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Plaything manual

(Last update: 11-2002)

Preparing yourself to master Crashting 2

Plaything 2 can make your life very difficult. It's often named Crashting 2 because of it's built in crashes, wich show up regularly. You will experience that Win98/ME is *not* the most unstable program on this planet. So find yourself an easy spot in your room/house where you can go to do some crying, or even screaming in anger. Find yourself a fine messageboard to share your feelings, anger, despair and pain with other fellows with the same sorrows. Don't talk with your parents about this, they won't understand; You and I are fighting our only, lonely fights agains assertion debug faults, or whatever. I have to warn you for this, because,...
Hate that when this happens
(Common PT2 Crash)
Hey, were are you going? I thought you wanted to learn PT2? Never mind, you can just copy any .SDF file and rename it to your cars name, and your car will look twice as prof.


Before Plaything 2 I suppose you have followed my good advice and build some cars using Cared. If not, try again later. Maybe your an experienced modeler already, and want your 3D-studio model imported in PT2. Well, there are several ways, but one thing must be clear: PT2 is not meant for modelling. Some simple things you can do with PT2, such as repairing, but your model should be finished when importing in PT2. When using Cared to create the model, you can best do some basic skinning in Cared. Rename the wheels to FLWHEL, RLWHEL, etc. This way Cared won't set up these components as wheels; you can do this better using PT2. I usually skin the entire model with a basic texture with the basic color. This way, every single polygon will be skinned, even if you can't reach it later in PT2. Compile the model. Saving as .ASC won't work. PT2 can't read the format (it's not the same .ASc as 3D studio exports). If you build your great car in 3D studio, export as .ASC. This is the only external format PT2 can read.


Importing in PT2
If you compiled the car with Cared, use file/import/BRender .ACT file. You will be promped for materials and models. Choose the carname.mat and carname.dat. You can forget about the carnameshell.dat wich will be in the same folder. When using 3D-studio, use file/import/ASCII model file. Your car will be in an odd position. Use object/flip 3D studio axis to fix this. Then save as carname.sdf


Basic car setup
You need four wheels. Rename them to FLWHEEL.ACT, FRWHEEL.ACT, RLWHEEL.ACT, RRWHEEL.ACT. Then select the root-part of the car and then use setup wheels and fill in the right names. Don't forget to check the steerable checkbox for FRWHEEL. Press done, and you will see that PT2 added two new actors, FLPIVOT.ACT and FRPIVOT.ACT. If you named the components like above in Cared already you don't need this step, because Cared has created these two actors already. However, using PT2 for this is, better, because PT2 recentres the models in a way Cared can't. (Import the carname.dat in Cared and you will find the weels all in the centre and an error message in the Cared console). With the root-part still selected, choose setup car. A message will say something about ripping things out of the .sdf file. Save your model, and open up the .sdf file. You will find standard things wich can be used to setup the carname.txt file and the carname.wam file. If you have setup a car before, you will recognize the parts and you can copy and paste the appropriate parts into the .TXT and .WAM file. I suppose you know to make a working .TXT and .WAM file. So, after saving and installing the car your car should work now in the game, even without skin. (It will be white then).


Basic skinning
Mmmh, yes.
If you have a bare, unskinned model, like imported from .ASC, your model will be entirely white. First go trough all the components and skin them in the way Cared does. Choose a simple texture.
If you did this as I said before in Cared you will have a texture at the bottom row already and you don't need to do this. If you have an entirely white model, you probably have nothing in the bottom row. To add a new material/texture go to material/load and you can choose a .TIF or .PIX file and the material will have the same name as the .TIF file. To add a new material with a .TIF file already in use, then you need material/new material. If you have materials in the bottom row, click on one of these and the picture will appear on the left menu. This material is selected now.
Now, go trough all the components, selecting them in the overview window, then use selection/apply material and after that selection/apply mapping. You will be prompted; Choose plane and XY or ZX or whatever you want. XY is equal to front in Cared and -XY is equal to back.


About materials
Now you know how to add new materials. But what are materials?
First there are pixelmaps; These are .PIX files, but you can also use .TIF files because Carma2 converts these automatically into .PIX files at startup. It converts them either in 24-bits PIX-files in the PIX16 folder or to 256-color PIX-files in the PIX8 folder; this depends on the mode the game is started. If you have never played this game in software mode, there will be no 256-color conversion, only 16-bits.
PT2 uses the term 'texture' for pixelmaps.
Materials are much more then simple pictures. They have a picture-file associated but also have much settings about how they will be rendered in the game, like light-settings or other special settings. Materials are used for funks, for braking light etc., and in a track they are used for ped-population and specific road-settings and things like that. Double-click on a picture in the bottom-row and you will see much of the rendering options.
Sometimes you need to use the same .TIF file for different materials, like for screens. You can use material/load, that's most easy, but after creating the new material double-click on the picture in the bottom-row. A menu will appear. The identifier is the name of the material, texture is the name of the .TIF file. Change the identifier into what you want, press done and you can load the .TIF file again.
Now you might have a problem; When using .TIF's with an alpha-layer, that is transparency, this texture will be rendered as white in PT2. If you have complex transparent textures, like ladders, this will be a problem. The only way to get around this is to create an extra .TIF without the transparency, with all the transparent parts being black. Create a new material, using the original .TIF file, and after that double-click on it. In the menu choose the alternative .TIF. Now you will have a visible texture, and you will be able to put it right on the part. After you are finished skinning, change the texture back to the original.


