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PostPosted: Tue Jun 07, 2016 10:42 pm 
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Greetings, ZenHAX Users!

Introduction
Area 51 (stylized AREA-51) is a game that was developed by Midway Studios Austin (formerly Inevitable Entertainment) starting in 2002 using a proprietary engine/toolset/art pipeline (apparently didn't have any part of Unreal Engine) and it was published by Midway Games for the PS2/Xbox and was eventually ported to PC in 2005; this is not to be confused with the very original arcade version of Area 51. The game was released as freeware some time in 2008 and thus can be freely distributed; after GameSpy servers went down, online play was once again enabled by changing the gamespy URL to the openspy URL within the game's EXE using a hex editor. If someone would like a copy to play/examine, and if that determines whether or not it will peak their interest in helping with this project, feel free to get it here.

What We Would Like To Achieve
  • A better understanding of Area 51's engine, archives, etc.
  • The ability to properly extract/convert audio and other assets within the game files for personal enjoyment.
  • Possibly modify the game's campaign after being granted such knowledge.
  • Subject to be updated/changed.

    What We Know
    • This is the PC version.

    • The game uses RAD Game Tools: BINK for in-game videos and Miles Sound System for audio.

    • Despite this thread, I had no such luck with WATTO Game Extractor.

    • Within the game's root folder lies five 000 archives (COMMON, HIRES, PRELOAD, RESOURCE, & STRINGS) and four of their respective DFS files (with the exception of RESOURCE.DFS; some versions have a 0KB RESOURCE.DFS file and when examined in a hex editor it's null), as well as a folder for the AUDIO and the campaign/multiplayer LEVELS (which both contain more 000/DFS files). I've packed up the root folder containing all of the 000/DFS files and it can be downloaded here. Each archive contains files that range from simple .TXT documents to .XBMP textures to other, different archives as well (.AUDIOPKG, .RIGIDGEOM, .SKINGEOM, and more).

    • Using a script, posted by Mr.Mouse here, in MultiEx Commander, I was able to successfully (I think) perform an initial extraction from each 000 archive within the game folders, which can be downloaded here. Keep in mind this is just the initial extraction and that there are many archives that still need to be opened and extracted from.

    • It is somewhat possible to extract from the .AUDIOPKG files using this quickbms script, which extracts the files as .RAW audio files that can be imported into Audacity. Although, in most cases the script runs into an error - for example, using the script with "SFX_MENU_INGAME.AUDIOPKG" (audio archive extracted from "HOT.000" which is found in the "AUDIO" folder) it results in 24 audio files - at least 2 of which are broken - and gives this error:
      Code:
      Error: impossible to write 0xffd8003d bytes (total 0xffd8003d)
         Check your disk space

      Last script line before the error or that produced the error:
        83  log NAME OFFSET SIZE

      Which leads me to believe it's an issue with the script itself(?)

    • The .RIGIDGEOM files are most likely models/meshes, though I'm unsure how to extract/convert them to something that could be opened in, say, Blender for instance. Info about that here. I'm not sure where said .NMP files can be found nor how they can be extracted (AKA a script I don't have the hex/quickbms knowledge to write). Perhaps .NMP files were only on the PS2 version(?)

Resources & Links


Any help is greatly appreciated.
Thank you,
Morti


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 08, 2016 6:24 am 
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Regarding my area51_audiopkg.bms script I think I can't do much, the message "this file format is horrible, this script is experimental" in the header doesn't give much hopes :)


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 08, 2016 5:32 pm 
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aluigi wrote:
Regarding my area51_audiopkg.bms script I think I can't do much, the message "this file format is horrible, this script is experimental" in the header doesn't give much hopes :)


I was afraid of that.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 08, 2016 9:05 pm 
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Mortisanti wrote:
aluigi wrote:
Regarding my area51_audiopkg.bms script I think I can't do much, the message "this file format is horrible, this script is experimental" in the header doesn't give much hopes :)


I was afraid of that.

I don`t mean to insult you, but now you`re even more afraid that you can`t analyze the file for yourself? Please...

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 08, 2016 10:03 pm 
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AnonBaiter wrote:
Mortisanti wrote:
aluigi wrote:
Regarding my area51_audiopkg.bms script I think I can't do much, the message "this file format is horrible, this script is experimental" in the header doesn't give much hopes :)


I was afraid of that.

I don`t mean to insult you, but now you`re even more afraid that you can`t analyze the file for yourself? Please...


