Greetings to ModDB community!
Jackhammer has been renamed to J.A.C.K. because of copyright issues, but there is also good news: we've finally passed Greenlight. This means that J.A.C.K. will be eventually released on Steam (Q4 2016). Thanks everybody for support! Today we are presenting the last pre-Steam version 1.1.1064 with more bugfixes and improvements. Further, there will be two versions of the editor: the Steam one, commercial, with SteamWorks features and automatic updates, and non-Steam, completely free, although updated not very often. Again, lots of bugs were fixed, so if you experienced critical problems with older versions, don't hesitate to update!
UPDATE: this version contains a hotfix for the previously released version 1.1.1058, and replaces it in out public release history.
What is J.A.C.K.?
J.A.C.K. (previously known as Jackhammer) is a brand new level editor for games with a quake-style BSP architecture. The aim is to develop a convenient cross-platform tool capable of incorporating the best features of existing editors, such as Valve Hammer Editor, Q3Radiant and others. Despite Quake and Half-Life having been released a long time ago, the large community have arisen around, still developing mods and games on their bases. However the existing editors suffer from fundamental disadvantages their users are well familiar with. J.A.C.K. does aspire to be the universal level design tool for classic games. But not only the classics! The editor shall become a key development tool for the Volatile engine, that is why its second name is Volatile Development Kit.
We present you the latest public beta - version 1.1.1064. Despite not all the ideas being implemented and not all the functions being completely error-free, you are already able to download almost fully functional version of the editor, install and evaluate J.A.C.K. in action. Please don't forget that beta may contain some issues. We are interested in a vast testing of the editor and grateful in advance for your comments and suggestions! In addition, you can provide J.A.C.K. with financial support, donating funds for the further development. Also, feel free to join our ModDB group to recieve minor news and updates, and to watch some videos showing the editor in action.
J.A.C.K. currently supports the following games/engines:
- Half-Life (GoldSource)
- Gunman Chronicles (GoldSource)
- Quake (Quake engine)
- Hexen II (Quake engine)
- Quake II (id Tech 2)
- Quake III (id Tech 3)
Please don't be confused with such a small list! Many games on the listed engines are also supported, especially if there is also a FGD file. E.g. you can use J.A.C.K. to make levels for Counter-Strike 1.6 (GoldSource) and Tremulous (id Tech 3).
Here is a list of highlights of the new editor version's. The list of new abilities is far from being complete, therefore don't hesitate to look through the habitual menus and dialogs thoroughly!
- Hexen II Support: now the editor supports Hexen II, the game based on Quake engine. There are compilers, FGD file and palette in the install package. Game configuration of the editor is identical to Quake's.
- VMF Format: now one can import and export maps in VMF format; this is a Source engine format. Although the support is still in beta mode, and not all the features are supported (e.g. the editor can't process Displacements), you can use the feature to transfer your projects between VHE4 and J.A.C.K., and also to include other utilities to the development pipeline (e.g. HammUEr - an UE4 plugin).
- User Cameras: now it is possible to place, move and delete user cameras, like in VHE. There is also an ability to load and save such cameras to JMF, RMF and VMF formats.
- Triangulation: a special command enables triangulation of non-planar faces that frequently arise during vertex manipulation. This helps to get rid of many "Invalid Solid Structure" errors, and to facilitate creation of curved columns and other complex geometry using vertex rotation tool. Simply triangulate your complex stuff after you're done. This command, along with others, is added to a new context menu in Vertex Manipulation mode.
- Incremental Save: a new version saving command automatically adds version number to the file name. Such behaviour is familiar to 3DSMax users; it enables easy creation of checkpoints during prolonged project development.
- Improved Entity Report: now hidden entities in "Include Hidden Objects" mode are marked in italic; also there are Hide and Unhide buttons added, to hide and show selected entities. Besides the dialog remembers last parameters entered, even between sessions.
