have to be altered during game play. Unless you use Casting Couch. Casting Couch allows you to load an info.sm file which is saved when you first make a new actor, actress or director. This file contains the stats of the character. You can max out any or all the attributes depending on need. This way your stars will be top notch upon entering your game.



CosEd

A program that creates new costumes. The benefit of the program over MED is that it rarely has any errors. It's downside is there being no 3D window to see the changes to the costume as you update. A costume, like scenes, have two files that are required. One is a (.INI) files and the other is a (.COS) file. The (.COS) file is what you load or export with CosEd. At the top is asked what the base mesh is or the 3D object that makes up the costume. Below that is asked if the costume will use the actor's head or not. Or if the actor will use the actor's skin color or not. (Actor's skin color will only work if the costume has color options, which would be a texture overlay). Below those fields is a box listing all of the texture overlays the costume has or how many extra 3d Model accessories that come with the costume. They can be added or deleted using the buttons to the right. Some items require a flag to work. Like a hat must be set to hairline or it won't move in the game. You can also decide the name of the slider for the new item added. Med also generates (.COS) files but sometimes they crash in the game.

(.COS) file names are special. Three examples: f_20s_1.cos, g_chicken.cos, m_20s_1.cos. The f_ is for females, the m_ is for male costumes and the g_ is for both genders. Each will have a matching named (.INI) file (found in the data/costumes folder), and a (.COS) file (found in the data/costumes/datas folder.) The last detail is that the costume must be entered into a category (.INI) file for it to show up in the game. This way the costume is available under a category selected in costume wardrobe facility. MED can really mess up an extracted category (.INI) file. Each name in the list should have only one tab space before it and each name listed should have no empty lines between them.

Most of the costumes I assemble without the aid of MED using CosEd and StvnDysn's all Movies game (.INI) files. Otherwise you can extract the (.INI) files using MED (The Movies Game Editor), or you can extract existing (.COS) files.

Tip: You can use an existing (.COS) file and replace the Base Mesh with a new 3D model you made in Blender3D. And then delete the texture overlays and accessories, then add your own, then save it as a new (.COS) file, which would be renamed to a different name then the original name. Doing so will give your new costume the Hair/makeup/ring options that normally come with most costumes. If you want existing options be sure the (.COS) file you use has those options already in the game.

Another issue is that download version of Stunts&Effects has an encryption. Using MED to extract a category (.INI) file will have a problem then. Because MED can not decipher the encryption. So every file MED would extract in such cases would be missing the contents that was included with S&E. MED just doesn't see the contents of download version of S&E. So if you entered a new costume into the category (.INI) file and put it in the game, your costume would show up, but the S&E contents would not. If you open the (.INI) file with notepad, you will not find the names of the costumes that came with S&E. Which is bad news. To get around it you need to have ready backups of these category (.INI) files, and never use any extracted with MED. I will provide a download of All Movies Catagory INI Files with the S&E contents included. If you have download version of S&E this will come in handy. That way you can use them for backups whenever you want to add new costumes to your game or want to upload a new costume to 8eyedbaby.com





MESHMANIP

Before there was the Blender scripts, there was MeshManip. MeshManip edits the 3d objects of The Movies game. When we say "Mesh" we mean a 3D object found in the game. The file has a (.MSH) tag. It could be a costume, a prop, a set, a lot ornament, a car, even the sky. These all have points that define the proportions in 3D space. Blender is better at manipulating these points or vertices. But more importantly, each mesh file has hundreds of flags used by the game to turn features on and off. And MeshManip is the best program to modify these flags. A prop can be auto-animated by setting this flag using MeshManip. Or, as MikedeBoing said, transfer an object from one group to another. You can redefine the material settings. Rysto was able to reconstruct the ant props to use dog animations in the game, thus making an unlocker for them. The program is pretty powerful. It also comes with a wireframe 3D window to view each mesh with. There are some things the Blender scripts just won't handle and for those moments, I use MeshManip.



Images (.DDS) Format

Direct Draw format are the images found in the game. Located at data/textures location and the various subfolders. Most, but not all, require being in a specific subfolder to be used properly. The game has a lot of image textures to use. If you make a new house or even a new head in Blender, you can simply barrow from the game's library of textures. But you can add new ones. What you will need is a paint program that can handle (.DDS) files. Photoshop will do. So will PaintDotNet which is a free and wonderful program. Be sure that each image follows a 4x4 resolution structure. Like 256x256 or 256x512 or 1024x1024 or 1024 x 512. If the properties are not calculated by the multiplier then it will cause the game or other programs to lag. Blender can even crash in such a case. Blender can load (.DDS) files but it can not save it as such. You can save images generated in Blender as (.png) and then convert them to (.dds) in Photoshop or PaintDotNet.

