Sunday, July 26, 2015

Diablo II - Getting Ladder-Only Runewords Working In Single-Player Mode, Without Any Addons [Updated for Patch 1.14d]


[This post is currently being uploaded as Text Only for now - I will add images and some screenshots to it Soon™]

[Update 2016-06: As of Patch 1.14, where the save game information is kept has changed. I have tested this process and all changes are noted within**, including relocation of Runes.txt placement. This process still works as of this Patch.]

[Update 2016-07-03: As of Patch 1.14d, the save game information has been reverted by Blizzard 'back' to the 'older' instructions. The section at the bottom, talking about creating the Subfolders and Runes.txt in the 'Windows User' location is not needed in 1.14D - the steps talking about creating Subfolders and the Runes.txt are still required overall though, but work once again for the 'Game Installation' location itself - tested this as of this Update ...date.] 


[Personal note at end †  certain Runewords are not working?]



I recently re-installed Diablo2, ready to once again enjoy days gone by of Monsters, Magic and Loot... I wrote an article last year, about getting the scroll-wheel to work for switching spells/skills (the 'Right Mouse' Secondary Skill functions) in D2, in Windows. That post is located here:
http://gametipsandmore.blogspot.ca/2014/06/diablo-ii-getting-scrollwheel-to-work.html

After setting up the mouse-wheel once again, I started up a Single-Player game and made a character for it [a Necromancer, as I love Summoners]. I had collected some Runes for Runewords in the past, archiving them for SinglePlayer with The Hero Editor, a small utility that can save items found in Single Player Mode, by Exporting them to files on a local system/disk (as Diablo 2 Item [.d2i] files), which can then be Imported at a later time, into a future Character in Single Player Mode [only] through the same utility [which was "written mainly by Shokaku and ZonFire99" according to the ReadMe file for it].

Using the Hero Editor, I imported past runes and gems into my new character, using the Horadric Cube to create higher Runes I needed, for creating some Runewords. After trying to create an Enigma armor, I found that it was a Runeword that was not craftable in Single Player Mode (when trying to create it, the item simply fills up with the Runes used and utilizes the bonuses from the single Runes themselves, not creating the 'Special Item' that the Runeword would normally create, in an online, BattleNet game).

Searching online for some clues as to what could be done, I found in a few forums, mention of Addons that could possibly be used to create Ladder-Only Runewords in Single Player games. For now, I went looking for ways to craft Runewords in D2 without Addons. What I found, were various instructions to create a Text file in a created Subdirectory of Diablo2, where the Single Player game would use it as a source for Runewords... great! The only issue was that there seemed to be some variance for how the Subfolders should be created/named, to make the Text file work (there were multiple versions of information on what the subfolders should be).

Experimenting on my own then, I found the path of folders that would need to be created within the Diablo2 directory, in order to get this Text file to work. Just to summarize again, what this will do is:

» Allow Diablo II to use Ladder-Only Runewords in Single Player games, by reading Runeword information from a Text file (with no outside Addons or Mods needed to do so)


To do this, here is the working folder structure to create in the Diablo II directory:

<D2 installation folder>/Data/Global/Excel/Runes.txt


The steps to create the above folder structure are:

  • in the Diablo II directory, create a New Folder called Data
  • in the newly-created Data folder, create a New Folder called Global
  • in the newly-created Global folder, create a New Folder called Excel
  • in the newly-created folder called Excel, place the Text file from my PasteBin here:
    http://pastebin.com/xGLWhmZ1(If you do not feel comfortable Downloading anything at all for this procedure, simply copy and paste the text from that website and paste it into a text file, one that you create in the Excel folder, within the Diablo II directory structure you just created via the above - be sure to name the text file Runes.txt)
  • lastly, add "-direct" and "-txt" to the Shortcut Properties for the "Diablo II.exe" file that starts up the game. The quotation marks aren't added, only the commands, such that the Target line in the Shortcut should then look like this:
    "C:\Program Files (x86)\Diablo II\Diablo II.exe" -direct -txt
    (the above line assumes that it is installed into the C: drive of the system. If you installed Diablo2 into a different drive/partition, the first letter would be whatever your drive letter is of where D2 is installed - the main part to match is the end portions, the "-direct -txt" added to the end, which allows usage of the Text file used in this process)

That's it!

