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Grand Theft Auto III Forum  /  Discussion on recently found things (record.dat, skin file names)

There have been a few things discovered over the last few days. The nature of these discoveries is unlike other strats, which require only in-game inputs. I will detail these below. Note that this is not a democracy, nothing will change unless you present a compelling enough argument (read: convince me).

Exponential Skin Translation
Currently Allowed: Yes

Using different player skins by putting them in the skins folder is a well known feature of the game. While usually editing game files or adding files that modify the game is not allowed, skins and MP3 files have always been allowed.
Exponential Skin Translation uses a previously unknown bug with plane coordinate conversion to change the Z coordinates of scripted planes and trains. Specifically, selecting a skin with an "e" in the correct place will make the string->float conversion for planes and trains to assume whatever comes after e is an exponent, causing the coordinate to be incorrectly interpreted. This causes anomalies that allow alternative strats for some missions (example:

Possible Solutions:
- Allow (current)
- Disallow adding/changing any skin and MP3 files not present in a vanilla game (can still change in the menu) (MP3 files included here because banning one and not the other is arbitrary)
- Make arbitrary restrictions to file names (You have to try very hard to compel me to do this one)

Currently Allowed: No

Unlike skins and MP3, this is an unadvertised feature of the game that requires an extra file to be created, called record.dat. This ban follows the line of not allowing game file modification that skins and MP3 are exempt from. An example of similar modification is including .asi files.
Upon starting the game or loading a save, the game will start dumping data to this file. Afterwards, renaming this file to playback.dat and starting the game or loading a save will play back whatever was recorded. It will not look good because the playback is extremely broken in the PC version.
An (un?)intended side effect of using this feature is that the game will not spawn any police vehicle other than the Police Car (including helicopters).

Possible Solutions:
- Allow (You have to try very hard to compel me to do this one)
- Disallow

Feel free to discuss these and whatever else below. I would prefer not having things like "disallow this specific set of file names but nothing else because I want to play with my funny skins xd"

Also when's frame limiter discussion (feel free, I'm not stopping you)

KinzyKenzieKinzyKenzie, UppermostUppermost and 9 others like this. 

Correct answers for this test:
1) allow
2) disallow
3) allow frame limiter off

KinzyKenzieKinzyKenzie, Ark and 2 others like this. 
(edited: )

1. every skin except 2 standard ones should be banned for the runs older than april 14 2020?
2. record.dat should be obviously banned
3. frame limiter is still banned because everyone is used to it

however, i would like to see a memes% category on GTACE where we can see nfl, record.dat and est allowed.


1 allow
2 ban
3 ban? (not sure about this one)


Correct answers for this test:
1) allow
2) disallow
3) allow frame limiter off

KinzyKenzieKinzyKenzie, DerpethDerpeth and 2 others like this. 

1. allow
2. disallow
3. idk


Correct answers for this test:
1) allow
2) disallow
3) allow frame limiter off

(edited: )

1) allow
2) disallow
3) allow frame limiter off (but no external limiter)

Also a quote from Vice City readMe.txt



The appearance of Tommy can be altered or changed by editing inside a paint program
a skin file. Skin files need to be 24 bit un-compressed bitmaps of size 256 * 256.
An example file is provided in your "SKINS" directory called "TEXTURE_GUIDE.JPG".
When applied, the skins will only affect Tommy's street outfit, and only in-game,
not in cut-scenes.

MP3 Radio Station files:
We have provided the ability to play the users own music files instead of the
Radio Stations. Simply place your MP3 files into your "Grand Theft Auto Vice City/MP3"
directory, and then use the "change station" key to cycle to the MP3 radio station.
Use the MP3 boost volume control to add extra amplification to your MP3 music files
to equalize the volume relative to the Radio Stations and Sound Effects.

KinzyKenzieKinzyKenzie and Mili_Mili_ like this. 

