Advances on Editing Overlays

Modded Overlays

Recently I started to look into overlays files and search for some stuff on the Internet and I´ve found some very interesting things! Those who edited overlays for FIFA 10 or earlier versions will remember there were two main files: one with .apt extension and another with .const extension. These files store the information layout and function calls (for animations, etc). And I think nobody realize that this same structure was used in games like Command & Conquer 3 and Battle for Middle Earth.

Well, I don´t know about how you have learnt about editing popups, but I have started with some pictures made by Monkey Dragon to edit popups for fifa 07 and those pictures only teach how to change the color of the text, all the other things I have learnt by myself. However, if I was less stupid then I would have searched about editing APT files and, probably, would have found some CC3 forums teaching the basics about editing APT and more: tools to do so! A member of CC3 community, called jonwil, developed some tools that convert apt files to xml (a more readable format) and backforth. You can download download this tools here.

The useful tools in this file are: apt2xml and xml2apt. The basic usage is: Open the cmd, navigate to the desired folder and type apt2xml.exe apt_file. This will create a xml file with the file structure, in a readable format.

You may be wondering: What this mean, afterall?

Well, the format used for overlays in FIFA 11 and the new version still is apt and const, but a bit modified: the files named 0 and 1 inside the .big file are, respectively, the .apt and .const files. To be more specific, from FIFA 11 to 14, it was used the "version 2" of apt file, and starting from FIFA 15 the "version 3" was put in action (with global components graphics).

You may be thinking now: Well, this means we can use these tools to edit FIFA Overlays then?

The answer is: no. The bad news here is about these specific versions, because the tool can´t decode the new files, mainly because the new .const file format. However, the tool can decode FIFA 10 overlays (I have installed and modded fifa 10 files again :P, just to test) and I could extract some very useful information.
From this point I start to do some reverse engineering on this tool to check its behavior and to reproduce it later, converting the sequences to the new file format by coding a new tool. But the only knowledge I have about reverse engineering I learnt in compilers and digital systems classes in school. So I was and I´m not able to go further without study more and I didn´t have time for this. So I gave up on reverse engineering last year.

However, this week I started to looking into these files again and go back to those CC3 and BFME forums and I realize I had missed something. In a thread some random guys were discussing about how ugly the source code of this tool looked and I then started my quest to find this so called "ugly source code". I took some minutes to find the author's website with a lot of download links, but none of them worked. So I came back to google and start to look in all possible forums. No results. Then, like a flash, the Web Archive site came into my mind. I put the download page link there and boom: the source code zip file started to download.

I started to read it immediately and guess what: the code is really ugly (just a joke haha)! All the code is written in C++ and have no documentation, so the reading was not easy and I realized I have not time for this anymore. I really would love to start to convert this code, but I have no free time anymore (this site wasn´t updated for months!). So, if any of you have good skills in programming to convert the code and wants to help, the link for the source code is here.
I will be posting some tutorials about editing apt files and tips of what I´ve learnt in all these years. Maybe you can go deeper in this project with this information.

If you need any help with overlays, let me know!



CC3 Tools

CC3 Tools source code