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C&C1 Fading Table (.mrf) Generator
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Nyerguds
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Joined: 24 May 2004
Location: Flanders (Be) Posts:300000001

PostPosted: Sat Aug 23, 2014 4:02 pm    Post subject:  C&C1 Fading Table (.mrf) Generator Reply with quote

As I already somewhat announced in the other thread (the .mrf viewer), I have been making a tool to create .mrf files for C&C1 (RA seems to generate these tables in memory rather than keeping them as files). These files are basically palette remapping tables, used in the game to make colour effects like shadow, map shroud edges, stealth darkening (though not the actual effect), the targeting flash when giving attack / repair / dock commands, and a bunch more. Since they are relative to the theater's palette, they are a vital step to fully customizing terrain.

Download:
FilterCreator_v1.11.rar - The tool, plus all of the mrf creation projects. (requires .NET framework 3.5)
All icons used in the program (except the actual program icon) are based on the Fugue Icons 16x16 pack by Yusuke Kamiyamane (Copyright (C) 2010)

Test data:
FilterCreator_testdata.rar - All .mrf files in C&C, plus example screenshots to test on.

Source code:
FilterCreator_src_v1.11.rar (Visual Studio 2010 project)

Now, on to the tool itself:


The actual main tool's purpose is to recreate the existing filters in the game using brightness / contrast / colour balance / etc filters. However, since I already reconstructed all filters in the 11 .mrf files C&C1 needs for a theater, you can just go to [File] -> [Write multiple .MRF files...] and simply generate all the tables you need for a new theater.

All you need to do for that is selecting the folder with finished projects that comes with the tool, the palette of your new theater, and an output folder:


This sub-tool can also be started directly by starting FilterCreator from a shortcut with the command line parameter "-mrfui" Wink

---

The current included projects are obviously just my own reconstructions. They were created to quickly allow people to make new theaters, but they're probably far from perfect.

So, if you want to try your hand at it, or if you simply want to view existing .mrf files, here's the overview of the UI functions of the main tool:

Right pane: the preview of the original .mrf file. It shows the filename of the loaded mrf file, and the amount of filters inside the file.

Left pane: the project to recreate the filters. The filename of the loaded project is shown in the title bar of the program.

The controls get more specific as you go down on the left pane. Top is the project description... a completely optional field, really. Below that is the filters dropdown. Each filter is a "sub-project".

The three palette buttons allow you to manipulate the final palette in three ways. In all three cases, a yellow asterisk will indicate if anything is customized in the three options.

The first one, "Manual Remap", allows you to force certain colours to certain other colours before applying the filters. This can be used to make index tables as some mrf files have, or just to change certain colours before adding filters to them. Practically all existing filters seemed to have changed the animated water colours to white before applying their effect, so you probably need to use it for the same thing.
Notes:
-The specific indices set in this way are only preserved as that specific index if no effects are applied to it later.
-To set colours here that are not affected by the effects on the filter, you need to also set them in the third function, "Never remapped".

The second, "sub-palette", allows you to exclude colours from the palette. This is usually used to exclude index #0 black from the used colours. Note that this can also used in reverse, to select specifically the only colours to use for generating the palette. This is used for the unit shadow and some other filters like it, which use specific colours on the palette.

The third palette option is the "never remapped" list. This will allow you to select colours on the palette that will always remap to their own index (unless set to another index by option #1). These indices cannot be affected by the effects in the filter.

And, the last palette option, located at the top, next to the "enable filter" one, is the "Match back to palette" checkbox. If this is not enabled, you will see the filters as applied to the image, without taking into account the palette to remap back to. This also means it ignores the selected sub-palette, though force-remap and never-remapped entries are taken into account.


Under "Options", you can find an option to synchronize the filter between the left and right pane if possible, so that when you load the .mrf that corresponds to the project, it'll always show you the right filter from the file.

Then we have the effects. Available effects are Brightness, Contrast, Gamma correct, Colorize, Saturation change, Luminance change, and a combined Hue/Sat/Lum adjustment control. All effects you add to the list stack up to create the final filter. Since their order often makes a lot of difference, you can move effects up and down in the list.

Below the effects you see the actual effect sliders. The preview on the image is instant, though it might lag a little if you drag it around while "match back to palette" is enabled, because every small change will need to recalculate the remap table and apply it to the image.