What should occur in theory is, Diablo2 will use the Runeword information from that text file, allowing Runewords to now function within the Single Player game mode (even ones that are "Ladder Only")!

After "cubing-up" some new Runes that I did not have [using a Hero Editor to save/import the ones I had], I created an Enigma Runeword armor. Then, to specifically test the procedure above with a "Ladder-Only Runeword", I attempted to create an Insight for my Merc - and it worked! Hopefully, this will help you utilize Runewords in Single Player, too.


Note: Although I talked about a utility called Hero Editor within this post, it is not a required aspect of the steps above [ie. I use it for Item saving, not Runeword creation]. Also, although an "Excel" folder is created, neither Microsoft Office nor Excel or any other Spreadsheet-type of application need be present on the system - only a simple Text file and a few New Folders created are all that is needed.




** Update for Patch 1.14:

The file structure has changed, for where the game saves your character files, as of this Patch.

While I am not a developer for Blizzard, looking at the effects this Patch will have with Windows, I assume this was done to create a maintainable save game system for people upgrading from Windows 7/8/8.1 to Windows 10, as upgrading Windows [or reinstalling the game itself, if needed] will then not affect your save games in any way and they can then still be found by Diablo 2 (Single Player, etc) [by using this new directory setup implemented in 1.14].

As of Patch 1.14, your save game information is now located at:

C:/Users/<YOUR USER NAME>/Saved Games/Diablo II/

Your saved games, maps and characters are all now within that folder above [assuming C: as your Windows Installation Drive/Location, or where Windows and Saved Games can be found].

To continue using Runewords in Single Player with Patch 1.14, simply create new folders within (the Data folder may already be present), so that your file structure looks like this:

C:/Users/<YOUR USER NAME>/Saved Games/Diablo II/Data/Global/Excel/Runes.txt

Placing the Runes.txt folder within the Excel folder, as shown above, will then allow you to continue using Runewords in Single Player with the new file structure utilized in Patch 1.14 [personally tested as of 2016-06-06].


Tip: Don't forget to add "-direct" and "-txt" to the Shortcut Properties for the "Diablo II.exe", if needed, so that the end of the Shortcut Target line looks like this:
... \Diablo II\Diablo II.exe" -direct -txt


Enjoy - and See You In The Game sometime on BattleNet!



[Personal Log, Regarding Addons, Mods and Utilities: Just a quick mention of my remark regarding 'without any addons' above - I have used Addons, Mods and Utilities in the past, with games, and will likely do so in the future - however, mostly for security reasons, I normally do not and usually advise others against them at first. I realize that most of them are safe, hence my own usage of addons, mods and utilities at times; but because of the chance to encounter security risks, I usually advise against them initially, if people ask me for input. In the end though, most Addons, Mods and Utilities for most games are Safe and offer great functionality, the result of many hours of hard work that their creators have poured into them (if you use Addons or Mods or Utilities for games and you liked them, let their creators know, if you can)]


[Because this post is over a year old now, I have made a newer one (here at the blog, in June/July 2016) talking about this process again, with a bit more detailed instructions (a few screenshots showing the process) - along with my experiences of installing/playing D2 in Windows 10 - if it's not on 'the front page' anymore, that article can be located by going direct to the blog posting here.]


† [It seems that certain Runewords were not working for some people, according to various forum posts, using Add-Ons and other methods. For example, the Runeword EDGE, did not work for some. I have personally created INSIGHT and other Runewords, so this was puzzling. I investigated this potential limitation and found that it may be due to either limitations in the Add-On/Program being used, or the Runes.txt file itself containing Commas, which can occur if the file is opened in a Spreadsheet application (which may turn the file into a Comma-delimited format (using Commas to separate sections)) - be sure to utilize my methods above and the text direct from my Pastebin source (copying it into a Text file or downloading it as a Text file), or use the text I re-pasted into a 'Code' area at my newer article on this, here, copying it in to a Text file and placing it into the Data/Global/Excel subfolder. As of 2016-07-06 I personally tested the Runeword EDGE and it worked using these methods. I hope it works for you as well!] 