- Advanced Patch Texturing: Naturalize and Set patch texturing functions now account not only for scale, but also for shift and 90-fold rotation (i.e. 0, 90, 180 and 270 degrees). Along with that, Set function now performs in "naturalized" mode, i.e. taking into account segment lengths. These features greatly facilitate texturing of curves in Quake 3.
- Other Useful Stuff: tabs in Texture Browser, ability to hide triggers and unknown entities, ability to "lock" texture axes in Scale Vertices operation during vertex manipulation, display of selection center in status bar, tear-off mode for submenus, support for deformVertexes autosprite and autosprite2 in Quake 3 shaders, and many more.
- Lots of Improvements: the new version traditionally contains lots of bugfixes and improvements in comparison with the previous release. The editor became much more stable and functional. You can read the detailed changelog here.
New triangulation function enables fast creation of brush curves:
Hexen II support and improved Camera Tool:
And more new features that were also present in the previous versions of the editor:
- Cross-Platform Editing: the editor is being developed on a cross-platform Qt framework and is available both for Windows and Linux users. We do our best to provide the same level of comfort to Linux users, revealing them finally a convenient level editor!
- Large memory addressing support: 64-bit version on the editor overcomes the 2 Gb memory limit. Now you can store more history items and undo more recent actions.
- Extensibility: the editor supports plugins to extend its abilities. Plugins can be very versatile: from new brush primitives, texture and model formats to new game configurations with their own import and export formats. Plugins can share the functionality with each-other: so that WAD3 texture format used by Half-Life can be easily "plugged" into Quake and used along with its "native" WAD2 format, certainly with compilers that also support it.
- Game Formats Support: because of flexible plugin system the editor supports many formats of game resources and correctly displays them. They are models of different formats(Quake MDL, Half-Life MDL, Quake2 MD2, Quake3 MDL and ASE), sprites (Quake SPR, Half-Life SPR, Quake2 SP2), map sources (MAP, RMF). There is an ability of import and export in RMF format preserving most of its specific features (object colors, grouping, visgroups), so that J.A.C.K. can be used along with VHE.
- Archive Support: J.A.C.K. can load models and sprites from game archives (PAK, PK3). This is useful if you open other's map which uses models, and your game resources are not unpacked.
- Color Schemes: the editor's look-and-feel can be easily customized using the color schemes, both predefined and user-created. Almost all colors in viewports are customizable - from a background color to a color of Vertex Tool bullet's frame. Besides a general color of the application's window can be altered. In addition one can define his own presets in a configuration file.
- Realtime Texture Effects: transparency, texture animation and scrolling support promotes a higher grade of perception of a level under development. Now one can estimate translucency of windows not only in a game, but also in the editor. You will be able to see your Quake III shader scripts almost the same as in the game! Along with that, special rendermodes of textures in Half-Life models are supported.
- Improved Decal Rendition: you can preview Half-Life decals (colors and transparency) in a 3D-View just the same as in the game.
- Embedded Shader Editor: now the creation process of shaders for Quake III and other games based on its engine becomes delightful. You can not only preview effect changes in real time, but also utilize such convenient features, as automatic source code formatting, syntax highlighting and keyword auto-completion.
- Large Map Support: the editor enables working with levels of large size, up to 262144 x 262144 units, now it is simply set up in the Preferences. Now one can easily crate levels for mods with a support of large outdoors.
- Multiple VisGroups per Object: hence an object can exist in several visgroups. In J.A.C.K., VisGroups are never created automatically upon hiding a level fragment: hide/show mechanism doesn't rely on grouping anymore. However VisGroups allow to hide certain logical groups of objects along with color coding, in other words, act as a regulation tool.
- Textures Bound to Game Configurations: one more important innovation is texture binding to game configurations instead of a global texture list. This feature allows, for example, address different WAD files in different mods and work with them independently.
- Loading Resources on Demand: to speed things up, the editor precaches the resources on startup. However within a considerable amount of game configurations this process may take a long time. To deal with this issue, there is an option to precache only the resources needed in the immediate work. Working with a Half-Life level, the editor precaches only models and textures for this game, saving system's memory. Upon loading a Quake level, J.A.C.K. will add its resources to the load.
