The Ultimate – Ultimate Ride Tutorial
Table of Contents
1.2 List of Programs Used
4.1 Tunneling and Underground
7.1 List of Websites
7.2 List of File Types
7.3 Troubleshooting Tips
1.0 Introduction and Purpose
This will be my second attempt at this tutorial, and hopefully a better one. My first was lost due to an error of infinite proportions on my part – I forgot to back up my working copy when I formatted my hard drive. That’s one mistake I won’t make again. This UR tutorial-making endeavor is now definitely a labor of love.
I plan to cover every single aspect of game modding for Disney Imagineering’s Ultimate Ride. Heck… I’m even going to throw in a troubleshooting section at the end just because it seems several of the same questions are always being asked. There are several sites dedicated all or partly to the game and a list of them is provided at the end in section 7.2. There are lots of folks at these sites ready to answer any and all (almost – just because you never really know for sure) questions you might have.
I assume the reader has at least a little knowledge of computers and the internet. Terms like double-click, right-click (using the right mouse button instead of the left), and web address will not be defined – though I may briefly explain some things from time to time – I can’t help it. If you have any problems, let folks know on one of the fan site. Also, you should know how to get to folders on your computer. For instance… Program Files/Disney Imagineering/Ultimate Ride Disney Coaster/Environments is the folder on your hard drive where most of the information for UR environments is kept. You access it by double-clicking on each of the following icons or folders – My Computer – C (or the letter of your main hard drive) – Program Files – Disney Imagineering – Ultimate Ride Disney Coaster – Environments. Most of the time, I will refer to the different folders by their name… i.e. Environments… Themes. One other thing… I am using Disney Coaster (URDC) for all of this so some things may be different if you have Coaster Deluxe (URCD). If you have Disney’s original Ultimate Ride – I don’t know how much of the following will work.
Back to what this tutorial covers… We will be creating at least one of everything possible for the game. Each process will be presented in a step-by-step manner with lots and lots of pictures. This means the file size will be quite large, but it should be worth it. First we’ll make a brand new environment in which to put most of everything else. Next we’ll make a theme – complete with props and a loading dock. There are two ways to create props – one is by altering the texture files for a prop that already exists – the other is by modeling a brand new one (which requires a little 3-dimensional thinking). The same goes for docks. Both ways will be demonstrated. After that, we’ll create a new track type that fits our theme. Along with the track type we’ll be exploring a bit of ultra-cool modding that will allow your train to go through parts of the environment. There are two ways to do this and only the second, newer of the two will be shown. The first is crude and causes some "loss" of game controls.
Please keep in mind I am doing everything in this tutorial as we go along. It seems to be the best way of making something as big as this is going to be. So if something doesn’t work out, or if we wind up not using some of the programs listed below, that’s why. And if we wind up not needing something, remember it may come in handy sometime while making your own
mods or modules. It’s always best to be prepared.
Now for a couple of definitions… Yeah, I know… BORING!!! Sorry, it’s a must. When we refer to "
mods," we mean files have been created that actually replace original UR game files. These are by no means dangerous. All you have to do is know which files are going to be replaced and be sure you have them backed up somewhere. This, of course, can get very tedious for those who download your creations. And you have to be careful… if you make a mod, forget you have it working in your game, go make a coaster with the mod, and upload the coaster for others to ride… there’s a possibility it will cause an error on the rider’s computer, or even worse (or better depending on how you look at it), the mod won’t even show up when they ride the coaster… meaning your work was for nothing. That’s why we will concentrate on a much better solution – "modules." Modules are files you edit or make that work with UR, but do not replace any game files. Modules are add-ons. Everything we make in this tutorial will be modules. (I hope you noticed the subliminal hint about mods. When the first UR came out, mods were all we had to make our own additions. Each newer version added more modding capabilities. I recommend getting both URCD and URDC. Don’t get me wrong… there are still some great mod coasters out there… if you don’t mind replacing files twice to ride them.)
All right! Without further ado, let’s take a look at some of the programs we’ll be using for this Ultimate adventure! (Yeah, I’m weird… my wife reminds me of that fact all the time.)
There are some things you need to do before getting started with modding. I figure it’s easiest to get them done now so it’s out of the way. The very first thing you need is a maximum install of the game(s) you have. If you do not have it/them installed that way, or you’re not sure… you need to uninstall the game(s) using "Add or Remove Programs" in your computer’s Control Panel. Then reinstall the game(s), and when you have the choice of "Typical" or "Custom" ("Advanced") installation (or whatever that screen says… it’s been so long since I’ve installed the games I’ve forgotten), pick "Custom" ("Advanced") then "Maximum." Do this for every version of the game… if you have more than one, completely uninstall all versions first, then do a maximum install for each game starting with the oldest version, working up to the most recent… UR à URCD à URDC. One other thing – some options in URDC will not work correctly if you do not also have URCD installed. Disney Coaster "reads" some information from Coaster Deluxe… so bottom line… if you have both, make sure you have maximum installs of both.
To lessen the chances of errors occurring, download and install the patch file for URCD from Disney’s UR site. It’s under "Coasterxchange" then click the "CoolXtras" tab.
