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Thread: Question to Timetraveller re. modding + .MPAK files

Question to Timetraveller re. modding + .MPAK files

  1. #1
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    Question to Timetraveller re. modding + .MPAK files

    To Timetraveller or any other potential modders (I remember you creating some modding utilities for Pacific Storm last year); how feasible do you think it is to create an extractor/unpacker tool for the .MPAK files used by BS:Midway to store the game data?
    I've had a look at these files in a hex editor. The data in them is definitely compressed, but the "directory" (if this is the correct term) of files they contain - at the start of the .mpak file - is not - so someone with more experience of binary data (i.e not me) might well be able to decipher this header/directory and create an unpacker utility. I've no idea what compression method is used but it might well be a standard one like ZLIB.

    In any case it's probably best to first wait and see what the developers have to say about the potential release of official map/mod tools - but based on previous experience I'm not holding out much hope. As I said in the skirmish thread, however, I hope I'm wrong

  2. #2
    It's possible to convert multiplayer maps in singleplayer? They are great.

  3. #3
    Originally Posted by Drawde
    To Timetraveller or any other potential modders (I remember you creating some modding utilities for Pacific Storm last year); how feasible do you think it is to create an extractor/unpacker tool for the .MPAK files used by BS:Midway to store the game data?
    I've had a look at these files in a hex editor. The data in them is definitely compressed, but the "directory" (if this is the correct term) of files they contain - at the start of the .mpak file - is not - so someone with more experience of binary data (i.e not me) might well be able to decipher this header/directory and create an unpacker utility. I've no idea what compression method is used but it might well be a standard one like ZLIB.

    In any case it's probably best to first wait and see what the developers have to say about the potential release of official map/mod tools - but based on previous experience I'm not holding out much hope. As I said in the skirmish thread, however, I hope I'm wrong
    Probably a stupid suggestion, but have you tried using winzip or winrar to open the file and see if you can extract it?

  4. #4
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    Unfortunately I haven't heard from Timetraveller (who created various modding tools for Pacific Storm, Silent Hunter 3 and possibly other games) or anyone else, since I posted this! I have a lot of experience with modding games, but not with extracting data from binary file archives, particularly compressed ones. Unless someone here does (or an official .MPAK unpacker is released... some chance!) there isn't much hope for modding BS:M.

    I have tried opening the MPAK files in Winzip and WinRAR, but they do not recognise the file format. (You're right thought that there are a lot of games where the data archives are actually just standard Zip files, renamed in some cases). I'm guessing it's a "proprietary" format made by the developers, though probably using a standard compression method.

    There's a discussion on MPAK files on Xentax.com (site for a game archive extractor tool) but the last post was a month ago.

  5. #5
    Battlestations: Midway Lieutenant Commander
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    TT has had to take some time off. Not sure when he will be back. BTW. He also helped with the game Nexus: The Jupiter Incident. A Mithis game.

  6. #6
    Originally Posted by Drawde
    I have tried opening the MPAK files in Winzip and WinRAR, but they do not recognise the file format. (You're right thought that there are a lot of games where the data archives are actually just standard Zip files, renamed in some cases). I'm guessing it's a "proprietary" format made by the developers, though probably using a standard compression method.
    hex editor

  7. #7
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    Originally Posted by Drawde
    Unfortunately I haven't heard from Timetraveller (who created various modding tools for Pacific Storm, Silent Hunter 3 and possibly other games) or anyone else, since I posted this! I have a lot of experience with modding games, but not with extracting data from binary file archives, particularly compressed ones. Unless someone here does (or an official .MPAK unpacker is released... some chance!) there isn't much hope for modding BS:M.

    I have tried opening the MPAK files in Winzip and WinRAR, but they do not recognise the file format. (You're right thought that there are a lot of games where the data archives are actually just standard Zip files, renamed in some cases). I'm guessing it's a "proprietary" format made by the developers, though probably using a standard compression method.

    There's a discussion on MPAK files on [url="http://forum.xentax.com/viewtopic.php?t=2484"]Xentax.com[url] (site for a game archive extractor tool) but the last post was a month ago.
    I know the person who posted that, I'm surprised it showed up in a search engine so quickly. Anyways, go over there and post in the thread, it will bump it to the top and make more people interested and perhaps they will work on it instead of the other crap they are working on.

  8. #8
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    Originally Posted by Takier
    I know the person who posted that, I'm surprised it showed up in a search engine so quickly. Anyways, go over there and post in the thread, it will bump it to the top and make more people interested and perhaps they will work on it instead of the other crap they are working on.
    I'll try this, though I don't expect any results!
    Moddability - even if nothing more than editing of text files and the ability to replace/modify graphics and sounds - could completely transform this game; I'm guessing the missions themselves are text files (could be wrong though) which will make them easy to modify (even the ability to swap around ship and plane types in the SP and MP missions would add to replayability). And if the actual data files and scripts are in text format, all sorts of things will be possible, such as realism mods (increased ship gun range, etc.)

