Where do we go from here? (Buffy)

The role-playing games (I-X) that started it all and the various spin-offs (including Dark Messiah).

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Big Daddy Jim
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Where do we go from here? (Buffy)

Postby Big Daddy Jim » Apr 22 2010, 15:51

Lots o’ nice new modding-tools ventures being reported on this site. Mike K and gang are working on an updated MM6 editor, Nomad is working on an updated MM engine set, Grayface has produced the MMExtension project, plus a plethora of useful utilities. Nice work, guys (and gals??)!

However, I fear that all of this will only lead to ‘nicer looking’ mods of the original game storylines and not lead to new MM-like games being produced in the near term.

Why?

Because none of these tools has been able to effectively deal with the game coding required to produce new storylines, et al.

Why again?

This is due to a distinct lack of an easy, complete and lay-oriented method (perhaps a GUI with ‘pulldowns’ similar to the existing MM8LevelEditor) that allows the modder to actually change the game by manipulating the game language. Currently, there is only one person who has successfully ‘mastered’ this language to actually produce new and/or altered storylines.

Why again?

Because, currently, it takes a gifted and dedicated programmer to ‘muddle through’ the limited language to produced the desired affects. And much of this ‘muddling’ requires machine-language-like Hex entries to accomplish. And trust me, that gets old real fast!

The inability to generate new code is, in my opinion, the primary reason why most MM mods never see the light of day.


If I were King for a Day (free advice – take it for what it is) ….

Mike K. and Gang. I would change my priorities and make the MM6 editor secondary. I’d first focus on generating a stand-alone GUI ‘pull-down’ interface that could completely generate code for each of the MM game engine platforms; MM6, MM7, and MM8. If you get this done, I’ll write the in-game tutorials.

Grayface. Your MMExtension code idea is quite novel, and I applaud your expertise and efforts in this venture. However, IMHO, it is still too structured and complicated for the lay-modder to use. I wouldn’t even attempt to use it to code up an entire game because the learning curve seems too steep. Perhaps you could ‘GUI’ this?

Nomad. Don’t know where your project is going, but if it gets completed, please ensure that it is useable for the lay-modder and not just the ‘gifted’ computer GEEK, database manager, programmer, et al. Most modder wannabees don’t have a ‘C’ or ‘C++’ background, yet alone an assembly or machine-code background. Simple-to-use interfaces, completed with easy to read/understand/use tutorials are a must.

Take it for what it is worth. Just my 2c worth of opinions.

BDJ
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http://www.mediafire.com/BDJs

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Postby Nomad » Apr 22 2010, 16:21

Big Daddy Jim
Don’t know where your project is going, but if it gets completed, please ensure that it is useable for the lay-modder and not just the ‘gifted’ computer GEEK, database manager, programmer, et al. Most modder wannabees don’t have a ‘C’ or ‘C++’ background, yet alone an assembly or machine-code background. Simple-to-use interfaces, completed with easy to read/understand/use tutorials are a must.

Thy prayers has been heard for this is the goal of my work.
:)

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Postby Lord13 » Apr 22 2010, 17:24

Useful and correct thoughts BDJ. But I know how hard is to transform
a "pure code" program to a GUI one.(my last project at uni is based
at smth like that, transform pure code to GUI, but is a complete
different language, for mathematics only sadly (Matlab)).

My dream for the MnM community is to be created a game editor
similar to Elder Scroll's construction kit, or Unreal Tournament's
Editor. With easy drag n drop commands, tools for terrain editing,
objects/skins imports etc. but with also and advanced features for the
more experience modders(that will include scripting I guess).

I think that smth like that started Oren at past for MMT project,
with the difference was not based at MnM 6-8, but at at smth new.
Not sure though.

Anyway, such a great GUI editor for our favorite games would be
more than welcome, a great gift to all MnM funs!
Every man dies...
Every beast dies...
Only heroes live forever!

