Can These Things Be Fixed? <Long>

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If you axe me, these look pretty sharp.

On a more serious note, I'm finding that a lot of these need pretty serious reconstruction of their topologies. When Lui made these, I think the chief goal was to save triangles at all costs. Here, I'm spending a few to fix up topology for modern rendering. They're still coming in < 1000 triangles, including the ones w/ the fancy cutouts, so no biggie.

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Get to the choppas! 12 to go. Thankfully, most of them are in styles that will be easy to get done. Then it's time for spears and polearms, and I'm finally really ready for the part where it's just a bunch of data entry. And yes, I see that reflection craziness on the first one <mutters in Normals>.

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Five left. I can't believe I'm missing Starfield's first month of bugs and Community Patches for this, lol.

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29 axes later. I'm real, real glad I'm moving on to polearms now, because they'll be so different, lol. That said... I'm really pretty excited that I'm close to enough content to conduct this game-design experiment.

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First off: polearms!

Secondly, these were all made by the artist whose handle was "Jam". Whoever they are, they did a bare handful of polearms. Maybe there are other meshes by this person out there, but I'm not aware of them.

Like Lui, I was never able to get in touch. If you're out there, Jam, I've done these right. These were a delight to convert, with almost perfect mesh flow everywhere. I seem to recall I reworked them back in the day, but maybe they were just perfect then, too. I've hardly had to do anything to these other than hard edges and material setups.

Part of what I'm trying to do here, besides have a pile of viable content so that I can get rid of TW's build-a-weapon system, is data preservation.
Someday, BRF will be a dead format; OpenBRF will be gone or bit-rotten, or the only available download locations will be full of virii. If that RGL engine clone is ever available and Open Sourced, maybe BRF keeps kicking for another decade. But, given that it's an obscure format, it's just a matter of time.

FBX is quite likely to last for at least 20 more years. I don't love it as a file format, but it's Industry Standard, and it's been around for a long time. There will be applications that can read it 40 years from now, I'd wager; it's probably going to last less long than OBJ (long live OBJ!) but it'll have been used for so much stuff that importers will be maintained. Same goes for DDS; it's been around almost 25 years now, and while I'm sure at some point GPUs have such vast memory and are so fast that its mathematical advantages don't practically matter, it appears that Moore's Law isn't piling on free transistors like it used to, so I'm guessing that it'll stay relevant a long, long time. So maybe somebody will find this stuff in a decade and be like, "wow, why did anybody need to build such elegant structures".

Sorry for the sappy aside, but I was just looking at Jam's stuff and was like, "wow, somebody did work that clean, I'm so glad I'm revamping these".
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About the data format thing; the M&B 1.011/Warband file formats are documented here ( as 010 Editor binary templates (which are pretty much standard C/C++ structs and enums with comments), and OpenBRF (its whole version history) is a publicly-archived free and open-source software, which you can easily recompile for Windows and Linux via Qt Creator in places like this, dependencies included:

Most game and module system versions have been archived here and can be easily downloaded without depending on TaleWorlds, as well as the whole deceased MB Repository, so I think this stuff isn't going anywhere anytime soon.

Plus, Warband is still widely played on Steam; mods like TLD still get 200-120 daily installs on the Steam Workshop[1] [2].

If we ever get @K700 to make the WSE2 source available this will be the cherry on top.
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Re: WSE2, yup, that would be a big deal, in terms of preventing BRF from being a dead format. One hopes that project won't run out of steam and that it'll be Open Sourced.

One of the many things that has struck me with curiosity about Bannerlord, from a software POV, is why it's no longer using BRF. So far as I can determine, BRF supports pretty much everything FBX does that matters, including multi-material, vertex painting, etc., etc. It's a strange situation, and there are a lot of signs that at some point early on, BRF was still supported (and, well, there's that mysterious TRF format, which there was an export tool from Blender for and Bannerlord appears to support- I now have a working theory about why it's still in there, though).

Meanwhile, you'd never believe how long this first batch of Lui's polearms took to rebuild, lol. I have one glaive left on this list, and if I never have to work on a glaive ever again, it'll be too soon: they're crazy-hard, lol.

I've learned a bunch of really hard lessons about this process, and I'm hoping I don't have to do it the hard way like the one on the far left, where I resorted to using Mesh Reconstruction to rebuild the topology entirely. Why? Well, it had a bunch of faces buried in others, in ways that were almost impossible to fix otherwise, basically; I was never going to get decent mesh flow. The final version's down to 402 triangles; the original was at 589.