Next, there are some files the game defaults to when certain ones are not there… meaning, if you mod something and forget one of these files, your covered. And instead of having to go over each file one by one, the great folks at Mods to the Max – MTTM – have put them together into one executable file (Module Plugin Utility) that puts everything where it needs to go. You can download it from here.
A word about .exe’s from MTTM. If "C" is your hard drive and you have the game installed to the default directory (you didn’t change where the game was loaded onto your hard drive) you can double click on the file and it will install everything to the proper place. MTTM does this to most files on the site. Lots of the sites with .zip’s for download have them set up for you to extract them to your C: directory – then all of the files will install where they should. If you have any doubts about .zip files, just unzip them to your desktop and "Copy" (or "Cut") each one from it’s place and "Paste" it to it’s mirror spot in your game folders. NOTE: You’ll have to do this by right-clicking.
The last thing we need to do is copy some files from URCD to URDC. As mentioned before, DC reads some files from CD… and I’m fairly certain the way it does this is not perfected. There have been lots of problems reported that seem to stem from this new feature. To avoid all the confusion (after doing the following, I have yet to experience any of the problems reported) and if you have the free hard drive space to do so (if you don’t have the hard drive space or are not going to do this, go ahead and skip to section 1.2), we’ll copy over several files and folders. It’s a time-consuming process, but very much worth it in the end. From URCD/Data/Text/Eng to URDC/Data/Text/Eng you need to copy over these entire folders – Dragon’s Realm, Gothic, Jules Verne, Monster Island, and Space Theme. These and the ones that need copying below are the folders read by URDC. The easiest way to do the copying is to hold down the <Ctrl> key while you click on each folder to highlight it… then right-click on one of the selected folders… choose the "Copy" command… then make sure you are in the Text/Eng folder for URDC and at the top click on "Edit" then "Paste." It shouldn’t take very long to copy these folders over… they’re kind of small. If you don’t feel comfortable multi-selecting, then go ahead and copy each one at a time. Whenever the pop-up window asks if you want to overwrite files, click "Yes" or "Yes to all." NOTE: Make sure you DO NOT accidentally choose "Cut" instead of "Paste." This will remove those folders from URCD. Also, make sure you have no folders selected (highlighted blue) in the destination, URDC, folder. If you do, the files you are copying will go into that highlighted folder instead of where they should. Next we need to copy over several environment folders. These are larger, so it may take a little longer for all of the files to transfer. From URCD/Environments to URDC/Environments copy the following folders – Asteroid, Canyon, Cavern, GridII, Island, and Mountain. Next are the themes… these are definitely going to take some time to copy over. From URCD/Themes to URDC/Themes copy these folders – Dragon’s Realm, Gothic, Jules Verne, Monster Island, and Space Theme. If you’re wondering why not the tracks – it’s because in URCD all of the track files are compressed into one big file, but in URDC (and many of us modders were elated by this) they left them uncompressed – making track modding much less confusing.
There are some other things we can do to get ahead of the game, but we’ve done enough boring stuff for now. The rest can be done once we get there.
1.2 List of Programs Used
Just choose the program and where you want do download it from… then click "Continue." You may be required to fill out a form first.
Another program people like, but is really complex and more expensive than PSP7, is Adobe Photoshop. Most of the time you get what you pay for and it’s true here. This program is loaded! You can download a trial version from the Adobe website.
There is also a free program called Pixia. I’ve never used nor downloaded it, but from what I hear, it does pretty much everything you need it to for UR modding. You can download it from here. NOTE: I have learned this program will only modify an already existing .png image. You cannot make a .png from scratch with it. Read below…
Regardless of the program you use, it has to support the use of .png (portable network graphics) files. This file type supports transparency – others, like .jpg, do not. Be careful though! Not all programs that save in .png format actually support transparency that will work with UR. For instance, I have Microsoft Picture It Publishing. It supports both .png and transparency… however, I was mortified when I modded the gothic loading dock for my theme and found out after saving one of the modded texture files the dock’s lightning had disappeared! The .png looked transparent in the program, but when brought into the game that part of the file was opaque, no matter how I edited it. The moral – always put a trial program through it’s paces before you buy the full version.
Be sure to get the MS3D help file and follow along with some of the tutorials in it. I will assume you have some knowledge of the program when we get to using it. Explaining every step in detail would make this tutorial much too long… and concentrate on the wrong stuff… it’s a UR tutorial… not an every other program and UR tutorial. Sorry, but I’m sure you understand <BG>. Also, from one of the download sites you need to get a copy of the Milkshape 3D Exporter. It’s a .zip file containing source code, other files, and a dynamic link library (.dll) file. The .dll file is all we care about for using MS3D with UR. NOTE: Before doing the following, make sure that MS3D is closed down. Open up the .zip and extract only the file called msUltimateRideExporter.dll to the main Milkshape folder. If you open up that MS3D folder, you’ll see several other .dll’s there, also. This is where ours needs to be in order for everything to work.
Of course, if money isn’t a problem for you (on the order of $2000-$6000 for a program you’re buying just for modding this game – at first anyway), go ahead and get Maya. Developed by Alias|Wavefront, it’s the graphics and animation program that Gigawatt Studios used to create everything in the game. You can explore the options here.
