DAO World Editing and Area Creation
Finally leaving you with a Addin for the Dragon Age Campaign map that contains 1 basic area that you can travel too and from.
This tutorial will not explain how to create levels, that requires its own tutorial which I will make later. So I will probably borrow a premade level one for this tutorial as an example. I will explain the difference between an area and a level so it needs not confuse you as much as it confused me whilst I was learning this stuff.
What you are about to read took me weeks of reading and study to work out and I am still not 100% on some of it. The wiki tutorial writers that wrote the first tutorials clearly assumed us noobies would be experts in the use of the toolkit before we read their tutorials. Otherwise they would have included some basic information on how to save scripts, how to load the level editor, where to find the files or that many of the menus are disabled by default.
To this end, I have attempted to go back over the same territory they covered but this time include EXACT instructions on how to do each and every task needed when you are following this tutorial.
My goal here is to write a tutorial ANYBODY with any level of experience with the toolkit can follow. Though some experience with windows is naturally assumed.
To that end, if you struggle with any part of this tutorial, I want to know which part and what confused you so I can make some corrections and make it more noobie friendly in the next version.
On with the show.
Important things to know.
I'll write this like walkthrough so follow my lead as I guide you around the toolkit, hopefully learning as you go. Later I'll probably add tips and explainations to it as optional areas to explain things better.
Finding where they hide the menus.
Load up the Dragon Age toolkit, once loaded look at the icons across the screen at the top such as the little disk icons etc. (assuming the toolkit is still in its default state here). See the little black arrows pointing down at the end of each strip of icons ?
I am going to reveal a secret the wiki tutorials are careful not to explain to us noobies now and give you the chance to customise your toolkit more to liking.
Click on one of the black downward pointing arrows and select customize.
The Customize window that appears lists all the available icon strips in the toolkit, both enabled and disabled. Everything you need is here, all the different editor icons, all the things the wiki tutorials say click on but fail to tell you where to look, everything.
The problem is, there is far too many icons here to display so your going to have turn them on and off as needed. In my own tookkit I have "Menu Bar", "Standard", "Area Editor" and "Area Editor 3D GUI" ticked and all the Level editor boxes ticked. Why ? Because it seemed like a good default set of icons, since I will be assuming you have the same ones ticks on your editor as I do, I suggest you enable them too.
Though between me you and well, I seem to have avoided using many of these in this tutorial. Funny how that works out, but enable them anyway just in case.
Finding where they hide your mods editor files.
Open up your documents folder on windows, its usually found in C:\Users\my user name\Documents on Vista but is also known as "my documents" or appears as a folder on your desktop that has your login name as its own name. Open it up and go to Documents\BioWare\Dragon Age\AddIns.
Addins is where your mods editor files are kept nice and safe and ready to be edited, when your asked to load one of your own files in to the editor, that is the folder you go to first to find your content. Default game content is hidden in games own folder on what ever drive you installed Dragon age on under Dragon Age\modules\single player.
So now you know about the menus and where to look for files, lets move on.
Creating your Addin Module.
Load up your Dragon Age toolkit and go to the file menu and select manage modules. Despite what you might think, all modules are loaded this way and not via the Open File option. Blame it on the Aliens out to confuse us all and take over the planet :)
I will say this though, the file menus content changes according to what you have selected in the toolkit.
Once the Manage modules window opens select new. The Object inspector window will appear. Look down the list until you see NAME, click on the white box on the right of it and give it name. Then scroll down a little further until you find UID and give it a Unique ID...get it ? U = Unique, ID. If unsure, just add a number to the end of your module name and remove all the spaces.
My First Module would be Myfirstmodule01 if I did that.
Nice and easy, now okay it and then select your new module and double click so it loads it in to the editor. Now select the name again from the Manage Modules and click properties. You should be able to edit more options now.
Scroll down a little further and under Info, you will see content module, just click on the white space to the right of it and select your module from the pull down list. Scroll down a little further until you get to Extended Module and click on the white box to the right of it and select Single player.
Now click on "OK" for the object inspector window and "close" for the module manage window to close them all.
What have you just done ?
(Optional Reading Section)
Well you created a new (but empty) single player campaign module.