The other ones weren't so bad, but I'm dreading the last one of that series and the glaive-like Khergit- er, Khuzait stuff, and I'm trying to psyche myself up for the halberds, lol.
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Re: WSE2, yup, that would be a big deal, in terms of preventing BRF from being a dead format. One hopes that project won't run out of steam and that it'll be Open Sourced.

One of the many things that has struck me with curiosity about Bannerlord, from a software POV, is why it's no longer using BRF. So far as I can determine, BRF supports pretty much everything FBX does that matters, including multi-material, vertex painting, etc., etc. It's a strange situation, and there are a lot of signs that at some point early on, BRF was still supported (and, well, there's that mysterious TRF format, which there was an export tool from Blender for and Bannerlord appears to support- I now have a working theory about why it's still in there, though).

Yeah, TRF is the text format they worked with directly in their asset pipeline, the other day I found out that in the GOG version of Warband for Linux and macOS they actually bundle the original TRF files for pretty much everything. BRF was just a secondary way of baking or optimizing the TRF parsing, that the game lazily does the first time there's a TRF file without its matching binary counterpart. That's why when defining resource files in the module.ini you never set the extension. Modders were the only ones using BRF files as their normal bread-and-butter format.

Their Warband resource format is almost identical to the 1.011 one, but as @mtarini documented, they added support for the vertex tangents used in normal mapping, they could have added more flags to easily expand it with morph targets and other missing features:
Ah! That makes sense. TRF appears to be still used for collision volumes. I haven't taken a look at the insides of them yet, but it's probably possible to make new ones without too much trouble. I want to make a couple of simple variations on the existing ones to support some unusual things, so I'm hoping it's not too much of a pain.
Meanwhile, a pusillanimous posse of polearms was ported.

I'm actually engaging some editorial discretion here, as I get past the European examples into the Chinese / Mongol-ish stuff. Lui has some weapons I can't find historical examples for (this may be inadequate research on my part, or they were just made up) so I've made a couple of examples of a Chinese polearm, the qinglong ji, an interesting spear / pike variant that served a similar role as halberds did in Europe. I'm more than a little inclined to do a few more Chinese polearms to make this a fairly complete set of representative weapon types (good lord humans invented a lot of polearm variations, lol), as these don't take too long, but I need to finish the remaining glaives and spears first.

[EDIT] Reversed-crescent model is done; if you can't see it, refresh the image. Anyhow, more Chinese designs will eventually be gotten to, once I'm done w/ all of the rest, as they employed a few weird things that are probably worth having in the set.[/EDIT]

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Polehammers, spears and pikes.

Some long halberd designs coming up, then I'm done for now with Lui's polearms and move on to Pop and RR_Razor's stuff. Debating whether to port Dejawulf's Viking-era spears; probably, as they're already atlased and should be trivial to master and port.

Total weapons ported: 279, thus far. I think it's fair to say that there will be a large, varied and visually-interesting collection at this point.

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Finally done w/ Lui's polearms. Skipped a few. These last three were... fun, lol. I had to break all three into handles, blades, etc., to get them fixed up and looking reasonably good. Along the way, they lost triangles and should look reasonable.

If anybody's keeping score, the following meshes were skipped:

lui_hallberd_blue-->yellow, lui_hallberd_blue-->yellow, lui_khergitpike, lui_khergitpikestrong, lui_kjergithallberd, lui_kjergithallberdstrong, lui_manhunterpolehammer, lui_raiderlordspear, lui_smallelitehallberd, lui_smallhallberda, lui_smallhallberdb, lui_vaegirpike, lui_vaegirspear

These were either weapons that I couldn't find anything remotely like in the real world, or were duplicating weapons I've already remastered (the short halberds, the Kjergit halberds) or which need Team Color applied (I'll get to those when I get around to dealing with that; that'll take another Material). The Kjergit pikes were replaced by the Chinese spears mentioned earlier, and I'll probably do a few more Chinese styles later on.

I hope nobody's particularly disappointed by these not being included; generally, my approach is "save everything", but in these cases, I feel like there are plenty of other examples and we're not losing something really valuable (for example, lui_vaegirspear is basically just a sword mesh with the handle turned into a pike-length thing- while swords-mounted-on-sticks certainly existed, I couldn't find anything like that in a brief review of European spear styles, although there were some interesting points raised, pun intended).