There is a program called Maya PLE (Personal Learning Edition) you can download for free and use to get yourself familiar with Maya’s format. However, I suggest this only if you will be seeking employment in the 3D graphics industry. You cannot use it to make objects for Ultimate Ride. You’ll notice a download called "Maya Exporter + Source Code" on some of the fan sites. This is an add-on made by Gigawatt that lets them make models in Maya and export them to a format used by UR. "Maya Exporter + Source Code" will not work with Maya PLE. Also, anything you make with PLE has a watermark on it you cannot remove. That make’s models kind of unattractive.
As of this writing (07/11/03), there is also another option similar to Milkshape called Zmodeler. You can download it from here. Newsflash!!! According to the Zmodeler site, as of 07/03/03, the latest version of this program – 1.07b – is free! Get it while it lasts. The developer, Oleg Zanoza, made an .mx file importer and exporter for UR. This means unlike in Milkshape, .mx files (look in the appendices for an explanation) are interchangeable between UR and Zmodeler. Much thanks to IronDraggon for getting Oleg to write that for us!!! I know Milkshape better, but for now, Zmodeler has more functionality for modding in UR.
If you plan to work with .mp3’s make sure to get LAMEWIN32, an .exe file, under the Optional Downloads.
Just click on the "Download Now." Incidentally, if you don’t have a program that accelerates downloads, you can get a free one from here. I used DAP for the longest time, until The Skipper told us all about the Star Downloader. It does the same thing DAP does, except there are no advertisements or pop-ups. Now I don’t use anything. Those programs seem to mess up more stuff than they help. Plus, my cable modem does just fine by itself. –0)
Also, when you install the program it warns you Hackman will not function properly without the Visual Basic 6.0 Runtime pack. Make sure you install it before you install Hackman. It’s a small download with only a few files. Get it here.
It’s also available from several of the fan sites. Give it a try.
One last thing… each of these programs take some time to learn, especially the ones that allow you to make something completely your own, like Particulater, TUVAmatic, and especially Milkshape. Open each one up in turn and explore them. This will make the tutorial go much smoother for you and cause less frustration overall. Believe me, each time I get a non-caught terawatt exception and can’t figure out why… well, let’s just say I get a bit peeved. Don’t worry so much about creating anything with the Gigawatt utilities… if you haven’t made anything with them before, you may find it hard to view the fruits of your labor since most of the files have to be seen or heard in the game. But do go ahead and open those utilities up, take a look around, get familiar with the different formats, and read the accompanying documents so you know the each program’s capabilities.
Now on to the modding!!!
There are two ways to make an environment… the easy way and the hard way. And since the hard way is the easy way plus some extra steps… yep, you guessed it… the hard way it is. (The easy way is to change the textures for an environment already made. If you use one from the game, great. If you want to use a modded environment, you need to get that environment’s maker’s permission first. Most don’t have a problem with it. Like me, for example, I don’t care at all if you want to use or mod what we’re about to create.) And before we do anything with modeling, remember this: SAVE after every step!
I hope you practiced some with Milkshape, because the first thing we have to do is create our land and sky with it. Before we get too bored with all this reading, let’s dive in… we can get to the explanations later. Go ahead and open up Milkshape. If you haven’t changed anything around, your screen should look similar to this:
Pic001 – Milkshape 3D main screen
This is version 1.6.5 of the program. It is possible (and quite probable) that you will have a newer version, so the "look" of yours may be different. (The newest version as of now is 1.6.6a – you’ll see the change as you get to the bottom of this section.)
I want for this tutorial to be on the easy side, but enough to give you a good start for UR modding (and maybe even modding in general)… so the environment we are making is going to be simple. You can always add a level of complexity, so let’s start off basic and work our way up. It’s always tempting to copy exactly the tutorial you’re following, and most of the time that’s exactly what you are supposed to do. It will be that way here, also… however, to make our landscape we are going to use MS3D’s terrain generator. This means what you end up with will be somewhat different from what you see here. It’s okay!!! Work with it and be proud to call it your own.
First thing to do is go to the top toolbar and click on "Tools." From the drop-down menu, click on "Terrain Generator." (It’s pretty close to the bottom.) A window should then come up that looks similar to this:
Pic002 – MS3D’s Terrain Generator Window
Above is the terrain generator window shown with the default settings. All I am going to do is change the "Size X:" and "Size Y:" both to a value of 20 and set "Number of hills:" to 25. Then I’m going to click on the "Randomise Terrain" button until a decent layout presents itself. If you do what I did, you’ll notice the black and white box in the upper right part of the window gets smaller and the white spots (which are the hills – the brighter the white, the higher the hill) will change with each click of the Randomise terrain button. When you find something that suits you, click the "Add Terrain" button in the lower left corner of the window.
Pic002a – Changes to Make to the Terrain Generator Window
The "instructional" type picture above is the only one in the tutorial. I included it to get you used to looking around to find the areas that need changing and the buttons that need clicking.
After adjusting the angle of the smooth-shaded MS3D window – the one in the lower left corner – and zooming out on all of them your screen might look something like the one below.
