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Game Making & Editing FAQ/Q&A

Below are answers to common questions and problems, or Frequently Asked Questions, that often go unanswered that User Generated Content creators or game developers need answering that haven't been elsewhere. For a full list click here »

Video Studio won't start after Windows Update

March 22, 2016, 01:02:03 PM by kat
Problem
Corel Video Studio (Pro) won't run after Windows Update (For Feb/Mar 2016) has been run. Program also does not respond to being placed in Compatibility or other mode (right-click vstudio.exe, select "Compatibility"). The issue is caused by a number of updates to a Windows sub-system that essentially breaks a link in the necessary chain of events needed by Video Studio (Pro). Problem appears to affect Windows 7, Windows 8/8.1 and Windows 10 to a lesser degree.

Solution
A 'HotFix' for Video Studio x7 or above is available from Corel here.

For Video Studio x6 or below, or in instances where a HotFix cannot be utilised, try uninstalling the following Windows Update files;

For Video Studio (Pro) x7 and above uninstall 3126587 and 3126593. For Video Studio x6 or below 3140410 may additionally need to be removed. Be sure to disable or 'hide' removed updates to prevent their re-install on reboot. For Windows 7, 8 and 8.1 updates this may necessitate switching Windows Update to 'manual'.

To see and uninstall Windows 7 updates;
- from "Control Panel" select "Programs" then under "Programs and Features" click "View installed updates".

To see and uninstall Windows 8/8.1 updates;
- from "Control Panel" select "Programs" then under "Programs and Features" select "View installed updates" bottom-left.

To see and uninstall Windows 10 updates;
- click "Start", then the "Settings" icon, then "Update & Security". On the "Windows Update" page select "Advanced Options" bottom of the page, then on "View your update history" on the following page. Click "Uninstall Updates" top of the page to remove.



Alternative Solution
An unsupported/unofficial 'fix' (which may be removed as a result) is available for Video Studio v6 or v5 users here. Download "MUIHelper.zip" and extract the contents. Copy the included file "MUIHelper.dll" to the root directory of Video Studio (Pro), typically "Program Files/Corel/..." - this overwrites an existing file of the same name, rename the original to archive it before copying over the new file. Video Studio should now start (note it may also be possible to install the previously removed updates).

What is "FOXed"

February 24, 2016, 04:15:54 AM by kat
Q: What is/does getting "FOX'ed" mean?

A: The term "FOX'ed" is a colloquialism to mean something has been 'taken-down' (often without warning) due to an infringement of Copyright pursuant receipt of Cease-and-Desist Notice. Although C&D Notices have a long history of being issued by Rights holders against others deemed to be misappropriating their Intellectual Property, it wasn't until 20th Century FOX issued a Take-down Notice on a Quake (1) modification, Alien Quake, that the practice became more widely known, and subsequently referred to simply as "FOX'ed" - at the time the Alien Quake mod was capitalizing on the popularity of the "Alien" franchise, Property owned by FOX (primary factor), who were actively working on their own materials (secondary factor).
Quote
The Alien Quake project has been discontinued by 20th Century Fox. I received an email on April 11th, 1997, from a 20th Century Fox representative that ordered us to cease all activity. The Alien Quake project was using copyrighted material without permission and this makes Alien Quake an unauthorized and illegal production. Therefore, you are hereby ordered to remove all your Alien Quake files from your computer storage. You must also remove all references to Alien Quake from any WWW pages or internet sites you keep or maintain. All distribution of Alien Quake is illegal and you should know that the Alien Quake team are under obligation to report the name and URL of any distributor to 20th Century Fox. Please let us know if you know the URL of a distributor or potential distributor.

Thank you for your co-operation. [source]

Learn more about Copyright, Fan Art, DMCA Take-down Notices, and selling games with GPL'd content.

Windows 10 randomly booting computer

September 17, 2015, 04:05:19 AM by kat
Problem
Windows 10 appears to be randomly starting systems that have been shut-down without user input.

Description
When a PC is shut-down from Windows 10 "Power" Start menu option ("Start Power Shut-down"), systems may restart on their own without user input (the user pressing the power button) anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours after the action. There may be no immediate or apparent reason(s) or causes for the computer to start-up unassisted.