Most every 3D object in the game uses one as a wrapper of sorts. If you had a 3D candy bar in the game, the 3d model would be the chocolate bar and the wrapper would be the image texture. Without the wrapper you could not see the candy bar. (Not really, you could also make the candy bar have it's own image, but it was just a description or analogy). Many of the concepts discussed here are outlined in further detail at my tutorials page. Backdrops are also (.DDS) files, so are overlays, so are the title screens or the logos that show up on flags.

A key feature to images is the alpha. Alpha is transparency. Water is see through. An image texture of water will be a waving blue color which has a slight value of alpha. In a paint program, the under layer of an image is usually depicted as checkered. Depending on how well the checkered underbelly shows up reveals how strong or weak the alpha is. With a water texture loaded into a paint program, the checkered underbelly only slightly bleeds through. There are times when an image as complete alpha. Complete transparency or see through. Such as a bra color or shirt color. If loaded into a paint program a shirt is only the shirt. The rest has no image data and may appear as a checkered back drop. Alpha can be set to a color as well. Like (.bmps) or (.pngs), and indexed color set to alpha. It depends on what approach you take. In Blender there is a UVMap window. At the bottom of this window is a button for alpha. Pressing it will allow you to see the strength of each alpha value contained in the image. Also you can generate .PNG images with Blender that is saved with alpha using the RGBA button. Also set the "Premul" button in 'render'. (both in the F-10 Menu)

With Blender you can create an animated overlay. Once you set the up the scene to be recorded, and then set up the lamps and the animations and camera, you can export the scene as (.PNG)s. Once you have 30 or 40 or how many you need exported, you can load each image in a paint program then have each of them exported again as in (.DDS) format.



Custom Overlays And Back Drops

Back drops are easy. It is best to keep them at 1024x256 resolution. Thumbs can be 256x64. The backdrop should be saved in (.DDS) format, and at this location:data/textures/backdrops. The name should have a bd_ in front of it. An example is: bd_forest.dds. The thumbs are also in (.DDS) format and saved at: data/textures/thumbs/backdrops, and with a th_bd_ in front of the name, exmple: th_bd_forest.dds.

Overlays and Animated Overlays are projections that appear in front of the filmed content of you movie. It was a feature that came with the addon Stunts and Effects. They are made up of single (.dds) files or multiple (.dds) files. The naming is not too specific. The original game versions have as example: overlay_watersplashes_v00. It is a single file but still has the number _v00 at the end. For multiple animated versions, more files are made or exist with the numbers increasing, _v01 and _v02. When the game cycles through the numbers they start over. You may notice that each one has overlay_ in front of them. Thumbnails for the overlay will always be just one (.dds) file of the first overlay and found at: data/textures/overlays/thumbnails. You may download an overlay and find that they put the thumbnails in the data/textures/thumbs/overlays but this is an incorrect location and won't work.

Another website forum had some discussion about the mechanics of overlays. They posted a link to my old tutorials page and complained about how incomplete the data was. Specifically the frame rate and speed of an animated overlay. But this varies. The game runs the overlay at a different pass in Post Production. It will always be different depending on all the circumstances that is drawing from the computer's CPU. For instance how many actors are being animated in the scene, as well as props. Also if the scene contains scrolling textures of any kind. Every additional element pulls more energy from the computer and when it finally runs the animated overlay the timing has already been adjusted. And it is different for each circumstance. It was a well described complaint that took several postings to fully outline. Hmm. But it was missing one detail. What is actually going on in post production.



RileyMan's Apps

These programs are fantastic. They are command line batch files which allow you to generate several mods. One such tool can turn a saved set dressing into a set file. Others can break down a set and create several props out of the items broken down. I forget all of them right off hand. If you have Download version S&E then you may run into a problem using some of his tools. But not all of them.





Blender 3D

Blender 3D is an open source 3D modeling program that is free to Download and use. The version of Blender we use to mod the Movies is version 2.49b. The link I provided is for that version. The Import/Export scripts are for that version so be sure to use 2.49 when using the scripts.

