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  • M2 MDX Files


    M2 or MDX files are used to store polygon models along with their animations and other information. The file format is plain binary - no chunks. Information is mainly from http://www.pxr.dk/wowdev/wiki/index.php?title=M2 as well as from PseuWoW source.

    A note on coordinates

    Blizzard uses an left-handed (?) Z-up coordinate system for the models. When loading, coordinate conversions must be applied for other coordinate systems. This also must be done for all animation data.

    File Structure

    M2 files start with a header block which contains an index of number-offset pairs for all other data blocks. All other blocks follow after that one. Blocks are not delimited, but seem to be aligned to 16 byte boundaries.


    Position 0
    Length 324 bytes

    The file format is identified by the magic string "MD20". Pairs of uint32 are given for every data block. nXXX describes the number of elements (not necessarily bytes) in this block while ofsXXX gives the offset to the beginning of the block. If a block does not exists, n and ofs are 0.


    Offset Type      Description
    0x000  char[4]   Magic Bytes => "MD20"
    0x004  uint32    Version (0x100 before Burning Crusade, 0x104 after BC)
    0x008  uint32    nName - model name length (including \0)
    0x00C  uint32    ofsName - model name offset
    0x010  uint32    GlobalModelFlags (0,1,3 seen)
    0x014  uint32    nGlobalSequences - number of global sequences
    0x018  uint32    ofsGlobalSequences - offset to global sequences
    0x01C  uint32    nAnimations - number of animation sequences
    0x020  uint32    ofsAnimations - offset to animation sequences
    0x024  uint32    nAnimationLookup
    0x028  uint32    ofsAnimationLookup
    0x02C  uint32    nD - always 201 or 203 depending on client version
    0x030  uint32    ofsD
    0x034  uint32    nBones - number of bones
    0x038  uint32    ofsBones - offset to bones
    0x03C  uint32    nSkelBoneLookup - skeletal bone lookup table
    0x040  uint32    ofsSkelBoneLookup
    0x044  uint32    nVertices - number of vertices
    0x048  uint32    ofsVertices - offset to vertices
    0x04C  uint32    nViews - number of views (LOD versions?) 4 for every model
    0x050  uint32    ofsViews - offset to views
    0x054  uint32    nColors - number of color definitions
    0x058  uint32    ofsColors - offset to color definitions
    0x05C  uint32    nTextures - number of textures
    0x060  uint32    ofsTextures - offset to texture definitions
    0x064  uint32    nTransparency - number of transparency definitions
    0x068  uint32    ofsTransparency - offset to transparency definitions
    0x06C  uint32    nI - always 0
    0x070  uint32    ofsI
    0x074  uint32    nTexAnims - number of texture animations
    0x078  uint32    ofsTexAnims - offset to texture animations
    0x07C  uint32    nTexReplace
    0x080  uint32    ofsTexReplace
    0x084  uint32    nRenderFlags - number of blending mode definitions
    0x088  uint32    ofsRenderFlags - offset to blending mode definitions
    0x08C  uint32    nBoneLookupTable - bone lookup table
    0x090  uint32    ofsBoneLookupTable
    0x094  uint32    nTexLookup - number of texture lookup table entries
    0x098  uint32    ofsTexLookup - offset to texture lookup table
    0x09C  uint32    nTexUnits - texture unit definitions?
    0x0A0  uint32    ofsTexUnits
    0x0A4  uint32    nTransLookup - number of transparency lookup table entries
    0x0A8  uint32    ofsTransLookup - offset to transparency lookup table
    0x0AC  uint32    nTexAnimLookup - number of texture animation lookup table entries
    0x0B0  uint32    ofsTexAnimLookup - offset to texture animation lookup table
    0x0B4  float[14] float values ... ? (in range -1000...1000, mostly in -20...30)
    0x0EC  uint32    nBoundingTriangles
    0x0F0  uint32    ofsBoundingTriangles
    0x0F4  uint32    nBoundingVertices
    0x0F8  uint32    ofsBoundingVertices
    0x0FC  uint32    nBoundingNormals
    0x100  uint32    ofsBoundingNormals
    0x104  uint32    nAttachments
    0x108  uint32    ofsAttachments
    0x10C  uint32    nAttachLookup
    0x110  uint32    ofsAttachLookup
    0x114  uint32    nAttachments_2
    0x118  uint32    ofsAttachments_2
    0x11C  uint32    nLights - number of lights
    0x120  uint32    ofsLights - offset to lights
    0x124  uint32    nCameras - number of cameras
    0x128  uint32    ofsCameras - offset to cameras
    0x12C  uint32    nCameraLookup
    0x130  uint32    ofsCameraLookup
    0x134  uint32    nRibbonEmitters - number of ribbon emitters
    0x138  uint32    ofsRibbonEmitters - offset to ribbon emitters
    0x13C  uint32    nParticleEmitters - number of particle emitters
    0x140  uint32    ofsParticleEmitters - offset to particle emitters



