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CoH2 and custom models.

2 Apr 2021, 09:15 AM
#1
avatar of GachiGasm

Posts: 922 | Subs: 1

So, after having few wet memories about the times where we had an ability to put custom assets into the game, I've decided to research this topic a bit. Not in depth, since i'm not a pro modder, but I have experience in 3D moddeling and how it works.
After looking at how things are made, I've found might be interesting for ppl to know how game works and to get undertanding behind all this model shenanigans. Also maybe if more ppl will undertand it, then we can call out for relic. But I'il speak about it in the end.

To not give anyone false hopes. No, its not possible to put any custom assets into the game. Mainly because there is no way to make proper SGA arhive, let alone edit existing ones.

What is SGA arhives and mod tools:
This is bassicaly game archive containing all the files game uses. With mod tools right now we are able only to edit low-level code of the game.

The only custom thing we can put in the game again are UI elements and UI code. Be it portraits, icons, ability icons and so on.

Adding custom images is done via image burner tool which effectively turn images into the format game will understand and pack them if need be. Format is called rgt.

Can we operate and get our hands on RGTs?
Yes we can. We effectively can get access to every single RGT texture and convert it to readable format, be it DDS\TGA\PNG\JPG. And we can turn it into the RGT back from these formats.

I belive relic officially released a templates textures for every single vehicle in the game, which are included with CoH2 Tools data, for ppl who want to create custom skins.

This means: we tecnically have working RGT converter, to make textures for CoH2

Fan fact: Data tools are also include inf model example with raw files. And its a rifleman model.

Why we are able to create custom vehicle skins but not inf skins
To put it simply, creation of SGAs containing custom vehicle textures are very predetermined. Before creating it with mod tools, we select every single vehicle skin pack has and then we pack them into SGA.

In other words, its just allowed by Relic to create custom skins. They specifically created pre-made parameters, which will put all the files in a correct folder, matching path vechile will use to find skin location.

Tecnically there is no difference, in the basics of how vehicle and inf textures works. Aside from the fact, that I belive inf dont have camo parameters.

Also it means that we cant have lets say SGA containing attrib files\custom UI code and vehicle skin in one mod. They are all separated due to how mod tools works. Thats why usually total overhaul mods are using skippack, wincondition and main mod files.

Now to interesting stuff

How CoH2 models work

Basically, using mod tools archive viewer we can open any SGA (but not edit it) and see what it contains.

And i'il drop eliw00d explanation of what they are for better understanding

.abp is Animator BluePrint
.rga is Relic Game Animation
.rgm is Relic Game Model
.rgo is Relic Game Object
.rgt is Relic Game Texture
Unfortunately, there is no way to export them to other formats.


I'il use soviets as an example:



IMPORTANT: most of the files can be edited via simple notepad++, editining their name\path\texuture usage\path to textures and so on. This means that, for excample, to create preexisting inf model which uses custom skin (without edits to the model itself) we dont need any 3D knowlage nor we dont need special programms to do so. All can be done in the text editor.

Can we get models to work in 3D programms?
Yes, we can. I was able to get obersoldaten model:

Using toold made for vCoH(!), they are still working with coh2, even preserving motion data and rig of the model (bassicaly all models parts are following model bones, and its called rig).

IMPORTANT: This means that coh2 model format and the way the game works isnt even different from the one used in vCoH. So

Can we get models from 3D programm into RGM back?
Good question. Probably yes, but I didnt test it, since I've spend hell of a lot time trying to find version of model importer, becase all the tools were posted on the relicnews site which is long gone. But judging by old eliw00d video:

It is possible, at least most likely. I dont know what method he used to put vCoH models to CoH2 and if it requred any edditing in 3D programms. He might aswell just drag and droped them and they worked. In any case, fast is its mostlikely will work.