Had you wanted to make a stand alone module, you would have to have added a script to it to generate your character and do other things. That script is added to script line of the Object inspector for the module. One of a number of steps involved for stand alone modules that a single player module does not need.
Since our module is a single player addon, we do not need that script but I would take a guess and say the module can still use a script to do anything you wanted at start if you wished. From what I can tell, it does not appear to be limited to just generating new characters.
You set it up as a single player campaign module when you edited the Extended Module mod and selected Single Player.
Now just for the hell of it, go to Documents\BioWare\Dragon Age\AddIns, the folder explained above and see if your new module has a folder there. Do you see it ? That is where it is being hiding if you ever need to find it quickly, nice to know isn't it :)
And you have finished creating your module too so lets move on and make it do "STUFF".
Levels and Areas.
(Optional Reading Section)
This is a little tricky to explain, lets first take Areas.
An area is thing that all your placeable objects are saved too, things like doors, fires, items etc. etc. but is usually entirely black and empty and has no detail what so ever except for the placeable items you add to it.
A level is similar to a picture on your windows desktop, only its a 3d model not a picture. You cannot interact with it, but you can load it as the background detail for your area. So when you add your placeable items such as doors, the level provides the wall you hand it from. So the door is saved in to the area file and the wall is part of the lvl.
Okay, theres a trick available to modders here, have you spotted it yet ?
The question you should be asking is "can I swap the levels without effecting the objects saved in to the area such as doors, and waypoints".
According to my tests, yes you can, you can swap the levels freely and then adjust the areas items such as doors so they fit with the new level layout.
Cool stuff ay, pat your self on the back if you spotted that one comming early :)
Just remember we will not be making an level for this tutorial, if you have made one already you can use that, if you have not, you can use one of biowares as I intend to do. If you need my help, ask for help on the Engineering Guilds Forums and I'll help if I can.
Creating an Area
On the right hand side of the Toolkit is a window called Palette window and the very first icon in it is Areas, it looks like a green double bed. If your unsure which one it is just hold the mouse over each icon in turn until the name appears and you will find it. If you cannot see the Palette window at all just go the view menu at the top of the toolkit and select Palette than say the magic ways "where is my dam palette window" and it will magically appear before your very eyes :)
2 weeks learning this stuff makes you write silly things, what else can I say :)
With the Area Icon selected, right click in the white area of the window and select NEW and then Area, you can also do this by going to the file menu at the top of the tookkit and selecting NEW Area from there. It is the same menu but accessible from different places.
Take a little time to have a look at it now, see what else you can create from it without actually doing anything else except looking. I recommend you at least notice things like placeables, maps, scripts and levels are created from here. Even if you remember nothing else about it, it is important you understand all new things are made from that menu.
Since I am talking about where new things are made, lets look quickly where where to load OLD things up. Go the File menu at the top of the Toolkit and select Open File, remember those paths to files mentioned above, you can browse to them directly from here and load up individual files from here without unloading your module. For example we will be using this to manually load your map file in later to correct a bug in the toolkit. So you will see it used in time.
Anyway, right click in the white box mentioned above and select NEW and Area if you have not done so already. Give it a resource name, I think "Bobs Area" is a good name if your name happens to be bob, if not, anything will do, it matters not to this tutorial. The module and owner module boxes should be filled the same name automatically and can usually be left alone.
This new area will be an area the player can explore after traveling to it from the World Map, so you can create your own external level for it OR cheat and borrow one of biowares as I intend to do :)
I will not be covering the creation of multiple levels in this tutorial, linking to them and making them is best handled in a decided tutorial that will probably serve as a part 2 to this tutorial later.
I should tell you at this point we will be placing an invisible door and a waypoint in the new area as a entrance and exit. What ever level you load in, it will need to have a spot that looks like an entrance or exit but you can use any open area for that if your just making a test mod to learn stuff.
You can use your own levels here if you wish, it makes no difference to this tutorial but level editing is outside the scope of this tutorial currently. As I said earlier, look for a part 2 appearing later.
I will be loading in a premade level of biowares, if your loading your own in, it should be somewhere in the Documents\BioWare\Dragon Age\AddIns folder. But importing it is a topic for another time cough (part 2) cough :)
Lets double click on our areas name in the palette window so it loads a black screen. And now lets right click on the area and select "Check out" so a green tick appears next to it. This is a useful team work feature but that will need to be explored in a different tutorial after I know more about editing this game my self.