That's it, I guess. The options in the menus should be pretty straightforward.
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Last edited by Nyerguds on Mon Oct 20, 2014 2:09 pm; edited 17 times in total

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Nyerguds
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Joined: 24 May 2004
Location: Flanders (Be) Posts:300000001

PostPosted: Sat Aug 23, 2014 10:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Additional note: the best way to start a project is normally the "Create project from .mrf" option in the File menu. It'll allow you to select the .mrf to recreate in the project, and will automatically make all the filters, create the index table if it has one, and automate a bunch of the colour-excluding and subpalette-detection for you (if you select the options to do that).
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Matthias M.
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Joined: 15 Jun 2012
Location: Germany

PostPosted: Sun Aug 24, 2014 8:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What was the use case for these MRF files in the original?

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Nyerguds
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Joined: 24 May 2004
Location: Flanders (Be) Posts:300000001

PostPosted: Sun Aug 24, 2014 9:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Use case?

They are used for generating colour effects, like the shadow under units, the fade to black in the map shroud edges, the white flashing of targeted units/buildings, the pale circles that appear on the ground when giving a move command, and a bunch more.

There are a lot of these .mrf files that contain multiple filters. These seem to start with an "index table", which is a filter filled with "255" values, on which the values 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, etc determine which palette index on the SHP represents which of the filters following the index in the mrf file.

Notably, units.mrf has an index which determines that the green colour at index 4 is the colour on the SHP that is turned into unit shadow. So, yes, that's not hardcoded in the game. It's determined by these .mrf files Wink

The same system is used to determine which colours in the shroud edges shp file are actually the different darkening filters forming the fade to black.

This also means that by editing units.mrf and adding additional filters, you could probably add more effects for unit/building SHPs on other colour indices Smile


The index of tunits.mrf
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Nyerguds
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Joined: 24 May 2004
Location: Flanders (Be) Posts:300000001

PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2014 9:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I finished all filters. They're included in the new v1.04. Making new theaters for C&C1 should be peanuts now Smile

Mind you, I haven't actually tested the effects of my versions ingame. After all, they're only reconstructions of the original effects Very Happy
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Nyerguds
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Joined: 24 May 2004
Location: Flanders (Be) Posts:300000001

PostPosted: Tue Aug 26, 2014 2:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Filters in action: the edge shroud on the old TDX "pirates" terrain experiment fixed.
(don't mind the trees and tiberium; they're obviously messed up because they were never adapted to the new palette Wink)

Unfixed (using Temperate .mrf files)


Fixed, with .mrf files regenerated with my tool:

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Last edited by Nyerguds on Thu Jul 28, 2016 12:36 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Nyerguds
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Joined: 24 May 2004
Location: Flanders (Be) Posts:300000001

PostPosted: Tue Aug 26, 2014 3:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

v1.5 released: Added the ability to use the program as command line tool to generate a .mrf file out of a .mrp project and a palette file.

Syntax:
FilterCreator.exe projfile.mrp -mrf palfile.pal mrffile.mrf

I also included a .bat file that allows bulk-producing all the .mrf files needed for a C&C1 theater from the included completed filters Smile
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Nyerguds
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Joined: 24 May 2004
Location: Flanders (Be) Posts:300000001

PostPosted: Tue Aug 26, 2014 9:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Right. Batch file was a dumb idea. v1.6 adds a UI for the bulk-create Smile

This means that using the included finished projects, creating the necessary filters for a new theater becomes a very simple operation. In a few clicks, you got all the required .mrf files generated.



You can start MrfCreator in this export mode directly with the with the command line parameter "-mrfui".
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Matthias M.
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Joined: 15 Jun 2012
Location: Germany

PostPosted: Sat Sep 06, 2014 4:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nyerguds wrote:
Filters in action: the edge shroud on the old TDX "pirates"  terrain experiment fixed.
(don't mind the trees and tiberium; they're obviously messed up because they were never adapted to the new palette Wink)

Unfixed (using Temperate .mrf files)


Fixed, with .mrf files regenerated with my tool:


Interesting, those look like the rocks from Dune 2000.

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Nyerguds
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Joined: 24 May 2004
Location: Flanders (Be) Posts:300000001

PostPosted: Sat Sep 06, 2014 6:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh, they were made by Raminator. I had to do a lot of fixing for this test though since he didn't align them correctly to the existing tile foundations -_-

It's kind of a pity the whole project died... especially since these .mrf files were one of the reasons it died. I should've made this tool years ago Embarassed
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Last edited by Nyerguds on Thu Jul 28, 2016 12:37 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Nyerguds
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Location: Flanders (Be) Posts:300000001