So in conclusion what we have:
1) We HAVE working programm to create and edit textures.
2) We CAN look for and export files from game SGA.
3) We CAN create custom reskined inf models without even editing them in 3Ds max or blender.
4) We CAN get models working in 3D programms and edit them.
5) We most likely CAN export them back to the format game will undertand.
--
1) We CANT modify the SGAs, and SGAs we can create are very limmited and ristricted to specific pre-made things.

En excample of how easy it would be
Lets say we want to create obersoldaten with different poopy skin, like this one I made in 5 mins for lulz:


Basicly what could have been done. In both ArtHighXP1.sga and ArtWestGerman.sga, we would need to duplicate folders related to Obersoldaten (2 folders in total) and call it lets say "OPsoldaten", then using notepad we just need to change path in files from Obersoldaten to OPsoldaten and pack SGA back. Thats it. Custom skined model is ready. Its that easy.

Now my words to relic
I mean, we have a lot of rumors regarding why it ability to add custom stuff was disabled. Some say due to the fact it might be exploited, some due to the fact that relic wanted to sell DLC, some say its LELIC.

But it really doesnt matter now, game is living off the community, creating content and spending their time.

I want to make it clear, I'm asking for proper mod tools. I'm asking for the ability and upgrade to workshop and how files work. What I'm asking for, allow community dev team to at least give YOU files YOU will put in YOUR arhives YOURSELF.

Its not hard, its not requared anything special, since you Relic are able to create skin SGAs, Map SGAs they are all working in the same way.

Objectively all is requared from you, Relic - have willingness to allow community to do it, without need of creating new tools and programms. Everything else can be done by the community, you just need to pack it into the game later on.

And hell, you went for upgrading your anti-cheat, creating x64 bit version, both tasts are MUCH harder then what we are asking for.

I would really like to ask @JohnT_RE what is the official relic statement about all of this, maybe they just disabled it and forgot about it later.

And I really want to ask the community to be at least a bit vocal about it, untill we will have some sort of an answer from relic. Because, they might indeed maybe its much more simplistic then we think and we just need to ask, but with understanding how all of this works.

----

I've tried to make it as simple as possible, if I made any mistakes feel free to correct me and I'm sorry in advance if I made them.
2 Apr 2021, 10:17 AM
#2
avatar of KiwiBirb

Posts: 789

From an old Reddit post I saved:

When CoH2 loads an SGA that isn’t cryptographically signed, it initiates a countdown that results in the game exiting to desktop.
After loading SGAs, CoH2 will search the files for any matching files in DATA:font\*.fnt, and all said files will the be run as a LUA script in an environment that has the coroutine libraries and base loaded.


Idk what this means in coding therms, but what it means for modders is that if CoH2 detects models in DATA\: that aren’t in the base game, it stops the game and shuts down CoH2 to prevent you from using a mod that adds new models.

The OP then said they were working on a way to circumvent this system, but no further details were given. Based on the videoes of models from CoH1 in CoH2, it is evident they succeeded sometime later.

I think there was something wrong with how the mod tools interacted with the steam workshop, and that’s why Relic made it so you can’t use mods that add new models?



In any case, adding new models would be really easy for Relic to do on their end, as they can avoid their own blocker. Hell, they could buy models off of the Eastern Front Mod or Blitzkrieg Mod, as they both have updated the mod with models with much higher graphics, and import them in to CoH2 as seen in the old videoes.

#Jagdpanther in CoH2
2 Apr 2021, 10:37 AM
#3
avatar of GachiGasm

Posts: 922 | Subs: 1

From an old Reddit post I saved:
Idk what this means in coding therms, but what it means for modders is that if CoH2 detects models in DATA\: that aren’t in the base game, it stops the game and shuts down CoH2 to prevent you from using a mod that adds new models.

This means that if you have modified SGA, which you somehow managed to get working in CoH2 it removes (or breaks) key assigned to this SGA by relic. In other words, your SGA wont pass as an original one.

I think there was something wrong with how the mod tools interacted with the steam workshop, and that’s why Relic made it so you can’t use mods that add new models?


Well hard to say really. Because on the one hand, yes mod tools might interact wrong. But I at the same time, it depens on how mod tools are made.

