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Sensuki

Mod Support Thread

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I thought I'd create a thread about Mod Support, because it's getting to that stage where it's about time we knew about what things will and will not be supported by Obsidian on the modding front.

 

Here is the original promise from the Kickstarter Campaign

 

DqbEBLN.jpg

 

And some statements made in the Dec 2013 PCWorld Interview

 

RtdfcgN.jpg

 

While there was some uneasiness about the use of Unity making modding difficult, the actual fact is it's quite the opposite. The Language used for the PE source code - C#, it supports Reflection, and Partial Decompilation and thus modders are able to inject code into the Assembly.

 

It is also theoretically possible to make some kind of patcher, hopefully something like WeiDU for the Infinity Engine games. But on the source code front, things are looking good.

 

I do however, have some concerns about modding possibilities with the game assets. This is not because this is not supported by the Unity Engine, it's actually made quite easy through the use of Unity3D AssetBundles (*.unity3d). External AssetBundles can be streamed into the game, overriding the ones used in the SharedAssets.

 

Obsidian has already externalized several types of these files, as stated by Josh Sawyer in the PCWorld interview. Items, Weapon Modifiers, Class and Racial Abilities, Spells, Creature Files (Natural Weapons, Spells, Abilities, Armor) and 2D Background Tiles are currently externalized in the Backer Beta.

 

These files can be edited with Unity itself. However it does require Unity Pro (there is a trial version available), because AssetBundles are a Unity Pro feature, and it also requires a Custom Unity Editor Extension to be able to edit the files, and save them back as a Unity3D file. Bester has already developed a Unity Editor Extension that allows editing, removing and saving of elements within these files. While it doesn't have complete functionality as of yet, you can modify a weapon or spell, save the file and copy it over the default AssetBundle to use in the game.

 

My concern lies with what is not currently externalized.

 

Tables and Variables - such as Class Variables, Experience Tables and stuff like that. I have noticed that there is an empty override folder in the assetbundles folder, so it is possible that Obsidian mean to have some kind of functionality there that allows editing of that stuff like with .2DA files in the Infinity Engine games. It would be appreciated if an official word could be given about the use of that folder.

 

Scene Files - these files contain the data for scenes, also known as areas. They contain GameObjects, which is a generic class that encompasses items, creatures, interractables, lootables, shops, etc... and contain all the information such as their their location, their stats, dialogue strings in case of NPCs, and all the other good stuff. These are not currently externalized to our knowledge. The 2D Art files have been made available, but not actually any scene data that I am aware of.

 

Without the scenes being externalized, we cannot add custom NPCs, items or anything to current levels through Unity. We know it is possible to externalize these assets because inXile have done it for Wasteland 2, and they didn't even promise mod support.

 

Here is a screenshot of externalized scenes for Wasteland 2

 

m17xbQj.jpg

 

The PE BB has an external scenes folder ... but it's empty. There are these, which I believe is just the 2D art files

 

CTPKnVW.jpg

 

But when unpacked it doesn't look like they contain any scene data.

 

So I would also if possible, like to get some official word on externalizing scenes. These files could also easily be offered in a separate pack on GoG and probably via Steam as well, as "Free DLC" or maybe something in the Tools section, like when you go to download Source SDK if they were to also contain the 2D art files and cause the game size to inflate by too much.

 

inXile have also externalized many other types of files for modders to play around with such as animation sets and things like that.

 

sLhEZ02.jpg

 

Obsidian could also move to this file format completely, rather than using SharedAssets. I believe inXile ended up altering their file format somewhere towards the end of development (after the beta release) to provide Mod Support. Good Guy Brian Fargo et al.

 

But yeah, it would be nice to get some official word on whether any more file types will be externalized for the full game, and how the override folder will end up working.

 

Externalizing more files will only do good for the game franchise IMO. As we all know, the Infinity Engine games still have a vibrant modding community 15 years + after release. The larger the modding community is - the more your game will continue to create revenue long after it's release.

