We have Zebra!

A while back I tried running a program called previewer for viewing .gpl files (3d models).

There was a version of this program compiled for classic Macintosh computers. Since these computers (notably the PowerMac G3) had similar internal architecture to the Gamecube, they were used as testing environments for some areas of Gamecube development.

I had set up an emulator called SheepShaver so that I could try running the program. Unfortunately, SheepShaver (and all other modern classic Macintosh emulators) lack support for hardware-accelerated graphics. The lack of hardware-acceleration means that the previewer would not render correctly and would just lead to an empty black box.

I emailed around to a few used computer shops and managed to snag an old iBook G3 for $50.

The leaf fell off and the battery’s dead, but it still works just fine (when plugged in).

After setting it up with a copy of Mac OS 9.2.2, I was able to try launching the previewer program once again.

Unfortunately it got hung up a few times when trying to render some gpl files from the SDK.

Fortunately. I was able to open one of the 3DS Max projects included with the SDK. Special thanks to Video James (sonic15783)#6150 on the Discord for helping me get a copy of 3DS Max 3 up and running in my virtual machine!

Zebra.max in 3DS Max R3 3.0 in my Windows XP virtual machine

I was then able to export this from 3DS Max to a .gpl file using the cpexport.dle plugin included with the SDK Character Pipeline.

I tried previewing the gpl on the SheepShaver emulator (just to check if it was the emulator causing issues). Sure enough, I got the notorious black rendered screen.

Black screen render in SheepShaver

I tried viewing it on my iBook and, to my surprise, it rendered!

We have tiny .gpl Zebra!

Unfortunately the program freezes after this point and I have to force it to quit. This could be due to a number of reasons:
– The program might require a controller to function at all when something is rendered
– The laptop might not be powerful enough to do anything else once the model initially renders (doubtful)
– The program might be designed to function minimally in a mac test environment
– Something else

If anyone has a classic mac and would like to try out the Zebra demo, I’ve created a disc image [download]. Just burn the image to a CD and put it in the mac, then copy previewerD.bin to your Desktop and double-click to extract the program. Then, just double-click the newly extracted program to load the demo.

At this point, it’s a lot better than nothing.

I’ll try out some Harvest Moon gpl files over the weekend and see if I can get anywhere, of if I just get more black screens.