|Martin Wright's Plugins for Flightsim
brother's historical Flight Simulation
Game Format Plugins
plugins created by Martin Wright
|[back we go]
|Great news for users of the free version of Project Dogwaffle 1.2
- add more import/export formats for free!
Wright has created a
collection of plugins for Project Dogwaffle and PD Pro. The plugins can
import and export image formats commonly used by simulation games, such
as flight simulation and train simulation games. Typically, the formats
are based on an extended BMP 2000 format, some in 8-bit, 16-bit and
other peculiar formats. Some use Alpha, some don't. Undoubtedly,
if you're into making mods for your Flightsim game or other games
you'll find this plugin collection very useful when painting with
The plugins are offered for free download, as is and with no guarantees of merchantibility of any sort. Use at your own risk. We are however curious as to your experience and welcome your feedback on the forums. Please let us know which forums you use to communicate with your game buddies and budettes.
As a reference, Martin also made a very handy standalone image viewer, called SHOW. It can be found at his website, fly.to/mwgfx
The SHOW utility program also installs some runtime library files (dll's) needed by the aforementioned plugins for Dogwaffle. Other ways exist to obtain and install that runtime environment, read below.
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Pre-requisites::: Martin Wright's Graphics library
All of Martin Wright's programs, including these plugins, require his graphics runtime libraries to be installed. They are included with the following single installer:
mwgfxdll.EXE size= 759 KB (777,216 bytes)
It is now available from either one of these download mirror sites:
Download and save the file to your desktop. Feel free to pass it through your anti-virus program to be sure nothing happened to it on the way to your PC. Be sure to double-check also that the size is as shown above to ensure you got the whole file completely. Then run it (i.e. double-click to execute it). You will see an installer window like this one shown below,
just click the 'Setup' option to proceed:
After installation of this library collection you can proceed with the plugins for Dogwaffle.
|The Plugins: the pack contains 7
files, and yep, it's still freeware (lucky you!)
Content of the plugin pack:::
The plugins collection pack contains these files:
::: for Import (loading) :::
- This will load any supported format as a 24 bit bmp (ie no alpha) image
- This is for including Alpha if any in the file, loads more slowly.
::: for Export (saving) :::
- export as flight simulator extended bitmap
- export as DirectDrawSurface DDS file
- This will save the current buffer in any of the supported formats. See the list at right. Alpha data will be ignored::: Assistant programs :::
Also in the pack are 2 "assistant" programs, mwgfxc.exe and mwgfxs.exe
mwgfxc.exe is the export converter as before for saving the extended and dds formats.
mwgfxs.exe is used by the save-any plugin to produce a selection list of filetypes and perform the actual conversion of the current buffer to the selected format. It has its own save dialog so it will remember its own last-saved path rather than the one stored by Dogwaffle.
How-to-Download - Details:::
Left-click or Right-click this file...
...and save it to your desktop or wherever you prefer. Then extract (unzip) the files from the downloaded archive file into the folder where you have installed Project Dogwaffle or PD Pro. For example:
for Dogwaffle 1.2 or 2, copy the files into : C:\Program Files\project dogwaffle
if you're in PD Pro 3.1, copy the files into : C:\Program Files\PD Pro
or wherever you have your current installation. If you don't have an unzip utility and you don't have it built-in uncompress capability like the one found with Windows XP, then we recommend a few of the freeware tools mentioned in thebest3d.com such as Iceows or 7-zip.
How-to-Use: Operational Notes:::
Both load and save plugins work via temporary files. After use you may see mwgfx.tga or mwgfx.bmp left in the main PD folder. These will just be reused each time by the plugins as required.
