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Postal III

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Postal III
Software Cover - Postal 3.jpg
Developer(s)
Trashmasters
Running with Scissors
Zoom Platform (patches since 2023)
Publisher(s)
Series
Postal series
Release date(s)
November 23, 2011 
CIS (Russia):
November 23, 2011
Steam/Worldwide:
December 21, 2011
Mode(s)
Platform(s)
Engine
Steam AppID
Written in
Mod support
Yes
Native mod support through addons folder added in newer patches (Steam & Zoom only)
SDK
Leaked SDK available
None (officially)
System requirements
  • Win XP/Vista/7 or later*
  • Dual-core CPU
  • 2 GB RAM
  • 15 GB disk space
  • GPU with DirectX 9.0c capable and 128MB VRAM
  • Note: While DRM-Free for both Steam and Zoom, Steam version requires Windows 7 (or 10) in order to use Steam features such as save achievement status to Steam servers.
Latest version only. For details, see below
Distribution
Retail, Steam, Zoom, other store
Previous game
Icon-broom.png
This article or section needs to be cleaned up to conform to a higher standard of quality because:
Some stuff here would need to be cleaned up since this is a developer wiki. Also documents more unique features and tech that Postal III introduced.
For help, see the VDC Editing Help and Wikipedia cleanup process. Also, remember to check for any notes left by the tagger at this article's talk page.

Postal III Postal III (alternatively Postal 3) is a third-person shooter and a third game in the Postal series. The game was originally a sequel to the legendary POSTAL 2 (not to be confused with Portal 2), a open-world first-person shooter game known for its controversial content, it received mixed to negative reviews from critics and overwhelmingly positive reviews from fans due to its dark humor and offensive themes.

Postal III was originally a sequel to POSTAL 2, which would be later retconned by series developer "Running With Scissors" after release. The game was infamous for being outsourced to Akella's subsidiary company, Trashmasters, along with its development trouble due to the Global Recession, and when the game was released, it ended up with negative reviews from both critics and fans of the series. Criticism aside, it is also one of the few Source engine games to feature proper third-person camera support (and without using cheats to enable it), alongside Double Action: Boogaloo and Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines. And Postal III also features modifications to the Source 2009 engine.

Technical Info and Features

Postal III Postal III runs on modified version of Source 2009 Source 2009 branch, with the following features added:

Postal3Script
A unique FSM(Finite State Machine) scripting language used for AI and mission logic. Unofficial documentation of this scripting language created by the Catharsis Reborn team can be found here.
Subtitles/Closed Captions for Bink video
A similar feature first introduced since Left 4 Dead engine branch, but it was implemented differently, using .srt files. This feature is only used when Postal III was launched while the Steam client is set to the German language (or by using the -language command line argument. All subtitle files are located in 🖿p3_english\media\subtitles and can be edited using a simple plain text editor, or the more user-friendly SubtitleEdit, and opening one of those 🖿<video name>_<language>.srt files. This can also be used to make new subtitles for various languages simply by having the right language added in the filename. Subtitles (and localization files for languages in general) are determined by either the Steam client language for the Steam release or the -language command line argument for the Zoom Platform release. It's also worth noting that aside from the mission-specific text files (located in 🖿p3\resource as 🖿p3_<language>.txt by default) the localization specific files for each language (such as certain textures) should be placed in a 🖿p3_<language> folder (for the best examples, look at the languages Zoom Platform included with their latest release).
Nvidia PhysX
A physics engine used for cloth simulation in Postal Dude's coat normally but can also be applied to other "cloth" models. Disabling NVIDIA PhysX using console command physx_enabled or the launch argument -nophysx will make the Postal Dude's coat load a fallback version with preset animations. It is currently unknown how to compile models with PhysX support but example models (likely used for testing) can be found in 🖿p3\models\cloth.
Icon-Bug.pngBug:The Postal Dude's coat and other cloth models using PhysX will have issues (such as Postal Dude's "coat" detaching) when running the game with mat_queue_mode (which adjust threading mode that the material system uses) set to any value other than the default -2 (or -1 in latest Steam/Zoom Platform version), and run the game on higher framerate.
Blank image.pngTodo: Document a lot of the unique features and tech in Postal III. This includes but is not limited to:
  • The Tree system: Works similarly to detail props, however instead of details being placed on map compile they're placed on map load it seems which allows for ease of adjustment. This system is also used for certain NPCs' hair. You can find where information regarding this is defined in the p3_plants.txt in the scripts folder of the game.
  • Navmeshes and Nextbots: Postal III uses both.
    • Navmeshes are used for NPCs that are idling, or when they are in combat, except if they use the `Follow` P3S function, then they'll use HL2 (AIN) pathfinding.
    • Nextbots technology is technically in the game, but not used in any way. While NPCs do make use of nav meshes, it is only ever used for pathfinding and it's not as perfect as Nextbots would use it.
    • NAV generation is kinda broken, it doesn't properly detect static props and the available console commands do nothing so the user needs to manually fix the nav meshes via `nav_edit`.
    • Navmesh blocking entities are in the game, but not referenced in the leaked `.FGD` file, NPCs will still use blocked NAV meshes in their pathfinding.
    • Postal III has unique Lean/Cover nav generation. This must be enabled in the console first, since it is disabled by default.
    • Postal III has unique "Area Groups", each nav mesh can be a group of an unique area. NPCs can be restricted to only use an area group, the default is always called `AG_DEFAULT`. Brush entity to create area groups is called `area_group`.
  • Unique MDL format: Postal III's models have a unique MDL format so Crowbar Crowbar doesn't properly decompile them. A custom version of it was put together by Tristan885 for decompiling Postal III models. Trashmasters compiled the Postal Dude's animation MDL with a custom exporter pictured in a presentation given by Konstantin Effimov[12]. This exporter allowed them to compile animation MDLs with more sequences than StudioMDL (Source) can compile. Unfortunately this exporter was not included with the released SDK making it impossible to recompile the Postal Dude's animation file unless the exporter is either remade or a modified version of Postal III's StudioMDL is made to bypass the sequence limit. Documentation on what has been figured out so far about Postal IIIs mdl format has been written up here. Several QC properties were found by dumping the strings from Postal IIIs StudioMDL although the syntax for some is still unknown:
    • In $collisionmodel: $rollingDrag
    • $insertbone
    • $plates
    • $sortplates
    • $plateorigin
    • $hboxxform
    • $bolton (Used for adding "boltons" to models. Usually these are accessories like glasses and masks. Check the documentation for usage)
    • $prefab (Sets up the prefabs for how a model should be set up. Check the documentation for information)
    • $cloth (Was possibly used for further PhysX use as implied by models and scripts in the "cloth" model folder)
    • $sortedmesh
    • $helperbone
  • Better document "what's hardcoded and what isn't": Trashmasters hardcoded several things in the game not normally hardcoded in Source. Things like certain parts of weapon scripts aren't adjustable as they're hardcoded. The modding community for Postal III has adopted the phrase, "Assume everything is hardcoded but try it and see what happens."
  • Get a translation of the "Postal 3 Technical Postmortem" presentation by one of the game's programmers, Konstantin Effimov[12]. Even without translation a lot of technical info was learned from it such as some some QC syntax and also how TrashMasters was able to compile the Postal Dude's animations using a custom Maya exporter.

Missions


Development

Development of Postal III Postal III dates back to 2006 when RWS (Running With Scissors), the developer of Postal series, made a deal with Akella (known for publishing the Russian version of Left 4 Dead Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2 Left 4 Dead 2 as well as the Russian version of POSTAL 2, and unofficially called as the Russian EA because of their reputation for publishing games (mainly made in US) for Russian market) to develop Postal III.

Development of the game started in 2007, the game was initially built on the beta version of Source 2007 Source 2007 engine (from August) after Akella licensed the Source engine from Valve Valve. The development initially went well with the game planning to be released around 2008 - 2009. However, in December 2007, and continuing throughout in 2008, the Great Recession had just occurred in most countries, which includes Russia (where Akella was founded) which was especially hit hard. This led to Akella making several bad decisions such as firing the initial Postal III team at Trashmasters (known as A-Team). Trashmaster's B-Team later upgraded the game engine to Source 2009 Source 2009, and scrapping elements of the game such as multiplayer and the open world.

Later, the B-Team was fired with the development of the game being frozen until mid-2010 where the C-Team picked it up and continued development before being fired as well. In the last 6 months, the development was picked up again for the last time by D-Team, getting the game as presentable as possible before releasing the game in November 2011. D-Team was also responsible for implementing Nvidia PhysX to the game, and later releasing three post-release patches (1.10, 1.11, and 1.12). A fourth patch was meant to be released, however economic constraints forced Akella to shut down Trashmasters in February 2012 before it could be completed.

Due to the result of Great Recession aswell as Akella decisions, along with disagreements between RWS and Akella/Trashmasters[7], Postal III had shifted both in style, features and design from what was originally envisioned by RWS in their design documents. The free roaming element of missions were still in development around late 2008, before the decision was made to make the game largely linear (as the Source Engine didn't support level streaming despite Valve at the time claiming it would, according to Akella, even through that POSTAL 2 open-world was possible even without level streaming). In an interview, Ex-Trashmasters developer Larissa Davidova said that the open-world and advanced AI laid out in the original design documents by RWS's Steve Wik was too complex to implement[7]. Also, several issues arose when updating the engine to Source 2009 Source 2009.

