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Basic Definition of Terms

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Hello, and welcome to the basic definitions of the ThirdWire series!


This is a simple overview of the terms that you will run across when running and modding games from the ThirdWire series.



3DSMax – An abbreviation for “3D Studio Max,” a program which with its plug-ins can export “Homeworld Level Of Detail” or “.LOD” files, which are used by the ThirdWire series for aircraft, weapon, ship, etc. models.


Avionics – Normally a reference to an aircraft’s “avionics.ini” file, which defines the systems such as the HUD, RADAR and gauges of an aircraft.


.BMP Files – .BMP files are known as “Bitmap” files, and are generally used as the base “skins” for aircraft and weapons in the ThirdWire series. Targa files (.TGA) are used as the decals atop bitmap files. Bitmap files can be made by every readily available paint program including Microsoft Paint.


.CAT Files – .cat files are known as “Security Catalogue” files, and with respect to the ThirdWire series, .CAT files are where most of the game’s core components can be found: for example the flightengine.ini, environmentsystem.ini and easyavionics.ini data files can be found in the FlightData.CAT file. If you wish to modify these files in order to run some of the mods available to you, or the instructions of the mod require modifications to .ini files like these, you will need to use a .CAT EXTRACTOR.


.CAT EXTRACTOR – As the name implies, a .cat extractor is a utility that allows you to extract files from a Security Catalogue. “SFP1E – Strike Fighters Project 1 extract utility 1.0” is one such extractor that can be found at Combat Ace’s downloads section under ThirdWire Series (SF/WOV/WOE/WWI)>Utilities/Editors>SFP1/WOE/WOV CAT File Extract Utility. Note that although called the Strike Fighters Project 1 extract utility, the extractor works with any of the ThirdWire series games for file extraction.


Countermeasures – Sometimes abbreviated “CMs,” countermeasures are chaff and flare, designed to fool incoming missiles. They are not modeled with high accuracy and are very hit-or-miss, no pun intended.


Decals – Decals are Targa (.TGA) files applied on top of a “skin,” and are usually the aircraft’s number, national insignia, tail code, bureau number, etc. Decals are normally parts of the aircraft that are incremented, such as the numbers, because the ThirdWire series can increment .TGA files (example: file000.tga, file001.tga, file002.tga). Decals can be used to make an entire skin, but this is difficult, and normally the skin of an aircraft or weapon is a bitmap, and the decals add specifics to the skin.


.DLL Files – “Dynamic Link Library” files are known as .DLL files. These files cannot be edited and are necessary for the games to run.


FM – FM is an abbreviation for “Flight Model” which defines how an aircraft flies. Flight Models take a long time to complete and are modeled as accurately as possible. Keep in mind that the ThirdWire series of simulations are “light” sims, so accuracy is not always 100%, but it should be noted that in the latest iteration, Wings Over Israel, departures and spins have been modeled. Note, a Flight Modeler might decide to spend a lot of extra time to force an aircraft to depart under certain conditions in prior versions of the TW series, but this is not easy and it is time-consuming.


.INI Files – .INI files are known as “Initialization” files and are the files that define just about every aspect of the game, aircraft, weapons, etc. Flight models, aircraft limitations, ordinance points, fuel capacities, dates of service, availability, who flew it…all of these are decided by the .INI files. Knowledge of the .INI files is necessary to modify any aspect of the ThirdWire series games, from adding skins to adding weapons to modifying aircraft. The more you work with them, the easier it becomes to mod.


.LOD Files – “Homeworld Level Of Detail” files, abbreviated .LOD, are exported files from 3D Studio Max that cannot be reverse-engineered. They are the actual model files that are used in the ThirdWire series. Without a “skin” attached, they appear in the shape of the aircraft, but are flat white. In order to use some of the mods available, .LOD files are necessary from different games in the ThirdWire series, for example, to use the Tu-22 mods in Wings over Vietnam or Europe, one must first have the .LOD files found in Strike Fighters Project 1. .LOD files made by ThirdWire unique to individual games cannot be posted online, this would be illegal.


Mod – “Mod” is short for “modification” and is a term used to describe any modification to the ThirdWire games. Mods can be full add-on aircraft, weapons, campaigns, or simple single-line .ini file edits to change a value of an aircraft or game file.


Modder – Someone who makes modifications to games is called a “Modder.”


.MSN Files – Mission files, made using WoVQMD (Quick Mission Designer) or similar mission editing programs are saved in the .MSN file format. These are custom missions that can be loaded from the Single Mission option in the game interface.


OPFOR – An abbreviation for Opposition Forces, meaning the enemy.


Patch – Patches are modifications to the game core released from ThirdWire. They address issues and bugs, and also many times add new functionality to the games.


Read Me – As the name implies, a “Read Me” file is a simple text file that explains any information or offers instruction, especially related to mods such as, but not limited to add-on campaigns, aircraft and weapons. Read Me files also are hardly ever read…be sure to read them as most questions are answered in the Read Me.


RL – Real Life, or, the thing that overrides any modding/skinning/etc. Usually gets in the way of stuff at inopportune times.


Skins – The term “skin” refers to a design applied to a 3D model so that it doesn’t appear as a big white plane-looking object in the sky. Skins can be thought of as a “paint job” or “color scheme” for your aircraft, ship, etc. Note that a skin is not actually an aircraft, but instead the “paint” that will appear on an aircraft, i.e. you must first download or have the full aircraft on your computer to use a new or custom skin on that aircraft.


Skinner – Someone who specializes in skinning for 3D models is called a “Skinner.”


.TGA Files – Targa media files are usually referred to as .TGA files. These files are used for decals and may be incremented to change as the basis for a numbering system or custom decal. If you were to make a nose decal showing a number starting at 200, for example, you would save the 200 decal as nose000.TGA, 201 would be nose001.TGA, etc. Targa files are also used for effects, such as after burners or explosions. Targa files must be saved at 32 bits/pixel to work in the ThirdWire series. Adobe ImageReady is one program that can create Targa files.


ThirdWire – ThirdWire, sometimes abbreviated TW, is the company that developed Strike Fighters Project 1, Wings over Vietnam, Wings over Europe, First Eagles, and Wings over Israel, usually called the ThirdWire series.


TK – “TK” is Tsuyoshi Kawahito’s name abbreviated. TK is the designer and creator of the ThirdWire series. He previously worked on European Air War.


Two Weeks – An ambiguous amount of time rarely ever equivalent to two weeks in truth, usually given as a response to the question of when a mod will be complete. Realistically, it could mean a few months, to over a year, to (rarely) as little as a day.


.WAV Files – “Wave Audio Files” are known as .WAV files. The ThirdWire series uses .WAV files for its sound effects.


Weapon/Gun Editor – The Weapon Editor is included in Bunyap’s Weapon Pack and more recently the Mirage Factory Weapons Pack, or directly from www.thirdwire.com. This utility allows for easy editing of weaponry in the ThirdWire series, and is necessary for adding certain weapons. There is also a Gun Editor designed to modify gun data. The latest version is required to edit weapons with the latest patches for the ThirdWire series, and to work in WinXP or Vista, must be run in compatibility with Windows 98/ME mode.

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