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Hitman: Blood Money - Something That You Might Have Missed... "Gun Owners Hate Him!" [Discovery **Updated to Glitch]



This is actually a Personal Discovery (something I found in the game) that I have never seen before (even though it was there)** - and initially I thought that maybe it was something that was well-known and has been talked about, especially in a game over a decade old now - but after doing some searching and poking and prodding, it appears that this may in fact be an actual "discovery" - something 'unearthed' that, even though it was 'already there', it was never before seen (or at least, noticed)**

Now, I don't like Articles on the Intertubes that take a long time to 'get to the point'
[one of the reasons why I try to put a "Short Version and Long Version" in my longer articles with explanations]
so here it is:
When Agent 47 loads the W2000 Sniper Rifle, he 'flips' the clip magazine into place1.

1[I wanted to say 'clip' here, as a gun novice, but as I understand after some quick researching, 
the big block-y thing is called a 'magazine' and not a 'clip']


I'll say it again, just to let it sink in: When The One And Only Hitman puts a magazine into his W2000, he 'spins' it, 'kicking' the cartridge in with his hand**


I never saw this at all, or at least, never 'caught' it happening, previously. And after looking all of the above words up (putting them into different forms of phrasing in searches online), I don't think anyone has noticed this - hence, my slightly over-the-top title - I really do think I discovered something here...**

"How can I not have seen this before?", I asked myself. And Myself answered [it often does that, don't tell anyone]:
"Well, we didn't have this technology before" - at least I didn't. That seemed like the explanation. We (meaning me, I shouldn't really say "everyone has missed this for years on end") have never had the capability to turn up the graphic settings in a game as much as in recent years. Basically, I'm putting the blame on the fact that I have never been able to see such detail in this game before (I recently upgraded to a R9 Series Radeon 280 and so I was never able, in the past, to 'turn everything up' in this game and therefore, never caught it - which is why I'm terming it a 'discovery' (at least, for me) - and it was discovered by accident...

I was doing some Speedruns of A Vintage Year, trying to beat my own Personal Best [of 1:44, which I did, a video to be uploaded Soon™]. While doing so, on one run, while near a corner of a wall, setting 47 up to open his Sniper Rifle case and put his weapon together, the camera rotates to show The Hitman loading up his rifle. The camera however, got 'caught' on the nearby wall, moving along the wall and causing a 'zooming-in', which highlighted this little occurrence.


Here is a short GIF I put together showing off this little move he does:


Agent 47's "spin move" with the clip magazine, loading the W2000 sniper rifle...
(**which, upon closer inspection isn't him 'kicking it in', it is a glitch)
GIF created using Sony Vegas Movie Studio and Honeycam


I can't tell from the recording if the clip magazine gets partially inserted (and then 47 'kicks' it in with his hand, which would be the source of all the awesome), or if it is more of a 'glitch'**, and the graphical model of the magazine is getting caught/stuck on the handle of the rifle, causing a spinning motion as 47 then pushes it up and into the magazine receptacle [I don't know the name of the slot on the gun where the magazine inserts into lol]. Until I get a Final Ruling on this matter, for now, I am going to consider it a little personal 'trick' of 47's and sit in awe of his awesome hitman-ness...** Maybe I will slow it down and put it above, in a GIF for all to see, Soon™

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go do some more Speedrun attempts in Blood Money. I have to beat my previous time!


**Update (and explanation of the many instances of **)Initially, I wrote this article with the 'spinning of the clip magazine' as a really neat discovery (something I didn't see before and I didn't find anyone talking about online) - thinking that The Hitman was 'spinning the cartridge into place'... but upon further analysis, I feel it now to be more of a graphical 'Glitch' [I am changing the title to Glitch, to reflect this]. This is based on my own observations within the game and an attempt to create a 'final explanation' to myself (and to help others). The clip magazine appears to 'float' in midair on further inspection/zooming/slowmotion/etc, it seems to be getting 'stuck' on the handle of the rifle - and why would it even be 'flipped/spun' after being 'placed' in the rifle, by a person using it? It would not... Hence my own personal, final decision then: The coolness factor may still be there, but it is not a 'fully functional' coolness - it seems to be more of a graphical glitch, where the model/mesh of the magazine is getting caught on the butt of the handle... /sigh - oh well, still a little enjoyable thing nonetheless [I am changing the title, adding "Glitch", to reflect this decision]

Saturday, July 11, 2015

A Few Things This Week In Gaming - Saturday, July 11th, 2015 [Some Gaming News Bits]


I've had a lot happen this week [including going to the Hospital!] and haven't been able to finish any of the many posts I am working on at the moment, but I wanted to quickly mention a couple little tidbits of Gaming that have either happened this Week or is going on this very Weekend...





