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Hello,

 

I just backed this project yesterday it seems exciting. I had a look at the updates and the forum and found a lot going on but one thing I didn't find: mods.

 

So the question is will there be ease and tools to create user mods? What I thinking of is neverwinter nights, a game that has so much user generated content that is even in some cases better than the original/expansion.

 

If this game manages to set a new mark I think that will be a major thing, years could pass and we can just add more to the game

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Pillars of Eternity won't have full modding tools like the NWN games.

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Hello,

 

I just backed this project yesterday it seems exciting. I had a look at the updates and the forum and found a lot going on but one thing I didn't find: mods.

 

So the question is will there be ease and tools to create user mods? What I thinking of is neverwinter nights, a game that has so much user generated content that is even in some cases better than the original/expansion.

 

If this game manages to set a new mark I think that will be a major thing, years could pass and we can just add more to the game

 

The difference between this and NWN is that NWN rendered the images in real time.  This uses pre-rendered maps, so unless the users make their own renders (which is much, much, much harder than placing buildings on a map), user generated content isn't really a likelihood.  But there are graphical advantages.  That's why BGII looked like this:

baldursgate2rain.jpg

 

and NWN looked like worse in some respects even though many years had passed:

 

neverwinter-nights.jpg

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Reason being that the maps require several rendering passes and are hand-painted. Making them is way more complicated than just blocking out tiles and dropping in models like in NWN.

 

I guess so... but then again, it shouldn't be hard for any decent modeller to create such backgrounds from scratch. With free 3D modelling tools and a powerful graphics card for rendering, any decent 3D artist can create convincing background images that could then be filled with a selection of destructable 3D objects that are used by PoE (crates, barrels).

 

From what I've seen from the developement screenshots, they are using an editor to apply basic-geometry cutouts to the 2D background image to simulate the dynamic light and create the pathing map. Assuming the community could get access to this tool (and also the tools used to create and script dialogues, npcs and quests), the modding possibilities would be almost endless.

 

 

And since we are talking about free modding content made by users and the game created by Obsidian, there shouldn't be a lot of legal issues with using f.ex. using the powerful NWN 2 world editor to create high-resolution background images for those without the 3D-rendering skills (I mean... technically, a print-screen and some photoshop skills could be enough).

Edited by Zwiebelchen
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Reason being that the maps require several rendering passes and are hand-painted. Making them is way more complicated than just blocking out tiles and dropping in models like in NWN.

 

I guess so... but then again, it shouldn't be hard for any decent modeller to create such backgrounds from scratch. With free 3D modelling tools and a powerful graphics card for rendering, any decent 3D artist can create convincing background images that could then be filled with a selection of destructable 3D objects that are used by PoE (crates, barrels).

 

From what I've seen from the development screenshots, they are using an editor to apply basic-geometry cutouts to the 2D background image to simulate the dynamic light and create the pathing map. Assuming the community could get access to this tool (and also the tools used to create and script dialogues, npcs and quests), the modding possibilities would be almost endless.

 

It might seem that this would be the case, but in practice...  Well, look at the IE modding community -- the file formats are 100% decoded at this point, and have been for years, yet only one or two mods have ever been built that actually include totally new areas.  There are a few that (illegally) leverage IWD content in BG, I believe, but 100% original areas is all but unheard of.

 

In any case, Obsidian won't get in the way of anyone who wishes to create new areas (or other mods) to PoE, and will even provide some limited assistance (documenting file formats and the like), but have no plans to release any sort of tools that are designed to either modify the existing content or create original content for this game.

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It might seem that this would be the case, but in practice...  Well, look at the IE modding community -- the file formats are 100% decoded at this point, and have been for years, yet only one or two mods have ever been built that actually include totally new areas.  There are a few that (illegally) leverage IWD content in BG, I believe, but 100% original areas is all but unheard of.

 

In any case, Obsidian won't get in the way of anyone who wishes to create new areas (or other mods) to PoE, and will even provide some limited assistance (documenting file formats and the like), but have no plans to release any sort of tools that are designed to either modify the existing content or create original content for this game.

