Apocalypse's Smk Player


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#1 Pete

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Posted 27 April 2004 - 06:32 PM

Taken from another thread of mine from waaaay back (we're talking months here!), I'm having a natter about the poor sound and video in Apoc and think I'm onto something here:

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Now, I have some special tools to hand and I can run the animation FINE outside of the game.

It's actually a problem with the animation program like NKF says, and the program is way out of date (no kidding).

Here's the challenge to all you technical experts out there - If I tell you where to download the updated version of the animation player and the location of the animation player in the Apocalypse directory on your hard drive, can you work out how to reconstruct the additional flags that get it to check for the CD drive autiomatically and play the animation intro?

Since challenges are good, here is where you can download the animation utilities: http://www.radgameto...com/smkdown.htm - download Rad Video Tools at the top of the page.

Now... the location of the animation player on your hard drive is in the UFOEXE folder. The file is SMKP.exe

In your newly downloaded Rad Video Tools folder, there are severl programs that run Smacker (.smk) files. If you double click on one of the game movies on your CD then it'll use one of these to play it, so there's your program.

Now as Apoc is DOS based, I reckon that smackply.exe is the file that you'll need to tinker with to get this to work.

Now all you need to do is find out what's so different about smkp.exe and sort it out from there Not a load of help I know, but I only do web design!

I'll offer a prize to someone who can do this. It won't be cash by any means, but most likely Amazon gift vouchers or something. Hell, it may not even be do-able, but I reckon it's worth the effort to see if we can get Apocalypse up and running again :P
May your terror missions always be infested with Chrysalids.

#2 BladeFireLight

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Posted 28 April 2004 - 03:44 AM

What animations are we talking about? The onely thingk close that I recall was the intro.

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#3 Alan

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Posted 28 April 2004 - 08:42 AM

well, i think there's just the into and the outros. i can't remember any others.
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#4 Pete

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Posted 28 April 2004 - 04:09 PM

Indeed - the intro and outros, but since Apocalypse is still being sold (trust me, I bought 4 copies a few years back just cos I could :() it'd be nice t have a fix for these two animations.

The intro isn't really a problem for those of us that just want to play, but it WILL put some poeple off going any further. The outros ARE a problem because they're part of what you play the game for with Apocalypse.

I know I'll get a clout about the head for saying this, but I still think Apocalypse is by far the most playable and replayable X-COM title in the series. The others get a little stale after a while in my opinion, not matter how many challenges you et yourself... (believe me, I've done base missions on TFTD with two guys, some thermal tazers and one empty Sonic Pistol from the start of the level - offloading all the pistol ammo into the nearest wlall before continuing... It's only fun a few times :().

Anywho... there will be a prize. £20 of Amazon gift vouchers or something as I say. If I need to flash cash for mods and fixes to one of my very favourite games then so be it :P
May your terror missions always be infested with Chrysalids.

#5 BladeFireLight

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Posted 29 April 2004 - 01:43 AM

I dont recall the outro... so I guess I dont know what I'm missing. maybe that is why I never played it all the way through.

-Blade FireLight
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Combat is very simple, there is a first place and second place, second place is laying face down in the mud, sometimes, so is first place.

#6 Neorapsta

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Posted 29 April 2004 - 01:12 PM

The outro is the basic, it explodes, you escape, well done...the end

#7 NKF

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Posted 29 April 2004 - 01:29 PM

Don't forget the all mighty 'Yes!' (followed by an uproar of silence from the communication console operators) that ends the entire X-Com series. :P

On the other hand, it's better than the other outtro. The one where the earth gets hot and is teleported out of our universe. Rather dull really. I was expecting it to blow up in a pretty show of pyrotechnics by the way it was flaring up.

- NKF
NKF, narrow minded fuddy duddy who refuses to let go of the past and will not accept anything newer than 1979.

#8 Neorapsta

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Posted 29 April 2004 - 08:51 PM

One day there may be a game with a decent ending

#9 NKF

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Posted 25 January 2005 - 09:40 AM

I was going to ressurect the old thread that Pete started, but for the life of me, I can't find it. If any moderator can find it, merge this topic into it please.  

I was just going to post a few notes that I've come up with after dabbling a bit.

First of all, it needs to be able to locate xcom3.cfg.

So if you're in c:\xcoma\ (which is where xcom3.cfg resides) and smkp.exe is in ufoexe, you'd run it by typing in ufoexe\smkp 0 GOFORIT

0 = Intro (or even if this paremeter is blank)
1 = Lose
2 = win

Note the GOFORIT parameter is important or else it won't work.

My guess is that it needs xcom3.cfg in order to find the smk files on the cd if the files aren't available on the hard drive. It'll first check in the current directory for the smk\ directory and for the files in it. If it's not there, it uses xcom.cfg to point it to the cd-rom and it checks it under xcom3\smk\

I think that's roughly how it works.

Would this be enough information to construct a new smk player?

- NKF
NKF, narrow minded fuddy duddy who refuses to let go of the past and will not accept anything newer than 1979.

#10 Bomb Bloke

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Posted 26 January 2005 - 09:45 AM

I'm confused. Create a new player out of what?
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#11 NKF

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Posted 26 January 2005 - 09:56 AM

A long, long, time ago Pete had put up a proposal that we work out how Apocalypse's SMK player works, and then figure out if we can create a new to play the Apocalypse movies. Or maybe even link up a better smk player with Apocalypse, which shouldn't be too hard - it would probably involve making a simple program that calls a third party smk player with all the proper parameters.