Once the green tick is visible the Object Inspector should appear directly under the palette window and have some available options for you.
The most import is Area Layout, select the empty white area on its right and click on the 3 dots (what no black down arrow this time....sulk) and find ost101d.arl and load it up. This is the same area all the other tutorials use. Its the area where the witch of the wilds hides out. We are simply borrowing the level for this tutorial. It will serve our purposes here but you can use your own level if you wish.
Once the level appears in the modules area and you can see it, you need to checkin the module or the editor will not remember you loaded it. So select the area name again in the palette window. Right click and select Check In. When the Confirm Checkin window appears tick "I do not wish to enter a comment" and okay it (remember these steps because you will be doing this a lot). The Dragon Age Toolkit will them emulate vista by asking another pointless question "you currently have an editor or the object inspector editing a resource blar blar". Say yes and get it over with.
Its the those pesky Aliens again....what can I say :)
The bar across the top of the editor window will turn RED or at least a different colour and say Read Only Copy.
You've just learned what checking in does to something, and there may be times when you have to check stuff in and out before you can edit other things. So remember it.
But we need to edit the area further so select the area name in the palette window and check it out again. The level you selected should still be there, if not, go back to the top of this section and check you did everything correctly. Especially the last check out part.
Adding a World Door to our Area.
We need to create a door as a placeable object and that means.....TEST Time......can you remember where all new items are created ?
Yes we either right click in the palette window or we go to the file menu and in either case we select NEW and Placeable. I bet you were thinking NEW and then DOOR wasn't you, tut tut, that is not how these aliens work you know. Perhaps you can see why it took me weeks to get this far now :)
Anyway.... Since this is an area transition door to the world map, lets give it a resource name of "Worldmapdoor" (no spaces allowed), if that name is a little boring for you, you calling it something exciting like "A Door" and make it sound really interesting :)
In case your not getting it, the name does not matter to us, so name it anything you want, what ever name you choose we will used later :)
Now the door will appear as a writeable copy but needs a few things changing. Look at the window that just appeared, it is the doors utp file, there should be a tab for it at the top of the window if you have lost it. Or you can go to the palette window and click on the little table icon under the area icon to list all placeables, including our new door if you still cannot find it.
Assuming you did not lose it all, lets continue.
Under General in the doors own window you will see the word Appearance, next to it will be Door, Ferelden, Small. Which means this is an internal door that opens and closes normally and not a transition door that we need, so we need to swap it for the correct door.
Select the area to the right off the Appearance box where it says "door, ferelden, small" and click on the down arrow. Find "Area Transition, Invisible, Double" and select it. Now we have the right transition door, feel free to select a smaller version of that door to meet your own requirements.
TIP: Also remember you can place these invisible doors in front of real doors to make them appear to work as area transitions if you need to.
Select the door from the palette window and check it in so the green arrow disappears and the door is saved. Saying no to comments and yes to saving anyway.
How to move around the level.
Now go to the palette window and select your area, double click on it to make sure the area loads correctly and then use your mouse wheel to scroll in to the map or out of it. + and - keys also work but are set to super fast by those Aliens again and I found once I pressed them, I could not get my old view back, it just goes totally black. So stick to using the mouse wheel.
CTRL + Left Mouse Button Clicked on the level, will let you drag your self around the level as if your mouse pointer was a hand holding on to the terrain.
CTRL + Right Mouse Button Clicked, will let you rotate the view around by moving the mouse right or left.
You need to know that for the next section.
Placing Doors and Waypoints
So you can see where the ground has a path NPCS can use to move on, lets turn on pathfinding points. This is a level editing feature so we do not cover it here. If your designing your own level, you will need to have generated one for your own level already. If your using the example level I choose, go to the view menu at the top of the Toolkit and select Enviroment and then select pathfinding points.
Some red and green dots will appear to mark where you can or cannot walk.
Using the keys above, find the ruined town and the hut in the swamp by looking for a green area of dots, we will be placing our door there. Any area with places you can walk or any entrance you set up for this will also work fine. Find a suitable entrance area in your level and then click on the small table icon in the palette window so our invisible door is listed.
