Player Model Swapping

Now that I’m able to access the contents of the previously inaccessible CLZ files, It’s time to experiment with model files.

My first test was to decompress the mainchapter archives (e.g. mainchapter0.arc.clz), then extract the boy archives from there (e.g. boy_0.arc).

Then, I went about swapping the GPL files (e.g. boy_0.gpl). Based on my previous research, these should contain all of the 3D model data needed.

My first test at importing the girl model into AWL was… less than successful.

All hail the nebulous genderless void!

But at least the game didn’t crash, so that’s a start.

After some further tests, I found that I needed to swap all of the girl/boy-associated model files (act, gpl, skn, tpl, and tam) with their boy/girl counterparts.

Time to replace some additional data!

After replacing the model files, replacing boy_0.arc and girl_0.arc in the corresponding mainchapter0.arc files with their updated versions, and repacking those into their corresponding mainchapter0.arc.clz formats, it was time to test them out.

To my surprise, the models worked with little to no issue.

We now have the female model in AWL and male character in AnWL!

Note the mirror (AnWL) or lack thereof (AWL)

The animations seem to rig fairly well to each character, with a few exceptions (e.g. standing still while holding an animal such as a dog or chicken as the girl in AWL will cause the ponytail to do weird things).

I’ll be doing some more testing regarding the animations, with the hopes of fixing any discrepancies (e.g. the above animal holding glitch, the wider/narrower stance difference between the characters, etc). I know James in the Discord has been very active in experimenting with the character animations lately.

A Windows version of “Preview” existed this whole time!

After some digging around in the Dolphin/Gamecube SDK files I had, I’ve discovered that there was a version of the “preview” program (for viewing .gpl 3D models) for Windows this entire time!

I feel like an idiot for somehow not noticing this sooner.

The app launches just fine. Unfortunately, I got a version-mismatch error when trying to load any actual files (including the examples that came with the SDK).

With that said, the source code for the program included with the SDK. My plan of action right now is to try removing the version-check code, then recompile the program.

If this works, we might finally have a way of viewing 3D models from the game, without me resorting to trying an old 90’s-era Macintosh.

Exploring File Formats

After scouring the internet for any documentation on the file formats used for the character models (namely the .gpl files) I’ve found the one (and seemingly only) source of information.

The Documentation for the official Nintendo Gamecube SDK / Character Pipeline / Dolphin Emulator

There are some executables included with the sdk that enable previewing of GPL (geometry), ACT (hierarchy), ANM (animation), SKN (skinning information) and TPL (texture) files. However, it seems that these require some sort of PowerPC configuration through either the dolphin development hardware or an old powerpc mac. There is a previewer.exe in the sdk, but I haven’t been able to get it to load a gpl without crashing so far.

Honestly my best chance will probably be emulating an old build of Mac OS X (e.g. 10.5 Leopard) and trying to load the preview scripts on that platform.

I will post back with my results.