If we look at how workshop in lets say Arma3 or Men of War made, then we will see that it allows multiple file dowload and unpacking as a part of one workshop item.

Most realistic case, is that CoH2 modding was build from the get go with the idea that ppl will be restricted moding wise, because if we look at how vCoH modding is made, all mods are requare separate .exes for them in order to load all mod SGAs into the game.

To put it simple, I doubt its even possible to have mods like Blitzcrieg or Easter Front in CoH2 and having them launch using in game custom game.

But at the same time clintside skins and mods werent locked, this is main problem. And that relic arent allow community dev team to provide assets for them to just upload into the game.
2 Apr 2021, 11:08 AM
#4
avatar of A. Soldier

Posts: 3094 | Subs: 2


This means that if you have modified SGA, which you somehow managed to get working in CoH2 it removes (or breaks) key assigned to this SGA by relic. In other words, your SGA wont pass as an original one.



Well hard to say really. Because on the one hand, yes mod tools might interact wrong. But I at the same time, it depens on how mod tools are made.

If we look at how workshop in lets say Arma3 or Men of War made, then we will see that it allows multiple file dowload and unpacking as a part of one workshop item.

Most realistic case, is that CoH2 modding was build from the get go with the idea that ppl will be restricted moding wise, because if we look at how vCoH modding is made, all mods are requare separate .exes for them in order to load all mod SGAs into the game.

To put it simple, I doubt its even possible to have mods like Blitzcrieg or Easter Front in CoH2 and having them launch using in game custom game.

But at the same time clintside skins and mods werent locked, this is main problem. And that relic arent allow community dev team to provide assets for them to just upload into the game.


The problem with CoH is that the modding community is running off of 3rd party tools which aren't even up to date with the game's systems at this point.

Hence why the mods folders need to be in the same place and in the same exact structure as the vanilla game files or else it all breaks apart instead of them being packages that can just be loaded by a mod manager in the game like maps. And I know that because I'm currently trying to mod it as we speak.

But in general yes as you said it's how the workshop or modding aspect was designed for both games sadly, for whatever reason compared to Arma 3 and Men of War like you said where being able to turn the game into anything really and just completely overhaul it is what brings so many people to flock to them.

I also just realized that maybe the reason for the Commander preview being a beta is because the mod tools for CoH2 haven't been updated in a while now, probably a few patches and I've read that somewhere else as well.
2 Apr 2021, 11:23 AM
#5
avatar of GachiGasm

Posts: 922 | Subs: 1


I also just realized that maybe the reason for the Commander preview being a beta is because the mod tools for CoH2 haven't been updated in a while now, probably a few patches and I've read that somewhere else as well.


Well mod tools yes, but who made dev-branch :D Relic did, this means that they on their end do have up-to-date tools, let alone SGA builder which allows them to create SGAs.

They are for sure in their studio arent using modtools to update their game, they are using something different capable of updating pretty much anything.

Point is behind the closed doors Relic mostlikely have everything nessesry to make custom assets possible.

Again, my high light was that I live with the fact we wont have free unlocked moding tools for the public, my idea was to at least allow dev team to provide relic with assets they will put into the game. Even minor ones, like inf re-skinning.

This will already boost possible content for the game up to the skyes.
Pip
2 Apr 2021, 11:53 AM
#6
avatar of Pip

Posts: 1580



The problem with CoH is that the modding community is running off of 3rd party tools which aren't even up to date with the game's systems at this point.

Hence why the mods folders need to be in the same place and in the same exact structure as the vanilla game files or else it all breaks apart instead of them being packages that can just be loaded by a mod manager in the game like maps. And I know that because I'm currently trying to mod it as we speak.

But in general yes as you said it's how the workshop or modding aspect was designed for both games sadly, for whatever reason compared to Arma 3 and Men of War like you said where being able to turn the game into anything really and just completely overhaul it is what brings so many people to flock to them.

