E-Views with Boomer

Within the walls of this virtual library lay all of Boomer's written RCT related articles. A Room with a View features all of Boomers popular E-View series, his previews, reviews, mini-Views and E-Views.

The Sambo construction company built this special place as a tribute to Boomer. In that spirit, creating a place to also archive articles and interviews from other authors to keep the virtual library current and ever-changing, just like the "view".

Enter when you can, enter at your leisure. There's plenty of time and plenty of chairs to browse and read through these fascinating interviews and reviews with RCT legends and celebrities.

E-views with Boomer Boomer's E-View with Jonwil

I have had the privilege and the honor of interviewing many people in the RCT community over the last 3 years. Some names well known by all and others not really known at all. But each and everyone I have interviewed has brought something useful for all of us to the RCT table. Some people think I have some kind of form or formula to do these things with and all I have to do is fill in the blanks. That’s not the way it works with me. Each and every E-View is written from scratch with no thought or plan to do one just like another. If I did that they would be laying with all the other trash in the landfill, pushing up daisies and fertilizing fields.

“HEY, I thought this was about Jonwil and not Boomer”, you might say. And it is, but I want to make it perfectly clear that each guest I talk to is a separate story, a separate life, separately written and they each bring a separate and unique “tool” to the community that needs to be treated in a personal way with respect to whatever it is that is given freely to us. That being said, it is my distinct pleasure to bring you this E-View with a bright young man with RCT on his mind.

Now at first glance you might say “ho hum" another RCT3 project to try to make the game better. But that first glance leads to a second glance and soon the meaning of what jonwil has done for us is looking back at us leaving us with a big smile and HOPE! Hope for the future of RCT3 gaming and hope for the long awaited breakthrough in making custom RCT3 objects a common practice and well used tool in the RCT stable.

Doctor J, Henry Winklestein, Oblivion and many more and even Josef Drexler himself have fallen victim to the Boomer and his mighty pen. And each and every one just as important as the other in their help and services across this dimension we call the RCT Universe. Now it is my distinct pleasure to invite yet another important person with yet another important breakthrough into the room with a view. This time the focus is on RCT3, OVL files and a way through to the other side.

Join me now as we talk to Jonwil as he tells us a little more about himself and a lot more about this exciting new development with custom objects in RCT3. Ladies and gentlemen, A Room With a View now presents an E-View with Jonwil.


Boomer: Welcome jonwil, please take the good chair and make yourself comfortable. Good to have you here and a pleasure to talk to you as you have been stirring things up a little bit in the RCT3 pond. And I’ve been wanting to yak at you and see what this is all about. So what say we get right to it and start right at the beginning? When did you first discover RCT and how did you discover it?

Thanks for the invitation Boomer and the good chair, hmm, I can’t remember exactly how I first found RCT but it was sometime around when RCT1 came out. Prior to that, I had played both Transport Tycoon and Theme Park.

