Sooooo... lately I have been talking with some of the other Obsidz folks about issues that affect the making, use, and distribution of custom content. Chief among these are:
* The lack of an official hak editor.
* The lack of an official UTF-8 string editor.
* The lack of a place where "stand-alone" (unaffiliated with modules and campaigns) haks can live (override and data folders not really being a good home for such things).
* The lack of documentation on the order in which things are loaded and from where (with order being very important, as it establishes what files have "last say").
* Data files can be read in from about eight different places in myriad formats.
* .haks must be explicitly called out from individual campaigns and modules.
* There is no logging of .hak and override content being loaded to see gets read in last and from where.
* There is no data screen where campaigns, .haks, and override files can be seen, much less managed.
How are important are these things to you? I would like to see at least a few of these addressed. Most notably, I would like to see clear feedback on what data is recognized by the game (preferably at the launcher screen) and a log of when it is loaded.
I would also like to make the loading of .haks implicit (automatic) based on where they are placed. I.e. all .haks in the haks folder always get loaded, all .haks in a campaign folder always gets loaded with the .cam (?) file in the folder, and all .haks in a module folder get loaded with the .mod in the same folder. Of course, this would demand a re-structuring of the load order and .mods would always have to be in their own folders. Nathaniel drew the pyramid of load order, which helps with this. I can't draw a pyramid on the train, but try to imagine it.
OVERRIDE (.hak, .zip, all other data formats)
Data (.zips and other stuff)
This is in reverse load order, so core data is loaded first, followed by content in .haks from the haks folder, follower by .haks from the campaign's folder and .haks from the module's folder. Finally, the almighty override takes priority over everything, which really leaves it as a place for testing (which is what it is for) and for people who absolutely can't stand some aspect of a campaign or module they are playing.
The suggested benefit of this is that you could have "generic" .haks like Josh's Fancy Spells or Annie's Super Cool Item Pak as .haks in the haks folder that take precedence in all modules and campaigns unless trumped by the specific content in a campaign or module (in which case the assumption is that you downloaded the campaign or module to actually enjoy what the builder had in mind). If you're the sort of person that hates the default sword models (for example) and you want Adonnay's swords in all campaigns, you can dump them in the override with the game warning you at launch that files really should only be in the override folder for testing purposes.
There are a bunch of other things associated with this, but Rich "Ask the Community What They Think" Taylor wanted me to get feedback on the big issues before we seriously consider any of this (as it could be a lot of work to re-organize everything).