Left 4 Dead - NemPosted: Nov 23rd, 2008 - 10:01:05 pm

Valve have decided to move away from the .gcf format for their new game Left 4 dead. Instead, the game is delivered via .ncf with materials, models and particles packed up in a new .vpk package format. I'm curious if this move was inspired by the performance problems caused by fragmented .gcf files. Nonetheless, I've updated both HLLib and GCFScape with support for the new .vpk format.

I'm also in the process of looking to add support for Left 4 Dead to Crafty. Early attempts look promising, I just hope the model format hasn't changed too much.


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1. Blueberry_piePosted: Nov 25th, 2008 - 7:19:15 am
Awesome! I was hoping you'd add VPK support to GCFScape. I actually came here just now to ask you about it.
And is it just me or does GCFScape now automatically go to the steamapps directory when you want to open a file? It's like you're reading my mind :)

2. pfannkuchen_gesichtModified: Nov 25th, 2008 - 10:58:58 am
I think they moved to .ncf because L4D was firstly developed by TurtleRock Studios and as you know non-VALVe sourceengine-Devs often use .ncf, afaik.
Or I'am totally wrong?

3. octavioPosted: Nov 25th, 2008 - 4:12:54 pm
I don't know, but I don't think the devs would worry about what packaging format to use until just before release, and Left 4 Dead has been a Valve production for a while now.
I wonder why Valve went with .vpk though.

4. AlphaXModified: Dec 7th, 2008 - 7:30:16 pm
They moved to ncf/vpk because it is much faster, than GCF.
GCF is dead now and will never be used again in future Valve games!
A Valve employe has already given a statement about this in the official Steam forums.

5. NemPosted: Dec 7th, 2008 - 9:09:03 pm
The reason I questioned the move to .vpk is because, defragmented, there is virtually no technical difference between .gcf and .vpk files (save for some saved CPU cycles calculating where in the package the file data is).

The only real improvement is that .vmt files store their first 1000 bytes in the directory, which is probably loaded completely into memory and will save some seeking. But then how many textures does a map use? Even if it were a few hundred the savings would be a few seconds at best.

Now fragmented, the .gcf files performed terribly. But that's more of an implementation problem than a technical one. While I welcome the move to a simpler package format, I think the speed claims are more PR than anything.


6. VarsityPosted: Dec 9th, 2008 - 7:27:22 am
They may be referring to how NCF/VPK negates the need to make duplicates of binary files. GCF games all copy a large amount of data from their archive to loose files under steamapps/user/.

7. NeCk.Posted: Feb 1st, 2009 - 9:37:35 am
Hm, at first I thought that's the same file format as Troika used in Vampire The Masquerade - Bloodlines, but it isn't...well, whatever.

Thanks for implementing! Keep up the great work, Nem! ;)


8. xpanchoxPosted: May 30th, 2009 - 12:21:01 pm

9. MadJackPosted: Jun 24th, 2009 - 11:03:55 pm
Hey Nem!

Thanks for the tools.

I've got some kind of problem though... I start GCFScape and browse through L4D's stuff and open any one of the pack. Let's say pak01_000.vpk. The log window tells me it is loaded but only the root is there, all by itself, empty.

I can browse and extract from gcf files without a problem, but not vpk ones...

I work on Win7 and this might cause the problem. I tried running GCFScape on all compatibility settings from XP SP2 up to Vista SP2 and everything in-between.

Huh... Help? :)


10. NemModified: Jun 27th, 2009 - 8:21:07 pm
You need to open the file called *_dik.vpk. Coincidentally, Valve just updated the .vpk format so you're going to have to wait for an updated GCFScape sometime this weekend. Unfortunately they never added a version number to the .vpk, so there is no way for GCFScape to know; it just parses what it can (and fails silently).


Edit: I've released an updated version of GCFScape which can be found here.

11. MadJackPosted: Jul 1st, 2009 - 10:14:40 am
Works like a charm now! Perfect!

Thank you! :D Much appreciated.

BTW, I tried, just to be thorough, the *_dir.vpk with the same result.

Here's an apple for you! :)

12. disblackboiPosted: Jul 2nd, 2009 - 3:27:13 pm
So i dont know if this has been answered yet but im very new to all of this. Does this allow the game to play or what? i google it brought me here. I downloaded some lfd game but i cant get this to work. A little help would be nice. Btw if there is a spot in the forum im sorry but please send me a email or ill be back.

13. mabanPosted: Jul 2nd, 2009 - 4:35:08 pm
If you are saying that you downloaded the game illegally, no this will not help you play the game.

14. Timur4iKPosted: Jul 3rd, 2009 - 10:29:29 am
Here is such question... Possible create the company for Left4Dead through valve hammer editor? I from Russia and bad speak in english)))

15. mabanPosted: Jul 3rd, 2009 - 10:47:55 am
Are you asking if it's possible to create a L4D clone using the SourceSDK and Hammer? If so, the answer is sort of, but not fully. I believe L4D uses a modified source engine that you can't replicate in the current source code.

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