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Author Topic: MEK or HEK? (8 messages, Page 1 of 1)
Moderators: Dennis

Joined: Dec 24, 2017

Posted: Jan 3, 2018 12:05 PM    Msg. 1 of 8       
If I wish to start creating my own mods, should I use Moses' editing kit, or the standard HEK plus? Which one is better for a beginner such as myself?

Joined: Apr 3, 2013

Posted: Jan 3, 2018 03:45 PM    Msg. 2 of 8       
Think of the MEK as an extension of the HEK. Yes, the MEK can do some things alone without requiring the HEK at all, but the MEK is not a 100% replacement for the HEK. The MEK is not specifically intended for beginners since you need to be familiar with modding Halo in the first place, but I DO try to make things as intuitive as possible.

Here's a breakdown of the HEK:
    tool: Compiles assets(wav audio, tiff images, jms models, etc) into tags(sounds,
bitmaps, models, etc), and tags into mapfiles.

sapien: If you've played Halo 3 or higher, this is basically Forge. Put things into
the map, set up AI encounters, etc.

guerilla: Allows creating and editing all tags that make up maps. Some things are
easier/necessary to create/edit by using sapien(or recompiling asset tags with
tool), but you can edit nearly everything in a tag with guerilla.

hek+: Not a part of the HEK, but it's been around so long that people couldn't care less.
Hek+ enables you to extract tags from compiled maps.

blitzkrieg: Allows you to export 3d models from 3DS Max 8 to jms files and animations
to jma/jmo/jmr/jmm files. These can then be compiled into tags with tool.

Here's a breakdown of the parts of the MEK you will be interested in:
    mozzarilla: Essentially a replacement for guerilla with tons of extra features to help.
Mozzarilla is able to work with regular halo tags, well as open sauce ones, and has
a highly customizable configuration. It allows you to work with multiple sets of tags
directories, find broken/missing tags, export pieces of tags and put them into other
tags, make bitmaps tags directly from dds files, and much much more. The only thing
I can think of that mozzarilla can't do that guerilla can is preview sounds.

refinery: A complete replacement for hek+. I wrote this for a few reasons;
1: Hek+ corrupts lots of little things in certain tags when extracting.
2: Hek+ is VERY vulnerable to map protection.
3: Hek+ doesn't(to my knowledge) work well with xbox maps.
4: Hek+ doesn't know how to extract open sauce tags.

Refinery addresses all these issues and more. It can also extract certain data to
non-tag assets(textures, sounds, scripts, etc) from any map it can load as well as
halo 2 vista. Refinery is able to extract tags from halo 1 xbox/pc/ce/pc demo maps,
as well as stubbs the zombie pc/xbox maps and the shadowrun alpha.

pool: Guess what guys? I'm almost done with a nice little wrapper for tool that isn't
hot garbage like tool++. I'll get into details later when I make the release thread,
but just know that this makes it much easier to use tool. There are things in it that
everyone can appreciate and will like, from super users like me to users who just want
the ability to select a filepath through a browser instead of having to type it in.

Full disclosure: I did NOT make these next two, I merely modified them. The actual author
of these is TheGhost(with various edits contributed by other programmers over the years).

gbx-xbox-model_importer_v4.0.0: Allows importing gbxmodel and xbox model tags into 3ds Max
(will work in any version of 3ds Max after Max7 I believe). This version has various
stability fixes over the older ones and fixes a few bugs(such as importing shaders
correctly). This is also the only version that can import xbox model tags.

animation_importer_v1.0.6: Allows importing animations from a model_animations tag onto
a model in 3ds Max(will work in any version of 3ds Max after Max7 I believe). This
version can now use model_animations_yelo tags instead of just model_animations, can
use xbox models when prompted for one instead of just gbxmodels, and has a bug fix
to allow it to read all animations in the tag if there are more than 255.

The MEK also includes a few converters to do things like turning model_collision tags into
gbxmodel tags for easily importing them into 3dsMax with the gbx-xbox-model_importer, and
xbox models/stubbs models into gbxmodels. For a rundown on what's in it, just download and
install it and take a look at the readme. It will detail what's what.

Tl;dr The MEK 99.999% replaces guerilla and hek+ and replaces a couple features of tool, but you can't make a map with only 51% of a toolkit. You still need the HEK, but think of the MEK as having a power drill in your belt of hand-operated tools.
Edited by MosesofEgypt on Jan 3, 2018 at 07:08 PM

Joined: Dec 24, 2017

Posted: Jan 3, 2018 07:38 PM    Msg. 3 of 8       
So, I should probably start out small with simple test maps and such before I move on and make something really complex, right?

Which would be easier for a new beginner?

A. Modding a few elements of the campaign, such as the targeting reticules for various weapons.

B. Creating a small map with basic geometry.

C. Simply using the tools of HEK and MEK to inspect various elements and learn their values.

I'm asking this out of genuine curiosity, because I fear that I may end up diving too deep if I don't start out somewhere using baby steps.

Also, I played the refined mod you made for Halo 1's campaign, and I like how all of the textures and added detail helped bring the game to life more than it did on the original PC port. If I were to mod campaign levels, should I use the refined campaign maps you released as a starting point when testing things out, or should I use the basic and less properly done maps from the original Gearbox port?

One more thing. I haven't installed HEK or MEK yet, but I was wondering if I should install the 64-bit version of hat Python thing or the 32-bit version. I have a 64-bit computer, but I need to know if the toolkit will be affected by which version of python I install.

Also, I'm guessing I should install HEK Plus first, and then MEK?