Pic003 – The Environment in MS3D after Being Generated
Looks kind of like a river might flow nicely in that central valley… what do you think? You must believe that was not planned. I’m learning as I go along… hopefully just like you are. –0) Before moving forward, save this as an MS3D model (one other tip… remember where on your computer you save stuff!!! I like to put them all into one folder – with subfolders – so I don’t lose track), that way you have a starting point in case things get messed up… plus you don’t want to have to mess around with the randomise button to find a good terrain again. Let’s go to PSP7 and make a texture, though a simple one, for the hills and river. If you don’t want to follow along here or have your own texture, cool and the gang… just make sure to read anything in red lettering… but if you have PSP7 and want the practice – these are the steps to what I did (and don’t think you have to this exactly like I do – feel free to experiment, that’s part of the fun of modding… also, this tutorial is basic stuff – there are plenty of 3D modeling tutorials out there to improve your skills there).
The first thing I did was create a new image (click "File," then "New") with the following specs: dimensions = 128x128 pixels, resolution = 72.000 pixels/inch, transparent background, and 16.7 million colors. If you are experienced with PSP7 or with the program you have, you may want to do something differently. I am all for that… just remember there are two rules for images used in UR:
(Use .png for UR – it lets you do everything you need and saves smaller than .bmp.)
After getting my blank texture, I used the fill tool with a foreground color #0ED413 and a background color #008000 both HTML (it is much easier to enter this into the bottom of the color pop-up window than setting the RGB values… especially if you copy and paste them from this tutorial… hint hint). Next I used a texture tool (Click "Effects," then "Texture Effects," then "Texture…") to make some fun changes. I used texture #2 at 100% size with the following settings: Smoothness 10, Depth 7, Ambience –12, Shininess 40, Light Angle 315, Intensity 40, and Elevation 30. Remember… if you don’t like how something looks you can always click the undo button. Then I added some noise (Click "Effects," then "Noise," then "Add…") setting the level to 30%. Then to roughly the middle of the texture, with the paintbrush, I added some blue (foreground #0000FF – background #02069C) with white (foreground #FFFFFF) and light gray (foreground #C0C0C0) highlights for the river. My final texture looks something like this (if you just want practice modding, I’ll ask the other site admins to include the folder with all of the textures made in this tutorial – that will save you a little time if you don’t want to make your own.):
Pic004 – Texture for Our First Terrain
Now we go back to MS3D to add the texture to our terrain. Follow along closely and don’t worry about all of the steps at first. See if you can come up with the "finished product." Then go back over each step and learn it. I’ve taken great effort to explain this in a straightforward way, so if something doesn’t work out right, blame yourself, then blame me… okay, I am so just kidding. If you run into a problem, go back over the steps one-by-one in order. If there’s still a discrepancy go ahead and post a help question on URG. For me this was the second trickiest part of all this modding business (the first was exporting MS3D models to UR model files and getting them to work in the game… don’t worry – all in good time). As I said, I’m not a good 3D modeler.
Your whole wireframe should go from white to red in color. Like this:
Pic005 – Selecting All So the Texture Gets Added to the Whole Model
Your screen should now look something like this:
Pic006 – Getting the Texture File Open in MS3D
Pic007 – MS3D’s Texture Coordinate Editor
Pic008 – Texture Coordinate Editor with the Wireframe of Our Terrain
Pic009 – Textured View of the Model with the River a Little "Off"
It’s probably me being picky, but I’d like the river to be more centered in the "valley" portion of the model (where the grid shows through). That would also make the "waterfall" look more centered on that hill in the back. We can fix that with the Texture Coordinate Editor.
Pic010 – After Moving the Model with the Texture Coordinate Editor
There’s a line on the left side of the model where the texture begins to repeat itself. This could be avoided all together by making the river a separate layer in PSP7, saving it as a PSP7 Image (so you can work with the layers later on – saving as a picture type merges all the layers into one), and going back to re-align it. I didn’t do that, of course, so we’re going to have to live with the line. Another answer would be to use the Texture Coordinate Editor "Select" button to choose small parts of the model and move each of them over to the blue area of river. Or if you’re in our current position, select and move a strip of the land on the "left" of the river to cover up the line. Remember, if you do something you don’t like with editor, on the toolbar, click "Edit" and then the first one down to undo the last thing you did. I’ll be messing around with stuff in the editor a bit before moving on the next step – so don’t be alarmed if things look a little different when we bring all this into the game.
Note: If you don’t like the Terrain Generator, you can make your own flat surface. Make a square and delete 5 of the sides. Then you can select vertices and move them to make you own hills, valleys, and landmarks.
That takes care of the land. Now on to the sky, which shouldn’t be too hard… it’s just half of a sphere. You want it to be the right size though… so you will want to load your land first then draw the sphere around it. I haven’t done this yet, but I have been told by the best 3D modeler I know you want to make it just a little bit bigger than the land. You may have to move the sphere around a bit to have it situated around your land well enough.
It’s been awhile since I’ve worked on this bad boy, but I figure I should start adding to it from time to time, or else it’s going to wind up in a UR history museum rather than getting used by you folks. With that said, on to the sky!