Well, Sir Baiter, I was always aware of the header of the script, though I don't have the knowledge to analyze the archives via hex and write a quickbms script to extract them - nor would I be able to modify the current scripts properly. I wanted to find other people interested in the game as much as I am so we could work together in analyzing it. I don't expect people to do all the work for me, nor do I want them to.

Also, not sure if language barrier or you're joking with me. :lol:


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 08, 2016 10:11 pm 
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It was just for humor.

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 08, 2016 10:49 pm 
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AnonBaiter wrote:
It was just for humor.


Apologies for making an ass out of myself. :geek:


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 08, 2016 11:12 pm 
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It's okay.
So back to the topic, I'm not quite sure if I can help with you on this task... So where do I start?

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 09, 2016 2:03 pm 
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AnonBaiter wrote:
It's okay.
So back to the topic, I'm not quite sure if I can help with you on this task... So where do I start?


Well, considering it may be out of the question to modify the AUDIOPKG script to extract from the archives (without broken files) I would like to find a tool or two that can extract the .RAW audio files from them - Dragon UnPack's "Hyper Ripper" seems like it does the job for extracting the .MP3 files but that's about it.

There's a RESOURCE.000 file in the root folder of the game but no accompanying RESOURCE.DFS file - I assume the .DFS file is needed to extract from the .000. If not, If there's a workaround, I'd enjoy seeing what's in there - it could even be one of the hidden levels that were removed/unfinished.


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 11, 2016 12:47 pm 
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Well, let's start from the beginning.
I have just made a script from scratch for the DFS/000 archives:
http://aluigi.org/bms/area51.bms

Next step is having a list of ALL the file extensions and trying to understand their content.
For example the textual files require no knowledge (it's text), XBMP are probably headerless bitmaps (so I guess relatively easy to convert), audiopkg are painful, ANIM and FXO probably unknown formats and so on.

It's a big work so I think you should find someone really interested in the project or there is the risk of spending months with new bits of information retrieved by people here and there.
Anyway that's the starting point.


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 11, 2016 3:44 pm 
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aluigi wrote:
Well, let's start from the beginning.
I have just made a script from scratch for the DFS/000 archives:
http://aluigi.org/bms/area51.bms

Next step is having a list of ALL the file extensions and trying to understand their content.
For example the textual files require no knowledge (it's text), XBMP are probably headerless bitmaps (so I guess relatively easy to convert), audiopkg are painful, ANIM and FXO probably unknown formats and so on.

It's a big work so I think you should find someone really interested in the project or there is the risk of spending months with new bits of information retrieved by people here and there.
Anyway that's the starting point.


Cool, thank you. I've been waiting over a year hoping to find more people interested, so I'm in no hurry. I've been meaning to get around to making a list of files, known and unknown - so that is one of my next steps. And, yes, XBMP files can be converted to TGA using one of the two programs I linked above "XBMP2TGA", created by a user that goes by the name jTommy. I'd like to contact him but both of his websites are gone and archive.org yields no direct contact information that isn't deactivated (it also doesn't help that the sites are Russian). I emailed http://www.ctpax-x.org/index.php?lang=en asking if they could help me get in contact with him; no response yet.

The research continues. :lol:


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 10, 2017 11:34 am 

Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2017 11:08 am
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I'm currently on a mad man's quest to bring the game over to the unreal engine (4.14 to be exact) and slowly going through the painful process of extracting out each and every archive so I can begin recreating the game maps since I don't think we can simply "import" the maps sadly. I'll most likely be spending a good chunk of this year alone just in recombining the 3D models and reapplying their respective skins (importing the .3ds file in blender only gives a partial piece that lacks the texture details). While I was looking through some of the .TXT files I noted that much of the resources like dialogue and possibly other key components of the game are calling back to the level RESOURCE file with direct filenames.[1]

Unfortunately I suspect that the game engine was unique to this file specifically (ex: this file's missing .dfs was most likely embedded inside the game engine itself due to all levels and key resources calling back to it.) due to the sheer amount of core data it contained.

EDIT: After a few hours I was able to piece everything together and found everything I was looking for.

[1]Campaign dialogue is contained inside the resources archive of each map. All you have to do is find the loadfile.txt which actually tells you everything needed for the level which includes the filenames.

Truthfully I'm still interested in the root RESOURCE.000 file as for what it's worth I feel the file size alone makes it an important archive of data. A good test to run would be to delete the root RESOURCE.000 archive and play through the game and see if everything still works properly.

Also I have a quick request for a save that has completed the game. I'm going to begin reconstructing the map levels for the campaign and don't want to go through the entire game just so I can begin to recreate the levels.


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