 

 

This was cause of the actual lack of support and tools to mod these games, not due to the lack of willing artists. People that were making mods for IE games usually came from a programming background, as creating content for IE required a certain amount of "hacking" and manipulating game files.

Modding was never officially supported by the developers, which meant there were no tools released to allow artists to step into IE-modding.

 

A good mod usually takes both artists and programmers. But in order to get the former, modding must be officially supported, to keep artists interested.

 

One game that got HEAVILY modded in the past by a huge amount of artists was Warcraft III. Even today, there's constantly more 3D art being made from models to high definition textures even after 15 years! This led to a total graphically makeover of the whole game. Recent maps/mods of Warcraft III make the antique graphics look like a completely new game.

 

This is how the actual game - as you can buy it in the store - looks by default:

http://www.polycat.net/gallery/albums/warcraft3/warcraft3_08.jpg

 

And this is how a user-based map (made by me) looks - without modifying ANY file of the actual game, just by importing (a supported feature of the game) user-made models by the community:

http://www.hiveworkshop.com/forums/attachments/gaias-retaliation-orpg-649/76141d1266881872-screenshots-upcoming-18.jpg

http://www.hiveworkshop.com/forums/attachments/gaias-retaliation-orpg-649/126156d1369952511-whats-about-come-next-months-1.jpg

 

And this is an example of a futuristic scenery made by a terrain artist 100% made out of community-made sci-fi models:

http://www.hiveworkshop.com/forums/attachments/terrain-board-267/132498d1391365649-lost-omen-lost-omen.jpg

 

 

You wouldn't believe the expertize in creating 3D and 2D art resources that even non-profit hobby-content makers have. You just need to be (as a game developer) open about how your game works internally and how files can be modified or added to the game and publish the tools used to merge the art and gameplay.

 

 

A bad example of not caring about the modding community came from the same company, unfortunately, with Starcraft II. They failed to support the 3D modelling community by releasing tools to convert conventional 3ds-max files into the game internal custom .m3 files, completely destroying all efforts by the community to create new artistic content right from the start. The result is that even now that such tools exist, there's still almost no 3D art available even after years of the release.

 

 

In order to have an alive modding community and to draw in hobby artists, you need to support your community. Allow them to use common tools and common media files and give them the software required to convert them to working game files. Allow your *artists* to creating artistical content that doesn't require a programming degrees and you will get proper artistic resources.

 

 

To take the IE game example, a simple editor that allows importing a 2D picture as a background and hand-painting the pathing map on top of it (and defining the areas that get rendered on top of NPCs instead of behind) would have sufficed to have hundreds of custom made locations from mods nowadays. But unfortunately, it never was that easy.

Edited by Zwiebelchen
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To take the IE game example, a simple editor that allows importing a 2D picture as a background and hand-painting the pathing map on top of it (and defining the areas that get rendered on top of NPCs instead of behind) would have sufficed to have hundreds of custom made locations from mods nowadays. But unfortunately, it never was that easy.

 

 

Based on the current statements made by Obsidian, it would be up to the community to develop such tools -- the funding for this project simply doesn't extend to developing these tools.  And, to answer your likely objection:  The tools that they use internally depend on the presence of commercial (not free) products.  They may releases these import tools anyway (there was an active discussion about this some time back), but there is no funding available for developing modeling (or other tools) specifically to support the modding community.

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Don't get me wrong here: I don't need an actual world editor like in NWN, I just need the tools to convert the files of the game back and forth and actually import them into the game.

 

Tools like 3dsmax or mudbox aren't free. Still, there's plenty of users that got access to them, either through a student license or due to hobby investments. And yeah, there's probably a lot of piracy aswell.

And there's always free editors for almost everything. Gmax or Milkshape for modelling, Gimp for 2D picture editing, etc..

 

As a content maker, I want to spent time on actual content making, not hacking game files or performing stupid workarounds just because there's no tool that allows to port my 3dsmax scenes or Photoshop layered files into ingame models and textures.