To use the plugins, press 'k' to open the k)iller-plugins panel. Select the Import or Export tab, select the desirted plugin and press Execute, or double-click the plugin directly from the list:
New export formats, courtesy of the mwgfx_save_any plugin:
Probing Further -- Tech-notes:::
Users who like a bit of combat will either be using CFS2 (graphically and also in a lot of ways the same as FS2002) or the more recent and more "gamey" CFS3. CFS3 uses the DDS format common to a lot of computer games. Rumour has it that the next version of FS will also move over to DDS
Things you probably need to know about editing FS textures. By default they are usually in DXT1 or DXT3 format. However both these compressed formats are "lossy" so repeated editing back and forth will soon result in a graphical mess. The first step is usually to convert to 32 bit. You can then edit as much as you like without degrading the image . You can either use the Extended 32 bit version in FS or convert a copy to DXT format for actual flying. The drawback with 32 bit is the filesize (4 or 8 times the size of the equivalent DXT) and performance (DXT formats are optimised DirectX formats and are stored and displayed using the Graphics card built-in DXT hardware). The normal procedure recommended with my FS tools is to load in the original texture, save out as 32 bit Targa or 32 bit Extended and then do all your editing using this 32 bit version. When you want to try the texture in FS load in the 32 bit version and save out an Extended DXT version. For any further editing load the 32 bit version again. Of course if you decide to work with 32 bit Extended then all the editing can be done directly on the FS texture itself.
Here also some description of the formats actually used:
Note that alpha is used by FS in 2 different ways. It can be transparency or it can be reflection. It is not the texture that decides but the model it is being applied on. Most aircraft will be built to use alpha-reflection so the darker the alpha the more "shiney" the surface. The alpha will be a map of the different levels of "shineyness" of the various parts of the texture. Some other objects may be built with alpha-transparency so the darker the alpha the more transparent the texture
DXT1 - this is a 16 bit compressed format with a 1 bit alpha (ie just on/off). These are used for textures that need no alpha channel or only a very basic on/off transparency such as ground and building textures
DXT3 - this is a 16 bit compressed format with a 4 bit alpha (16 levels). These are used for textures that need a varying level of alpha. Most of the Aircraft textures are in this format.
DXT5 (Not supported by FS) - this is a 16 bit compressed format with 8 bit interpolated alpha (256 levels). Not used by Extended Bitmap and FS yet but is used by CFS3 (in DDS format). Main use is for things that need a subtle many-shaded transparency such as cloud textures
16 bit 565 - standard 16 bit format with no alpha. 65536 colours
16 bit 5551 - standard 16 bit format with 1 bit alpha. 32768 colours and on/off alpha
16 bit 4444 - standard 16 bit format with 4 bit alpha. 4096 colours and 16 alpha levels
32 bit 8888 - standard 32 bit format. 24 bit colour and 8 bit alpha
8 bit Paletted - this is a variation on normal 256 colour format with a colour palette. The difference is that the palette also contains alpha values for each palette entry. Very rarely used these days but used to be the main Extended format
And a note on Mipmaps
All default textures contain mipmaps. These subimages are used by the game to improve performance by picking the appropriate sized mip to display at different visual distances rather than having to rescale the "full" image on the fly. However many people feel that the mips give a fuzzy appearance ingame especially with the DXT formats. The cure for this fuzziness is to create your textures without mipmaps. The cost is performance but computers and graphics cards are so powerful these days that it can be lived with. Even so the effort involved in scaling a 1024x1024 texture to paint an object that might be only 4 pixels wide in the distance takes its toll.Many aircraft repainters work without mipmaps and in 32 bit extended these days to get the maximum ingame visual quality. Of course there are still people with older PCs around and one of the ways they use to improve the performance there is to use my DXTBmp to convert the textures to a more efficient DXT3+mipmaps format
All textures MUST be a power-of-2 size in width and height. The width and height don`t have to be the same but they MUST both be power of 2. Valid sizes are 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, 256, 512, 1024. So sizes will be like 1024x1024, 512x64 and so on.
In the Future....
!!!! this just in...:
the Extended and DDS save plugins now have a checkbox where the user can turn mipmaps off and on. Also they now automatically resize the saved image to a valid width and height if necessary.
An idea would be to download my DXTBmp program. This comes with a help file that contains a lot of useful info about FS/CFS textures.
ok, gotta go fly away!