    I am certainly not expecting any official support for this (possibly in a sequel or expansion, if there is one, but who knows when that will be) so it looks like it's up to the fans.

  9. #9
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    Originally Posted by Drawde
    I'll try this, though I don't expect any results!
    Moddability - even if nothing more than editing of text files and the ability to replace/modify graphics and sounds - could completely transform this game; I'm guessing the missions themselves are text files (could be wrong though) which will make them easy to modify (even the ability to swap around ship and plane types in the SP and MP missions would add to replayability). And if the actual data files and scripts are in text format, all sorts of things will be possible, such as realism mods (increased ship gun range, etc.)

    I am certainly not expecting any official support for this (possibly in a sequel or expansion, if there is one, but who knows when that will be) so it looks like it's up to the fans.
    I have no idea what I'm talking about but out of curiosity I downloaded that mpak file to see what it's all about. I opened it with notepad and from what I make of it, it is game mission 3 in text format. Here is some text cut from the mpak file. You probably know but I just thought I'd mention it. In the text below it mentions Yorktown, does that mean you could swap that with another ship if desired? Anyway like I said I have know idea what I'm on about so sorry if this is a useless post.

    Code:
          "Player2" {
            Party = E  Party : Allied  ;
            Race = E  Races : USA  ;
            "Unit0" {
              ClassId = I 2 ;
              ClassName = S "globals.unitclass_yorktown" ;
              Icon = I 1 ;
              Name = S "Yorktown" ;
              "Pool0" {
                Icon = I 9 ;
                Num = I 40 ;
              }
              "Pool1" {
                Icon = I 11 ;
                Num = I 40 ;
              }
              "Pool2" {
                Icon = I 12 ;
                Num = I 40 ;

  10. #10
    *sigh*

    it seems Eidos went out of their way to pack these files in the least-user friendly way possible. Anyone here played Jedi Outcast? Those games files were packaged simply as zip-readable so even though I knew nothing about modding I was able to go in and make neat little changes here and there.

  11. #11
    Originally Posted by Kai Robin
    *sigh*

    it seems Eidos went out of their way to pack these files in the least-user friendly way possible. Anyone here played Jedi Outcast? Those games files were packaged simply as zip-readable so even though I knew nothing about modding I was able to go in and make neat little changes here and there.
    No Cd Key, trainers the first couple of weeks after release. This game is a hack's wet dream.

  12. #12
    Battlestations: Midway Lieutenant Commander
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    Originally Posted by Kai Robin
    *sigh*

    it seems Eidos went out of their way to pack these files in the least-user friendly way possible. Anyone here played Jedi Outcast? Those games files were packaged simply as zip-readable so even though I knew nothing about modding I was able to go in and make neat little changes here and there.
    Actually it looks packed like Nexus: the Jupiter Incident which the devs were also involved with..... I wonder if some of the tools for Nexus can be used here... hmmm.

  13. #13
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    Yeah the format of the files within the MPAK is in lua, very basic and simple to program for. Essentially after reading bits and pieces of compressed data, it is very possible to play singleplayer maps as multiplayer maps and add/remove ships at will. I'm not sure on how many ships the engine can handle, but a 12 ship yamato fleet vs 10-16 carriers would certainly be fun, or perhaps tedious ..
    I'm fairly sure it works by simple x/y/z coords in the scripting, and as you posted above with the player, you assign ships to each player in different player circumstances. It certainly would be fun to do VIP multiplayer missions playing aks or troop transports. You get the idea.

    But on the bad side of things, this can unleash a wave of cheaters editing the ship features, an anti-cheat would seriously be needed, either by patch or a lua script hosts can run that will check simple version numbers or even certain scripts for changes. Obviously an entire new unofficial version would be made and everyone would have to have it to avoid problems of different files.

  14. #14
    hmmm...........maybe there's hope after all

  15. #15
    Battlestations: Midway Lieutenant Commander
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    Awsome.

  16. #16
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    Originally Posted by I3laze
    I have no idea what I'm talking about but out of curiosity I downloaded that mpak file to see what it's all about. I opened it with notepad and from what I make of it, it is game mission 3 in text format. Here is some text cut from the mpak file. You probably know but I just thought I'd mention it. In the text below it mentions Yorktown, does that mean you could swap that with another ship if desired? Anyway like I said I have know idea what I'm on about so sorry if this is a useless post.
    Looks interesting - it's certainly encouraging to see that the mission files are in text format - I thought the mission files might be binary data, rather than text, so that even when extracted, an editor (official or otherwise) would be needed to modify them. If some form of unpacker/extractor can be made than it will transform the replayability of this game.

    As for the MP cheating aspect, although I'm mainly interested in creating and playing SP missions I can certainly see this is a problem, however there appear to already be cheats/trainers even without modding tools, and without any further official support this game will be virtually dead MP-wise in a month or two anyway. I'd put up with the cheat/hack problem if it meant giving BS:M moddability and replayability.