To be safe, save your land model and close out Milkshape. Open Milkshape back up, open up your land model, AND LEAVE IT WHERE IT IS! This is important so the orientation of your sky is right when you save it. On the model tab, select Sphere, then draw one over you land. Try getting it centered the first time. HINT: Use the other window projections and count over to the center vertex. Start drawing your sphere with the tip of your pointer on that vertex. From there, it’s just drawing until it’s slightly larger than your land. (I like to angle the 3D view so I can see all four corners. Also, if you don’t get it centered right off, your sphere will be selected once you’re done drawing it, so just select "Move" off of the Model tab and click in one of the windows to move the sphere where you want it.) The land model I made isn’t square, so I either have to "cut" some land off, or make the sphere go bigger than the last part sticking out. I opted for something in the middle, as you can see here:
Pic011 – Drawing a Sphere for Your Sky
You can see I’ve left part of the land sticking out. It should be okay once we get it into the game, but like all modding stuff for the first time, we’ll just have to wait and see!
The next part is important, also. As we go along deleting the bottom half of the sphere (we don’t need it for the sky – and we want to keep the files as small as possible), try not to move it. Right-click in one of the windows and choose a different "Projection." If you have to move your sphere, (be sure to save the sphere first – without the land model in there) then when you get down to half of one, make sure to open up your land model, then open up your sky and move it to get it place correctly again. Or… you can use the one included with the tutorial – just rename it to go along with your environment and use "Scale" under the Model tab to get it the right size.
This is how I make my half-sphere. First I go to Edit on the toolbar, and click "Select None." After that, go to the "Groups" tab and click on you land model in the list. On that same tab, below the list of groups, click the "Select" button. This will change your views so that your sky/sphere is not selected (gray) and all of your land model is selected (red). Next go back to Edit on the toolbar and click "Delete Selection, " or for you short-cutters, just hit your keyboard’s <Delete> key. (BTW, don’t worry if you accidentally click "Delete All," just go back to the Edit menu and click the "Undo: Delete All." That will put everything back the way it was.) After the land is gone, go back to the Model tab, click "Select," and under the Select Options menu (in the middle of the page under your Model tab), click on "Face." I set my bottom left window projection to "Bottom," hold down my <Shift> key, and select as many faces (in all three windows) as I can without moving the model. If you find it won’t let you select some of them, try holding your mouse button down and draw a box around the ones that won’t work. If you accidentally select a face in the upper half, make sure you still have your <Shift> key held down, and click that face again to de-select it. You can also let your <Shift> key down, and change the projections in your top two windows to left and right (instead of front and back) to get any remaining faces. Also, if while right-clicking to change projections you lose your selection, just go to Edit and "Undo: Selection" to get your face selections back. At then end, hopefully you have something that looks like this (I still don’t have all mine selected in this picture):
Pic012 – Selecting the Bottom Sphere Faces in Order to Delete Them
After you have that, go to Edit, "Delete Selection," and see what you’re left with. If you do have to move the sphere to get the rest, don’t forget to reset it. You should note that if when you’re selecting faces by drawing a square around them, you can extend the square beyond the wireframe window to get parts that you can’t see. If you can "see without seeing," you’ll get them without moving the model (and you’ll also have the Golden Glow like Leroy in one of my favorite 80’s movies – "The Last Dragon"). ;)
If you’re an experienced modeler, you may have a different method you want to use (selecting vertices, etc.) to delete the bottom half. This tutorial is designed for folks like me with little modeling ability.
Thanks to Whiteflash for this next part (and for lots of stuff here-after – how about every couple of pages you guys insert another thanks to Whiteflash – without his help I would definitely be lost on this stuff). I had no idea how to do it, and it’s so simple. Isn’t that always the case, though?
Right now we have half of a sphere. Good to go, except you can only apply a texture to the outside of it – and that’s not the part we see in UR. To texture the inside, on the toolbar select Face and "Reverse Vertex Order." That’s it! Now your texture go where you want it. What a good time for us to make one!
Using Paint Shop Pro 7, this is a simple one I came up with:
Pic013 – A Very Simple Sky Pic
Use the steps above for assigning a texture to the terrain to get this on your half-sphere. NOTE: You may have to click Face and "Reverse Vertex Order" again to make it appear on the inside. Also, I didn’t have to Use the Texture Coordinate Editor for this – it miraculously went where I wanted it to (this time <BG>).
Pic014 – Simple Texture Applied to Our Sky
Well, we’re done! Not really, but we’re getting there. We have ground and sky – now how about an ambient sound for our environment? I’m going to borrow one from the game, just so you can see how it’s done. It’s a convention of UR to name an environment’s ambient sound "Ambient," so we’ll keep it like that (convenient, isn’t it?). I haven’t tried to use an .mp3 instead of a .wav, so if you try it (or have already) let me know so I can update this bad boy. Our terrain is a little mountainous and I like the windy sound of the field environment, so we’ll use that one.
First things first – we need a place to put all of our files and to export our terrain and sky models into types usabe by UR.