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Postby GreatEmerald » Apr 22 2010, 17:38

Well, coding can't be GUI-fied too well. For example, UT3's Kismet, a GUI frontend for simple UnrealScript used in maps, while may appear simple for the mapper (connect bubbles and things together to get code), but it looks like spaghetti schematics for power UnrealScript users, not to mention that there is low to no code optimisation possible. So I guess you should have the best of both worlds, for example, something similar to how it's done in UE2: you can edit default values of different classes with a GUI. That makes simple mods easy. And if you like to code something more interesting, you can always code it the text way.

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Postby vladimir-maestro » Apr 22 2010, 19:10

full modding tools for mm9 will be much better...but there will be lack of 3d animators... :D

BTW: did you hear that ubisoft said about Heroes 6 and MM10? probably they will develop them after theit recent project :|
You can contact me here:
maestro_mod@yahoo.com
---
Site about MODs: http://www.mmgames.ru
---
if you wish to upload some materials for this site - let me know.

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Postby Big Daddy Jim » Apr 22 2010, 19:19

GreatEmerald wrote:Well, coding can't be GUI-fied too well.


With the limited event code instruction set available to the 'native' MM6,7,8 games, an entire and very intricate game storyline can easily be implemented from a pure GUI. I know this to be a fact because I've just accomplished most of my programming doing it this way. Since TCC was based upon the MM6 engine and instruction set, I was able to code up about 90% of the game directly from the 'pull-down' GUI of the MM8LevelEditor without ever leaving that tool interface. Had the instruction set been completely implemented by that tool, I could have coded up the entire game easily and quickly using only that interface. So in this case, event coding for a new and intricate storyline can rapidly and effortlessly be coded using a proper GUI such as the MM8LevelEditor 'pull down' approach.

At least that's my experience.

BDJ
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Postby Big Daddy Jim » Apr 22 2010, 19:42

Lord13 wrote:
My dream for the MnM community is to be created a game editor
similar to Elder Scroll's construction kit, or Unreal Tournament's
Editor. With easy drag n drop commands, tools for terrain editing,
objects/skins imports etc. but with also and advanced features for the
more experience modders(that will include scripting I guess).



I am hoping that Mike K's project will eventually produce something like this. My main concern, however (being tunnel-visioned) was what I consider the most 'needed' tool to produce a new storyline.

Lord13 wrote:Anyway, such a great GUI editor for our favorite games would be
more than welcome, a great gift to all MnM funs!


My sentiments, exactly!

BDJ
"BDJ the Coding Wizard has moved out of the Coding Fortress, has retired from Might & Magic game modification, and now lives a peaceful life in Alto Lino, Republic de Panama.



http://www.mediafire.com/BDJs

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Postby GreatEmerald » Apr 22 2010, 20:12

Big Daddy Jim wrote:With the limited event code instruction set available to the 'native' MM6,7,8 games, an entire and very intricate game storyline can easily be implemented from a pure GUI. I know this to be a fact because I've just accomplished most of my programming doing it this way. Since TCC was based upon the MM6 engine and instruction set, I was able to code up about 90% of the game directly from the 'pull-down' GUI of the MM8LevelEditor without ever leaving that tool interface. Had the instruction set been completely implemented by that tool, I could have coded up the entire game easily and quickly using only that interface. So in this case, event coding for a new and intricate storyline can rapidly and effortlessly be coded using a proper GUI such as the MM8LevelEditor 'pull down' approach.

At least that's my experience.

BDJ

Yes, that's true, and that's what I was talking about when I talked about changing default properties. Basically most of the defaults are already in the TXT files in LODs. Not all of them, though, like formulas for attack calculation.

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Postby mkienenb » Apr 23 2010, 12:50

Big Daddy Jim wrote:
GreatEmerald wrote:Well, coding can't be GUI-fied too well.