Choose a material. Now choose select (1) and polygons (3). Now click on the model, and you will see polygons turning into green. These polygons are selected now. To deselect, click on the polygon again, or press 'D' to deselect everything (Very important, as you will see). Now, rightclick on the selected polygons and choose manual map. A window will appear, with the selected material and some lines and points on it (picture C), wich look a bit like the selected poly's. At the same time, another menu suddenly appears, floating on your desktop. If you drag this menu below the selected texture on he left, it will fit like in picture B. If lines and points in the first window looks strange, use the second menu to choose XY, or ZY-plane, or whatever (select-button on bottom). The image will be probable be repeated in the skin window; In the floating menu there's an U- and an V-entry. Change both of these to 1.
Three buttons in the second group of buttons, below the material-pic you will using repeatingly; The buttons 10 rotate the position of the texture. Using button 8, you will see all the points again when changing the U and V entries. Sometimes, this doesn't work; Close the texture window and rightclick again and choose manual map again. Now you can move the rectangles as you wish. Most of the time, the main window shows you what you are doing. When finished, close the texture window, not the menu and press 'D'. Now you can see what you did; If it's not right, try again. If it's Ok, select other poly's and go on skinning. If you need another material, choose this, before selecting manual map. If you forget to choose 'D' your last job will be messed up; You won't always notice this !
To zoom in use 'A', zoom out 'Z'. Use the grey arrow keys on your keyboard if this is helpful.


Positioning your car while skinning. One odd thing about PT2 is, there's no way to position camera's. The camera's are fixed and you have to rotate the entire model to select poly's on the other side. Now, best is to select the root part in the overview window, select objects (3), right click in the 3D window and choose rotate. You probably want to choose Y-axis first (buttons 5), or whatever. Trying to rotate using the 2D windows, seems to crash PT2 often. After rotating, choose poly's and select again and go on skinning. When finished, select the root-part and choose objects/reset matrix. Your car will be in the right position again. If you forget this, don't worry; You will find out soon, because your car is going sideways or something in the game. Sometimes it's easier to rotate, or translate on component only (If you want to skin the driver, by example). Then select this component in the overview window and translate this part out of the car, then rotate as you wish to skin. After that, do reset matrix with this component still selected.
Sometimes it's easier to double-click on a certain component in the overview window; Doing so you will have a focused view on the particular component.


Some screenshots.
Plaything 2
(A) Overview

Plaything menu's
(B) Main menu and (floating) skin menu.
Mapping Window
(C) Mapping window, with same texture as selected in B, one poly selected, with U=2 and V=1 and fit with texture.


About tracks.
You can use Cared to make a simple track, but on my PC the 3D window doesn't work on big tracks. Anyways, you can just start modeling in Cared as you are used to. You can import a simple car to get an idea of the size, and delete the components of this car later. You can brake up the landscape in any logical components; It's very handy later to make the road a seperate component. If you think you have created a nice landscape, with houses, bridges, etc. (Not trees, lampposts or other smashables), choose a texture, like grass or whatever and skin all components. Here it's handy when you a seperate road, because you can easily choose another texture to make the road distinctable. Then make a master group with the name of the track and put the most important component in it. Then save and compile the model.
Import the .ACT, .DAT and .MAT in PT2 and safe it in a seperate folder in the RACES folder and safe it as trackname.sdf. For skinning, it's often easy to use button 4. Then find yourself a simple .TXT file from another track, remove all the ped specs and smashable environments and change the mapname.pix to something appropriate and save this file as trackname.txt. Then install as you know how to install a track...With some luck this should work now. If not, start the game in software mode, and you will see error messages (sometimes useful).


Carnameshell.DAT and simple model.
The CarnameSHELL.DAT and the simple model are used by Carma2 to save some resources. You can build a car without them but this will severely slow down slower computers. If you have build a 5K poly car, without a SHELL, or without a Simple model, all 5.000 pollies will be rendered all the time, even if you can only see the car as a tiny, far away spot. So, please be nice and add these models for people like me, with slower computers.
You can use the normal car for this. Open it, then save as CarnameSHELL.DAT. Then remove the wheels and all groovin (moving) parts. PT2 will crash often, but it seems to be better if you rotate the part first, before deleting. Or use the Delete-key instead of the menu. Then use flatten hierarchy and name the new part SHELL.
Simple model:
I suppose you have a skinned model already, made using a 3D program. Well, there should be only one component, name this exactly the same as the root part in the full model, and add .1. So BIGDUMP.ACT becomes BIGDUMP.1. Save it, and it will work, even with car complexity set to full. When using Cared to create the simple model, you don't need to do this. Somehow, Cared treats the model different when saving as simple_carname.obj


All (useful) menu options.