What I like to do – and you may have modded something and have another method, that’s fine –0) – is copy and paste an already existing environment folder – one that has all the folders in it we need – Data, Model, Sound, Texture, and Tracks. If you’re doing this in URDC and you haven’t copied and pasted all the items listed above in 1.1 Preparation, then from the Environments folder of URCD right-click on the Asteroid folder and choose "Copy." Go to the Environments folder for URDC, right-click on the Asteroid folder, then select "Paste." Click "Yes to All" in the little popup window so all of the Asteroid files are copied over (don’t worry, you’re not loosing anything and gaining a lot). After that right-click again on the Asteroid folder (in URDC this time) and choose "Copy." Then in the toolbar click Edit, then "Paste." At the bottom, or end, of the list of environments you should now have a folder called "Copy of Asteroid" with all of the files and folders of the original in there. Right-click on this folder and choose "Rename." Type in the name of your environment and press <enter>. Also at the bottom or end of your folder you should have 3 generic files: uiccbn_i.png, uiccbn_o.png, and uiccbn_s.png. Copy each of these into your new environment folder. If you get a message to overwrite, choose "Yes" – or "Yes to All" if you’re copying all three at once. If you get no message, then you didn’t do a full install of UR or you deleted these files from whatever environment you copied. UR uses these pictures as select buttons for your environment in the game. If you don’t have these pictures, then download the file called "Module Plugin Utility" from the MTTM Modifying Tools page and install it. You can find a link near the top (I know that part’s kind of boring, but you did read it, didn’t you?).
When you’re done with that, go into your environment folder and delete everything in the Data, Model, Sound, Texture and folders. We need a clean canvas on which to work. –0) Notice I didn’t say the Tracks folder – this contains other folders (each with one file in them) that allows to use all of the track styles you want with this environment. The ones that come with the game are Flying, Hanging, Standing, Steel, and Wooden. Any modded track types will be offshoots of these, so if you want another track type to work, all you have to do is right-click copy the modded track’s original and Edit "Paste" it back in the folder. Then rename it exactly to the modded track type. Or if you’ve installed any of the modded tracks, go into one of the environments that comes with UR and copy from that one’s Tracks folder any you’ll want to use to your Tracks folder. See what I mean? If not, make a post in City Hall at the MTTM forums and one of use will give you a hand. Since I have a lot of these installed on my machine, this environment will support a lot of the track types.
Next you want to take the textures you used and copy them into your environment’s Texture folder. Notice I said COPY. Making UR modules is tricky business, especially if you’re a beginner. Make sure you save often (Milkshape 1.6.6a has an autosave feature – but be careful with it. It’s not time based, but rather action based. Your MS3D folder will fill up quickly if you autosave too often. But then again, it’s better to be safe than sorry.) and you want to have a backup of original files for any environment you create. Even after you’re completely finished with it. I suggest saving to a CD-R/CD-RW or Zip Disk when you’re done to be on the safe side. Okay, we copy the texture files in first because the model files like for them to be there the model files are made. Doesn’t make sense to me either, but I’ve had too many problems not to stick to this routine. You others who have made stuff may not do this, and indeed may not have had any like problems, but I’m superstitious. Another thing about saving…don’t get confused about what you save and where. MS3D likes to save in it’s default folder, so if you do all of your saving there, be sure to copy the files (and textures) to your environment folder, as well as maybe another place for a file backup. Copies in triplicate aren’t so bad.
Okay, on to the exporting of our terrain and sky models. If you haven’t closed out Milkshape, you should still have your sky model in there and textured (and SAVED!). NOTE: If you don’t have the texture assigned to your model in the same folder with the model file, you won’t see the textured version of your model. But even before we do that, you need to make sure you’ve installed Gigawatt’s Milkshape 3D Exporter first – the instructions are under section 1.2 List of Programs Used – 3D Graphics/Modeling Program. Exporting is a snap. On the toolbar click File, arrow down to "Export," and from that menu – near the bottom if your menu looks like mine – choose "Ultimate Ride (.mx)…" In the window that pops up you need to type in the filename (We haven’t gotten to naming conventions yet, but choose something with your online handle in it. This is to prevent any double-naming of files – UR doesn’t like it. It also gives it your personal touch. In my theme I prefixed everything with "ct" for Celtland’s Theme. I probably should have went all the way and put "celt." For this tutorial I’m prefixing everything with UURT.) and choose where you want the .mx model file to go. I put it where I keep all of my originals, then copy and paste into the main MS3D folder and into the Model folder for the environment we’re making. For more on models and other file types in general, refer to the bottom of the tutorial. There’s a list and brief explanation of the file-types we’ll come across. After you generate the .mx file for the sky model do the same for the terrain model. Don’t forget to copy and paste your copies.
Now back to our ambient sound file. From the Sound folder of the Field environment, copy the Ambient.wav file to the Sound folder of your environment.
At this point you should have the following (your filenames may differ):
Seems like a lot of work for 5 measly files, doesn’t it? Practice and practice some more. You’ll get quicker and the stuff you make will get better. –0)
Now we open up the CoEnv Editor. Don’t bother reading the .doc that came with it. GW did a lot of this stuff for us out of the goodness of their hearts – hence some of the documentation is a little sparse. That’s quite all right. That’s part of the reason I’m writing this (BTW, it was originally Tigger’s idea for me to do this – it was going to be exclusive to CoasterSwap, but alas it is not more and I’ve gone over to the Dark Side – MTTM… bwu haaa haaaaa haaaa haaaaaaaaaaaaa!!! Sorry – evil moment.) tutorial.