That requires the developers to be open about how the game works. To give an example, we need to study how animations work on character or beastiary models. Are there naming conventions? Which frame intervals are used for which animations? Are they biped based? What bone architecture is used? What material types are used for the textures? Specular, normal and bump maps? How do armor models work? Do those get linked to certain bones of the character or do they replace the whole character model? Such questions need to be answered to allow making such content. The workflow has to be clean off unneccessary obstructions. 

 

 

Powerful plugins allow converting files into formats that the game can read and handle are the bread and butter of modding.

A community that cares enough about a game to fund it with 4 million dollars before even seeing a single moving game footage has enough dedication to craft mod content. As long as the converters and tools exist.

Edited by Zwiebelchen
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There will probably be plenty of documentation on file formats, and I suspect that the developers will respond freely (once the game is released) to questions / clarification requests about both how they've used the capabilities of the game engine and potential capabilities.

 

But the release of any tools (even the tools that the used in-house to develop the game, "as-is") has not been promised at this point.

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The thing is, as the game is based on Unity, all the "big tools" will be commercially available for everyone. That's the beauty about Unity: every average joe can have access to them.

This is great, from a modders perspective.

 

The release of certain non-license in-house scripts used to create the content by the developers would allow the community to create stuff that is comparable in quality and as such blends well into the world.

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So far the devs have been very tight lipped concerning modding, I wont be surprised if it will be something left for the programmers to tackle once the game proper will be finished and work on the expansion commence.

 

Regardless of what moding tools become available to us, I just wanted to say that an impressive complete overhaul, I don't think I ever seen anything so radical:

This is how the actual game - as you can buy it in the store - looks by default:

http://www.polycat.net/gallery/albums/warcraft3/warcraft3_08.jpg

 

And this is how a user-based map (made by me) looks - without modifying ANY file of the actual game, just by importing (a supported feature of the game) user-made models by the community:

http://www.hiveworkshop.com/forums/attachments/gaias-retaliation-orpg-649/76141d1266881872-screenshots-upcoming-18.jpg

http://www.hiveworkshop.com/forums/attachments/gaias-retaliation-orpg-649/126156d1369952511-whats-about-come-next-months-1.jpg

 

And this is an example of a futuristic scenery made by a terrain artist 100% made out of community-made sci-fi models:

http://www.hiveworkshop.com/forums/attachments/terrain-board-267/132498d1391365649-lost-omen-lost-omen.jpg

Edited by Mor
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NWN, and particularly NWN2, should be recognised for featuring the best reoccurring villain of all time - a constant thorn in your side, absolutely merciless, thrives on the misery of others and always there to sabotage even the smallest encounter.

 

I speak, of course, of the ****ing camera.

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NWN, and particularly NWN2, should be recognised for featuring the best reoccurring villain of all time - a constant thorn in your side, absolutely merciless, thrives on the misery of others and always there to sabotage even the smallest encounter.

 

I speak, of course, of the ****ing camera.

 

Yes, well the camera is a headache in most 3D games. I must have spent half my type in Oblivion and Fallout 3/NLV just futzing around getting the camera looking the right way. The camera in the Dragon Age series was horrible.

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The 3D Fallouts I played in first person. Dragon Age takes its camera mechanic absolutely everything from MMOs. It isn't tactically useful (although it doesn't need to be - this being Dragon Age), but it is at least consistent and intuitive.

 

NWN2's camera is the most horrible and counter-intuitive camera I have ever worked with. I've started NWN2 OC on several occasions, and as soon as I leave the opening house I groan as I find out the camera is somehow even worse than I remember. Obviously I head to options to adjust it and discover that there are several useless options for the camera, none of which help to solve the root issues it has. I try and take comfort in the fact that I will eventually get used to it, but even after I've made it to Neverwinter it's still as irritating as ever.

 

I say all of this with conviction, because it is less than a year since I last ditched the game to play something that didn't feel like managing a remote-controlled rollerskater in a hall of mirrors.

 

For all I disagree with many of PoE's design choices, the fact that it will have a fixed camera is, to my mind, the most important thing it can possibly carry from the IE games.