1) Allow
2) Disallow
3) Allow frame limiter off

(edited: )

1) disallow
2) disallow
3) disallow

NABN00BNABN00B likes this. 

"Note that this is not a democracy, nothing will change unless you present a compelling enough argument (read: convince me)."

"1) Allow
2) Disallow
3) Allow frame limiter off"


KonepeKonepe and guywithguywith like this. 

1) Disallow. These files don't come with the box and are not generated by the game either.
2) Disallow. This is crossing into TAS territory.
3) Disallow frame limiter off. Can't imagine higher framerates to not speed up travel. Also raises the question of third party frame limiters. Methods people used would be impossible to detect from a 30fps video recording. This all feels unnecessary when the game's built-in framelimiter works just fine and provides the same physics behaviour to everyone.

ChivuChivu, KonepeKonepe and 2 others like this. 
(edited: )

1) Allow skins

2) Disallow record.dat

3) I don't care, I'm going to keep it on either way

(edited: )

1) Neat strat but disallow.
2) Disallow.

"allow frame limiter off" (nice discussion)

ChivuChivu, KonepeKonepe and BosZzBosZz like this. 

1) allow
2) disallow
3) shorter: Don't just allow the toggling of the frame limiter, but also the use of programs to limit framerate, unless people like not being able to reverse.

longer: Just because there is a frame limiter in the game, doesn't mean we need to use it. When I see people whining about "third party frame limiters" and also adding that everyone's computers are different, yielding different result, so we should just use the built in one anyway in the same argument, hypocrisy is the word that comes to mind. Sure all PCs are different, that's the fucking point of using frame limiting software. Everyone can just use the most optimal setting if there is one. On a computer your options are limitless and we've seen xzamples in the past of people taking advantage of this. But getting rid of the frame limiter rule would only get people to revive the games, test different settings in different scenarios, find new stuff. You already need an SSD for a competitive time, having a decent enough pc to run an 18 year old game at whatever framerate works best shouldn't be an issue. This is especially true for SA runs. I can't believe that went from no framelimiter rule to that 25fps garbage that we have today.


overcooler: The problem with external frame limiters is that you can just use hotkeys to change your framerate to any arbitrary value without using the in-game frame limiter. In other words, using things outside the game to affect the game. Am I to understand that you mean using an external limiter to set a maximum framerate, but not allow toggling it arbitrarily during the run without the ingame frame limiter? I don't see any problem with that solution.


Yes, my initial idea was setting a specific framerate in an external program and also allowing to toggle the in-game framelimiter when necessary. Though if we take GTA 4's on-the-fly framerate toggling for example, that could be up for debate as well. Like even now you could just adjust your framerate to a lower value than 30 if you so desire, to affect certain things and claim it is just some issue with your computer. I'm personally all for giving the extra freedom to players to come up with new techniques for things.


Disallow to all

My opinion on this is I don't like "meta-gaming" stuff in runs. The less "setup" required to perform a run, the better.

We're here to play games fast. Operative word is play. Renaming files and toggling FPS isn't "playing" -- it's all cool stuff you can do to change the behavior of the game, but it doesn't necessarily make the run more enjoyable or impressive. Often, just more tedious, because of the overhead/meta-game involved.

SvenirSvenir, BosZzBosZz and 5 others like this. 

I agree with your perspective, Frew, but at least when it comes to skins your reasoning doesn't apply. Making a skin with a name is something you do before the run starts. You know what else you do before the run starts? You can change your settings and controls. You can delete your replay file to get a line skip, which unlike skins needs to be done before every run. The overhead of adding a skin file once is no bigger than setting up whatever windowing/cursor locking tool required to make the mouse not escape the window.

KinzyKenzieKinzyKenzie and Ark like this. 

KZ_FREW what you are essentially saying is "We're here to play games fast with arbitrary limitations." such as the built in frame limiter OPTION, just like the built in feature to change skins. It just sounds like you cannot be bothered to unlock the true potential of runs and are happy with """classic%""".

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