These last halberds being identified as "Vaegir" is also a puzzler. They're largely based off of German weapons.

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So, I've only gotten 5 done today, but they've all been really interesting.

The first three are all of Pop's work I have available. I have no idea if Pop made more stuff, if Pop was an acronym or their forum handle, or anything, really, other than that these are absolutely bare-minimalist polygon works. I was somewhat tempted to smooth the rough geometry on the halberd's blade, but left it alone. I don't even know if that was me or Pop who left it like this, because this stuff is so old.

The next two are both RR_Razor's. IIRC, RR_Razor did actually reply when I asked to use their work and gave their blessing.

The first one was a dream- just fix up a few edges and deal with the handle transition. The weapon is apparently based on an "Italian Bill" dated around 1515, from the Wallace Collection; it's very definitely modeled on a real thing. I'm a bit confused by the label, though. When I think "Bill, the Polearm", I'm usually thinking about the classic English Bill, which was a billhook (pruning tool with a recurve edge) mounted on a longer stick (they were surprisingly effective, much like the Dacian falx and the Iberian falcata... people being surprised at recurve blades actually not sucking is a recurrent theme).

This, while still having that recurve edge as a minor, hook-like feature, is almost entirely a different animal, and I've seen them called "Scorpions" elsewhere. Anybody with a PhD. in polearms out there that wants to explain all this? I didn't think so.

The second one? It's a weird case. I actually had to add triangles. Usually it's been the reverse. These are "perfect", in the sense that the loops make sense and there aren't wasted triangles, but that odd blade sticking out of the left side of this glaive was actually too minimalist for its own good, and no matter what I tried w/ hard edges and so forth, it had lighting problems in PBR due to what that was doing to the surface normals. So I added a teeny bevel and normalized the blade's geometry there. That little bit of extra geometry solved the issues, and it looks good. This wasn't egregious- the original was at 146 triangles; the edit's at 170, so we're, uh, 1/10th of the tricount of some of the crossguard geometry in Bannerlord, lol. I suspect there will be similar fun with the remaining glaives.

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Well, that was different.

RR Razor's polearms, even the glaives, were... easy? On both glaives, I did some weird experiments re: normals and face edges that nobody will want to hear about, but they're both fine and neither of them presented any major challenges.

Honestly, I got the third glaive done, got to the first halberd, and was like, "uh... it's all neatly broken into parts, everything makes sense, there are no wasted triangles, the normals are fine, it's ready to be assigned materials and hard edges and boom, done".

I'll probably go back and add some pins to the fourth one- I like the brass / black but it feels too simple; I probably need to find the reference for it, too. The rest were simply a joy to convert.

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Polearms, hammers, a variety of spears. RR_Razor's polearms are done. 306 weapons have been mastered and ported. Whew!

Now it's time for a brief review. Do I have enough stuff to replace the existing inventory of weapons in Bannerlord and get rid of weapon forging? Almost certainly; my guess is that I've exceeded all of the weapons in Native by a wide margin at this point. The code to support all this is mainly done and works; there are a couple of experiments I want to do, but the core of the rework of damage, armor, etc. is all functional. So pretty soon I need to burn an evening doing data-entry.

Do I have all of the weapon types represented? No.

Which are necessary?

Well, there are a few spear types, mainly throwing, that may not be represented; not sure if things like those are done with the weapon-forging system or not. There are some blunt weapons that I still haven't gotten to, as well. Maces are coming up, though. Still need to get to Chinese stuff.

There's the Dacian falx, which I need to look at a reference for and see if I can find decent photography of.

There may be other things out there that I'll see in review.

Then there's all the stuff that hasn't (yet) been ported. RR_Razor's giant collection of European longswords, which in theory should need almost no real work done, as I already had them set up for multi-material in Blood and Steel. Of course, I say that, then forget that remastering their speculars and normalmaps might eat a day, lol.

Dejawolf's Viking axes and spears are getting done now; I took a look, and porting them over as-is isn't going to look good, at least for the spears, but converting them is straightforward.

The special crossbows and early firearms- the first, I need to figure out how vertex animations work now, the second requires I figure out how to make firearms that make bang noises and smoke when fired, special ammo, etc. There appears to be a "bullet" ammo type now, but to do something like Blood and Steel's system and special weapons will take a lot of coding. So they can probably wait until I've figured some of that out.