    Anyway I'll try and see if I can find some Nexus:Jupiter Incident modding tools, maybe these will be usable if BS:M uses the same archive format.

  17. #17
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    One more thing: According to a poster on the Xentax forums, MPAK files use Zlib compression (one of the most common compression formats, the source for the code required to read/write it is widely available)

    I've tried the "Datool" utility available on the Nexus forums (http://www.nexusthegame.com/forum/) but it doesn't work with BS:M MPAK files; even if the compression format is the same, the structure of the header must be different.

  18. #18
    Battlestations: Midway Lieutenant Commander
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    oh well. It was a thought anyway.

  19. #19

  20. #20
    I haven’t taking an editor to any files (yet), but I don’t think we’ll get any support from Eidos on this due to license issues. I’m sure who’s ever editor Eidos is using for 3-D rendering would not want people messing around with their script.
    But if you could take some single player maps and put them in the multiplayer format, then have it as a little map pack, for both user and host to have, it might work.
    But it’s been a while since I messed with any files. Would probable be more of a learning thing for me then a productive one. But if we all put our notes together. Who knows.

    Vinny

  21. #21
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    Originally Posted by Tex Vindictive
    I haven’t taking an editor to any files (yet), but I don’t think we’ll get any support from Eidos on this due to license issues. I’m sure who’s ever editor Eidos is using for 3-D rendering would not want people messing around with their script.

    Vinny
    You bring a valid point and I am wondering if the user licence has anything in it about not being able to modify any part of the software.

    Also I have been reading the other threads about that dlc is already on the disc and needs a key to unlock, if this is the case then is it in the mpak files? If so then would this could be the reason for edios is not allowing editor tools for BS M.

  22. #22
    Originally Posted by I3laze
    You bring a valid point and I am wondering if the user licence has anything in it about not being able to modify any part of the software.

    Also I have been reading the other threads about that dlc is already on the disc and needs a key to unlock, if this is the case then is it in the mpak files? If so then would this could be the reason for edios is not allowing editor tools for BS M.
    Well we know for a fact the DLC was created long before the games release, it wasn't create afterwards to "show the community we're in the long run," whether or not its on the disc is still not known for certain.

  23. #23
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    Originally Posted by I3laze
    You bring a valid point and I am wondering if the user licence has anything in it about not being able to modify any part of the software.

    Also I have been reading the other threads about that dlc is already on the disc and needs a key to unlock, if this is the case then is it in the mpak files? If so then would this could be the reason for edios is not allowing editor tools for BS M.
    I doubt the units + maps added in the DLC are already in the game data. They were certainly developed before the release of the game (the units, maybe not the maps), and almost certainly cut so they could be released later as DLC, but I don't think that they're already in the game (there certainly isn't any sign of the new maps in the MPAK folder).
    In any case this is about PC modding (don't think it will be possible to mod the Xbox game, even with an unpacker tool) and it looks unlikely that the DLC items will ever be available for PC owners of BS:M!

    Publishers and sometimes even developers (unlikely in this case, as they were supportive of Nexus modding) are often either indifferent or hostile to modding, it shouldn't stop fans from doing it. Virtually all games, including ones where the developers encourage and support mods, include text in their EULA which theoretically makes it "illegal" (or at least against the EULA) to modify the game. I think this is a fairly standard part of software EULAs (and has been for a long time) and is mainly intended to refer to hacking/cracking the .EXE.

    I think the reason for the lack of official editing tools is the same reason as there being (probably) no PC patch or further Xbox updates; the publishers (Eidos) don't think it's worth the effort and time (time=money), particularly as it is a multi-platform game and "moddability" in Xbox games is very difficult unless it is designed in from the start. Quite a few games far more popular than BS:M, and with larger communities, have not had official editing tools released, simply as the publishers and/or developers don't think it's worth the effort! Maybe if (as with Nexus) the developers of the game had more control over things then we might have seen more official support for mods or mission editing.

    I wish I had more skills with binary data or I'd try writing a MPAK unpacker myself. All I have ever done is a simple command-line extractor from non-compressed archive files; compression formats, even common ones like ZLib, are beyond me!

  24. #24
    Originally Posted by I3laze

    Code:
          "Player2" {
            Party = E  Party : Allied  ;
            Race = E  Races : USA  ;
            "Unit0" {
              ClassId = I 2 ;
              ClassName = S "globals.unitclass_yorktown" ;
              Icon = I 1 ;
              Name = S "Yorktown" ;
              "Pool0" {
                Icon = I 9 ;
                Num = I 40 ;
              }
              "Pool1" {
                Icon = I 11 ;
                Num = I 40 ;
              }
              "Pool2" {
                Icon = I 12 ;
                Num = I 40 ;
    Blaze, what did you use to open the file in this format?

  25. #25
    Battlestations: Midway Lieutenant Commander
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    A patch is in teh works as games labeled being 1.1 have been seen.

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