Boomer: Once you had discovered RCT, did you discover and use any trainers or community generated RCT utilities once you had started playing RCT?
Jonwil: I used several trainers to overcome the limitations of RCT1, own all land, flatten all land, all rides etc. When the Drexler patch came out, I used that too.
Boomer: As we all did. I had the pleasure of having Josef Drexler, setting in that very chair jonwil and I must say you are fitting in it just as nice! (Boomer winks) As with Josef, you too seem to have a good knowledge of computer language and programming code. Where did you pick up or learn these skills from?
Jonwil: Generally it is self-taught although I did do some programming in high-school and am currently doing a computer science degree.
Boomer: A degree should open up many doors for you. Do you plan on using these skills as a form of career advancement later or have you even thought about it?
Jonwil: Yes, I have thought about it, I do plan to get a job somewhere in the computer industry, exactly where I have no idea as of yet.
Boomer: Sooner or later you discovered that there may be a way to “crack” the OVL files and generate a custom object program that would be of tremendous use to RCT3 players. RCT3 challenges met up with the knowledge you have and you started working on a project to help crack some vital code in order to start the first steps in a community generated custom object program for an intricate 3-d based engine used in RCT3. What brought you to the point of saying, "I want to figure this out?"
Jonwil: I was fairly active in reverse engineering RCT1 and RCT2, alongside people like Doctor J, on things like the track, park and object files. I also collected many user-made object files for RCT3 (including all the great user-made flat rides) and had plans to work on various parks using said object files (Parks that never really got off the ground). After that, I dropped out of the RCT community and did other things, keeping an eye on the cool flat rides people were making via RCT2.com forums. This was how I found out about RCT3. I downloaded the demo then got the full game after that. When RCT3 first came out, a bunch of people were saying "You wont be able to make new objects, rides etc like you did in RCT2", "Too much stuff is hard coded for object editing to be possible", "We should let frontier make all the objects, they can do a better job than we could anyway" and also rumors about a scenery editor from frontier themselves. (although if they do make one, it probably wont appears until at least after soaked, probably after expansion pack 2). Seeing this and loving reverse engineering unknown file formats, I decided to start working on the ovl file formats.
Boomer: The only reverse engineering I’ve done is when they let me back the train up a few feet when I was visiting a friend named Wabigbear when he was working at Disneyland’s Bear Country. Did you have any help crunching what you had and trying to figure it all out?
Jonwil: So far, I haven't really had any help from outside parties with the coding. 
But I have used a lot of different tools to create these programs. I use Visual Studio .NET 2003 to write the programs. I also use NuMega SoftIce and Datarescue IDA PRO to figure out how all this stuff works. And I must tip my hat to whoever wrote the no-cd crack I use which removed the protection preventing debugging and disassembly of the program. It would be nice to have some help with the work but it looks like people with the needed skills, including C/C++ programmers, are thin on the ground.
Boomer: How long did it take you from the first point you started working on this project, until you got it to the point that it's at now?
Jonwil: I have no idea exactly how much time I have spent on this project so far but I started sometime soon after RCT3 was released.
Boomer: So about four months or so. Can you briefly and simply tell us how this works and how to use it and by the way, what do you call it?
Jonwil: I call it simply "The RCT3 Tools". As for how the importer works, basically, it takes a 3D model in 3D Studio Max Ascii ASE format along with a texture in 8 bit indexed color Windows BMP format (and some settings for the ovl file) and creates a new ovl file containing a FlexiTexture (texture map for 3D objects), a SceneryItemVisual (data linking to e.g. different level-of-detail meshes for the scenery) and a StaticShape (the actual 3D data for a non-animated objects). Some people have asked for a GUI for it, I am not the best at making GUIs but once it is all said and done, I will probably try and make a front-end for all my tools. As for why I chose to use 3D Studio Max Ascii ASE files as input, it is because the format is dead easy to parse (thanks to the ASE parsing library I found), contains all the information that is required for RCT3 and is fairly simple to convert into from common 3D formats.
Boomer: The only part of that I understood was the part about “I call it simply” from there on you slipped out of English and into C++ on me. I didn’t even get a C+ in English let alone computerize. But that being said, what now? Any plans to refine or develop this project any further on your part?
Jonwil: Right now I am working on a text editor (although I can’t really start on that until I am sure I have the language ovl files for all the languages of RCT3 that exist). I am also working on an editor for the ride, shop and scenery icons. Then, I will start work on the hard part, an editor for the style.ovl files that hold all the information about a given theme. I may also need to make an editor for the inventions data, I haven't figured out how that fits into the equation yet but from what I can tell so far it might mean that adding totally new themes is possible. (if so, it means I can make my style.ovl editor only create new themes and not edit existing ones which then makes life easier for me again). Figuring out the RCT3 Skeletal animation system would be nice too.
Everything I write for RCT3 will be released under the GNU General Public License so others can benefit from my work but must contribute back in turn. (Basically, if you want to use my code, you can but only if you release all your code too)
Boomer: You have done a tremendous service to us all who play this game. I bet you get tired staring at a monitor all the time while you work on this. I have to get away from ol one eye Betsy myself sometimes as I am sure it true for you as well. Getting away from the computer can do us all some good sometimes, what other hobbies and interest do you have besides computer related activities?
Jonwil: Lots. Other than computers, I like Roller coasters (One of these days I will be able to afford to fly to America and do that coast-to-coast Roller coaster tour I have been wanting to do). I also like LEGO building blocks. And I like Science Fiction (books, movies and TV). I also like music (especially Australian stuff like AC/DC, I want to make a ride called AC/DC Rock’n Coaster sometime)
Boomer: When you’re done playing and its time to eat, what is your favorite food? 
Jonwil: A toss up between Mexican, Seafood and Asian.
Boomer: I see you like variation in all that you do. What is your favorite TV show?
Jonwil: Right now, it’s probably The New Inventors on ABC. For those who don't know, the ABC is a station owned and run by the Australian government with no ads on it, The New Inventors is a program showcasing people who have invented stuff.
Boomer: Yes, I am familiar with that show, I’ve caught it on a satellite station, very interesting and clever products are shown on it. What is your favorite Movie of all time?
Jonwil: Favorite movie? Hard to say exactly but I really love the Ghostbusters movies and if someone ever adds ghost or better yet, Ghostbusters scenery to RCT3, I want to make a Ghostbusters roller coaster.
Boomer: Well, thanks to you, that may be a lot sooner then any of us thought! I can’t let you go until I ask you this last trick question, what is your favorite RCT site to visit and participate in?
Jonwil: Probably rct2.com since it’s about the only one I visit regularly other than the Atari forums.
Boomer: Good answer, (laughing) I guess I can let you out of here alive now! Thank you Jonwil, for both making such a useful tool for the community and also for taking the time to drop by and visit with us. It has been an honor and a pleasure!
Jonwil: The pleasure was all mine Boomer, thanks for having me.

Jonwil has left the house! Josef Drexler… Henry Winklestein… Doctor J… the list of community heroes goes on and on in an impressive parade though the RCT hall of fame. Now we have a new name to be echoed though that hall… Jonwil! And it looks like its been heard… loud and clear. I’m worn out; I’m going to bed… Boomer… Out!

For a while left behind in the darkened “Room With A View” only the clock on the wall could be heard, ticking and tocking in its endless quest to follow time just as man made it to do. Then, just around the midnight hour as the clock folded its hands together as if to pray, some other very unusual sounds could be heard and sights could be seen. The Tick and the Tock faded into the click and the clack of busy fingers on a keyboard. A ghostly figure appeared translucently white and shimmering in front of Boomers computer. Outside the ‘Room” the view was of uncompleted ghostly objects swirling and floating and slowly starting to take shape, RCT objects, glowing in 3-D effervescence. 

If Boomer had been there, if he had walked into the room at that very moment, the strange sight that would have greeted him would have sent him running to the phone in a panic… But what good would that have done him… Who’s he gonna call?