Your main CoEnv screen will look something like this:
Pic015 – Main Screen of the CoEnv Editor
As you can see, there are a lot of things you can mess with – and to be honest, I have no idea what all of that means (again, partly why this is a beginning tutorial – plus we’re already at 25 pages and we’re not even done with environments yet!). Perhaps after more experimentation there will be an advanced tutorial – or maybe an update for a lot of these utility’s accompanying documentation.
The CoEnv editor generates .end files (look at the list of file types for an explanation) which we place in the Data folder of our environment. The first thing we need to do is tell it which ground and sky models to use. Simply go to the corresponding fields and type their names in: UURTterrain1.mx for ground and UURTsky1.mx for sky. That’s all we’re going to do for this right now. Yeah, it makes this kind of boring when you see all that’s available to you (if you really want to, change the Grid values – this will make your environment bigger or smaller in the game – for this I’ve only typed in the names of our model files, nothing else). I encourage you to experiment with the CoEnv Editor and find out for yourself how to use the other fields. I’m sure there are some experience modders out there who have already. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. HINT: COPY an .end from another environment to somewhere else and open THE COPY up with the Editor. That way you can see what it looks like and what some of the fields look like when filled in… the ones for the Cavern ought to be interesting. You’re probably wondering why there are more than one field for sky and ground models. If you make the texture for one of them transparent, you can then add another , for example, sky model. Just make the second slightly bigger than the first. Use "Scale" under the Model tab in Milkshape – make the X,Y, and Z all 1.02 and click the "Scale" button just to the right of Z. Don’t forget to "Save As" so you don’t copy over your original file - in our case we’d SAVE AS UURTsky2.ms3d. Making UURTsky1.png a semi-trasparent picture, we would then have a layered sky. Pretty cool, huh?
Add-In – I had to use the above technique! When I go into the game the environment looks the same whether it’s day or night. So open back up the CoEnv Editor, click File and "Load." In the explorer part of the popup window, find the UURTenv1.end file in your SAFE PLACE and double click it. Now go to the right and down, below Grid Range, to Background Color. Enter these values into the respective fields (I copied them from the first .end file for the Mountain environment – let’s see what happens):
Red – 0.658
Green – 0.753
Blue – 0.889
After that go back all the way to the left and down to Point Lights. Click the "Add" button next to it and you’ll see in the small window underneath "Point 0." Now we have 6 values to enter:
Red – 1.000 X – 16.000
Green – 0.800 Y – 240.000
Blue – 0.600 Z – 245.000
Click the "Add" button for Point Lights again and enter these values for "Point 1:"
Red – 0.449 X – 140.000
Green – 1.000 Y – 247.000
Blue – 0.942 Z – -145.000 (negative)
This is what your screen should look like (the values for "Point 0" will show here, but you should have the values entered for "Point 1," too – the pic numbers get out of order here, too – sorry – that’s what you get for going back and editing – and not having any idea what you’re talking about in the first place <BG>):
Pic018 – CoEnv Editor with Some Values Entered
After doing all that, click on File then "Save." You’ll get a field to type the filename into – ours is UURTenv1 (the .end will get added on by the Editor – don’t type that in) and an explorer window to tell where to place the file. Make sure there’s a copy in your safe place and a copy in the environment’s Data folder.
You thought we were done! Just a couple of last-minute things to make everything complete (and we’ll be doing these steps for just about everything, especially when we start making props for themes). First is to generate a text file with the TextMap Editor (good to practice with this now, since we will NEED it for making props – though you don’t need it for your environment to work). And next is to modify the uiccbn_*.png files so they adequately show off all the hard work you did on this mod!
This is what the TextMap Editor looks like:
Pic016 – Main Screen of the TextMap Editor
All we need to do is generate file with our environment’s name in it – and save it with the exact name of the main environment folder – in our case Ultimate UR Tutorial. The editor generates a .tsf file (you know where to look) that needs to be in the Data/Text/Eng folder for your UR version. Click on File, then "New." Then click the "New" button at the bottom to add a new line to the file. In the popup window, leave the Code field set to 0 and click inside the Text field and type "Ultimate UR Tutorial" without the quotes – that’s the name of our folder. Click the "Change" button and you’ll see what you typed added into the main window. It should look like this:
Pic016a – After Entering the First Line of the Text File and Clicking "Change"
Then click File, then "Save," and in the file name field, once again type in "Ultimate UR Tutorial." The default save place on my hard drive is the Eng folder in Text for URDC (and that’s right after unzipping the TextMap Editor for the first time). Check to make sure you save it in the right place – there’s nothing like saving a file, then forgetting where you saved it. Make sure to have copies in the Eng Folder and your safe folder.