Open: Open SDF file and replaces the loaded file.
Import: Import files like .DAT, .ACT and .ASC. 3DS import doesn't work. Adds the file to the loaded file.
Save: Make sure there's only one root object in the hierarchie, otherwise only one root part will be saved.


Undo: Sometimes does the sime thing as reset matrix. PT2 doesn't have a real undo !!


Remove: Select object so that there's a green box around it and then you can remove it using this. Likely you will see the error-message above. So press Delete on your keyboard instead.
Modify Model/Actor: Figure out for yourself what you want to change. Using these functions you can center moving parts like wheels, etc. reset Matrix you will need very often.
Remove all materials: This will remove materials, not the mapping !!
Explode: For easier access when skinning.
Rename: Rename model, actor or both.
Data: Select the root-part and choose the data type. Only thing wich change is that this will be mentioned in the .SDF file.
Optimise: Nice option to reduce the polycount, like after flatten hierarchie or somehing. But be careful, this function can severely mess up you model.
Validate: Nice, but PT2 doesn't ever find any errors ...
Flatten Hierarchie: Make the selected object and all descendants (if exist) into one single object.
Flip 3D studio Axis: Needed when importing from a 3D studio ASCII file.


New: Make new material. you have to set the name and the texture file manually.
Load: Using this the material will be named automatically as the selected .TIF file.


Apply Material: Select an object and a material, then use this to skin entire object with one single material. Like Cared does.
Apply Mapping: After using Apply Material, use this to define the mapping, otherwise it will look distorted.
Wipe materials: Doesn't work with me. Use object/remove all materials instead.
Detach: Select some poly's and use this to make these poly's into a new object.
Smoothing: Select the poly's you want to smooth first.
Flip faces: Can be very handy after PT2 has messed up some models using object/optimise ...
Swap diagonal: Select two pollies with sit beside eachother.
Amalgamate: Select two or more objects to make them into one single, new object.
Delete: Doesn't work with selected objects.


Pre-proces track: You will need this if you want to have pedd and smashables on your track.
Save ped: Nice if you have used PT2 to set up a new ped, doing this manually is easier.
Generate Map: Creates a very nice map (.PIX) of your track, although unreadable by most programs, including Carma2. copy the coordinates wich show up into you trackname.txt, at map-world transformation matrix.
Setup Wheels: Using this you can create the two steering actors and recenter the wheels. Doing this will also automatically make your root object into a car ...
Setup car: ... So this is useless.
Setup Non-Car: Creates a nice .TXT file for your newly created non-car.
.ASC to fysics shape: Create a model of the bounding box in Cared, export, import and then use this to generate a bounding box entry.

Right Click in window:

Translate, Rotate, scale: Same as buttons (2). Only rotate with your mouse in the 3D window, otherwise PT2 will crash.
Manual Map/Edit mapping: rightclick on the selected pollies to use this. When using manual map, other faces on the same object get distorted.
Press button (1) and richtclick on the blue rectangle in one of the viewports to change views.

Some shortcuts:

W: Change to wireframe view.
A: Zoom in
Z: Zoom out


Some tips
If you want to add some parts to a finished, setup-and skinned, car you can do that with Cared:
Create the new component in the existing car and when finished this part, export using component/export component. Then open this .OBJ file with file/open/import. Then do file/rename model. Finally file/export .ASC. PT2 can read this .ASC file, but only if it exists of only one component.
In PT2 you can't save enough, even if you didn't do a reset matrix first. An odd positioned car is less bad then hours of work lost. Besides of that, reset matrix often works after reopening.
Same with pressing 'D'; If you have rotated the model and start to work on the other side, you won't notice that your last job is being messed up.
It's a good habit to keep PT2 open and try your hard work in the game first before closing PT2. This works particularly for tracks. It's easier to do reset matrix if there's something wrong and after preprocessing you can try it in the game and then save with PT2 and the preprocessing is undone.
It's also a good habit to back up on a regular basis the .ACT, .MAT and .DAT files in a seperate folder. When something went really wrong you can copy back these files and you can start from there again. Working on huge projects like a track you really need to do this, otherwise I'm afraid you will find another, less frustrating hobby sooner or later.


About this tutorial
This is not *the* way to work with PT2. This is the way I learned it myself. There are several different ways of doing things and several different good habits.
I'm not a master; what's on this site is all I ever made. So, if you want to learn from the masters, ask them.
However, most things of building good cars, tracks or whatever you have to learn yourself. This tutorial is far from complete, but you can find out these things by yourself, once you know the basics.
Although CESM made an excellent rebuild of PT2 this tutorial is written for the original PT2. Maybe later there will be another version of this manual for CESM's PT2.