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MD2 is the file format used by Quake II for its 3D models. The format supports frame-based vertex animation and is easy to use once you understand the quirks of the encoding.
However, before you dive in and commit to using MD2 for your game, be warned, MD2 stores the vertex information as single bytes. This results in a smaller file but loses accuracy in the model geometry. The loss of vertex precision is noticeable when animating the model, the shape wobbles as it moves. Therefore the format isn't the best if your model is going to be close to the viewer for long periods.

File Format Information


The MD2 header consists of 17 integer values:

Offset  Name             Desc

0       ID               Always 0x32504449 ('IDP2')
4       Version          Always 8
8       TexWidth         Texture width in pixels, normally 256
12      TexHeight        Texture height in pixels, normally 256
16      FrameSize        The size of each frame in bytes
20      nTextures        The number of textures
24      nVertices        The number of vertices in each frame
28      nTexCoords       The number of UV coordinates in the model
32      nFaces           The number of triangles in the model
36      nGLCommands      The number of GL instructions (4 bytes each) in the GLCmd list
40      nFrames          The number of animation frames in the file

(All the following offsets are in bytes from the start of the file)

44      TexOffset        An offset to the texture name(s) 
48      UVOffset         An offset to the UV coordinates
52      FaceOffset       An offset to the face data
56      FrameOffset      An offset to the first animation frame
60      GLCmdOffset      An offset to the GLCmd list
64      EOFOffset        An offset to the end of the file

Texture Names

Texture names are stored as 64 byte strings, the path is relative to the Quake II game directory. These 'skins' are normally PCX files.

Texture Coordinates

Texture coordinates are stored as pairs of short integers. In order to use them with OpenGL, you should divide the first by the texture width and the second by the texture height. This will yield the more usual UV coordinates in the range 0.0f - 1.0f.

typedef struct
  short U; // Divide by TexWidth
  short V; // Divide by TexHeight

Face Data

MD2 only supports triangles for face data, these are stored as references into the vertex and UV arrays. Each triangle constists of six short integers, the first three are the vertex indices, the second three are the UV coordinate indices.

The following structure may be useful in extracting these values:

typedef struct
  short Point[3];
  short UV[3];

Vertex and Animation Frame Data

Here's the tricky part. MD2 animation works by providing complete vertex arrays for each frame, while the face offsets into the vertex and UV arrays remain the same. Frames consist of a header which provides a scale and offset value which must be applied to each vertex value in order to convert it into object coordinates.

The header looks like this:

typedef struct
  float Scale[3];
  float Translate[3];
  char Name[16];

The Name field is the name of the frame, these normally follow the form "Walk001","Walk002",etc.

The vertex data follows the header, each vertex has the following format:

typedef struct
  byte Vtx[3];
  byte Normal;

The Normal value is an index into a lookup table of normals held by Quake II. This can be disregarded as normals can be calculated once the triangle data has been loaded.

The vertices are compressed, in order to uncompress them for rendering you need to apply the scale and translation vectors from the frame header:

  vertex[0] = (frame.Scale[0] * Vtx[0]) + frame.Translate[0];
  vertex[1] = (frame.Scale[1] * Vtx[1]) + frame.Translate[1];
  vertex[2] = (frame.Scale[2] * Vtx[2]) + frame.Translate[2];

Related Pages

MD2 Animation with OpenGL

External Links

MD2 Model Loader example by Saad Faisal