I also just realized that maybe the reason for the Commander preview being a beta is because the mod tools for CoH2 haven't been updated in a while now, probably a few patches and I've read that somewhere else as well.


At bare minimum this theoretically does mean that texture edits (And model/animation edits, though they would take more effort on Lelic's part) are very possible, and in the worst case would just require that Lelic include them in an official patch to be "part" of the game.

Texture edits alone would provide quite a lot to the game, in terms of room to design new units, and to make existing units more diverse/readable.

As an illustrative example: Grenadiers currently use what appears to be Splittermuster 31 (or some variant), as do Assault Grenadiers. Assault Grenadiers could be easily retextured to instead use Sumpfmuster to differentiate them, both pictured below.



As a further example, Volksgrenadiers could well have their uniforms tinted from the current Feldgrau to Luftwaffe Blue (Feldblau? I'm not sure what it's designated as), if one were to wish to create a "Luftwaffe Ground Forces" unit for a doctrine. (simple model edits would even allow you to, for example, use Osttruppen Feldmütze to make them even more visually distinct. Both of these operations are quite simple, but provide a massive improvement to visuals, out of scale with the effort expended.



Panzergrenadier models are already used in such a way officially, with Jaeger infantry/Stormtroopers merely being Panzergrenadiers with what amounts to an inverted uniform. I do think that Relic providing modders, or at least solely the Balance Team, with the power to implement these things would open up a /massive/ amount of design space.



AS a way to sweeten the deal; It might also be an excuse to hold further Vehicle skin competitions, which would potentially bring some /very/ low-effort revenue into Relic's coffers.
2 Apr 2021, 12:00 PM
#7
avatar of Letzte Bataillon

Posts: 195

Relic's Dawn of War 1 and Dawn of War 2 flourished well past their official support due to an open ended and robust modding system.

Dawn of War 1 has a lot of mods that expand on the huge selection of units and factions present in the TTRPG, such as Ultimate Apocalypse while Dawn of War 2 managed to keep its competitive multiplayer going with patches and new content through the Elite Mod.


None of this would have been possible without custom models, at least not to their current extent.
2 Apr 2021, 12:58 PM
#8
avatar of GachiGasm

Posts: 922 | Subs: 1

jump backJump back to quoted post2 Apr 2021, 11:53 AMPip

As a further example, Volksgrenadiers could well have their uniforms tinted from the current Feldgrau to Luftwaffe Blue (Feldblau? I'm not sure what it's designated as), if one were to wish to create a "Luftwaffe Ground Forces" unit for a doctrine.

Pip
2 Apr 2021, 15:27 PM
#9
avatar of Pip

Posts: 1580




It really is surprising how much of a difference a simple change of colour makes, isnt it?
2 Apr 2021, 17:39 PM
#10
avatar of GachiGasm

Posts: 922 | Subs: 1

jump backJump back to quoted post2 Apr 2021, 15:27 PMPip


It really is surprising how much of a difference a simple change of colour makes, isnt it?


Especially considering how easy it is. And we still dont got have it :S
Pip
2 Apr 2021, 18:36 PM
#11
avatar of Pip

Posts: 1580



Especially considering how easy it is. And we still dont got have it :S


We can merely hope Lelic relent, and re-enable these abilities. I'm vaguely optimistic given the recent increase in attention they seem to be giving the game... but it all remains to be seen. Perhaps if we complain enough they might end up reconsidering?

Squeaky wheel gets the grease, etc.
2 Apr 2021, 18:59 PM
#12
avatar of KiwiBirb

Posts: 789

If they don’t want to enable mod tools from a business stand point, I don’t see why.

After all, CoH1 having full mod tools did not stop CoH2 from being the success it is today.
I don’t think mods would cause people not to buy a (potential) CoH3, as everyone who plays CoH2 now would get it for the graphical and performance upgrades.

