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[Article] Textures in Mass Effect

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[Article] Textures in Mass Effect

Postby giftfish » 14 Aug 2015, 18:59

Name -- Textures in Mass Effect
Status -- Complete
URL -- http://me3explorer.wikia.com/wiki/Textu ... ass_Effect

New article that provides a *very small* texture primer for users. Explains a bit about DDS compression algorithms, the different types of "maps", and provides a list of commonly used abbreviations they'll see in the Texplorer tree. Also supplies a nice summary table that correlates all that infor with some sample textures.

Please feel free to add to the list of Texplorer naming conventions. I'd like to reformat this as a table (or group of tables) at some point, but they take time to create and I needed to get the article up.

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Re: [Article] Textures in Mass Effect

Postby giftfish » 24 Feb 2016, 16:53

Clarified a couple things in this and added a couple new images.

@Kfreon -- Is there some way to tell if a texture is DXT1a versus DXT1c, short of having to extract a bunch, open them up in an editor, look at the properties, and hope I get lucky, lol?
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Re: [Article] Textures in Mass Effect

Postby KFreon » 25 Feb 2016, 06:58

I'd ignore that entirely.
It's just where a DXT1 texture can contain alpha. It'd be like having DXT5a and DXT5c.

tl;dr Just DXT1.
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Re: [Article] Textures in Mass Effect

Postby giftfish » 25 Feb 2016, 14:31

KFreon wrote:I'd ignore that entirely.
It's just where a DXT1 texture can contain alpha. It'd be like having DXT5a and DXT5c.

tl;dr Just DXT1.

Well, but doesn't DXTS *always* contain alpha? I pulled most of the info off from Microsoft's own website.
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Re: [Article] Textures in Mass Effect

Postby KFreon » 25 Feb 2016, 21:55

I suppose there's always an alpha channel, but it doesn't have to have anything useful in it.
DXT1 can have an alpha channel too, but most times it doesn't.

Just semantics really, but nowhere in the toolset will there be a "DXT1a" or something, and I've never seen that anywhere anyway.
Up to you I guess.

As to the original question: The only way to know if there's alpha is by opening it and looking for a channel. (or reading the header, but that's not really an option.)
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Re: [Article] Textures in Mass Effect

Postby giftfish » 25 Feb 2016, 22:01

@Kfreon -- Hm, okay. I bet I can come up with two.

I'm guessing the cabin photos don't have alpha, since it wouldn't make sense to. The eye textures are dxt1 with alpha, so I've got an example of that. I guess I'll just reiterate to use the vanilla texture as a guide.

Thanks :)
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Re: [Article] Textures in Mass Effect

Postby giftfish » 25 Feb 2016, 22:46

Well, and this is interesting. I'm not sure what to think, now.

Results below are with GIMP, which can have issues with DDSes at times.

Both Codex textures, which are GUI images, and the cabin photo texture have alpha channels. I think it's set to full opacity; the thumbnail adjacent to the alpha channel in the layers dialogue is white, but when I toggle off visbility of all RGB channels the image itself goes black instead of white, which is... weird.

Looks like normals that are DXT1, don't have an alpha channel. These are the only ones I can find that are only RGB and not RGB-alpha. This also seems strange, as normals not only don't care about alpha, but they don't care about RGB, either. Seems like you *want* them transparent and not opaque.

So, despite everything I've learned about textures, shows you how little I still know, lol.
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Re: [Article] Textures in Mass Effect

Postby KFreon » 26 Feb 2016, 21:27

For DXT1, you definitely do NOT want alpha. I'm still trying to understand why they thought it was a good idea.
It's a bit computer science-y, DXT compression works by reducing the number of colours. In DXT1, there's 4 colours per block.
So adding alpha means that one of those colours is now alpha instead of colour, making the overall quality of the image poorer.
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Re: [Article] Textures in Mass Effect

Postby CreeperLava » 26 Feb 2016, 21:35

Sometimes you do need an alpha on DXT1 textures though, and some DXT1s have alphas in vanilla too. (blood textures for example)
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Re: [Article] Textures in Mass Effect

Postby KFreon » 27 Feb 2016, 07:52

Oh sure. DXT1 can have alpha for a reason. It's handy for when the image doesn't need that colour fidelity.
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