Maybe even Crusader: Way Of Expiation's weapons? I was sad when I came back and realized they never made it past the finish line. I just took a look at those weapons, and they're atlased and look like they have plenty of detail; should be a snap to convert. I have no idea if anything else that's really good has been OSP'd that's still somewhere in a Low Fantasy medieval-ish genre setting. I have a few odds and ends here from people like IgorBB, but this covers all the majors.

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Dejawolf's spears add a lot of nuance and variety to what's already in. Hardest part was figuring out what edges to harden and a few bits w/ the normals.

Axes will take barely longer; I think I can save his custom textures for the axeheads and use the wood atlas for the handles; we'll see. Axes done w/ the atlas have been the least-satisfactory stuff visually; I'm tempted to go back and revisit them at some point, but it's definitely a "at some point" kind of decision, as this has already taken so long, lol.

...and that's a wrap on Dejawolf.

That first one on the left gave me issues; it's the only one where Dejawolf attempted a micro-bevel, and it's situated awkwardly re: the face normals. I got it sorted, though.

One concern with all these is that I left Dejawolf's unwrapping of the handles as-is; it was basically cylindrical. This had the advantage of making this go exceedingly quickly for me, but IDK if I like the results in terms of detail on the wood. I honestly don't know whether anybody other than me will care about it in-game, though.

Warhammers and maces and other things that concentrate kinetic energy were on the agenda tonight, as these still aren't done.

Did some of Lui's stuff first. Unfortunately, most it's just copies of a couple of designs, with minor changes. I'm skipping most of those and I'll reevaluate whether there's enough real variety when I've done RR_Razor's stuff.

Strangely, there wasn't a classic Shestopyor mace type in the OSP stuff I have. So I made one with a couple of simple variations. It came out fairly heavy on triangles, at 984, but I felt like making one that was decent-enough detail-wise that it would look good if anybody wants to do a fancy version with a custom texture or something.

There are just one or two weapons I'd even consider "blunt", in the TaleWorlds sense of, "maybe could be used to hurt a person without serious risk to life and limb IRL". I've always been highly dubious of the "blunt" concept in Warband and Bannerlord; IRL, if you hit people with clubs, they tend to become dead or seriously injured. Police IRL generally have to train how to use things like nightsticks and truncheons in ways that don't kill people too often, and people get seriously injured by these weapons all the time.

Moreover, most of the "blunt" weapons in the games should actually be considered to be "pierce", as their primary design purpose was to concentrate the inertial energy of the solid-steel or head-weighted weapons onto very small surface areas. The fact that the warhammers largely developed as a response to plate-and-maille might be a clue about their real nature. So this isn't actually going to keep me up at night.

I've thought about being half-serious about this issue and modeling a man-catcher or one of the other few real-world "less lethal" weapons used back then, but most of them (nets, bolas, whips, etc.) almost certainly require some cloth physics, which I don't want to mess with yet, and would be pretty hard to make reasonably convincing, I suspect. I really would like to do sling weapons, though, so maybe a throwable net gets to be the practice weapon, lol. I had bolas in Blood and Steel, mainly because even though they're officially anachronistic in a Medieval setting (as far as anybody knows) they're one of those obvious weapon types and we know the Romans liked weighted rope stuff, etc., so it wasn't like it was a new concept to the vaqueros roaming the Argentine alto plano.
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RR_Razor's clubs and various flavors of war hammers are done. That pretty much wraps up, "blunt", other than some odds and ends. I think there's a maul left, maybe some other weapons sitting in other BRFs. I should do more mace styles, probably; it's a bit concerning that I have exactly three maces (Mackie set has two, I just did one), when they were so popular. Functionally, from a game-design POV, it's totally fine; there are plenty of, "short things that are swung and inflict Pierce". But variety is the spice of life and all that.

What's left? Some fancy crossbows and bows from Blood and Steel- but I need to figure out how the new vertex animations are done. Early firearms, but they need code. some odds-and-ends weapons, like my trident, a bwanga I have sitting around somewhere along with the bolas, etc., and there are a few odd weapons from IgorBB. Then there's the Crusader: Way Of Expiation stuff, RR_Razor's giant collection of European swords, etc.

All of that feels optional. I suppose I could do a pitchfork or two and other improvised stuff; the farmers need some purposefully-terrible weapons. Last time I just used mildly-altered Native meshes for that stuff, and nobody ever bothered making anything like that, so far as I know.

There are also a bunch of cool, or at least cool-at-the-time, shields and things, but that goes into the general mess that is Armor.

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