Enabling mod tools might actually increase sales of a future game, as people will most probably stick around with CoH2 for longer with mods to spice things up for them!
2 Apr 2021, 19:15 PM
#13
avatar of GachiGasm

Posts: 922 | Subs: 1

If they don’t want to enable mod tools from a business stand point, I don’t see why

I just honesly think its more due to the fact that it wasnt possible to do back in the day (and maybe to release DLCs) and it was put into the box and forgotten. Now its completly irrelevant.

After all, CoH1 having full mod tools did not stop CoH2 from being the success it is today.

I would say even more. Mods didnt stop vCoH from being successefull game. And modding scene had never compeat with maingame.

Not to mention we are having mods like, cheat commands, all units and mods which allow you to play all the DLC commanders. They are allowed in custom games and in workshop.

Relic is overprotective about Automatch its true, but at the same time we didnt even recieve any new DLC content + on top of that relic has released All out war, which is pretty much is cheap AF and contains objectively all the DLCs you would need (comms, faction and SP content), macking pretty much whole this DLC policy obsolete, leaving only skins behind a paywall, which again you can easily buy with in game currency.
2 Apr 2021, 19:17 PM
#14
avatar of 1st. Fallschirmjäger

Posts: 67



Especially considering how easy it is. And we still dont got have it :S


I really don`t get why companies would not give acess to modding of a game since any games with mod support have a very long ``lifetime`` i.e games like the elder scrolls series, command and conquer generals and many others.
2 Apr 2021, 23:13 PM
#15
avatar of Mr. Someguy

Posts: 4928

Is it possible to fix the Conscript Sergeant model with the provided tools?
2 Apr 2021, 23:50 PM
#16
avatar of Ægion
Senior Modmaker Badge

Posts: 747 | Subs: 2

Is it possible to fix the Conscript Sergeant model with the provided tools?


I do believe that the model is fully working, with animations and everything. It is only missing a winter skin.
3 Apr 2021, 00:18 AM
#17
avatar of Mr. Someguy

Posts: 4928

jump backJump back to quoted post2 Apr 2021, 23:50 PMÆgion
I do believe that the model is fully working, with animations and everything. It is only missing a winter skin.


I thought the main reason it was removed because the hand animations got corrupted when it recrewed a weapon or vehicle?
3 Apr 2021, 00:35 AM
#18
avatar of Ægion
Senior Modmaker Badge

Posts: 747 | Subs: 2



I thought the main reason it was removed because the hand animations got corrupted when it recrewed a weapon or vehicle?


I would need to look into it more, but it appears on the world builder that it has all the animations.
3 Apr 2021, 01:48 AM
#19
avatar of Kasarov
Senior Modmaker Badge

Posts: 421 | Subs: 2

jump backJump back to quoted post2 Apr 2021, 11:53 AMPip

As a further example, Volksgrenadiers could well have their uniforms tinted from the current Feldgrau to Luftwaffe Blue (Feldblau? I'm not sure what it's designated as), if one were to wish to create a "Luftwaffe Ground Forces" unit for a doctrine. (simple model edits would even allow you to, for example, use Osttruppen Feldmütze to make them even more visually distinct. Both of these operations are quite simple, but provide a massive improvement to visuals, out of scale with the effort expended.


Interestingly, the Volksgrenadier model in CoH2 seem to be inspired by the uniforms of the elite Panzer Lehr Division, who wore the grey, double-breasted panzer wraps of StuG crews. They are however missing the the Lehr Panzergrenadier's iconic splinter camo helmet, perhaps an oversight by Relic.




Shameful plug:

3 Apr 2021, 02:22 AM
#20
avatar of Mr. Someguy

Posts: 4928

jump backJump back to quoted post3 Apr 2021, 00:35 AMÆgion
I would need to look into it more, but it appears on the world builder that it has all the animations.


He animates mostly fine, but using vehicles (and I think team weapons) he became deformed.



Take note of his fingers and his face. I believe this was the primary reason the model was discarded. But if it were fixable, I'd love to see the Conscript Sergeant back in action. The model currently used for the Sergeant could be then used for Airborne Guards since it seems more similar to the Paratrooper uniform (from what I can find) than their Sniper outfits.
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