Saturday, July 12, 2008

Modders rejoice!

Hello and welcome to the first in a series articles about the development and state of Heresy War. The first subject that we will touch here is modding, namely what can YOU as a fan can do to customize your experience, and what are the limits to the changes that you can do to the game.
Well, since Heresy War is a PC game and because we want it to be a modern one, we had to think from the stat the whole architecture with flexibility as a core principle. And this is mostly because we don't want a "Game Over" screen at the end of the built in campaign. Instead we want the game to have a much longer life through our online updates and why not through hundreds or thousands of community developed mods.
And so, you'd ask "
How will I be able to tweak something at Heresy War?".
The short answer will be trough the "
Heresy War Modding SDK" that will be freely available at the launch of the game.
As a long answer I would say that there will be a level editor (the actual level editor that we are using to develop the game), there will be tools to convert various public 3D formats to Heresy War 3D format, a model viewer, special effects editor and a well structured documentation of the whole SDK.

A shot from the level editor
The same mission in the game

I also can say that almost every aspect of the game will be tweakable from a script or from a tool, without the need of touching actual game code.
For example one can add new ships with completely new cockpits and new HUDs (and here I don't mean just changing the HUD's style, but actually adding new elements and new features); another person would like to add new levels or even new linear or nonlinear campaigns or why not, link the campaigns together. All this will be possible. And that's still not it :) maybe someone has a great new idea one that we've never thought of and the systems we've implemented in our mission editor are not enough for him to put he's idea in Heresy War, but this will not be a problem because Heresy War has a powerful scripting engine that can access and control every aspect of a level. Actually, our level editor saves parts of the levels as script projects, which can be edited with a simple text editor.
How fast can I test my work?
We try to focus our tools to be very efficient in terms of creating content for the game. That’s why most of them are very handy and easy to use, even by the novice.

The model viewer in action

If you’re trying to make a new ship, for example, you will need to go through an initial setup phase that you need to do only once. This setup phase consists in creating the shaders for your ship (really easy and fast), and setting up the ship for the model compiler. After you do this, export the ship, compile the model and test it in our Model Viewer. This tool allows you to access your own models very fast, and view them in “ideal” conditions, without going through the hassle of creating a level that has your ship in it, or going through the game’s loading time.
If you’re working on a level, after you hit the “Export level” button in the mission editor, you’re ready to go and test your level by just starting the game.
"How about total conversions?" you might ask.
Well, since everything can be changed easily, from the first menu page to the levels, weapons, ships, and even the “game over screen” ... I guess total conversions will not be a big problem for an enthusiast team. Hopefully with this few lines we've made some space-sim modders a bit more happy and, why not, eager to start a new mod :)


1 comment:

Baciu said...

Cool! can't wait to try it!!:D:D btw, I managed to mod the demo a bit...just the campaign ship selection and the starting zone...posted a thread on the forum:D great job:D:D