Hey all, whew have we been busy!
Lots of discoveries abound after the release of Map Pack 1. And the community (yous guys) is so excited! This is *exactly* what we wanted to see. We can’t do this alone. We’ve got some plans to keep you all involved in the near future, so keep a look out on this page and elsewhere. I’ll talk about the details of the journey after I drop the guide and the files.
How to Install and Use the Map DATs
We *highly* recommend XIPivot for adding modded DAT files to the game. It’s an addon for Windower and Ashita both, and it’s a godsend for loading modded DATs into the game without worrying about game updates steamrolling them.
- Head over to the XIPivot releases page and download the latest version for Windower or Ashita.
- Extract the zip and copy the xipivot folder to your Windower or Ashita addons folder
- Download the DATs from the remapster_maps releases page
- Find the addon folder for XIPivot in Windower or Ashita.
- Create a “data” folder and inside create a “DATs” folder. Once more, create a “remapster” folder inside the DATs folder.
- Extract the DAT files so that the ROM folders are inside the remapster folder.
- Create a settings.xml file in the “data” folder and add your remapster folder thus:
- Load XIPivot in Windower or Ashita. The maps should load properly without needing to log out and load the game back up.
And that’s it! Enjoy!
The Juicy Details
Very recently, RadialArcana (FFXIAH) discovered how to update the in-game map DAT files to display a higher resolution than the base 512px. In his post, he teased it with a few images. Which of course got everyone excited. All at once, we got a whole bunch of private messages sending us the link. Kenshi sent me some details about how to do it manually and so I set off on a looooong quest to automate it. We’ve got a lot of maps to draw and I don’t want to sit here for days updating all the DAT files every time we push an update
My first task was to fix the tool (XI Tex Hammer) to write the necessary resolution to the right place. So I decompiled the source code and loaded it up in Visual Studio. None of the UI parts would compile for unimportant reasons. But I don’t want them anyway, so its chucked.
I managed to get the resolution saved properly and I added some command-line functionality and started off on the script to convert the images to DATs using my new old tool. Which worked!
Now I need a big long list of zone+map => DAT path, which as far as I can tell is not out there in a complete form. Most map packs focus on a few important maps. That’s not enough for us. I wrote a script to scour the DAT files for texture names that follow a certain pattern and then culled the outliers by hand. The list went from thousands to around 900 DATs. We know there’s less maps than that in the game, but some are repeated for various reasons. That doesn’t matter so much since our script will write them out in a second or two.
Alright, I’ve got all the DATs out, time to test and… it didn’t work for more than half the maps. This is when I discovered that most of the DATs store compressed images using DXT3. All I’ve been working with is palette-based files. ImageMagick doesn’t support DXT3. So I
scoured the internet did a quick google search and found DDSTool which can convert png images to DDS compressed with DXT3 and it worked! Now I could import these DDS files into the DATs that need them compressed and I can live happily-ever-af–
Nevermind. I was about to push the fresh, crispy DATs out and in testing I discovered that the palette-based maps *didn’t* look so hot after all. You see, these have a limited color scope. And they don’t like how fresh our maps are. They looked beige. Which yes is most of the maps (by design) but we want the markers to *pop*. They’re supposed to be colorful and cute.
So back to ImageMagick to soften up our images. Fresh off the presses: 128 color versions of our maps. Gross. Well, they look better than beige-only maps, so that’s what we have. The game has a lot of limitations. Some can be overcome, some take extra effort. I’m certain we can find a way to make the maps look better, but for now this is the best we can offer.
Until next time, bit-cowboys,