The SMK player in Apocalypse is terrible. It plays the movies in a VERY choppy manner (really noticeable on some computers, it's not so bad on others), even if the movies are copied to the hard drive. It's just not up to par with the various SMK players out there. I think I got a standalone player from somewhere and tested it on the Apocalypse movies, and it played them very well, but the one used by the game itself often plays the movies with tons of unnecessary pauses between frames.

- NKF
NKF, narrow minded fuddy duddy who refuses to let go of the past and will not accept anything newer than 1979.

#12 Ki-tat Chung

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Posted 18 February 2005 - 11:28 AM

the SMK format was created by a group called BINK IIRC....lets see...here! it also lists other games that have used their tech. you can download their own player, though it has a watermark on it, i think.

yeah, the microprose SMK player always froze my computer if i ran it independantly, and sometimes froze if it ran win/lose movies. i wonder if we can replace the default one with the one bink supplies to the public?
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#13 NKF

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Posted 18 February 2005 - 01:39 PM

You can, but you'd need to make a third party program that pretends to be smkp.exe and translates the parameters that the game passes to it and have this sent on to the stand alone player in a manner that it can understand. (basically all you want is to pass it the filename of the .smk file to play)

- NKF
NKF, narrow minded fuddy duddy who refuses to let go of the past and will not accept anything newer than 1979.

#14 Ki-tat Chung

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Posted 19 February 2005 - 06:51 AM

so translate instructions from the game to the player?
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#15 NKF

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Posted 19 February 2005 - 09:09 AM

smkp.exe expects to get two parameters. The number of the movie to play and GOFORIT, which tells the player to actually play the movie.

We cannot just substitute smkp.exe with a new player because the game will still pass the video number and the GOFORIT command to it, which the smk player probably won't understand.

What is actually needed is a program that takes these exact same commands and then translate it into a filename, which we then pass to the actual smk player. Or more to the point, this program calls the player with the name of the file to play.

There's a bit of error checking that needs to be done that also involves xcom3.cfg, but that's basically it.

- NKF

edit: Actually, having just finished Homeworld without using a single unit I built by myself (150 hijacked Ion Crusiers... 3 days I'll never see again), I've just freed up some of my time. I might be able to tinker with a program of my own - in between work, Morrowind, Arcanum and anime... oh and sleep.
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#16 Bomb Bloke

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Posted 19 February 2005 - 01:39 PM

I could write that, easy. I guess you could too. Gimme the specs if you want and I'll wip something up.
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#17 NKF

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Posted 19 February 2005 - 03:10 PM

Right, let's see if I can explain everything that needs to be done - or at least what I think needs to be done.

First of all, the program needs to take two command line parameters. The index of the movie to play and GOFORIT, which tells the program to actually do something rather than do nothing and abort.

The program will be residing in ufoexe\ and should be called smkp.exe

The first parameter can be values of 1, 2, 3 or no value at all (defaults to 1).

1 plays the intro sequence, 2 plays the lose sequence and 3 plays the win sequence. You could probably just use an if-then-else or switch/case block or set up a small array with all three file names and use this number as the index. (Must remember to do a bit of error checking to make sure the number is within the boundaries)

After it knows what file to play, it tries to locate the file in ..\smk\ to see if it's there.

If this directory does not exist or the files don't exist, the program then refers to ..\xcom3.cfg for the location of the cd-rom. xcom3.cfg's basically a text file with the volume and directory. You just combine this with the proper path to the movie files. Say your cd-rom is d:, it'll look for the movies in d:\xcom3\smk where the movie should be residing - or at least I think that's the right directory. Would need to doublecheck.

If not found, I guess the program just aborts.

Once you've got a file to play, the program should then call on the smk player and pass the path and filename to it. My guess is that the new player used would take simple parameters (i.e. just the file name). But we can iron out these details when we come to it.

There are a few things that are niggling at me.

I'm not sure about is whether or not this program returns any error levels. Probably not important, but something to consider if everything goes pear shaped.

Also, would the game be able to just play a completely different program that takes the same parameters? I don't know how the game is going to handle any change in screen resolution that may occur between program calls - if at all.

Oh well, nothing ventured nothing gained.

- NKF

edit: Oh crumbs. I just realised it's 4.30am on a Sunday morning and here I am coming up with my idea of a rudimentary design document for a third-party workaround/fix for a very minor part of a game I haven't truly played in years... (trust me, my idea of a design document normally invovles hastily written notes on bits of notepaper with scribbles of little robots, space marines, spaceships or princesses slaying knights to save the monsters all over the edges). To bed Mr. Sunshine.
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#18 Pete

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Posted 19 February 2005 - 04:17 PM

I've only just spotted this thread - can't remember starting this topic elsewhere, I think you may be getting confused with an old challenge to get the UFO Realplayer movies from the PS version of UFO to work in the game, btu this cause is still a worthy one :huh:

It's certainly just the SMK player that, whilst it used to play perfectly on older systems, now plays choppily on newer machines. Looks like you've got everything covered above though. It would be nice to get this working nicely again - it kind of puts me off playing again as a choppy end movie isn't much of an incentive ;)
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#19 Ki-tat Chung

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Posted 21 February 2005 - 12:55 PM

i suppose you could just skip the movie and watch it outside of the game after you win/lose. not that it matters, IIRC, apoc scored one of the 50 worst game endings. ever.
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#20 Kret

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Posted 21 February 2005 - 01:53 PM

You mean that was an ending?
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