 

Thanks in advance guys.

Edited by Sensuki
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I hope they do externalize more. The things you mentioned (tables, variables and scene files) are absolutely essential for mods to be as good as IE mods were.

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That's understandable, but I was asking if they are going to, not why they haven't yet.

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Good points!
I would like to add for the mod support It may be even helpful to communicate future updates in advance. For example, when the game ships, posting and then updating the list of features planned for next paches may prevent possible work dupplication, in case modders and developers plan to implement the same stuff.

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Externalizing more files will only do good for the game franchise IMO. As we all know, the Infinity Engine games still have a vibrant modding community 15 years + after release. The larger the modding community is - the more your game will continue to create revenue long after it's release.

 

 

 

 

Just bumping this thread because of this. I agree 100%.

 

I don't know how to mod myself, but if I like the full game I'm seriously considering getting into it.

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The code is easy to manage, yes, but only if you just want to make your own mod. If you want to use something like WeiDU for that, you need an API. An API is both a set of common functions that have to be used, as well as a set of rules that you have to follow.

 

The difference with most other games supported by WeiDU is, that there only the resources/assets are modified, not the code. Because, code is very hard to break up into small, independent units. That is, if you don't use strict guidelines and not always use the library functions. Because that is the same as having an API.

 

For assets there are interdependencies as well. If a part of the code references mob1_x.x, and another uses mymod_mob1_x.x, you have the same problem.

 

That's why you essentially NEVER want to change the code, and only the resources/assets. Or if you do want to do that, make sure everyone uses it. Otherwise, your mod won't work with any other one.

 

 

Then again, if the development proces of the base game is structured well, this will be available automatically.

 

 

Edit: if things are externalized as text files, they become assets as well. That's why scripts are somewhere in between assets and code.

 

Sure, scripts are code as well, but that's why normally the base game is called the 'engine'. And any changes to that should be backwards compatible with all the assets.

Edited by SymbolicFrank
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That's some interesting info in the OP. It's heartening to see that racial abilities sound like they should be relatively easy to mod. I prefer to leave race choice as largely an aesthetic and RP thing, so the min-maxer in me finds it somewhat galling that hearth orlan get Minor Threat.

Edited by Whipstitch

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Great collection of info! The fact that there is an empty folder for scenes makes me feel optimistic that they will be externalized eventually. This is when the party starts. Let's hope we get this sooner, not later... Can't wait to build custom landscapes in 3ds max (I have quite the model library available already on my HDD ...; also, I'm willing to write tutorials on how to use 3ds max to create custom maps given the tools to convert my max files into game assets)

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just out of curiosity, how difficult would it be to mod a class?

Cause if spiritshift of druid stays the way it is, i will have to do somthing about it, can't stand that it got the same flaws as in GB2 (werwolf druid was even better implemented)

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just out of curiosity, how difficult would it be to mod a class?

Cause if spiritshift of druid stays the way it is, i will have to do somthing about it, can't stand that it got the same flaws as in GB2 (werwolf druid was even better implemented)

 

I would probably stay away from modding classes or anything gameplay related too much until several months in. Chances are that we will get balancing patches post-release, so it would probably be a waste of effort.

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Is there any knowledge of how easy it would be to replace characters' models and animations through mods?

Not a deal breaker by any means, but they are the only thing I don't find particularly appealing aesthetically in the game and I was wondering what modders could do about it (if they will ever want to, of course).

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Is there any knowledge of how easy it would be to replace characters' models and animations through mods?

Not a deal breaker by any means, but they are the only thing I don't find particularly appealing aesthetically in the game and I was wondering what modders could do about it (if they will ever want to, of course).

Find quality models - rigged, textured, with animations and of the same visual style, then we'll talk about it.