The game was also planned to be released for the Xbox 360 Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 PlayStation 3 consoles[6], as well having macOS macOS and Linux Linux ports[6]. This would have made POSTAL III the first Source engine game to support Linux systems before SteamPipe and the Source 2013 update in all Valve games with the exception of those still on previous versions of the engine, as well as making it the 3rd third-party Source engine game (after Dark Messiah of Might and Magic and Zeno Clash) to be released on consoles. They were cancelled due to the issues faced during development, along with performance issues on the console port[7].

On March 25, 2024, a user named "Senator_Man" (Nick_Senator on Discord) bought an Xbox 360 Xbox 360 development kit possibly containing a beta build of Postal III and posted about it on Reddit. Nick_Senator was then directed to the Postal 3 Community Discord where members of the Postal 3 community, as well as some people from outside the community such as MrPinball64, came together to defragment and recover the files. The HDD contained two beta builds of the cancelled console port of Postal III as well as a localization debug build of Red Faction Guerilla. One was dated August 16, 2010 which appears to be the Gamescom 2010 demo.[11] Initially the build was non-functional due to the HDD being formatted and the files being fragmented. This required MrPinball64 to manually defragment the files with the assistance of Dink, Tristan885, and Kizoky. On April 1, 2024, the build was repaired to a partially playable state,[9][10] with only some files remaining fragmented (such as Meet The Zealots map, some BIK files (cutscenes), the NAV files, and a single texture).[10] On the same devkit is an earlier build dated September 29th, 2009. Currently the 2009 build doesn't run as the client, server, and nxphysics dlls are fragmented. It is unknown what event the 2009 build would've been made for as no event that we know of lines up with the date but a texture for the menu saying "Presented at GIC" exists in the build. However efforts have been made to recover and port files from both builds to PC including maps, cutscenes, models, textures, and more that have never been seen before outside of presentation videos or have never been seen at all.[8]

Release

In November 2011, Postal III was first released in Russia in retail stores with several physical editions. Later in December 2011, it was released worldwide on Steam with Running With Scissors selling a physical edition through their website, for Windows Windows systems only. Other physical releases included two versions(one with a map and one without) in the region of Austria and Switzerland by Deep Silver as well as two editions released by Cyberfront in Japan. Other ports such as the Xbox 360 port, and other platforms were cancelled due to development problems.

Postal III earned a score of 24 on Metacritic, and POSTAL fans rated the game on Steam, making the user reviews Mixed to Mostly Negative, which makes it the worst ever game in the POSTAL franchise and currently, the worst commercially released Source engine game ever made. The game and its engine are also riddled with bugs, glitches, broken achievements, missing features and crashes with bad and unfitting gameplay mechanics like the Karma System as well as a lackluster story that wasn't like previous Postal games. The D-Team at Trashmasters tried their best to patch the game after release by fixing several critical bugs and adding an incomplete "Free Roam Mode" for completing the game, as well as removing the remix of the song "Goodbye Almond Eyes" that Akella hadn't licensed. In the end, it wasn't enough to rescue the game and Trashmasters was shut down as Akella braced for bankruptcy.

Running With Scissors (RWS) retconned the game several months later by removing the game on their store and then the Postal III page on RWS's website added a notice to apologize to the POSTAL fans and explaining what happened during the development of Postal III. Later, POSTAL 2: Paradise Lost would release which featured an easter egg that mocked Postal III.

Post-release updates

As mentioned above, Trashmasters D-Team were responsible for three post-release patches (1.10, 1.11, and 1.12), which was released to fix several issues related to the game, while also adding few new features to the game, shortly before Akella (including Trashmasters) went bankrupt.

In November 2022, this game was been delisted on Steam Steam, by Valve, due to unknown reasons but, according to series developer Running with Scissors and POSTAL fans, this is possibly related to the DRM issues which was broken by issues with the DRM website (ActControl), the poor quality of the game, as well as the publisher, Akella, going bankrupt and being reduced to a skeleton crew. The game could still be obtained from several other websites like ZOOM Platform and via retail (or resellers) during this time it was unavailable on Steam Steam.

On September 26th, 2023, the ZOOM Platform version of the game has been updated by Zoom Platform team which fixes many bugs including crashing caused by the built-in NoDRM patch[1]. Later between Sep 29, 2023 to Oct 1, 2023, the Steam cover for the game was updated after what remains of Akella gave RWS limited access to the game's store page. Since Oct 14, 2023, the game was made available on Steam again, including the Throwables Crash and Human Shield Crash fixes from the Zoom Platform version, which also makes the Steam version completely DRM-free, however it does not include the Fart Gun DLC or the config fixes (despite being mentioned in the changelog). The Steam version also removed 2 broken achievements (Champ Whisperer and Mega-Sadist) and one achievement that wouldn't always unlock properly (Bipolar)[2][3]. The game was also more positively received after the October 14th patch. Reviews on Steam after the game was put back on sale changed the Overall Reviews from Mostly Negative to Mixed.