All I did to the uiccbn files was use Paint Shop Pro 7 to clear the grid from the background and add the letters "UURT" to it. Please be more creative than that with yours. Take a look at what others have done to get inspired. Here’s what they look like:
Pic017 – The uiccbn_*.png Files for the Tutorial
After all that, I want to see what this looks like in the game!!! How about you? See? I just found a "flaw," sort of, anyway. The Module Plugin Utility installs the URCD uiccbn files to the URDC folder. We’ll have to fix that. The one for URDC are longer on the bottom scroll part than the ones in the above pic, meaning when you view them in the coaster track/environment selection screen in URDC, they look too short compared to the rest of the default environments. Not a big deal right now, but I’ll probably go back and change them later. Below are some pics of what the environment looks like in the game. I’ve included the .csa test coaster I made to take a quick look around, in case you want to see some of this stuff. Or better yet, make your own. Pay special attention to the texture (and how ugly it looks). This is where free texture pics from online come in handy. You don’t have to use only one texture for environments – in fact, the only one you have to use a single texture for is coaster cars, but we’ll get to that later. You can model a mountain and use a couple of textures on that – then make the river and texture that one separately. You see where I’m going with this – practice! We may come back later and use the TUVAmatic and make a moving water texture for this one… we’ll see. Also, there is a pic of where the land falls short of the sky and some interesting clipping happens. Let this be a lesson to make all of your environments square or round! There are also very noticeable cutoffs where parts of the hills disappear. Make sure your environments are complete. One last thing to notice – the sky sphere was made too small. Look at the two pictures that show it off – one is just a little further away than the next – the sky gives way to the waterfall. BTW, you don’t have to use the terrain generator in Milkshape – make your own. Just model a cube and take off the four sides and top. Make sure the bottom is level with or just barely above the grid – or else it will export that far above the "ground" in UR and you might get lost! On to the pics:
Pic019 – Ugly Clipping from the Terrain Ending Before It Meets the Sky
Pic020 – The Waterfall Cut Off Because the Sky Sphere Was Made Too Small
Pic021 – Getting Closer to the Miraculously Appearing Waterfall
Pic022 – Plainly Shows Where the Hills Are Chopped Off
Pic023 – Much Lack of Detail in the Texture Used
Pic024 – Shows the River – At the End is Where the Clipping Thing Happens
You may think I’m being hard on myself, but I’m not. This was a "quickly" made Environment with minimal input. I expect much better things from you. <BG>
Next – a topic I’m sure will be much longer than this one (maybe not since we introduced a lot of concepts here) – Themes!!!
Here it is – what I consider the most fun ever – theming. This is going to be a lot of fun. We’re going to make several props, each with a different focus. We’re also going to take a couple of moving props from the game and modify them (since we can’t make our own animated props, yet). This way, we can add some custom particle and sound effects – you cannot add those to a non animated prop, but that’s kind of a moot point with URDC (sort of), since you can place sounds and particles anywhere you want! It would still be nice to make some of our own animated props and docks… We’ll also make a custom dock for our theme as well as a lead coaster car and the ones that follow it.
The following are some useful references for UR.
7.1 List of Websites
Mods to the Max – www.modstothemax.net
ModXChange – www.modxchange.com
GayRollerRide – www.gayrollerride.com
Coasta Cabana – www.msnusers.com/coastacabana
HSXLC’s Coaster Land – hsxlc.tripod.com
WeeWeeSlap – www.weeweeslap.com
Coaster Crazy – www.coastercrazy.com
CoasterSims – www.coastersims.com
Daveh28’s UR Zone - www.geocities.com/daveh271974
Coaster Haven – coasterhaven.tripod.com
Ultimate Ride Game - ultimateride.go.com/ultimateride/index2.asp
Milkshape - www.swissquake.ch/chumbalum-soft
Goldwave – www.goldwave.com
Jasc Software – www.jasc.com
Adobe Software – www.adobe.com
Alias|Wavefront (Maya) – www.aliaswavefront.com
Pixia - www.ab.wakwak.com/~knight
Zmodeler - zmodeler.nfscheats.com
Hackman - www.technologismiki.com/en (don’t forget the VB 6 Runtimes!)
Rad Game Tools - www.radgametools.com
And probably some others I’m forgetting now. If anyone can think of one – or a new one gets added, email me at email@example.com and let me know.
Special thanks to Rob Knaack at Gigawatt for confirming some of the file meanings and what they stand for, adding to some of them, and including everything I left out when I emailed him about this so long ago. I’m not including non-UR file types yet. I’ll add those later… or maybe not. It’s just stuff you can find on the internet – like .mp3’s, .wav’s, .png’s, and similar files.
.mx – model x (the x stands for geometry) – holds all model info – no animation
.mhx – model heirarchical x – base model file to hold info for hierarchical (no joints) animation
.mha – model heirarchical animation – holds the heirarchical animation info
.jnx – jointed x – base model file to hold info for jointed animation
.jna – jointed animation – holds the jointed animation info
.prd – prop data – just what it says – holds prop data info and organizes it
.pak – pack – used in UR and URCD to package track type info
.tpr – terawatt particle – animated particle file used in UR – this is the file that holds "special effect" info (everything is read by the Terawatt engine – developed by Gigawatt Studios)
.tuv – texture uv (still not sure what the "uv" stands for) – it’s an animated file kind of like a movie – you can use a .tuv file to replace any .png or .bmp pic file
.tsf – text set file – holds text info viewed on the screen
.csa – coaster save – holds a lot of info – open one up with the CSA Utility and you’ll see what I mean
.end – environment data – holds the data for an environment and organizes it
.jdg – judge – holds info for judges
.cmi – coaster mission – for URDC only – holds info from your saved Imagineer missions
.def – define – there are different types – it can hold track color info, track type info, coaster riding info, and track support info
.gsf – not sure what it stands for – graphical support?? file – defines the layout of the Graphical User Interface (the in-game menus)