When you install Blender, it will ask you where you want the ".blend/scripts" folder to be created. Do not ignore this question as it is important. By default it chooses the hidden AppData folder. This can be hard to locate for some people. A preferred location is right where Blender is installing itself, "c:/programfiles/Blender Foundation" folder.

Once Blender has installed itself, and if you chose Blender's instalation path for the scripts folder, the location of the The Movies 2009 (.MSH) Import/Export Scripts would go in the following location: C:\Program Files\Blender Foundation\Blender\.blender\scripts. The scripts are required if you wish to mod The Movies with Blender.

DcModding.com released The Movies 2009 (.MSH) Import/Export Scripts that allows you to load The Movies game's 3D models into Blender for editing. It also allows you to export a custom or edited 3D object from Blender into a format The Movies will recognize, which is in (.MSH) format. Again for more detailed information you can visit my tutorials page. The import export scripts are perhaps the single most important tool for modding The Movies Game. Allows for adding new 3D models into the game.

It may seem intimidating at first. I'm living proof that anyone can learn how to use the program. He he. I said else where that I did not know how to use computers in general when I first found Blender or The Movies Game. Once an unfortunate incident in my life left me with a lot of time to fill. On a whim I tried a computer and the ability to make movies. Learning Blender was a matter of not having any other choice really. The road block for me was where to start.

Blender's appearance doesn't offer a dive in and get going experience. What it does provide is a fantastic display of having most tools readily accessible. And that is the benefit of the display. There is a warning here. The scripts were written for Blender 2.49. Blender 2.5 and later is a whole new animal and if you want to learn how to make custom 3D models for the Movies Game, then you must begin learning Blender 2.49. Go to my tutorials page to find out where to download it. Download Blender 2.49b

Blender is just amazing. It can do soooo much and there are lots of tutorials all outlining very different steps. Often there are many different ways to accomplish one task, each with their own benefit. The tutorials all assumed different levels of expertise. Also often I only needed to learn how to do a single task (how to use one Blender function), but would have to sit through an hour long tutorial and wait for the narrator to get to the step I was after. Sheesh.

Shoini at DCModding gave a quick and easy tutorial on how to scale (resize) a 3d object using Blender. They were easy step-by-step instructions outlining a modification that worked. In doing so I had a chance to see how Blender's features work. How they are accessed. If not for Shioni's direct and noob friendly tutorial I would have never learned how to use the program. For me it was a matter of where to start.

In Blender, or other 3D programs, each object has it's dimensions defined in editable properties. And Blender has several modes to get at each of them. What a function does in one mode may be more defined in another mode. In 'Object Mode' the 3D model is a solid object. But when you go into 'Edit Mode' the object become a series of dots, connected by edges. And each of the edges may border a 'face' attached to them. Each one of those can be changed or manipulated with a Blender tool.

Another feature of 3D game models is most of the time they have a "UVMap" which is all of the faces mentioned a moment ago projected over the (.DDS) image texture. A UVMap can be repositioned as well, and does so in the "UVMap Window".

Blender can be rearranged to better suit your editing needs. At first it is only two windows. A buttons window at the bottom and a 3D space window above. But hovering over an edge and right clicking allows you to make more windows. In the tutorials page is some helpful links and suggestions for setting up Blender to best suit our needs for modifying Movies Game content.

The Movies Game's 3D models are found in the data/meshes folder. Existing models need to be extracted using MED (The Movies Game Editor). Med's tool is called "File Extractor", the top right button on the opening front menu when MED first loads. The location of the models will be in the data/meshes subfolder. The 3D model's file tag is (.msh). Once you choose a model (and you can see them in a preview window, you pick a location to extract it to. When it extracts, it came with a collection of folders and files. First is the DATA folder, and two subfolders called "Meshes" and "Textures". The meshes folder contains the 3D model, which you would later import into Blender. The textures folder contains the image files that the 3D model uses for appearance. Do not move any of thes files or folders before importing the model into Blender. Doing so will still allow the 3D model to import but the images may not import. As long as you do not change any of the file locations, then importing the model into Blender allows also the images of the model to be imported. If your Blender has a camera and lamp object already then pressing F12 key will render what the camera sees at that moment.