Click on the invisible door once to select it, making sure it is checked in and the green arrow is now visible next to the name and then click on the area you want the entrance to your level to be. A yellow square with an white arrow will appear on that spot.
Next we need to rotate so its pointing in the right direction.
The white arrow needs to be pointing out of our area. Look at the icons at the top of the toolkit, look for a white mouse pointer icon, 2 icons right of that will be a dot with 2 arrows around it icon called 3 axis rotation. Use that to rotate your door, it may take some practice but basically clicking on that adds 3 lines in a circle near the door, each line if selected allows you to rotate the door on a different axis.
Experiment with it for a while, get the hang of it.
The cross and the white mouse pointer icons can also be used to fine tune the doors position.
Once your happy with the door, select the white mouse pointer icon and move the view away from the door slightly, then right click on the ground and select insert waypoint. You might have to move it to the correct place and rotate that to point in to your level. This is the place your character spawns at when he enters the area.
With the waypoint selected go to the Object Inspector window below the palette window and change the waypoints name and give it a tag. Since nobody will usually see a name for a waypoint we can all it anything we want, so lets give it a name like entrypoint and for its tag lets call it entrypointtag.
Other suitable tag names include "mines_a_pint", "Your_round" and "any_name_will_do_providing_no_spaces_exist".
Note: I found the game does not like my waypoint keeping its default name and causes a "Failed to load area"error if left unchanged.
The tag is what the game uses to identify the object in the game and you will see it used everywhere for that purpose. The name is usually just for us humans to use.
The World Map
Right click in the palette window again and select NEW and select map and give the new map a name then OK the window to close it. Now back in the palette window, click on the icon that looks like the planet earth, if you hold your mouse over it, it will say Maps. Select it so your map appears as listed in the window below.
Double click on your map and then go to the object inspector.
Where it says Map Selection, there are 2 entries, "Image used" and "Map". Select the white space to the right of Map and choose "Wide Open World" from the down arrow menu. The large image of the Ferelden map should appear in the maps window and on the far left your map name should have Map Pins and Map Trails under it.
Suddenly it looks like your getting somewhere does'nt it :)
Before we continue, lets make sure the Areas variables are set.
Quickly go back to the Area Icon in the palette window and select your area, double click on it to open it, make sure it is checked out and then go the object inspector and click on Variables and then select the 3 dots to open the variables window. Scroll down until you find AREA_WORLD_MAP_ENABLED and change the value to 1. Value is a colume btw, look at the top of the list for the value colume.
Next select your invisible door, go to the object inspector and select its variables and set the value of PC_AT_DEST_AREA_TAG to "world_map" and okay it. This will allow your character to travel back to the world map from here.
We will need to come back to the area window later so use the tabs under the main menu to quickly switch back to the map tab so we can continue working on the world map.
Now find a spot on the map of Ferelden where you want your new location to be and right click and select "Insert Pin". The Object inspector will have some details you need to edit so lets do that now. First lets edit the "Initial State" box which by default says "Invalid" and will stop your location from working unless we change it.
Select Active so our area is active right away.
Take note of the other options available, you can change this via script as part of a quest I believe, but that is beyond the scope of this tutorial. Just remember it can be done for now. Knowing it is possible is 1 step closer to doing it later as your experience grows.
Next scroll down to tag and give it tag name. Something that sounds like your area, but without spaces, remember nobody will see this name. Next find Name and change it from Pin to something more descriptive, this is the name we see on the map, so it has to be suitable.
Now we need to set the pins Area Tag and Waypoint Override boxes and the Area Tag needs to be the name of your Area and the Waypoint Override needs to be the name of our waypoint in that area where we want the player to appear when he enters the area.
So remember that area we left open, the tab should be at the top of toolkit, if not, click on areas from the palette menu and select it again. The name in the Area section of the Palette menu is actually the areas tag, so write it down, this is your Area Tag for the world map.
Next if your area is not visible already, double click on the area name and make it visible, then find your way point and select it. The look on the object inspector for the tag of the waypoint.
I called mine entrypointtag, but any name YOU entered here will be what you need. Write down the waypoint tag name too and return to the world map again. Now lets change the icon for our world map pin. Under pin selection there is the Pin Type option, by default it simply says pin. Select the pull down arrow and choose one you link.
