MakeVBM

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  • NOTE: MakeVBM is a tool from the Official RF Toolkit. This readme is included in that toolkit.

Volition Readme

MakeVBM is a tool used to create VBM files for use in Red Faction PC. VBMs are animated or single-frame 2D bitmaps, in a proprietary Volition format.

The source input for MakeVBM is one or more TGA Targa images, either 24 or 32 bit with alpha.

The first step is to get your TGA files in one place, and name them correctly. MakeVBM requires TGA sequences to be named like so:

name-0000.tga
name-0001.tga
...
and so on.

“name” can be any prefix you like, but it must be followed by the “-XXXX.tga” ending. Once you have your files together, decide what color format your VBM will use.

While all VBMs use 16 bits of color, that 16 bits can be broken down several ways. The output VBMs can be in one of four color formats. The numbers represent the ARG and B channels (alpha, red, green, and blue).

4444 4 bits for each RGB channel, 4 bits for alpha. Use this format when you want a full, varied alpha channel with semi-transparency.
1555 5 bits of color for the RG and B channels, 1 bit for alpha. Use this when you have alpha, but it’s only the “on/off” variety. Pixels are either totally opaque or totally transparent. Useful largely for interface art.
565 5 bits of alpha for the R and B channels, 6 bits for Green, and zero for alpha. Use this when the image needs no alpha transparency at all.

Next, decide what framerate the animation will need, measured in frames-per-second.

When you’re ready, open an MS-DOS Prompt (called Command Prompt in Win2000), make sure “makevbm.exe” is on your path, and go to the directory where your frames are located. Then type:

makevbm <colormode> <framerate> <prefix>.tga

Where <colormode> is either 4444, 1555, or 565, <framerate> is an integer like 15 or 30, and <prefix> is the first part of your sequence filenames, minus the “-XXXX” suffix.

Included with the MakeVBM utility is a series of example frames named “pow-XXXX.tga”. These are the source frames for the invulnerability skin effect in RF PC.

This sequence uses 565 color mode, at 8 frames per second. To create that VBM from those frames, I would type:

makevbm 565 15 pow.tga

This would create “pow.vbm”, which the game can now use.

When everything is run correctly, the output spew looks like this:

MakeVBM Output