Some of the 3D models found in The Movies Game is Sets, Props, Costumes, Accessories worn by the costumes, Auto-Animated Props, Cars, Miniature Models, Weapons, Facilities and other stuff you'll learn about. Often these models have data that is placed in other layers of Blender. This other data can be where an actor's foot touches the floor, or the Studio Lot layout of the set. There are buttons in Blender that will allow you to go between these other layers. New models don't need them at all. New sets are made better by these extra layers. The reason to put this stuff in extra layers is so that their existence doesn't get in the way of editing the more simpler parts of the set. Otherwise everything would have to be stacked right on top of each other.

There are other objects that are not objects in themselves but will be of interest to a modder. For instance the pivot at which a bullet or laser fires from a weapon. These are represented by little green triangles and can be moved to accommodate a larger or smaller weapon. These same little green arrows represent the Object groups that the items are contained in. Also they can be pivots for doors, or steering wheels or book pages. Animation files will move this stuff because of the little green arrows.

Many of the more active items of the game have sister files that accompany them. Sets all have a sister file with the same name in the data/meshes/extrainfo folder with the same name, but with the file tag (.INF) for info. Many 3D models need this extra (.INF) file to function properly in the game. You will need to get acquainted with when this file is required. A set will not have functioning doors without it, or will not be able to be moved or removed on the studio lot. Pistols will need this file to fire bullets.

DcModding added another menu allowing to edit the flags of Mesh files. These flags were mentioned earlier in the MeshManip section. Go up to 'Help' and then select 'ID Properties Values Menu'. There you will get an adjustable list of flags you can turn on or off.

The very most important part of a project is that all the conditions must be met before you can export the model back into the game. All the materials must have proper names and settings and assignments. All of the objects and blend groups must exist and have the proper names. But how do we know everything has been covered? In the scripts window, you can run the PreFlight Check. It is a script that will run over every item of the project and tell you if there is something missing or wrong. If you find you can't even run the script (which is very rare) then the problem may be something outstanding and updating it will allow the script to run. Most of the time that won't happen. Once the script runs a Browser will open and give you a list of all the items that passed. If every line is green then it passed. But if a line is white, there is an error. as MikeDeBoing says, "It is actually telling you what needs to be." Meaning if you missed doing something, it will tell you what item needs attention.

The only instance I found where there wasn't a proper description is, if you have an object with weight groups, and the armature the object used to require was deleted and not needed anymore, then it won't tell you about it. If the armature was still there but no longer the parent, then the Preflight will say "Objects need to be children of the armature". However if there is no armature then it will skip telling you this. Why would there be an object that has weights and then have no armature? This can happen if you were making a prop out of a piece of a costume. Like a robot head to rest on a table. If you forget to delete the robot head's weight groups, the Preflight won't catch that. Just remember to delete the weight groups before exporting or running the Preflight, if the new object will only be used as a prop or a set. It is a rare instance in which these conditions would exist though. What would happen is the Preflight would say everything is OK, but trying to export would give you a python error. Because the Model, which use to move around in a scene, was turned into a prop or a part of a set. They wouldn't need weights anymore, nor would they need the armature. But it may be we forgot to delete the weight groups from the object in question. Deleting the armature isn't enough to rid the project of animating properties. Besides that small issue, in every other instance, the Preflight works like a charm.

Another note: If I forgot to add an object to the Blend group, then in the Preflight, every thing else in the object will also show up wrong. It will say the object has a problem with the material and so forth. But that is not the case. It just stopped checking if it checked out because the very first requirement failed, that of having the object found under a group. If I then place the object in the blend group, then everything else it was checking for that object checks out as well (if they were correct that is).

There is a more extensive list of requirements at the bottom of my tutorials page which will outline what a set or a prop or a costume needs to get all green lights. If you have an error you can't figure out, try running through the list I made to see if you met all of the requirements.

There are times when Blender's memory gets a hiccup. It is a Blender bug. When this happens you will get errors that don't really show up in appearance but remains as a ghost haunting Blender's memory. And these ghost can be a world of trouble. You can try the save 3 times and load 3 times trick. Which is a method of clearing old item's out of Blender's memory. How you would do this is save that project. Then start over by loading the project again and do that 3 times. It's like magic most of the time. Yet, in rare cases this isn't enough. You can try appending the items to a new project. Then make the updates you need. And sometimes this won't work. In the most rare conditions, you have to create a dummy object of a single plain. Then assign it the value Blender just won't forget. Then export it that way. Re-import it then delete the object, then save and load three time and finally the nuisance is gone. In the end you will have to experience it to know what I mean and experiment a lot to figure out the details. By the time you are ready to try some of these tricks you should be adept enough to follow along.