If in doubt choose ruins.
Setting up the world map Trail.
Now we need to set up the trail for when your walking there over the world map. For this you need to make a trail that goes from a known point on the map, usually the closest existing pin to yours and then have the trail finish at your pin. But to do that you need to know what the other pins are called.
Somebody was kind enough to supply us with a list on the wiki, you can find it HERE.
For this tutorial I will assume your pin is near Red Cliff and use the Redcliffe entry as an example.
But remember, every time somebody travels to your new location or from it, they will have to travel by redcliffe or what ever location your picked. Which means if your going completely in the other direction, it might look just a little odd :)
Its those Aliens agains....they love making this complicated.
If you look at the wiki page above and scroll down to redcliffe (or a location you know is closer) you will see a tag: wml_wow_redcliffe listed, we only need to know the "wml_wow_redcliffe" part. This is the start of our trail. The end of our trail is our own pins tag.
Now right click on the world map and select insert trail. Then click on the start of the trail, in my case somewhere near redcliffe will do, if you chose a different location, just click roughly near where you think that location is. No need to worry about it being slightly wrong or even completely wrong lol. Seriously, its eye candy nothing more. Do not lose sleep over this part, just make sure theres a start and end to your trail and forget about.
Now you will see the word "Trail" appear under map trails and a lot of point entries down the left side of the world map. Select Trail and then look at the object inspector again. You will see Name = Trail, and pin 1 tag and pin 2 tag.
First lets give the trail a new name, change trail to something suitable like "path to my keep" or something suitable.
Next click in the white area next to Pin 1 tag and enter wml_wow_redcliffe or what ever tag your chosen start location used if it was not redcliffe.
Next click on the white area next to Pin tag 2 and enter the tag name of your map locations pin. If your pins tag was "my_areas_pin_tag" then that's what you enter here. If you forgot already, just go to the world map, select the Map Pin and click on the location under it then check the object inspectors tag for that location. That's what you need here.
Now select your world map in the palette window and right click and select Check In.
Saving your module.
To save your module go the the Tools Menu and select Export, then Select...
"Export with dependant resources"
Generate module XML
Generate Manifest XML
I know there is a save option in the files menu but it seems to be only available randomly and I have not seen any other tutorials using it yet. So what it actually saves seems to be a bit of a mystery. Personally I think it was but their by aliens to confuse us in order to carry out some cunning plan to take over the world one day.
But fear not, for I am on to their little game.....
Some say I am little paraniod so I am probably wrong :)
Fixing a little Toolkit problem with the world map.
At this point my thanks go out to Bioware Socialite "hwlreckles" for providing a solution to an annoying problem that plagued me for days. Thanks mate :)
Way way back towards the top of this tutorial I told you that you would have to use the Open File menu item later. Well this is later. Each time Export with or without dependencies, the toolkit will reset an important variable when you in your mod. So we must reset it each time we edit the map and export our mod to fix this problem. Otherwise the icon on the world map is either greyed out or missing.
To do this you must remember what your map was called, so click on the picture of earth (maps) in the palette window and check what name you have there. Next go to the file menu and select "open file" and then go to the folder listed below and load in the file named after your module that has the .map file extension.
Documents\BioWare\Dragon Age\AddIns\Your Modules Name\module\override\toolsetexport
If you have file extensions turned off in windows, you may not see it but it should say "This is a Map file". If your file had .sexy after it, windows being stupid would say "This is a sexy file". Try it some time when your bored :)
As a modder I find it nessessary too keep the file extensions visible at all times, its a good tip for you all.
Once loaded you will be looking at a list, with "top level struct" at the top.
Find the line that says "MAP_MAP_PARENT_RESREF" and change the Value box to wide_open_world and save it. You will have to type that in manually because the box will usually be empty until you have typed it out, at which time those Aliens will let you select the name you just typed in.
Now save the file from the File Menu.
Remember each time you edit the map in any way, e.g. check it in or out, you will have to do this again. Thankfully it is only if you edit the world map you have to do that. Editing an area seems to be okay.
Now Load up Dragon Age and enjoy your mod, I'll keep the beer on ice for you so we can celebrate when your done :)
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