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To the Modders :-)

BhryaenBhryaen Member Posts: 2,874
edited June 2012 in General Modding
I'm creating this thread as an entreaty to modders... folks like @Ascension64, @aVENGER, @devSin, @CamDawg, @demivrgvs, @erephine, @GrimSqueaker, @Balquo, @Galactygon, @Wisp... and to Miloch if you come by as well!

If nothing comes of this, so be it, but I'm creating it anyway as an entreaty because I feel it's a discussion for which there's a present imperative but scant few outlets at present (unless there's something already going on behind-the-scenes I don't know about, in which case... yea!). But since at present I've no idea what the devs have in mind for you guys, and you're a very talented lot of folks who sort of know your way around BG- so I've heard, anyway. And, seeing you all coming to this one forum and offering your services to the devs, I can't help but wonder how your talents could be applied to BGEE in the next few months before its release to make the most of this rather BG-historic moment.

Thus I'm just wondering what- if you could do anything to affect the development of BGEE, if you were allowed to have a go at the source code itself to provide for a new BG, if you could put all your yrs of experience with BG into play right now on BGEE for a lasting basis, if you could apply the skills you already have into forming the end result of BGEE... what would you do? And not only you as individuals, but you as a coordinated team.

Really I'm wondering what you could do with such an opportunity- whatever the full extent of that opportunity might ultimately ever be- but I'm at a loss as to what to make of that opportunity myself, and it seems to me- as a simple, dreamy-eyed BG-fan- to be an unmitigated missed opportunity to not engage you all as an outright assistance team if you're willing, particularly given how much help you could be. Frankly I just wish you all could take up some of the busywork from the devs so they can go a-scriptin' lots of new features and content, but that's just me. :-P And since I'm daring to just wonder aloud, I'm more asking what would you do- specifically even- i.e., rather than could, since, well, that's not certain yet? And, of course, I'm deviously counting on the devs noticing what you would/could do in the hopes that the devs might just go ahead and let you do it! >:-)

Post edited by Bhryaen on
pacekstephanmartinsYorleenCheesebellyCrevsDaak
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Comments

  • NWN_babaYagaNWN_babaYaga Member Posts: 732
    I´m a nwn modder for ages and my interest is in the creation of areas and a few new creatures/ sprites. I have no clue yet how that is done for BGEE (rendered in 3dsmax maybe?) and my motivation is high, very high!

    JonelethIrenicus
  • AndreaColomboAndreaColombo Member Posts: 5,346
    @Bhryaen

    Watch out for that typo in @erephine's nickname ;-)

  • ZafiroZafiro Member Posts: 436
    I'll sure love some of the classic PnP mods like The Secret of Bone Hill and maybe some from Classic Adventures by SirBillyBob, Leahnkain and Celestine over at SHS. Either way, alot of great work to find at SHS or G3, dont really need to be remade for RR, the game is allready great as it is; i might even get back at BGT after a run of EE.

  • AndreaColomboAndreaColombo Member Posts: 5,346
    It would be nice if modders could be in touch with the devs to ensure compatibility between their mods and BG:EE, since the devs are changing a few things here and there.

    YorleenCrevsDaak
  • lansounetlansounet Member Posts: 1,182
    @AndreaColombo I think that's the plan after they're done with the major work of UI overhaul and bug fixes

  • CuvCuv Member, Developer Posts: 2,535
    I tried writing Trent when this was first announced but got no reply from BeamDog. In any case, I have not yet seen any indication that modders wishes or desires are even being considered apart from that small initial blurb. Correct me if I am wrong. My username has been unchanged since the old Black Isle boards in case you dont know who I am, other modders do. I would like to see some contact with modders as well to make sure that previous custom content can be smoothly integrated by the community. I see no point in actually incorporating custom content into a release... but rather ensure that the entire engine does not need to be re-mapped and communication on engine changes is made available to the IESDP project (http://iesdp.gibberlings3.net/).