  • Trove is out of Beta and was fully Released just two days ago! I was in the Closed Beta after buying a 'starter/support pack' of in-game Credits and was enjoying the Open Beta off and on. Similar to games like Cubeworld, Minecraft or Lego Worlds, it's a fun little game with a large, explorable MMO world that has Monsters and Crafting and Building to do everywhere, with RPG elements ('levelling up' a character, classes to choose from with various abilities, etc). I am working on a First Impressions And Screenshots article for it [that I started in the Beta] and hope to get that done Soon™. Try it out at: http://www.trionworlds.com/trove/2015/07/09/trove-launch-the-adventure-begins/













  • For those that played Battlefield Play4Free, just a reminder that this coming Tuesday is the Last Ever day for BFP4F. I've given away a couple of Play4Free Funds codes here at The Blog [that EA had given out] and also noticed that EA has lowered the 'Deal Again' price for The Daily Draw way down to 99 Funds - super cheap, if you're sitting on leftover Funds in that game. Get over there and get some new gear while you can at: http://battlefield.play4free.com/








  • And of course, some Deals and Sales are going on at various companies/websites this Weekend. I sometimes post when some Sales are going on, but not all the time - and this weekend I can see Steam has some Deals going on and Good Old Games [now GOG.com] has a nice Weekend Deal that includes Series' of many games, like Tomb Raider, Deus Ex, Thief and Hitman - ooh, I might pick up Urban Chaos for a buck-ninety-nine... See if you find anything you want here: http://www.gog.com/promo/weekend_promo_square_enix_100715





  • Oh, I've uploaded a couple more videos at The Game Tips And More Blog's Plays.Tv page, including "Part 2" of a Minecraft Playthrough I call "To The End", where I play 'up to The End' area/stage in Minecraft, but not further - I don't want to 'spoil' the ending [as much as it is an 'ending'] for the game, but I'll play and record completely up to that point - creating a New World every version/update [something I started back in Beta, but lost most of the past videos for, unfortunately]. There are also some Battlefield: Hardline clips (a Tutorial and 'Living The Dream'), Hitman Series clips (some Glitches and Speedruns), a couple of Trove vids (with a short Tutorial one) and more. Check it out sometime, at: http://plays.tv/u/GameTipsAndMore






These are just a few things that are going on... but that's it for me, for now - See You In The Games!


Monday, July 06, 2015

Quick Tip: Bandicam Releases CFR-capable Recording Update (for Importing into Vegas, Premiere, Lightworks, etc) [Notice of Update]


Just a Quick Tip for people having problems editing their recordings in Sony's Vegas, Adobe's Premiere, or Editshare's Lightworks, Canopus' Edius and other similar Non-Linear Editors:
Bandicam has released an Update to their software today, that allows the choice of either VFR (Variable Frame Rate) recording [Shadowplay's Default, for example] or CFR (Constant Frame Rate) recording - which is much more compatible for importing into these video editing applications, when recording with NVENC, AMDAPP or QuickSync codecs.


For a number of years now, people have been having issues with importing videos into Vegas or Premiere (to use these as an example, as two of the more common consumer editors) - mainly because many recording applications/settings use, by Default, VFR recording (Nvidia's Shadowplay, for example). As many people have already found, this can cause a multitude of problems, when trying to import these recordings into some of the video editing programs mentioned above. Problems such as:


and other issues...


While these issues are a combination of the strictness of the video editing applications and the settings that the codec is using in a recording application, these may now all be alleviated, with the latest update to the game recording program, Bandicam.

The Bandicam interface after the recent update, showing the Steps ("I. II. III.") for enabling CFR, which increases import compatibility with video editing applications such as Vegas, Premiere, Lightworks and more (MP4 container, GPU-accelerated H.264/AVC via the AMDAPP codec, 60fps format/settings shown as example). Click to see Full Size


Today, after updating to the latest version of Bandicam, there can be seen the option to choose either VFR (the Default for Shadowplay and many other recording applications, including Bandicam - which is more efficient for compression, but can result in problems when importing into Vegas/Premiere/etc) or CFR (which is less efficient for compression, but can alleviate the problems with importing into Vegas/Premiere/etc).