Visit my Tutorials page to learn how to get started with Blender3D. I've added several tutorials aimed at newbies who know nothing or next to nothing about the program. For instance, How to set up Blender, How to extract a model using Med and import it into Blender, What the 3D models are doing in Blender, materials, Bones and Weight Groups, and more to come when I get to them.





Tips

Here is some info about what makes up some of the Mods for the Movies Game.

Costumes must be entered into costume categories for the game to know a new one exist. It is how the game knows about its own costumes already. The name will either start with a "f_" or a "m_" depending on the gender. A costume will also have an (.INI) file that will have its name. Exp: f_spacepilot. This file is in the data/costumes folder. This file has a twin file with the same name only the tag will be a (.cos) file. Found in the data/costumes/datas folder. This file may be called f_spacepilot.cos and this file is what tells the game everything it includes. It tells the game what 3D object is the costume. If the costume keeps the actor's or actress's head and skin. What color options it has. What other objects it uses, such as a hat. The next item would be a 3D model that is the actual costume. This object would be found in the data/meshes folder and have the tag (.MSH). It could be called cos_f_spacepilot.msh. The next thing a costume may have is a texture file the 3D object needs to have an appearance in the game. This file will have a (.DDS) tag and be found in the data/textures folder. It could have the name cos_f_spacepilot.dds. That is the bare minimum. Often a costume will have more. If the costume has color options then it would have more image textures found in the data/textures/costume folder. It may have a name like: com_f_spacepilot_v00.dds. Another color option could end with _v01.dds. These textures overlay the 3D object, selected by a slider in wardrobe room. The other items that might be included are more 3D objects that are also found in the data/meshes folder. These could be a space helmet and could be called acc_spacepilot_v00.msh. Whenever the is a version number, the file will end with a _v00 or _v01 and so on. This means there are more options to select from. Of course each additional 3D object will have it's own image texture. In this case the image could be called acc_spacepilot_v00.msh. Found in the data/textures/accessories folder. Here is an interesting tip. 3D models and image textures can cycle through more versions with the number at the end. The game knows all of it by the names we give them and by making sure these files are placed in the right folders.

Sets are the easiest to add. No existing (.INI) files need to be adjusted for the game to know it exist. It must have one (.INI) file with it's name found in the data/set folder. The name could be: set_rocket.ini. The most important file will be the (.MSH) file. This is the set's 3D object. The object may be something already found in the game and was converted into a set. Or it may be created from scratch in Blender. It might even already be a set found in the game, but has been edited to have new textures assigned to it. This 3D file would be found in the data/meshes folder and could have a name called set_rocket.msh. There should be a twin file to this mesh file. There are a lot of downloads at 8eyedbaby where someone didn't include the extrainfo file. There is a subfolder in the meshes folder called "Extrainfo". Found in the subfolder is the (.INF) files. These make the set functional. A set doesn't need it to be installed or to show up. But without the (.INF) file, doors will not open. Builders can not move the set or remove it. Sometimes the backdrops won't work. The file will have the same name as the set. All you would need to do is copy one from a set that uses the same scenes as the set you have made and rename the copy to that of your own set. And it will become functional. Sets have a collection of image texture files found in the data/textures folder. Many sets use the same images found on other sets. You can include a camera file which is found in the data/cameras folder. As long as it has the same name as your set, it will work. When a set is placed on the studio lot, you can double click the set to get a camera flyby of it. It there is no camera file then the game just pauses. It could be named set_rocket.cam.

I will add more details when I get around to it.





Again this and the above information is just familiarizing you with programs and features. This is NOT A TUTORIAL. I know somebody who have told others that my introductory page was a tutorial despite having stated several times it WASN'T. They will still insist though. lol. I pissed somebody off something fierce once and it's been 7 or 8 years and still this troll condemns my light footprint. I found them at a German forum and explained it yet again. The moderator assured me the person no longer post at the forum. By and large The Movies Game community is a very helpful and friendly place. With great people who are willing to help you out with almost every need. Over the years many sites have closed and what remains today is a fraction of the content that used to available.

Machinimods seems to have closed. Used to be able to download old TMO's prop shop content from there. Since it closed this download may not be found anymore. At one time it was hosted at TMU Radio. Most of that content did get included with Stunts and Effects addon.

I will provide a ghost version of the old introduction, which has pictures and videos embedded into it. Until I get around to providing images and such here. In the mean time Keep Modding The Movies Game.

Old Version





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