Quick Tutorial on how to view your texture edits in real-time without using the actual game to do so. Everyone thank Zeqmacaw for this know-how. This tutorial is for any model skinner who wants to see the changes they make to a custom survivor ~while~ they are making them. (are the eyebrows too high? too low? need to move it a bit to the left? was that left enough? etc) This allows you to see your changes without having to vpk the whole bloody thing and load up Left 4 Dead 2. Saves a CRAP TON of time.
First, make sure you've downloaded the L4d2 Authoring Tools (or l4d1.. if they have them.. unsure about that, this is purely for people using l4d2, because it's the only way I know how to do this, and that's the game I use.), and a Hex Editor of your choice.
Second, after having made sure it's installed etc etc, you're going to want to find it in your steam folder. Open your steam folder (it's probably in program files unless (like me) you made it install elsewhere, then go into the following folders: Steamapps>Common>Left 4 Dead 2>Bin
Inside this folder you should see a file called "HLMV.EXE". Go ahead and right click on that and make a shortcut to your desktop.
You need to do a little messing around with it. So, thirdly, we're going to right click on the shortcut you just made and click properties. Under properties you should see a section titled <Target>. Replace the target line from it's normal text to the following (and you will have to amend this to match YOUR SPECIFIC FOLDERS)
"c:\Program Files\Steam\steamapps\common\left 4 dead 2\bin\hlmv.exe" -game "C:\Program Files\Steam\steamapps\common\left 4 dead 2\left4dead2"
Click apply, and close the properties window. Now if you double click the shortcut, it -should- run. If it doesn't and gives you some kind of error about "Yo, dude, wtf? where is my gameinfo.txt, bro??" You screwed up the folders, or the commenting, or both. So back up, re-read, and do it again.
Alright! So presuming we're good, now we need to figure out how to view a model. ---
If you click on File>Load Model you will get a big folder section. This is essentially the program looking in the Pak01_dir.vpk (in the l4d2 game folders) to find the models. So if you click on "survivors", you will find a small collection of files. The one's we're concerned about are the ones that start with "survivor_". These are the -standard- survivor models. Feel free to grab one and mess around with the camera etc, get use to using the program.
This doesn't help you see -your- custom survivors and textures though, because it only shows the default folders and won't let you go anywhere else. So, what do we do about that? We bring -our- folders to the default folders and trick the program into thinking we belong there.
If you're like me you probably have some folder somewhere that holds all your mods (mine is originally called "My Mods". .. I'm very creative.) Find the mod you want to work on, and ctrl clicking (or highlighting, or shift clicking, whatever your poison is to pick more than one folder), select both the "Materials" and the "Models" folder from inside your main root mod folder.
Ex: I am making a school girl, so i named the folder "Schoolgirl" and inside -that- there is the materials folder and the models folder. Those.
Copy (or cut, or drag) these folders into the following location:
Steam>Steamapps>Common>Left 4 Dead 2>Left4dead2
and they will merge (presuming you click "yes" to the Windows prompt.. uh.. window.) with the existing folders.
You'd -THINK- you'd be done, but no. Left 4 dead likes to say "!@#$ YOU GUYS, I DO WHAT I WANT" and overwrite any survivor_biker (or whoever) model files you wanna dump here and use the default ones. So, you have to go and rename all the files -just a tiny bit- differently. For this example we'll use a bill replacement.
Bill comes with a few different files that all start with Survivor_Namvet and then some other crap after it. I am going to change the file name so it reads Survivor_N4mvet instead. Then, using the HEX EDITOR open survivor_n4mvet.mdl and on the very top line, replace survivor_namvet.mdl with survivor_n4mvet.mdl
-MAKE SURE- you are overwriting the letter, and not inserting it and then deleting (or backspacing). If you do that, you will !@#$ up the WHOLE CODING of the model and it won't work. (There an insert key on your keyboard. become friends with it.) After you've done this, make sure you save your work, then move on back to the half life model viewer.
You can now find survivor_n4mvet.mdl under the "survivor" section. If you choose that file, it will load in the program. Now I had a few "cannot load model" errors when I first did this, all I had to do was reboot half life model viewer a few times and it sorted itself out. Just make sure you followed all the above steps and it will work just fine.
Protip: If you're working on your textures and you just saved some changes and you want to see them on the model viewer, just hit F5 or File>Refresh to make it update!
Enjoy and happy skinning!
I can change almost any model from one survivor to any L4D2 one without scarecrowing etc, just message me and promise not to post it without permission from the original creator.