The "FE FF" Tag: A Breakthrough Concept!

Binary formats and related hacking.

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Col.Kell
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The "FE FF" Tag: A Breakthrough Concept!

Post by Col.Kell » Tue Jan 20, 2009 9:34 pm

Hey! New thought!

Take a look at many of the shell defined files in the PRJ like USERSTAR.BWD or INSTMAP1.BWD, you will see they all have the same tag: FE FF.
This is a very special, important tag. If you didn't have that tag, you could never play the Trial of Grievance maps. You could never select a mech of your pick, nor your starmates.

I was experimenting a little bit, and found some really backing data:
  • In temporary mech stars like USERSTAR or ENxxSTAR, you will find that the .MEK file in the GPS.d (Game Piece Spec) in the star specific BWD to always be FE FF, which tells the sim to use a .MEK file in the MEK subdirectory of where you installed Mech2.
  • In the SCN1 files, you will see the same thing; a shell or external defined file such as USERSTAR.BWD, which is the file that lets you freely choose your mech.
  • When the file tag is set to FE FF, that tells the sim that there is an externaly referanced file, and will require to specify the name of the file you wish to use.
This is really great news! This will allow us to pick from any Mech chassis and .MEK file standard or not (even if the shell doesn't know the mech or MEK there) through a copy of USERSTAR (or ENxxSTAR for enemies) given a new name both in the Mech2 main installed directory and in the PRJ file with the specific SCN1 file we are looking to do this with. :D
Thats what I CAN confirm, I assume but can only theorize so far that a type of NAIS could be reborn for 31cc or GBL.
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Re: The "FE FF" Tag: A Breakthrough Concept!

Post by Skyfaller » Tue Jan 20, 2009 9:53 pm

So, that means placing the value FE FF for any file reference tells the sim the load the file externally. Does that mean you can place your MekPaks and your new level files directly in the MW2 directory? In that case, a patcher for installing your stuff would not be needed anymore.
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Re: The "FE FF" Tag: A Breakthrough Concept!

Post by Col.Kell » Wed Jan 21, 2009 8:33 am

So, that means placing the value FE FF for any file reference tells the sim the load the file externally.
Yes, and when you use this tag, you will have to type the name of the externaly referanced file so that it will know what to look for.
I tested this out with a copy of USERSTAR given a new name; "USERSTAX". In userstax I made the human player GPS.d the proper MEK and BWD tag for the Stone Rhino. Now in the ToG map Goat Path, or JACKSCN1, I told the SCN1 file to include USERSTAX, not USERSTAR. The result was me being able to play as a Stone Rhino.

But there is one thing about external SCN1 files (external SCN1 files are in GBL), I'm going to have to find whatever it is in the PRJ that tells the sim to use an external SCN1. It has to have the FE FF tag, followed by the name of the scenario.
But yes, if I can find that I guess I can format the maps to be played externaly.

But I think I may look at mercs sometime and see what it is that lets the external mech chassis work.
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Re: The "FE FF" Tag: A Breakthrough Concept!

Post by Skyfaller » Wed Jan 21, 2009 9:05 am

It would be worthwhile to find out if the files can be placed in subdirectories like "kel\map1.bwd", assuming that the filenames including directory names fit into space reserved for filenames. If the restriction is to 8 bytes, "kel\map1" should work. This would prevent messing up the MW2 installation.

MW2.exe accepts external .BWD's for launching via command line, doesn't it?

Mercs has another way of keeping the installation tidy, because you can wrap maps into .TAR files, IIRC.
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Re: The "FE FF" Tag: A Breakthrough Concept!

Post by Col.Kell » Wed Jan 21, 2009 1:13 pm

Skyfaller wrote:It would be worthwhile to find out if the files can be placed in subdirectories like "kel\map1.bwd"...

MW2.exe accepts external .BWD's for launching via command line, doesn't it?
Hmmm.... I didn't think about using the \ mark in a BWD name to call out a file. I'll have to see what that does with my USERSTAX file. Cut down in letter length and put in a subfolder of course.

