***Now I know other game mods conversion are against the rules so I won't be releasing anything. I might share a few tips/concepts maybe even make this a loose tutorial***
**Secondlife might be one of the only games I can think of that if you own all of the content you create may be allowable on here, as its basically just a easier to use 3d modeling program built as a game**
*This is probably too complicated and frustrating for anyone to repeat my steps. So don't jump into this thinking its a piece of cake, though my idea was neat and turned out to be sound* Its easier just to rig your own character from scratch in blender, 3dsmax, poser etc.... The tools i used are hard to find, and some cost little to significant money. BE FORWARNED!
HISTORY: I was thinking to myself what would I do after learning to rig? Well i wanted to rig some characters that were meaningful to me. Just so happens I also am active on a Virtual World game called SecondLife (don't play this if you haven't already its a huge time/life/real life drama/waster. <--you were warned*). While the Terms of Service of SecondLife aka "SL" state that you own copyright to the items that you make, exporting them out is a gray area, and frowned upon. Well I got involved in a software something called OpenSim it basically lets you run your own SL GRID completely on your own computer with full control. Skip ahead a few years of learning about how to use OpenSim and working on that as a hopeful total replacement for SL.... for me. I got really good an extracting characters from SL and putting them into OpenSim (I did this following the TOS disclaimer btw).
Anyrate my sl partner who is not active anymore really, though i know in person and was able to give me access export their character. I thought this would be an impressive and fun first model to export into something else fun like say SAN ANDREAS!!! a highly modable game these days.
So my first problem was to figure out how to rig models, learned that, and evolved from using gmax to 3dsmax cause its a lot less frustrating (basic movement controls is the main thing). Now I had to get my model in a format that could import into 3dsmax.
There is a script for 3dsmax that came in useful called PrimComposer it allows you to export/import SL objects at will. Now this is great for accessories but I needed something for avatars. While the official SL mesh is available for free with licensing restrictions, exporting an existing avatar shape to mesh is a whole other ball game. I eventually paid 8 dollars for a script for 3dsmax that allows importing of avatar meshes from existing characters its called 3dsmax SLAV (they have a blender one too). It has a licensing system that requires direct contact with its author to get it to work outside of demo mode for the base mesh. There are some alternatives but they require using paid tools (~50~60$) to edit the base mesh with the same settings as in sl think zbrush maya). Then i needed a viewer that was still capable of exporting shape information. (they are constantly changing and updating the viewer, its madening). Anyways I found a viewer that was based on their older client called Emergence.
Emergence is a supposed cleaned save of Emerald Viewer which had some controversy of spying (that was true, I was abused by them personally), they later rebranded into phoenix viewer and then phoenix firestorm. (btw emergence does not work on the main official grid only on opensim these days)
After I used the export character to xml shape, I imported into 3dsmax using that script I bought. Though the files need to be converted from simple xml to hpa (hieretical prim archive). There are varous methods to do this properly using maxport and maxproxy through opensim, I know how to do this but didn't need to cause I already had it in hpa format. Using maxport/proxy is a tutorial in itself, youtube is a good search place. It is also possible in the debug settings of emergence to export your avatar in several parts to wavefront obj files which could be reassembled but 8 dollars saved me a lot of time, and probably future headaches.
The next big thing is textures. If you own your textures its easy right click save to desktop, if you don't, its harder. *think special membership viewer as easy way, or try capturing the textures using a gl intercept tool like 3dripper but for opengl like glxtractor, 3dvia printscreen (discontinued), glintercept (abandoned), gameassassin (pay with license system and missing), or OGLE (abandoned), all of these are harder to find and a steep learning curve.
Once you get your avatars textures from sl format that you made they need to be fliped 180 degrees vertically and 180 degrees horizontally in order to work with that avatar import program properly.
So using primcomposer assembled the accessories onto the avatar and textured everything properly, now my next big problem was actually a 3dmax problem, I didn't know how to make several objects one object and keep the texture properties intact. *hint select editable mesh, edit geometry, attach, and click on the next object and thereon* What seems like a simple step took me 2 days to figure out, since I wasn't familiar with the program enough.
My next problem is that sl avatars use too many polys and verticies. My original used 200,000 polys, 90,000 vertices. So i had to reduce them quite a bit. There are various manual ways to do it, there are automatic ways to do it too. I tried the built in 3dsmax tools of optimise pro optimise modifiers. They work but make it look downright awful. Luckly with some searching I found a 3dsmax script called polychop that is free and awesome. While i'm sure that there are paid tools that probably do a better job it worked fine for me. It dropped my polys down to 14,000 and 10,000 vertices when I reduced to 10% of the original quality. There are some attached shots to give you an idea.
Then I rigged the model attached and prepared exporter, created texture txd and added the dff and it crashed, and crashed and crashed^50th. At first I thought it was something with the model, but 3 days later... I figured it out it was the texture format. San Andreas is very picky about texture format a bit-depth rate. I find tga to work the best in low depth (i use 256 color 8 bit palettized, does require txd workshop 5, and various pain in the rear to find/use converters for depth rate. I used a combination of converseen, imagemagik, and IrfanView.
I wasted almost 3 full days fixing the texture format and then it imported into game fine and this proof of concept is officially went from PLAUSIBLE to POSSIBLE & DONE. So 5 days and a metaphorical bald head via pulling my hair out and I did it.
There will be a few screenshots, I did this all on frustrating win 8.1 x64 but its possible to do it all on linux as well (prolly more stable, and yes gta sa will play in linux (without asi anyways). I will not release the model or the dff/txd because I don't have permission to from the author, nor from this board, so don't bother pming me for it. I'll prolly do my main character from SL sometime soon but I'm taking a break for a while..... headache...