With the limited event code instruction set available to the 'native' MM6,7,8 games, an entire and very intricate game storyline can easily be implemented from a pure GUI. I know this to be a fact because I've just accomplished most of my programming doing it this way. Since TCC was based upon the MM6 engine and instruction set, I was able to code up about 90% of the game directly from the 'pull-down' GUI of the MM8LevelEditor without ever leaving that tool interface. Had the instruction set been completely implemented by that tool, I could have coded up the entire game easily and quickly using only that interface. So in this case, event coding for a new and intricate storyline can rapidly and effortlessly be coded using a proper GUI such as the MM8LevelEditor 'pull down' approach.

At least that's my experience.

BDJ



Make up your mind. :)

My response is somewhat disordered, as I've written it in bits and pieces.

Yes, getting a pull-down based GUI for the event language was my primary goal in the last days I worked on that project.

The two MM editor projects I started after that (which didn't really go anywhere) were also attempts to make editing the event language easier.

The java gui wasn't really adequate for the task in the original MM8LevelEditor. The large number of components with large number of pulldown menus was a bit much to display all at once. Rewriting seemed as if it was going to be more work than restarting from scratch, although I now have some ideas of how it might be modified to do the same thing without being so resource-intensive.

I started a Google App Engine event language editor at one point, trying to take advantage of the google input suggest component and autocompletion rather than pulldowns, but I had other problems with the api.

The other problem was that to effectively use event language, the event language editor needs to understand the str and text files elsewhere in the lods. The original editor wasn't capable of working with multiple lod resources at the same time.

To some extent, I think that Grayface's new event language is the way to go. A non-programmer could not create significant events, but for a lot of things, the insignificant events can be handled with the native language.

It's certainly possible to create gui-based languages for the built-in event language, and I might consider finishing that project in the new editor, since it's fairly close to completion. (Most of the event language handling code can be ported to my new project.)

The scratch programming language is gui-based and its way of doing things is a nice fit to the event language:

http://info.scratch.mit.edu/sites/infos ... tedv14.pdf

However, duplicating that interface might be a huge project in itself. The framework I'm using to develop the map editor has support for drag-and-drop palettes, so I might investigate that.

Unfortunately :) you now have convinced me that being able to edit maps is important too. I think that both are important. My focus is going to remain on the map editing until I have at least something usable. That is not far off. I might then switch over to getting event editing incorporated by copying over what I've done before.


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Postby GreatEmerald » Apr 23 2010, 16:35

mkienenb wrote:Unfortunately :) you now have convinced me that being able to edit maps is important too.


Well, after all it is MM8LevelEditor ;)

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Postby Big Daddy Jim » Apr 23 2010, 17:13

mkienenb wrote:

Make up your mind. :)


Mike ... What you are working on now is the next '(R)evolutionary' stage of 'native' MM6 modding (possibly leading to MM7 and MM8??). And it will be, IMHO, the most important and significant contribution to the MM modding community since you released the original MM Editor(s). It's wanted, it's needed, and it will be greatly appreciated.

However, my concern in generating this topic was and remains the modder's ability to generate and implement a new storyline. Without this ability, we'll have nicer looking games, but the same (old) stories, quests, et al. The ability to 'code up a game' is the foundation required to produce an original MM-like game. It is the Corner Stone to modding success.

As an aside, when I coded up the MM7Rev, about 80% of the coding work required manual, machine-like Hex code entries, mainly because the MM8Editor didn't deal with the longer instruction lengths and the new MM7 instructions. I will never put myself through that laborious task again. And I wouldn't wish that on anyone else.


mkienenb wrote:


Unfortunately :) you now have convinced me that being able to edit maps is important too. I think that both are important. My focus is going to remain on the map editing until I have at least something usable. That is not far off. I might then switch over to getting event editing incorporated by copying over what I've done before.



The ability to edit maps is extremely important, and this community will be forever in your debt for taking on this task. If you decide to pursue the event language, I would suggest that you start with MM7. It contains significant additions to the rather basic (crude) MM6, allowing the modder more flexibility to implement 'special' event-types. But this is your call.