    For example: If file headers are being changed, we need to know that and the specifics of the changes. Any file format changes need to be communicated or nothing can be made to work with a new engine. Anyway, end of my two-cents until more information is made available.

  • AndreaColomboAndreaColombo Member Posts: 5,346
    Hi @Cuv

    developers are currently working with fixpackers to integrate bug fixes with their consent (see the Bugs section of the forum). They are also supposedly in touch with Erephine to integrate 1PP into BG:EE if legal issues can be solved to an extent that is satisfactory for both parties. I'm sure the devs will gladly cooperate with modders as soon as time allows (they're currently quite busy with bug fixing) :-)

  • BhryaenBhryaen Member Posts: 2,874
    edited June 2012
    @Cuv
    Actually @AndreaColombo is right (and thanks for the spelling correction, Andrea!) that the devs are rather steeped in work with the modders who have come forward on the bugfix front, as can be seen in the "Bugs" forum. I definitely didn't intend this thread to gripe about the devs- or the modders for that matter. Both can't help but be more or less heroes to me at this point... The intention was simply to invite modders to sort of make a wish list- not just of things they'd like the devs to do, but of things they'd do to BGEE if they could in order to, say, making modding easier, make the source code flow right, that sort of thing. It's not as if there isn't enough on the plate already, but, well, I just wanted to lay some groundwork for a more substantial contribution by modders if it's even possible.

    I was partly inspired by this post by @Demivrgvs on the thread "Keep BGEE as vanilla as possible" that sounded like modders might just have some extraspecialitious ideas on modder needs that even the devs can't fully anticipate or appreciate. It just seemed like a great foray into the possible directional structuring of BGEE to modder interests that can't help but be facilitated by modders themselves either making it fairly explicit what would do the trick or doing that trick themselves.
    ... I may be biased because of my mods, but as a modder what I'm hoping for isn't "new content" (though closing semi-abandoned plot lines such as BG'2 slaver one would be good), but a more polished base platform (a sort of Improved Fixpack) and most of all, more tools for modders (e.g. fixed not-working opcodes, new ones, less hardcoded things, etc.).

    Concentrate on things modders cannot do, such as polishing the engine (well, A64 actually started to do that too with ToBEx), a better GUI, new animations or sprites (paperdolls should at least be as good as Erephine's work at SHS), the announced zoom feature, or things like that. New NPCs, quests, items or spells surely aren't a priority. BG games have plenty of them all! Fix or improve what was there (e.g. more banters for existing NPCs, more NPC-related quests, better bams for items such as those damn ugly ToB ones, etc.), but don't "waste" your time on things we can easily do or have already done (though too many people here seem to ignore modding sites such as SHS or G3 because half or more of the things they are asking have already been done by one mod or the other).
    This said, I'm a bit apprehensive about the "don't 'waste' your time on things we can easily do or have already done" since it's not guaranteed ahead of time that modders even will do so- even if they can- (I mean, it's not really a civic responsibility after all), and really, why should they have to, say, bugfix or provide new PC animations or add new game features when they can be made integral to BGEE itself? I'd rather instead that the devs don't "waste" their time doing things that modders might even be happy to do to BGEE instead, and most importantly... thereby tailored exactly to modders' needs and liking... :-)

    Post edited by Bhryaen on
    Avenger_teambg
  • CuvCuv Member, Developer Posts: 2,535
    Fair enough, thanks for some clarification.

    Yes, my main concern is making sure that mods can plug in just as easily to the core platform as they do with the original work. If there are engine changes (which is likely), then modders should be informed if modding is truly to be taken into consideration. And remember that this is BG1 first. Most of the conversation I see concerns BG2 changes or fixes which will be later. It would be nice to take into consideration animation slots, but that is for BG2EE.

    I am an old modder and have seen people take credit for things they did not fully do themselves. Modders WILL mod this! How easy a time they have depends on the information given by the developers. New tools will, no doubt, need to be written. The days of TeamBG are long gone and all that programmer energy along with it. New joinable NPC's are a dime a dozen because they are easy to do. Not sure where I am going with this, so will stop and end with a short list of 'wants'.