    Position header.ofsVertices
    Element size 48 bytes

    Vertices are global for all submeshes and views.


    Offset Type     Description
    0x00   float[3] Position (X,Y,Z)
    0x0C   uint8[4] Bone weights (0 to 255)
    0x10   uint8[4] Bone indices (0 to nBones-1)
    0x14   float[3] Normal vector (nX, nY, nZ)
    0x20   float[2] Texture coordinates (U, V)
    0x28   float[2] unknown, mostly 0.0f



    Position header.ofsViews
    Element size 44 bytes

    It is not clear what Views are for. But there are always 4 of them.


    Offset Type   Description
     0x00  uint32 nIndex      - number of elements in the index list
     0x04  uint32 ofsIndex    - offset to the index list
     0x08  uint32 nTriangle   - number of elements in the triangle list
                                (this is 3* the number of triangles to be drawn)
     0x0C  uint32 ofsTriangle - offset to the triangle list
     0x10  uint32 nProps      - number of elements in the vertex property list
     0x14  uint32 ofsProps    - offset to the vertex property list
     0x18  uint32 nSubmesh    - number of elements in the submesh list
     0x1C  uint32 ofsSubmesh  - offset to the submesh list
     0x20  uint32 nTexture    - number of elements in the texture list
     0x24  uint32 ofsTexture  - offset to the texture list
     0x28  uint32 LOD distance or something?



    nIndex uint16 values - referencing vertices from the global Vertex list.


    3 uint16 values per triangle - referencing the Index list


    4 bytes per Vertex. Those are indices into the BoneLookupTable for each Vertex.


    32 bytes per Submesh definition.


    Offset Type     Description
     0x00  uint32   Mesh part ID
     0x04  uint16   ofsVertex     - Starting vertex number, offset into the Vertex array
     0x06  uint16   nVertex       - Number of vertices
     0x08  uint16   ofsTriangle   - Starting triangle index
     0x0A  uint16   nTriangle     - Number of triangle indices
     0x0C  uint16   nBoneLookup   - Number of elements in the bone lookup table
     0x0E  uint16   ofsBoneLookup - Starting index in the bone lookup table
     0x10  uint16   unknown 
     0x12  uint16   unsure        - maybe root bone?
     0x14  float[3] Vector (3d)   - mass center?


    Mesh part ID

    These IDs are referenced for Geosets and such. For character models, each hairstyle/thick armor/etc is present in the mesh, so to render a character with a specific set of looks, some of the submeshes should be omitted based on this ID.The submeshes are sorted into groups. Groups are like this for character models. They can be different for other models.


    00**: Hairstyles
    01**: Facial1
    02**: Facial2
    03**: Facial3
    04**: Braces
    05**: Boots
    06**: Unknown
    07**: Ears
    08**: Wristbands
    09**: Kneepads?
    11**: Related to pants
    12**: Tabard
    13**: Trousers / kilts
    15**: Cape
    17**: Eyeglows (including the deathknight ones)
    18**: Belt / bellypack


    These are referenced in CreatureDisplayInfo.dbc->creatureGeosetData.

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