For those wanting to use NVENC, AMDAPP or QuickSync to record, for example (GPU-accelerated recording capabilities), this will allow increased importing into these editors, without the need to 're-compress' the videos into a more compatible video format (for example, adding the extra step of using Handbrake to convert the videos into CFR, making the videos importable into Vegas/Premiere/Lightworks/etc, as I wrote about here, when talking about Shadowplay). 

(As another example, if you used Plays.TV's client to record with (which can also use buffered and GPU-accelerated recording), you may have noticed audio/video desynchronization occurring, when attempting to import your recordings into video editing programs - as Plays.Tv's Support Area talks about here, it is due to the usage of VFR)



As a quick Test, I captured my Desktop in a short recording (using Bandicam with the new CFR setting), then tried to import that into Vegas, to see if the video and audio were indeed importable without problems, as a trial of this new compatibility setting.....

A short test of the CFR setting in Bandicam (Desktop portion, short recording, imported into Sony Vegas Movie Studio Platinum 13, playing back within Vegas, output converted into GIF with Honeycam).
Click to see Larger Size

It worked great! The recording was not only imported into Vegas without complaint, it was faster (more responsive) in editing/shuttling/scrolling through the video, due to the CFR setting.

[This was with the AMDAPP (AMD GPU-accelerated) codec, in the MP4 container, using the CFR setting. This codec setup within Bandicam utilizes AAC audio as well and I would use it mainly when editing with Sony's Vegas line of video editing products, as it seems to import without issue. If I were to switch to other codecs or the AVI container, they may then not be as easily imported into NLEs such as Vegas, so I would then use something else, such as CyberLink's PowerDirector (for example), which is far less 'fussy' when it comes to codecs and formats, for importing]


VFR (Variable Frame Rate) helps increase possible compression by reducing the number of frames in a group ('groups of frames utilized per second' in the file) - literally reducing the number of frames used in a file - when less is changing/occurring onscreen. CFR (Constant Frame Rate) will increase file size moderately, due to the fact there is no longer the reduction of the number of frames in a group useable as a factor in compressing the video further - when 60fps is set as a FrameRate, it will literally write sixty frames every second into the video file, regardless of how much has changed onscreen. BitRate is still the major factor in how large the video will be, however. Also note, that this setting is independent of the "fps" (Frames Per Second) displayed output.
[TLDR: CFR will create larger files than VFR because it cannot compress the video as much, but not excessively large, as BitRate is still the main factor in video compression/sizes - and both of these do not affect "frames per second" output onscreen]


Hopefully, this new capability will alleviate the problems with importing your game recording experiences into your favourite video editing application. Try it out, have fun with it - and See You In The Game!




 N.B.: 

I discovered when editing recordings with NLEs (Non-Linear Editors) such as Vegas, Lightworks, Premiere, et al. you may need to utilize a GOP (Group Of Pictures) of "1" for editing compatibility... 

Usually, with MPEG-based video data, there are set intervals of "Keyframes". 
Keyframes are 'stand-alone' images, where all the picture data is kept within one frame (it is not dependent on surrounding frames in the file). Video editing applications use these Keyframes to begin/cut edits from. If there is a large GOP (with many frames in-between these Keyframes), the video editing program must 'key off' of these frames, rebuilding the GOP within the program, causing slowdown in edit processing and possibly causing visible corruption ('trails' or 'glitchy' output). 
Setting a Keyframe Interval of "1" makes every frame in the video a Keyframe, eliminating the possibility of this issue. 

I have written a couple of articles on this, here at the blog,
http://gametipsandmore.blogspot.ca/2013/06/and-more-how-to-record-with.html
http://gametipsandmore.blogspot.ca/2013/05/game-recording-with-mpeg-4-using.html
and submitted this occurrence to Bandisoft, the development house of Bandicam. I am proud to state that this led to the inclusion of a Keyframe Interval option within Bandicam. 

This setting may still be required for full compatibility with Non-Linear Editors. 

Although a GOP of 1 takes away most of the 'headroom' to work with video compression (the video file sizes will increase as it does not have the inter-frame dependency), if you are having issues with importing your videos into these types of video editing applications, even with this new CFR setting, try configuring the Keyframe Interval to "1" [you can also use PCM ("Uncompressed") audio to increase audio compatibility] and this should assist with issues with importing your recordings into these editors. 

Good luck with it!