    1. Insert code into the exe for all of the IWD format animations so modders can easily make use of them. That information can be found in the ANISND.ids from BG2. They are the 'M' series animation slots. While at it, insert code to handle writing directly to add more slots. When BG2 is done, the reverse should be true. Add all the missing animation slots that existed in BG1 (I am looking at you, Basilisk). Anyone with a Hex editor can look at the exe and find out what to name their 'new' animations and make use of them.
    2. More on animations: Insert the code to accept the un-modified creature animations straight from Planescape:Torment. It should also be covered under whatever DnD/License agreement was accepted to modify and enhance BG1. I spent 4 years converting them all to the 'm' IWD format, but a straight insertion would be preferable. Might as well have all animations available for both BG1 and BG2 in both enhanced versions.
    3. Character animations: No need to actually incorporate new character races as some posters have suggested. Just put the code into the exe to handle them. How they are designated can be up to the modders. You have the freedom to add as many slots as you want... so add 20! Simple incremental numbering can suffice as their designations can be determined by the modders. Modders DO manage themselves and prefixes can be reserved to prevent incompatibility for quest mods.
    4. Incorporate Detectable Spells in both BGEE and BG2EE which was developed at IEEAIS by Kensai Ryu and the gang.
    5. Implement the Xyx-manuever into the enemy AI. Ask Dave Gaider if you dont know what that does. Contact me if you need that stuff or want clarification. Also put in the AI for Xyx's Smart Beholders when you get to BG2EE.
    6. Get rid of the green water background in BG1. It serves no purpose if you change the overlay color to that of BG2 and only serves to annoy modders.
    7. Keep the chitin.key readable by InfExp and Near Infinity (and DLTCEP too).
    8. Do NOT change the area bitmap format as there are no other tools to build new areas reliably besides IETME and DLTCEP. Changing that format would require someone to alter Theo's program, and I am not sure he can even be contacted for the source code. That would require a new program to be written delaying modding. Or... give us a full area editor!
    9. More scripting functions... but alas, I cant remember exactly what was missing that I really wanted to have available at this time. I'm sure it will come to me. I am mostly retired from modding bg and bg2, but I am not dead yet. You can find my posts at SHS (or anywhere else), but alas I cannot go there any more as my feeble old brain has forgotten the password.

    That is all I can think of at the moment. Perhaps someone else has more ideas to add to this list. If a developer wants specific exe hex code information, I will happily get that information for them but wont post it in a forum.

    SLNCrevsDaak
  • AndreaColomboAndreaColombo Member Posts: 5,346
    edited June 2012
    @CamDawg

    I, too, would be extremely happy to see as many engine bugs as possible fixed. However, for the devs to able to fix them, they should first be aware of them. The best case scenario, as you probably already know, would be to have a list of all engine bugs we want to see fixed in the "current behavior / expected behavior" format. Is this something you and your fellow fixpackers could do (I gladly volunteer for any monkey work this could imply, if needed)? I'm asking because, IIRC, someone said you didn't keep track of engine bugs when employing resource hacks to circumvent them.

    @Cuv

    Keep in mind BG:EE will be using the ToB engine. Therefore, while several requests in the Features forum may look like they belong to BG2:EE, they are actually fitting for BG:EE. That being said, I agree with you and Cam that most of those requests are out of place and/or better left to modders.

    As for your desiderata, I believe the best way for you to see #4, #5, #6 and #7 implemented is to post a Feature request (or a Bugfix request, as you see fit) clearly stating the CURRENT BEHAVIOR and the DESIRED BEHAVIOR. Make sure you make your request as obvious as possible, so that there are no two ways about its interpretation. This would make it considerably more likely for them to be implemented than just posting them here.

    As for adding more animations slots, you may want to check out this request I have made on Miloch's part.