 

 

which is never or in ~5 years if the game is a huge success

 

 

Plus they're using some kind of system where different body types use the same skeleton by scaling bones, so that allows them to have 1 armor mesh and 1 running animation to be used on male/female humans/elves/dwarves etc (or do they use morph target? never seen it used for armor). Anyway, good luck trying to make something compatible.

Edited by Bester

IE Mod for Pillars of Eternity: link

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Judging from the videos, it seems that PoE uses the "classic" method of interchangable body models with attached static models. I don't see any complicated stuff here.

 

So basicly, when you equip a new armor, what happens is that the entire body model will be exchanged. Heads, Cloaks/capes, weapons and helmets are most likely static models that get attached directly to bones.

This becomes quite obvious when you watch some youtube videos on the early backer betas, when some of the models didn't load in perfectly.

The only "variable" here is if the animations are baked directly into the body models (which would mean that every body model has all sequences copy&pasted in) or if the animations are externalized and the body models are static (they'd still have bones in that case).

But no matter if they are externalized or not: it would be easy to just use an existing body model as a basis and then modify the UVW mapping or vertices to get new designs. This has been done before in thousands of games. I don't see why PoE should be much different here.

 

 

One of the first mods of almost any game is a "nude armor"...

Edited by Zwiebelchen

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No. For instance, they tweaked the boobs size in one patch. Obviously they didn't go through each armor mesh to change the boob size, they just modified the bones on the base female skeleton. Doing it your way would've been extremely inefficient.

Edited by Bester

IE Mod for Pillars of Eternity: link

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Is there any knowledge of how easy it would be to replace characters' models and animations through mods?

 

Find quality models - rigged, textured, with animations and of the same visual style, then we'll talk about it.

 

 

Well, thank you for your consultation, but my question was if it's feasible, not when in your opinion that could happen.

Edited by Tuco Benedicto

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No. For instance, they tweaked the boobs size in one patch. Obviously they didn't go through each armor mesh to change the boob size, they just modified the bones on the base female skeleton. Doing it your way would've been extremely inefficient.

 

It's not like there's hundreds of different armor models... I expect a range of roughly 30-40 models. Not an amount that couldn't be handled one by one, imho.

 

But yeah, since we have body scaling for different races, I expect animations to be externalized with just the bones being part of the actual model. Which doesn't make it harder nor easier, tbh..

They could have also went for an effective mixture of interchangable textures with interchangable base models. In this approach, they would only design 3-4 armor models and then just interchange the textures layered on top of them. This would make custom designs even easier, as now a poor-man's approach would be to just exchange the textures. This is basicly how World of Warcraft does it.

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Well that really bothered me, it was in the kickstarter campaign, after a couple of months the game was funded every mention of modding completely disappeared from it and Obsidian never spoke about it again (or gave straight answers).

I don't mind the game not supporting mods (supporting mods means easy and straight way to implement mods like: first 2 Dragon Age, Bethesda games, etc..), but I do mind them advertising it, then completely removing it and expecting we didn't notice.

I always thought very highly of Obsidian (and still do), but this left me with a bitter taste.

Edited by DuskDweller78

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Well that really bothered me, it was in the kickstarter campaign, after a couple of months the game was funded every mention of modding completely disappeared from it and Obsidian never spoke about it again (or gave straight answers).

 

 Why do you say they haven't given straight answers? They have said from the beginning (and have said as recently as about a week ago in the Game Watcher interview) that they will externalize everything they can (that is, things not forbidden by the Unity license). The story has never changed. As far as we know, they still intend to do that.

 

 

 

I don't mind the game not supporting mods (supporting mods means easy and straight way to implement mods like: first 2 Dragon Age, Bethesda games, etc..), but I do mind them advertising it, then completely removing it and expecting we didn't notice.

I always thought very highly of Obsidian (and still do), but this left me with a bitter taste.

 

 If you were expecting a level editor, there is also a straight answer to that which is and always has been "no". 

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