Solution
There are potentially a number of reasons why a computer may boot and start-up unassisted.

If the PC successfully boots into Windows, to find out what initiated the boot call, from the "Command Prompt" ("Start All apps Windows System Command Prompt" (right-click "Run as administrator") type "powercfg -lastwake". This will report the last item to initialise the computer and narrow down the device or service making the call.

Wake on LAN
If nothing is listed using "powercfg - lastwake" check to make sure the system is not set to "Wake on Lan". This may need to be done in both Windows 10 "Device Manager" and the systems BIOS (usually "F2" or "F10" to access on start-up). To access "Device Manager" click "Start Settings System About (bottom-left menu) Device Manager (bottom-right panel)". In Device Manager click the arrow (">") to the left of "Network adapters" to access the available hardware, right-click each entry in turn, select "Properties" and in their respective "Power Management" settings check that "Allow this device to wake the computer" is DISABLED (NO checkbox).

Additionally (and depending on availability, optionally), when checking the PCIe Lan properties (settings associated with a hardwired connection to the PC and not the Wireless device) click "Advanced" and scroll down the options shown to "Wake on Magic Packet"; set the "Value:" to "Disabled". Similarly for "Wake on pattern match"; set it to "Disabled". This essentially turns off 'wake' calls received over Lan.

Fast Boot
If the above fail it may be Windows 10 "Fast Boot" ("Fast start-up") feature design is causing the issue (may also applicable to Windows 8.1). With this enabled when a system is shut-down from the Power menu options it does not fully power-off the machine but instead goes into a state similar to "Hibernation" (as opposed to "Sleep" mode) where certain features, services and devices are kept alive in memory to speed to the boot process - from a 'cold boot', all system devices have to be initialised which can take some time to do, "Fast Boot" relieves this by keeping some services in memory requiring fewer to be started on boot, thus reducing boot time. For "Fast Boot" to work, PC's are shut-down but not completely powered-off (so memory can remain active). This 'state' may result in systems randomly booting up without user input or prompting.

The "Fast Boot" ("Fast start-up") feature is part of Windows 10 "Power & sleep" settings and can be disabled (admin rights required). To access click "Start Settings System Power & sleep (left menu)" then under "Related Settings" to the right click "Additional power settings". When "Power Options" opens click "Choose what the power buttons do" on the left then at the top of the page click "Change settings that are currently unavailable" (admin rights required). Scroll to the bottom of the page and under "Shut-down settings" disable "Turn on fast start-up (recommended)" (no checkbox).

Windows Update Reboots
It's also possible that apparent random system reboots are the result of Windows 10 automatically rebooting on schedule or after downloading and installing updates. Depending on the options set this cannot be fully disabled as Windows 10 (currently) downloads and installs updates automatically, rebooting from which can be delayed but not completely disabled (as is possible with Windows 7). To check, click "Settings Update & security Advanced options".

Converting Normal maps to Bump maps

July 17, 2015, 04:18:21 AM by kat
Problem
Typically Normal maps are converted into Bump or Height maps by simply opening the Normal map in an image editor and using some form of image desaturatation, either a filter or some other image process that swaps Normalised RGB colours for grey-scale values. This an incorrect approach to take because the variable colours present in normal maps do not represent the same light=height, dark=depth approach to creating the illusion of a three-dimensional surface. In other words, Normalised RGB colours and grey-scale tones are not interchangeable, they each represent completely different types of image data.


Shown above a Normal map (left) has undergone a simple image desaturation process to 'convert' the image to a series of grey-scale tones (right). This causes issues however because the filter interprets lighter normalised colours, the pale blues and greens[1], as light-grey tones, which are in turn treated as 'height' elements of the resulting bumpmap (vice versa for darker colours[2])

Solution
The Correct way to convert a Normal map into a grey-scale height or Bump map is to open the Normal into a proper Normal map processing application like nJob, or an image editor with a Normal map filter that can invert-process normal maps, and selecting the appropriate option to convert or reprocess 'Normal to Height' (in the case of nJob) or 'Normal to Bump'. This will desaturate the Normal map by correctly reinterpreting the three-dimensional structure represented by the Normalised RGB colours as simple Z-axis 'height' and 'depth' values.