If I recal correctly, I think you are able to do this with SCN1 files in 31cc or GBL under DOS. Of course, you still have to have a valid USERSTAR.BWD and the ENxxSTAR.BWDs to play.
I can confirm that this works with Mercs. I've done it many times for "quick-drop" mod testing.

And an update, I still haven't found the code or tag that tells GBL to use non-PRJ SCN1 files. Perhaps it is in the shell? Maybe in the DOS shell EXE, but it wouldn't matter if I found it in the Windows .DLL shell anyway, if you alter that in any way it becomes "invalid" and cannot be used.
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Re: The "FE FF" Tag: A Breakthrough Concept!

Post by Cyril » Wed Jan 21, 2009 10:27 pm

Col.Kell Newton!!!!!
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Re: The "FE FF" Tag: A Breakthrough Concept!

Post by Col.Kell » Thu Jan 22, 2009 5:33 am

Confirmed! I have been able to make externaly based mech BWDs, NAIS style!

Here's how it's done:
  • The new-named USERSTAR BWD (I do that so the sim won't overwrite that BWD) in the PRJ always has the FE FF tag, which means it looks for that one file in your main Mech2 directory
  • In the new-named USERSTAR BWD, located at the GPS.d, you will have to make the chassis tag FE FF, and change the 8-letter-or-less BWD name to the name of the mech chassis we want to use (in my case, this was "BWD\MECH", where "BWD" is the subfolder I stored my new mech chassis in [it is a Turkina if you are wondering...]).
And I am begining to believe that FE FF'ing doesn't have to be limited to just BWDs! I am wondering if you could use other files like WTBs or WAVs.....
Cyril wrote:Col.Kell Newton!!!!!
Thanks :D
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Re: The "FE FF" Tag: A Breakthrough Concept!

Post by Col.Kell » Fri Jan 30, 2009 9:28 am

Recently out of plain curiousity, I found out that (almost) the same thing applies to the training mission SFL sound files.
Only they use the FF FF tag instead of FE FF, which is unusual because normaly you see that tag as a "disabler" tag that blots-out certain file inclusions.

Anyway, I took a look at the mission "TNW1SCN1.BWD", which is the Wolf Training mission on Nav Points. To test this FF FF tag, I placed the KEATING SFL files from Mercs into the KEATING file in MECH2. I changed the file "TN1_001S" in the SCN1 file to a certain Mercs SFL, and heard an old, shaggy familiar voice say when I started the mission; "Welcome to the front lines, kid." :P

I have tried to "import" .WAV files I made using both the FE FF and FF FF tag, neither seem to work on anything other than .SFL files.
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Re: The "FE FF" Tag: A Breakthrough Concept!

Post by Skyfaller » Fri Jan 30, 2009 2:03 pm

Col.Kell wrote:I have tried to "import" .WAV files I made using both the FE FF and FF FF tag, neither seem to work on anything other than .SFL files.
Sorry, but I don't understand this last sentence. You should be able to replace .WAV files with external .WAV files. If you replace a .SFL file with a .WAV, do you change the file name for the external file, including the file extension? Or do you need to convert the .WAV to a .SFL file format for it to work? A simple conversion from .WAV to .SFL, without compression, might be possible.
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Re: The "FE FF" Tag: A Breakthrough Concept!

Post by Col.Kell » Fri Jan 30, 2009 3:43 pm

Sorry for any confusion I might have made, what I mean to say is that it appears the sim will only accept .SFL files (not .WAV) in the scenario files.
I may try and take my hex editor and copy the contents of a small WAV onto a new file, and just give it the .SFL suffix and see what happens then.
But if we could downgrade WAV to SFL, you could grab a microphone and a sound mixer and come up with some new sounds! :D

Now you CAN use .WAV files in xxxxAREx or xxxxPLT1 BWDs, that's how you get the sounds of a snow storm or a shield generator humming.
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