PostPosted: Mon Sep 08, 2014 9:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Released v1.8:
-Fixed errors when using the filters' palette functions with no image loaded. This will now generate a dummy palette to show in the dialog.
-The forced remap editor now disables selection-related buttons if no colour indices are selected, to prevent getting a "paint selected" colour picker that won't actually do anything.
-The "clear selection" button is removed for the colour picker of the forced remap editor, since it only allow selecting a single colour anyway.
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raminator
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Joined: 04 Oct 2005
Location: Bierkasten

PostPosted: Tue Sep 09, 2014 6:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Matthias M. wrote:
Nyerguds wrote:
Filters in action: the edge shroud on the old TDX "pirates"  terrain experiment fixed.
(don't mind the trees and tiberium; they're obviously messed up because they were never adapted to the new palette Wink)

Unfixed (using Temperate .mrf files)
http://nyerguds.arsaneus-design.com/project_stuff/2014/FilterCreator/images/shroudedges_error.png

Fixed, with .mrf files regenerated with my tool:
http://nyerguds.arsaneus-design.com/project_stuff/2014/FilterCreator/images/shroudedges_fixed.png


Interesting, those look like the rocks from Dune 2000.


Yes. This version of the Cliffs were Dune2000.
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just a simple logo by bricks @ raminator, on Flickr

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Nyerguds
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 11, 2014 7:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, I got it all on my hard disk now. Besides some cliffs that don't quite align to their passability grid, and some rivers that have the beach around them not lining up, all that's missing from it now are the bridges, really :-\

Well. And the SHP stuff that isn't on the adapted palette, like bibs and trees and tiberium and such. This was mostly just compiled as test for the map shroud filter, so I kinda already put more work in it than needed. But I just really like this terrain set... it'd be really neat to see it finished #Puppy dog
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Nyerguds
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Joined: 24 May 2004
Location: Flanders (Be) Posts:300000001

PostPosted: Tue Sep 16, 2014 7:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Released v1.9; I was missing a small functionality in the forced remap editor and it kinda annoyed me #Tongue
(the added function is "paint all unpainted"; basically a 'colour fill' function that only affects previously unspecified palette entries)
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ApolloTD
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Joined: 19 Nov 2003

PostPosted: Tue Sep 16, 2014 10:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Shame the system is discarded (seemingly?) from newer games, I assume this would allow the so called palette shifting method (which was famous in 80s to 90s) to animate even still image by just changing the colors on the fly instead of game having to draw countless frames.

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Reaperrr
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Joined: 26 Apr 2003
Location: Somewhere in Germany

PostPosted: Tue Sep 16, 2014 2:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nyerguds wrote:
Well, I got it all on my hard disk now. Besides some cliffs that don't quite align to their passability grid, and some rivers that have the beach around them not lining up, all that's missing from it now are the bridges, really :-\

Well. And the SHP stuff that isn't on the adapted palette, like bibs and trees and tiberium and such. This was mostly just compiled as test for the map shroud filter, so I kinda already put more work in it than needed. But I just really like this terrain set... it'd be really neat to see it finished #Puppy dog

Send me what you have via PM, I'll try to get the bridges done and fix the alignment.

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Nyerguds
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Location: Flanders (Be) Posts:300000001

PostPosted: Wed Sep 17, 2014 12:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ApolloTD wrote:
Shame the system is discarded (seemingly?) from newer games, I assume this would allow the so called palette shifting method (which was famous in 80s to 90s) to animate even still image by just changing the colors on the fly instead of game having to draw countless frames.

Well, it's pretty impossible; take TS for example. If you have terrain in one palette, with buildings in another palette on it, and then need to generate the shadow of an airplane flying over that... you'd have to generate a table for each effect for every single palette in the game that could get affected by it. It'd turn into quite a mess. In high-colour environments it's much easier to just apply the effects directly, as my editor does.

If even RA can already generate the tables itself, then that means the game contains the brightness/contrast adjustment code anyway.

Reaperrr: I could just attach it in the old TDX forum...
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Reaperrr
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Joined: 26 Apr 2003
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 17, 2014 4:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nyerguds wrote:

Reaperrr: I could just attach it in the old TDX forum...

Good point ^^

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Nyerguds
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 10, 2014 7:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

v1.10 released:

-Added new option under Options: "Selecting effect focuses adjuster". This functionality has always been there, but this allows disabling it.
-Optimized ini reading of effects.
-Fixed the "Contrast" effect's "Exponential above zero" option.

[edit]

v1.11: (17/10/2014)
-Fixed a bug where the checkbox statuses of the "remember images" and "synchronize" options in the menu were switched on startup.
-"Add Filter" list now contains filter names instead of internal class names.
-Internet links in "About" frame now only open on left mouse click.
-Icons added for all menu functions.
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