- Curved surfaces: the editor supports curved surfaces (patches) used in games based on Quake III engine, and also contains instruments making work with them easier: rotating around a control point, randomizing control points, and other.
- Path Tool: a new instrument considerably facilitates the process of creating paths for trains, mosters and other objects. You can copy and paste paths in a map, join and split them, invert and convert to linked set of entities.
- UV-Lock: the new feature emulates 3D model editor functionality where texture coordinates are bound to vertices. Although such emulation is not completely possible, the editor sometimes allows to achieve previously almost impossible ways to texture faces, e.g. skewing a texture along with a brush side.
- New Texture Application Modes: "NULL to Selected" (applying NULL or caulk texture to selection), "NULL to Unselected" (same as the previous mode, but texture is applied to the other brush faces; handy fast removal of backfaces), "Apply (texture + values + axes)" (copying texture axes information, simplifying texture application to complex objects and landscapes, especially when combined with "Align to View" mode).
- Additional Instruments: along with Worldcraft/Valve Hammer Editor instruments one got used to, the editor supports some specific features: either original or adopted from Radiant's ideology. For example, there are such new functions, as brush merging, scaling texture lock, validity restrictions in Vertex Manipulation mode, model rendition in 2D viewports (including the translation/rotation preview), scaling models with Alt key pressed. On a new level creation, the editor prompts for a basic room, which is very convenient for validation of a game configuration or, perhaps, testing specific entities.
- Compiling in Editor: now it is much more convenient to compile maps in the editor, because the compile process doesn't block it. You can continue editing the map while the long compilation takes place. You can also terminate it at any time simply by closing the Process Window.
- Automatic Selection in 3D: you can select multiple objects by pressing mouse button in a 3D-View and then dragging a cursor. This mode is convenient for quick selection of lots of nearby objects (e.g. landscape brushes), when clicking can become annoying.
- Snap to Grid Revised: subsequent calls to it change anchor point, looping through all eight bounding box points (previously only the lower bounding box point was used as an anchor). In Vertex Manipulation mode this instrument snaps using selected vertices, thus enabling alignment of the whole object that ensures the certain vertex on the grid. In addition, VHE-style snapping to grid during movement of the selection was added.
- Keep Internal Connections: option to preserve internal connections (targetname-target links) in entities during copypaste and cloning (i.e. dragging with Shift pressed) operations.
- Model View: you can specify an external model viewer (e.g. HLMV) and open any model simply by a context menu command. Also it is now possible to reload a model from disk without restarting the editor.
- Extended FGD Format: the file format describing game entities was extended for the specific needs of J.A.C.K. For example, the new format enables displaying angles of entities using arrows, rendition of light sources as octahedrons, and introduces a help system for entities and their parameters. You can extend your own FGD per existing samples (e.g., halflife.fgd distributed with the editor).
- Autosave: you can setup autosave function to protect your project from editor crashes or own design errors.
- Update Check: the editor can automatically check for new version available and notify you, so you can immediately download and install the update.
- Multilingual Support: switch to your native language when using the editor! Now there is no need to consult a dictionary to find out what either menu command does, or to understand a reason for an error. Presently there are English, Russian, Ukrainian, Byelorussian and Polish languages supported. Languages can even be switched dynamically without restarting the editor.
- Miscellaneous: the editor supports precise selection of models in 3D viewport, loading and rendition of portal files (*.prt), assigning a random yaw to entities, multiple texture fitting, texture replacement with scaling, context menus for entity creation and many other pleasant little things, and there is no good to enumerate them all. Just install the editor and look at your own!
J.A.C.K. is not based upon any existing level design software; it uses neither any proprietary code nor results of decompiling and/or reverse engineering of the proprietary software; reconstruction of design and functionality of Valve Hammer Editor is intent because many modders got used to the familiar look and feel.
If you're already using the editor for your mod or game, let us know, and we'll probably feature you in the next release news!