Once again, on October 16, 2023, the Zoom Platform version has been updated to version 1.3, which adds native support for mods without replacing game files, along with new command-line arguments, localizations, and more. Two achievements were (at least partially) fixed in this update: Real American, which would instead count the Meth-Crazed Rhino instead of the Al-Qaeda terrorists, and Kavorkian, which would only work with 2 specific NPCs with the LameWanker manner in the mission "Patrol Mission 2"[4]. Kavorkian, however, still has an issue where certain flags aren't set properly and are overridden. A fix for this has already been made, which was later released in the next patch.

Another update was released in December 7, 2023, which completely fixed the Kavorkian achievement. This update also added the official Japanese localization, unofficial Polish localization, fixed the mission-specific loading screens, replaced placeholder "Slave 'Boy' Escort" starting cutscene, fixed "Gay Rodeo" ending cutscenes, fixed skybox textures which was previously pixelated due to the texture filtering and fixed ragdolls & blood flow positions for elderly models. The 🖿detail.vbsp file has been recreated in order to help mappers add foliage to their maps[5]. This update was later also made available on Steam in January 29, 2024 (which also adds the previous updates, and even the Fart Gun that the developers previously forgot to add to the Steam version).

Content

  • Main Files (Empty following the last update. Contents moved to both English and Russian Localization depots.)
  • Postal III Content (Empty following the last update. Contents moved to both English and Russian Localization depots.)
  • Postal III English (p3_english)
  • Postal III Russian (p3_russian)
  • Fart Gun DLC (Originally only available from the Russian digital storefront Gama-Gama as well as US, Austrian/Switzerland, and Japanese physical releases. Russian store Gama-Gama offered it as a standalone installer as well as being included if you pre-ordered the Postal III Гама-edition). Is now included as a standard in both Zoom and Steam copies of the game.
  • Modified version of Source 2009 Source 2009 engine branch (see features here)

Gallery

Trivia

System Requirements

Windows Windows
Minimum Recommended
Operating system (OS) XP, Vista, 7, or newer*
Processor (CPU) 3.0 GHz Pentium 4
Dual Core 2.0GHz (or higher) or AMD64X2 (or higher)
System memory (RAM) 1 GB (XP)
2 GB (Vista)
Hard disk drive (HDD/SSD) 13.5 GB
Video card (GPU) Direct3D 9.0c compatible - with Pixel Shaders support
128MB of VRAM

External links

See also

References

References
2. According to SteamDB:

Change U:41903083 - Changed Stats schema:

  • Removed achievements/ACH_BIPOLAR/description: Swap paths 5 times in one playthrough.
  • Removed achievements/ACH_BIPOLAR/displayName: BIPOLAR
  • Removed achievements/ACH_CHAMP_WISPERER/description: 50 kills using dog.
  • Removed achievements/ACH_CHAMP_WISPERER/displayName: CHAMP WHISPERER
  • Removed achievements/ACH_MEGA_SADIST/description: 200 injured or death-crawling victims NOT finished off.
  • Removed achievements/ACH_MEGA_SADIST/displayName: MEGA-SADIST
3. Verified by kr0tchet (talk) on 11:47, 14 Oct 2023:

These 3 achievements are actually removed from Steam itself, however they still exist within the game's achievements menu and can be even be unlocked with a script mod that repairs their functionality.

4. Zoom Platform - Postal III, for you and me! - last accessed on 2023-11-10
5. Zoom Platform - Postal III, as seen on TV! - last accessed on 2023-12-09
6. From Akella official website of Postal 3:
Postal III is an edgy third-person action/adventure comedy for Xbox 360/PS3/PC/Mac/Linux
7. u/-CokeBear- - An interview with a postal 3 developer. Archived from the original on 3 February 2024 - last accessed on 2023-11-10
Proof of interview (Archived)
8. YouTube logo @Botul3 (Mar 30, 2024). YouTube logo Postal 3 - All Beta Cutscenes (NEW DISCOVERY). YouTube. Retrieved July 20, 2024.

The cutscenes from the 2009 and 2010 builds that could be recovered when we initially dumped the HDD and started recovering files.

9. YouTube logo @sweetypuss (Apr 1, 2024). YouTube logo POSTAL III XBOX 360 BUILD SHOWCASE (NOT APRIL FOOLS, I PROMISE). YouTube. Retrieved July 20, 2024.

Footage from the discord stream in the Postal 3 Community Server when MrPinball64 got the 2010 build running.

11. Source engine version for the leaked Xbox 360 Xbox 360 build:
Protocol version 14 Exe version () Exe build: 11:32:42 Aug 12 2010 (4296) (215)