And lastly, I have GMax installed for 3d modeling, but will that be enough? Does G-Max handle 3Ds stuff too, or do I need an official 3DS program?
Edited by BioGoji1989 on Jan 3, 2018 at 08:27 PM
Edited by BioGoji1989 on Jan 3, 2018 at 08:29 PM

Joined: Apr 3, 2013

Posted: Jan 3, 2018 09:34 PM    Msg. 4 of 8       
Easier would be option A, but BETTER would be option B. Start off making a simple box map and getting it playable ingame. Managing to accomplish this means you know how to:

  • Use 3ds Max to create a sealed level with shaders, export it to jms files, and compile it to a structure_scenario_bsp tag.

  • Create and populate a scenario file with sapien.

  • Edit tags with guerilla(like placing a sky in the scenario).

  • Run lightmaps to get your level geometry lit and visible.

  • Compile a map using tool.

  • Debug any errors you come across getting to this point.

While this seems like a lot, the good thing is that each step is kinda isolated from the others and can be approached as a stepping stone. Even more good news is that gearbox already created a tutorial to help users do exactly this, though they make a more complicated level than a simple box map(it's a box with hills and special shaders!). You can find that tutorial here:


Once you can do that, start doing option C so you can get a feel or what each tag is and what they do. Mozzarilla currently doesn't have very many tooltips to help explain things, but a special someone is working on fixing that.

Quote: should I use the refined campaign maps you released as a starting point

I actually recommend extracting the Halo PC maps and just pasting in my replacement tags. Here's a link to them as well as a list of things that still need to be fixed. The bitmaps are the same ones you'll find in the refined campaign, meaning they are the full quality, uncompressed, 32bit source textures.

Quote: should install the 64-bit version

Install the 64-bit version. The 32bit one will run out of memory trying to extract from SPV3's massive data file maps.

Quote: I should install HEK Plus first

HEK+ isn't needed. Get rid of dat crap lol.

Quote: I have GMax installed for 3d modeling, but will that be enough?

It's been a VERY long time since I've used GMAX, but I'm pretty sure it can run all of TheGhost's exporter scripts, which will allow you to make the same quality of assets as a 3ds Max user. Granted, newer versions of 3ds Max will have more tools and allow you to do things more easily, so it's really up to you to decide. 3ds Max student editions are easy to get from what I hear, so take a look into it.
Edited by MosesofEgypt on Jan 3, 2018 at 11:06 PM

Joined: Dec 24, 2017

Posted: Jan 4, 2018 11:37 PM    Msg. 5 of 8       
Well, I've looked into 3Ds Max, but I'm not a student of any educational institute, and I haven't been for a few years now. Is it okay for me to, you know, lie and get the 3-year free trial, or should I go for another free 3D modeling suite? Are HEK and MEK designed specifically to work only with GMax and 3Ds Max? Can other 3D modeling suites be used instead? I want to know before I make any decisions regarding this.

Also, is it absolutely necessary to have a 3D modeling program? What if I decide that I simply want to add or remove various weapons and/or characters to and from a campaign map or a multiplayer map for fun? Is it necessary to have a 3D modeling program such as 3Ds Max or GMax in order to do any of that?

Can I simply export the tags of certain weapons, edit them, and then import them back into a map without going through jms conversion?

I'm... really very uncertain about a great number of things.

Also, what exactly is recursive exporting? I don't know what that does in the map editor or Refinery.

Joined: Apr 3, 2013

Posted: Jan 6, 2018 01:46 AM    Msg. 6 of 8       
From what I understand, people tweak the truth all the time when getting the student licensed version. I personally haven't, so I can't say much more lol. Someone's working on a model exporter for blender, but I don't think it's 100% finished just yet. No information on an animation exporter though.

Quote: Also, is it absolutely necessary to have a 3D modeling program?

No. It's entirely possible to never model or texture or animate anything new and make tons of changes. You can still place AI, scenery, weapons, tweak vehicle, weapon, and character settings, or w/e. You can even download/rip tags other people have made and use models and animations from them if you don't want to make new ones. Gotta say though, some of the best moments are when you finally get that thing working ingame that you made yourself, even if it's not super pretty. Just do what you want and branch out to other things when you want.

Quote: Also, what exactly is recursive exporting?

Tags can reference other tags. A scenario references item_collections, which can reference weapons, which can reference a model, which can reference shaders, which can reference other shaders and bitmaps. Recursive extraction means to extract everything that a tag references, whether directly or through a referenced tag.

Quote: the map editor

That's a stupid joke that I got in on which I actually removed from the MEK the day before you posted that comment.

Sorry about the late reply, #lifestuff.

Joined: Dec 24, 2017

Posted: Jan 6, 2018 10:56 AM    Msg. 7 of 8       
What about editing extracted tags and then compiling them back into a whole map again? I can't find any tutorials on how to do that anywhere. Nearly every tutorial I see is focused on creating new maps from start to finish.

What I want to start on first is simply editing certain tags in the campaign, such as .weapon tags and damage modifiers, to make certain weapons more accurate or less powerful, or to make the fuel rod gun usable in campaign for the last three levels. I've downloaded the tool++ wraparound GUI or tool, but I don't see any options for compiling an edited set of extracted map tags back into a whole .map file.

How do I do that?

Yes, I'm using baby steps, but I think that this is the best way for me to start until I'm comfortable enough to be actually creating my own maps, no matter how basic.

Joined: Apr 3, 2013

Posted: Jan 6, 2018 04:09 PM    Msg. 8 of 8       
Check your halomaps inbox.


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