    Last but not least, as the source art assets were lost, I think it is very likely that the bitmap format will be kept for background art :-)

  • AndreaColomboAndreaColombo Member Posts: 5,346
    Modders may want to have a look at this thread and participate.

  • CuvCuv Member, Developer Posts: 2,535
    Hmm... I must have missed that about BGEE using the ToB engine enhanced. That makes things a bit more focused. Thank you for the info, will read more before I post those specific requests and get my details organized.

    @AndreaColombo
    Are you the unofficial go-between between the dev team and the community? I see you everywhere:)

    AndreaColombo
  • AndreaColomboAndreaColombo Member Posts: 5,346
    @Cuv

    I might have acted as such on a few occasions ;)

  • CorianderCoriander Member Posts: 1,667
    @Cuv We don't always respond, but we do read just about everything.

    paulsifer42
  • CuvCuv Member, Developer Posts: 2,535
    Thank you for that:) That is very good to know and I feel more confident all the time.

  • theacefestheacefes Member Posts: 85
    edited June 2012
    I'm perfectly happy with a fancy schmancy UI and core bug fixes...even if that's all that comes out of this EE. I'd rather have that and no other new content than see mods that have been around for years be incompatible - after all, it's the reason this game has even lasted this long. I am hesitant about any new NPC/dialogue/quest related content being added. No offense to the devs of course but I get the feeling that no matter what new content makes it into the writing of this edition, there will be a mass of players that scream out "But ModderX could have written that SO much better!" or "Oh, great. Another gruff, buff idiot that is going to take up another party slot".

    Sorry, guys. I've read enough cryptic dev/producer tweets and announcements over the years to convince me that nothing can really be taken as a guarantee until release day.

  • theacefestheacefes Member Posts: 85
    No offense to the devs of course but I get the feeling that no matter what new content makes it into the writing of this edition, there will be a mass of players that scream out "But ModderX could have written that SO much better!" or "Oh, great. Another gruff, buff idiot that is going to take up another party slot".
    If internet message boards have taught me anything its that people will always find something to complain about.
    Totally agree with you. That's why I personally feel it would be better to leave well enough alone but of course, that's not my decision. Again, I just want my mods to work on it.

  • cmorgancmorgan Member Posts: 707
    edited June 2012
    I'm pretty interested in details on the dialog file front - namely, will the existing vanilla dialog files be altered or reordered/reweighted? If the dialog override behavior and the vanilla states and weights are left fundamentaly the same and other new NPC writing added below the existing ones, modders should have no big issue with things (like BG1NPC and NPC mods) adding to BG:EE/BG2:EE installs in much the same way they do with Tutu/EasyTutu/BG2/BGT installs. A rebuild and cleanup of the states, though, might mean some serious re-coding.

  • AndreaColomboAndreaColombo Member Posts: 5,346
    Hi @cmorgan, welcome to the BG:EE boards!

    Re-coding is tedious monkey work, but would it be necessarily bad if it implied a passage to cleaner, leaner and more efficient coding standards?

  • cmorgancmorgan Member Posts: 707
    edited June 2012
    Heh... double post... sorry...


  • AndreaColomboAndreaColombo Member Posts: 5,346
    @cmorgan - thanks for your reply. You may want to drop a few of the devs' nicknames to make sure they notice your request. Like this: @CameronTofer @ScottBrooks @KeithS

  • ArdanisArdanis Member Posts: 1,736
    A good modder armed with IESDP, WeiDU and ToBEx can already accomplish almost anything they want. Sometimes not without a tricky workaround, but almost anything nevertheless.

    Therefore modders only really need two things:
    1) unchanged existing file formats
    2) expanded engine capabilities

    With the latter it is not even easy to say exactly what is desired, because, like I've said, even vanilla engine allows much wider possibility for modding than one would expect after the first glance. Supposedly, the best bet is to implement all the requests made in ToBEx's forum on SHS.