On the left is the original 'template' used to generate the normal map. On the right is the result of reprocessing the actual Normal map in nJob. Although there are minor differences between the two, they are far less significant than those resulting from simple desaturation. In-game especially, the difference is noticeable

Additional Resources
- Bake Normal maps from meshes using Cycles
- Bake Normals using Blender Internal
- How NOT to make Normal maps
- Make Normal maps from Images

Why model in Quads and not Triangles

July 14, 2015, 12:27:59 AM by kat
Mesh Structure and Quads
Generally speaking there are a number of reasons why preference is given to modelling using quadratic faces ("quads") instead of, or rather than, triangles ("tris"). From a production point of view, i.e. making the content used in games, quadratic faces greatly aid the editing process because they allow certain functions to freely flow around the object. The reason for this has to do with the way mesh structures are generated as a lattice, a collection of vertex points connected by edges that define a space, which is then filled with a face. This lattice is 'formal', it follows a set pattern to aid speedy analysis when traced whilst minimising the amount of backtracking that might be necessary to catch missed edges, slowing down the process. In other words edge orientation flows in a particular direction (usually bottom-left to top-right) to ensure a given structure is rendered as quickly as possible regardless of individual faces being 'quads' or 'tris'.

A 'Quad' and 'Tris' represented by the same underlying lattice

Quads and Striping
The effect this mesh lattice has and the way it's processed, a procedure called "Striping", also affects the way certain structures appear, and is one of the reasons why meshes are broken down into triangles before export for game use. Shown below for example is what this means. If a four sided cone is needed, because the triangle strips orientate by default from bottom-left to top-right, the bottom-left and top-right quads have a virtual edge that travels up the longest diagonal (corner-to-centre) making the face appear convex (it has a hump) when it should properly be concave - which requires the edge to travel along the shortest diagonal (edge-to-edge). Wanting a cone would necessitates the two quads in question being broken down into triangles and the longest diagonal edges being turned against the natural flow of the triangle strip (select the diagonal edge after splitting the face, "Ctrl+F Rotate Edge CW") to create a concave surface from the two triangles. Exported for game use the default orientation of the triangle strip often means edges are flipped the wrong way relative to what the artist intended so manual turning is often necessary.

Quote
Design note: for editing purposes, a quad can be broken down into triangles, the diagonal edge turned, with the two faces joined back together (select, "Alt+J") to form a quad with a more appropriate edge orientation that doesn't affect the ability of the face to be cut and manipulated as normal.

How lattice structure affects the surfaces
Lattice structure makes some surface 'convex' others 'concave' by default

Quads and Mesh Editing
From an editing point of view the difference between 'quads' and 'tris' is important insomuch as they make the editing process easier or more difficult when performing certain basic functions like cutting, splitting or dividing surfaces. When cutting a face the application needs a way to determined whether that face can be cut, and if the cut can propagate across other faces. For quads cuts can be made from edge to edge around an object until the action forms a closed loop, a "loop cut", this can be done because each quadratic surface is an 'open' structure, cuts can be made from one side to the other and continue on to neighboring faces because the can cross shared border edges.

When quads are converted or split (select face, "Ctrl+T") into triangles however, the edge they share corner to corner, essentially blocks progress of the cut because it forces it to effectively terminate at a corner vertex instead of continuing across another edge - doing so would basically mean placing a mesh division at a tangent to an edge instead of essentially being perpendicular to it; for actions such as loop cutting the math involved in doing the former is more complex than for the latter. In other words where a triangle exists as part of a loop of faces, a loop-cut place around an object will always terminate at the corner vertex of a triangle.

Quote
Design note: this behavior is most noticeable when manually sub-dividing the diagonal line shared between two triangles (that would otherwise constitute a quad), although it divides, creating a new vertex and two new nGon quadratic faces (nGons are irregualar shaped quads in that they have four edges that don't mark a traditional 'quad' shape), the action does not propagate beyond those initial consequence. If the new faces are then broken into triangles, the new edges would fan out to the original corner vertices indicating the structures inability to allow automatic propagation of the cut.

How triangle edges affect mesh cuts
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