hatyn wrote:when you say "now if we know the file format" what does that mean? if we know how a file is structured? what if all i know is the file type - FLEV - but not much else. I know the 3D data must be in there. I don't know why some FLEVs are .flev and some .flv and I dont know why some have text data within the hex data.
First you have to know what you're looking at.
If you don't even know that, you're probably not going to get anywhere.
Try looking for 3D data in an image (picture) file; doesn't work.
But what if I use "jpg" for my model extension?
Extensions. You should just forget them since they mean nothing aside from being a name.
An extension is only good for separating files from one another since people at least do that most of the time. I guess you can type it into some search engine, but then you end up with dozens of potential modders looking at something completely irrelevant and making great discussion about nothing cause they noticed that their format ZXY is used in "My Dummy Application That Only I Use" and think that my application might have anything to do with their stuff.
Once you have some idea what the file might contain, you can focus on looking for things that match what you already know.
If you know everything, your job will be easier.
If you know nothing, you're probably not going to get anywhere.
If you know a little, then you might be able to get somewhere.
FLEV doesn't mean anything. It could be an idstring used to verify that the file is what is expected. How someone chooses their extensions might be based on some standard they choose, or just randomly choosing things. I could call my model extension ".LOL" and some people might spend lots of time wondering what that might mean. They could spend years to publish papers about it and then maybe I will break the news and tell them how I came up with the extension.
If two models use two different extensions, then it probably reflects the changes in their content. For example you have static and skeleton meshes; they might name them differently (eg: sm and skem as in Tales of Fantasy)
There is no real difference between "text data" and "hex data". It just happens that you can read one and probably not the other. It is all parsed and handled appropriately. Your role would be to determine how it is used, and whether you need it or not. If you don't know, just skip it. If at the end you get nothing, maybe the stuff you skipped might be important. Or not.
You figure out a file structure as you go. You start from the top and work your way down and find patterns. Once you find a pattern that gets you in and gets you out, there's your file structure. Then you just have to refine it so it looks less like a black box.