    I wouldn't even bother to incorporate such seemingly indispensable things as Detectable Spells (unless BGEE explicitly needs it for new AI, of course), because it can be easily added by any modder worth his salt.

    Avenger_teambgCrevsDaak
  • AldarkAldark Member Posts: 7
    edited June 2012
    It would be great to explain Unknown sections in file formats (that are not described in http://iesdp.gibberlings3.net). Also I will agree with Ardanis - even now modder can do great things with tools we have.
    Also it would be great to make some work around CHU - for example, now there is fixed paperdoll area for inventory and character generation window in game - modder can't change its size with CHU and need to patch .exe to expand it.

  • AndreaColomboAndreaColombo Member Posts: 5,346
    edited June 2012
    @Ardanis

    A list of ToBEx fixes is already in the devs's hands for implementation in BG:EE. If there are further fixes, or features, that would be good for modders to have built into the engine for whatever reason (e.g. not having to install ToBEx to get them; not having to resort to tricky or hacky workarounds to achieve something; etc.), they should really be requested either in the "Bugs" or "Feature requests" forums. When making a request, clearly state the CURRENT BEHAVIOR and the EXPECTED/DESIRED BEHAVIOR, and make sure your wording makes it really hard for anyone to misinterpret what you're asking for.

    Personally, I would like to see as many modder-friendly features and engine fixes implemented as possible (which includes Detectable Spells, or Ascension64's ToBEx solution to the same problem) . It is true that modders can already achieve almost anything with the right tools, but being able to do so without needing the tools is even better :-) The less things one has to install to achieve a given goal, the better: it makes for a cleaner installation. Also, being able to do something without having to resort to tricky workarounds is awesome if I can say so myself, and I'm no modder. I just genuinely enjoy efficiency and strive for its maximization.

    Bhryaen
  • BhryaenBhryaen Member Posts: 2,874
    A follow-up question for modders that's been nagging me is whether they'd prefer the BGEE devs to just do their thing and then sort out their mod's implementation requirements in the aftermath or if they'd like to actually add their mod directly to BGEE themselves with the dev team's supervision/ collaboration (and the need for approval from the Legal Entities, of course). I mean, the former entails the usual blind, disjointed process even as it offers modders freedom to do exactly as they like, but the latter would be a chance to integrate mods directly into BGEE itself in a meaningful way, giving vanilla BGEE the modders' own touch. Plus it then would be a voluntary contribution to the project rather than a usurping in whole of the modders' existing mods, thus potentially avoiding the legal difficulty given that it would then be a fully BGEE design made to suit the new BGEE code architecture itself.

    The matter of WotC gaining "rights" over modders' work has stymied me before, but given that modders aren't exactly profiting from their mods anyway- as well as the bald fact that vanilla BG isn't owned by modders either despite their incursions into it- I'm no longer seeing where a conflict arises. Letting WotC "own" a contribution to BGEE seems an invisible formality since it won't stop a single modder from breaking open the code and having at it anyway however and to the furthest extent they can and wish.

    Of course, I'm primarily thinking here of the sorts of mods that add tweaks and gameplay options, not, say, the bugfix mods which are presumably already being implemented by the dev team in their own way... Nor the plethora of NPC, quest, and dialogue mods that simply have no salience in such a way, but even in those cases the modders might have a good sense of exactly how they'd implement BGEE code structure to facilitate or even standardize their work and could simply make those fixes themselves. Doing so would help pave the road for themselves as well as other modders, present and future. I say this knowing full well there have already been such ideas hashed about by modders in this thread and elsewhere on the BGEE forums, but I'm wondering- without any say in the matter myself, mind you, but still- whether modders prefer the wait-and-rework approach or the direct-integration-collaboration approach.

    SLN
  • AndreaColomboAndreaColombo Member Posts: 5,346
    @Bhryaen - man, not cool! You made an insightful post that calls for an accordingly insightful comment on my part right when I have no time to answer and must wait until tomorrow *misty-eyed emoticon*

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