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That's the beauty about Unity: every average joe can have access to them.

Wow, Unity. Way to discriminate against all the rusty joes and masterwork joes. 8)

 

Wow I forgot how fugly NWN was. My EYES! MY EYESSSS!

Blasphemy! It's 3D instead of 2D! That's 50% more D! It's CLEARLY superior in every way! u_u

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Should we not start with some Ipelagos, or at least some Greater Ipelagos, before tackling a named Arch Ipelago? 6_u

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To be fair NWN looks and camera control wasn't that much different from similar games that came around that time, and the reaction above is can be why many publishers prefer to avoid untested things...

 

Also for those replaying NWN2 make sure to update the game, one of the patches make the camera much more manageable.

Edited by Mor
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To be fair NWN looks and camera control wasn't that much different from similar games that came around that time, and the reaction above is can be why many publishers prefer to avoid untested things...

 

Also for those replaying NWN2 make sure to update the game, one of the patches make the camera much more manageable.

 

This is true.  Unfortunately, NWN2 reminds us of the virtues of Steam by requiring 8 ****ing years worth of patches.  It seriously took me an hour and a half for the autopatcher to get all the way up.  But yes, I played it late and didn't have half the camera problems people complain about.  I always wonder why devs put such arbitrary limits on how high a camera can go.  Mountains really sucked in NWN 2 for that reason.

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I've grown fond of nwn 2 over the years, despite all the problems people have with it. 

 

And some modders have redone certain textures in the game, improving the look in general.

Edited by sarkthas
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Robust modding tools aren't something you just fart out as an afterthought. It takes work, a lot of work, and the game typically needs to be built with such a thing in mind (see also: NWN1) for effective tools to be generated. The amount of work it takes would take away from resources that could be spent on other things. Such a thing, to my knowledge, has never been promised on Kickstarter or anywhere. It's beyond the scope of the project.

Edited by Fiaryn
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  • 2 weeks later...

I am amazed by the answer from zwiebelchen, I didn't know Warcraft III was moded like that. 

Recently I played Duke nukem 3d with mods -which I think are fan made- and the game is simply a different one. 

 

The argument of backgrounds is.. well.. as zwiebelchen said, a matter of tools. Good tools will allow artist to get recognition, and make them want to.  

 

Besides, just consider the project http://www.gemrb.org/wiki/doku.php?id=start where I contribute.  The images are taken from your original, legally owned IE game, and made playable using SDLII (and that's just a bad option today), so what would stop us from doing a remake of, say, Icewind dale?

 

Imagine, Icewind dale's battles adjusted for this new  system.. a melancholic hackfest :)

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I made maps for BG II (which uses prerendered images just like PoE) only with photoshop using already existing objects and adding new ones found in photos or other games.

Its pretty simple like that and should be pretty similar for PoE, except that it requires a higher resolution.
(I also made complete dungeons, but I dont have the files anymore)

 

The problem in PoE is fog, lighting and water. But I'm pretty sure there is a reasonable way to get a workaround...
Not adding the modding tools seems ignorant to me. if there are problems, the community WILL figure out solutions. give us the tools, we do what's left to do.

 

post-50883-0-89330200-1401204184_thumb.jpg

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^ it doesn't need all 5 of those passes - some are just beautification (specular pass, ambient occlusion pass, final paintover) but it does need the z-depth pass, so yeah - it needs to be built in 3D

(or maybe you could go through the image pixel-by-pixel and set the z-depth manually? don't know of a program that would do that though.   Is it possible to paint a distance-occlusion map? There was something simliar in IE, about characters walking behind scenery, but it wasn't handled the same way)

In the IE games, you needed a 'walk-path' layer (again, could be painted) - I think there's a 3D info walk-mesh done in Unity for PoE.

 

That being said - creating (a basic) 3D scene isn't all that hard (given enough practice with the software) - it's the making it look good with the right textures/settings, optimizing it for polys and texture resolution (to save on render times) and then rendering out all those layers in very large resolutions that's the trick.

Edited by Silent Winter

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