We'll see how successful these new tools are (including the MMExtension language) based upon how many new storyline mods actually are produced in the next year or so using the MM engine(s). However, I suspect that, until there is an easy way to use the original event language, we won't see any 'native' MM engine-based games produced with new storylines, et al.

I hope that I am wrong.

BDJ
"BDJ the Coding Wizard has moved out of the Coding Fortress, has retired from Might & Magic game modification, and now lives a peaceful life in Alto Lino, Republic de Panama.



http://www.mediafire.com/BDJs

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Postby motter28218 » Apr 23 2010, 20:51

My two cents:

I agree with BDJ that re-coding in hex is pretty intimidating, especially to someone who has never done it before (like I was 2yrs ago), but even now that I'm "good" at it it still takes a long time to work with numbers "posing" as words rather than just straight up words and it would be so nice if you wanted to re-number an event to just change one number in the first line rather going through and re-numbering every line in the sequence.

I think Grayface's MMExt for me anyway would be the answer to my prayer's but only because I understand how to script, I just don't know the specific commands for Lua, but again for a beginner this tool would also be intimidating.

My suggestion tho, and I know I have mentioned this to a few of you and I know some of you are already attempting this, but rather than having 3 or 4 people creating 3 or 4 modding tools why not all just use your various skills to come up with one complete tool that can include all of these features. Just a thought, thanks to all of you who continue to work on these modding tools, they have given me hours of fun.

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Postby mkienenb » Apr 23 2010, 22:02

motter28218 wrote:My suggestion tho, and I know I have mentioned this to a few of you and I know some of you are already attempting this, but rather than having 3 or 4 people creating 3 or 4 modding tools why not all just use your various skills to come up with one complete tool that can include all of these features. Just a thought, thanks to all of you who continue to work on these modding tools, they have given me hours of fun.


As far as I know, there's only two people working on publicly-available modding tools.

Sergey is concentrating on modding the engine, for the most part.
I have concentrated on modding the data files for the engine.
And as much as possible, we're working together to make the tools complement each other.

For example, the new editor relies on Sergey's Autolod tool to unpack and pack the lod files. I've given him a few ideas on MMExtensions which are necessary for creating new maps (hooks for walking between maps, etc). I plan to make use of his MMExtension hooks in the level editor.

So for all practical purposes, we're working on the same "project", just from different angles. As time passes, I think you'll see more and more integration between the two tools, as much as it makes sense to do so.

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Postby GrayFace » Apr 24 2010, 15:08

My 010Editor template was a kind of pull-down editor too, but 010Editor is proprietary, so...

First of all, I'll concentrate on MMExtension help. I've completed its structure and made some text. The next step is examples. After examples, events and some Evt commands descriptions are done, the help will be usable.
I doubt a GUI generator would help too much, but it can be made in conjunction with MMExtension. MMExtension would be good as a part of ".bin" files convertor anyway. Still, I think indoors editor is much more important than a GUI events generator.

P.S. This week I've started playing TCC (a few months ago when I created party I didn't go much further, because I got sucked into Knytt Stories).
My patches: MM6 MM7 MM8. MMExtension. Tools. Also, I love Knytt Stories and Knytt Underground. I'm also known as sergroj.

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Postby motter28218 » Apr 25 2010, 11:36

@Mike: I know you have been working very hard and you and I have talked at length about these things, my comment was in no way a criticism, I very much appreciate all you have done and look forward to your final product, and like we talked about last time I'm trying to study the info you sent so hoepfully I can take more of an active role in helping you out.

@Grayface: That is great news!!!! I can't wait to start scripting in Lua, you have no idea how much easier that will make it for me to finish my mod, thank your very much for your hardwork.

@BDJ: As always, thank you for all you have taught me and for always being willing to help me out with questions. I haven't gotten around to re-trying the sprite experiment I'm in the middle of hosting a scenario design contest for another game at the moment, but I'll get to it soon.

Otter


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