Community development work; the tools & files

F4Browse, CATE, Tacedit, Terrainview & TheaterMaker etc utility related

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Snake Man
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Community development work; the tools & files

Post by Snake Man » 2010-08-06, 06:03:32 AM

Community development work; the tools & files

How to develop theater with several people trying to edit the same files, how to not mess it all up so people are ending up doing overlapping (wasted) work.


CATE

Uses text based CONF files which are easily editable, we can use DIFF on EditPadPro to see different users edits.

However the way PMC development works, is that I will control the CATE work so unless special circumastances arise, I'm the only one editing these files.

CATE CONF files work the same way as Tacedit TCL scripts, we can do small adjustments and tweaks to the theater.L2 file over and over again never losing any work while seeing the end results instantly and covering the whole massive terrain. We must be very very careful on planning when we move from CATE tweaks into Terrainview manual hand editing of the L2 file. There is NO going back to CATE once Terrainview final touches has commenced (well to the point, we can use export segments, what I mean is just generally no going back).


F4Browse

When you edit the database files, they are then set for life for these edits. There is export / import feature to f4e files.


PAK map

It is "raw" image, usually made in Tacedit and edited in paintshoppro / photoshop. I don't know how many users could edit this file simultaneously.


Skins KoreaOBJ

Skins are the <NUMBER>.dds files in FF/OF, one user can edit one skin at the time, we would need to coordinate who wants to edit that <NUMBER> skin. Should be easy. In F4AF they are BMP files which are patched into database with Tex-Man utility.

All photoshop psd source files for all skins should be saved for future edits! This goes for all graphical art work related to theaters. This is very important!


Stations.dat

Red Dog has been PMC airbase / tacan realism guru for years. All airbase work and questions should be re-routed to him.


TacEdit

Export / import feature for objectives, single, selected or all objectives export capability.

Units can be exported to .uni file, I've not actually checked if this is binary or text file, someone people enlighten me.

If several users want to add objectives, they need to request "free OBJ ID range" from me. This means you can use Tacedit Edit -> Base Obj ID, feature to add the ID number from which you can start to add more objectives. Then user of course must stay withing the highest number of assigned free obj id range. Then when he exports the newly created objectives, I can merge them easily with another users additions from his free ID range.

For example user 1 is assigned for OBJ ID's of 2501 - 2600 and user 2 is assigned 2601 - 2700, then if they both fill up the hundred objectives, I can merge the new objectives into full set of 2501 - 2700 objective IDs.

As of campaigns, we use TCL scripts, very simple really. It is the same basic princible as in CATE CONF files, we keep the power of "script" manuscript style in our hands, any changes can be adjusted and tweaked over and over again with instant results and most importantly; no work is ever lost!

TCL's are text files, several users can join to tweak campaigns. For example one user can edit BLUFOR squadrons, another user can do OPFOR helicopters, third user edits BLUFOR ground units... when edited files are ready, they can be sent to each other on the dev team so everyoen has the latest files. All the users edits can be turned on/off as simply as putting # character on one place in the TCL file. It is so beautiful that anyone not understanding it should be spanked hard, twice.


TerrainView

Has segment export / import feature, can select one or several segments at time. This has been documented in PMC Editing Wiki: Falcon 4 Terrain Tiling Tutorial.

The bigger picture problem here arises that the workflow is CATE -> Terrainview, we can do the edits instantly in CATE conf files and re-run them over and over again adjusting and tweaking the files, no work is ever lost with this method. BUT... as soon as we start to edit theater.L2 file in terrainview, we lose the easy CATE L2 changing.

I can quote example of Luk and Tobias Adam working on Europe terrain L2 now, they have apparently worked hard to adjust the terrain so basically any CATE work from me at this point is no-go because it would totally overwrite the hand-made changes by Luk/Tobias. This is very very important to coordinate properly that we should keep away from terrainview editing as long as possible. When all avenues of CATE approach have been exhausted, we can move into final detailing / fixing with terrainview.

Honestly, I'm really sad / scared now as the guys have went to edit L2 manually. I hope the work is good and can be kept for good. This goes for all theaters and all users wanting to edit.


Theater.irc / lcktxtrc.irc

Text file, very easy to separate edits with EditPadPro DIFF feature.


Tiles fartiles.pal

This is no issue because it can be created "on the fly" easily at any time with system like ImageMagik using the existing PCX tiles and nice cmd line.


Tiles Texture.bin

Texture.bin converted to text file is usually handled by me, so if any of the tile artists supply me with new tile-sets to add into the bin, I can do it easily.

I see no reason why several people would need to edit this file.


Tiles Texture.zip

As in the actual tile images, we need to keep them in PCX format which we can convert to dds automatically with SeasonSwitcher, any new edits need to be made to the WHOLE tile-set at once. Clear coordination need to be maintained of who is editing what tile-set.


Trigger files

Text file, very easy to separate edits with EditPadPro DIFF feature.


UI images idx/rsc

Images should be kept in the original TGA file format, I'm personally interested of any photoshop PSD source files for future reference. Coordination should be maintained if more than one user wants to edit for example campmap etc. I guess best artist wins but any larger amount of work for the UI images should be discussed on the forums before starting.

Theater selector logo is only in TGA format, simple to edit for anyone (no need for perl scripts). All photoshop psd source files should be saved!
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Re: Community development work; the tools & files

Post by ccc » 2010-08-06, 09:13:27 AM

F4browse - it can export/import edits as *.f4e.
However F4browse edits better be handled by ONE single modder.

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Re: Community development work; the tools & files

Post by Sherlock » 2010-08-06, 02:48:38 PM

Snake Man wrote: Skins KoreaOBJ

What about F4AF? Sherlock please refresh my memory?
Skins in AF are 8-bit/256 BMP files.

exported .uni files from TacEdit are binary.
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Re: Community development work; the tools & files

Post by Snake Man » 2010-08-06, 02:58:18 PM

ccc wrote:F4browse - it can export/import edits as *.f4e.
Can it export only one entity like one aircraft or one squadron at time?

Like if I'm editing A-10 2d range then you can edit the squadron stores, is that possible or will there be conflicts?
Sherlock wrote:Skins in AF are 8-bit/256 BMP files.
No I mean are they placed in KoreaOBJ dir as BMP files, or do they need to be patched in to the database files with that tex-something utility, or am I recalling ancient times now?
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Re: Community development work; the tools & files

Post by Sherlock » 2010-08-06, 03:08:52 PM

Snake Man wrote: No I mean are they placed in KoreaOBJ dir as BMP files, or do they need to be patched in to the database files with that tex-something utility, or am I recalling ancient times now?
The only way I've seen them put into the texture DB was with LODEditor (manually) or with TEXMAN utility (using script). I don't know if any other means will do the job.
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Re: Community development work; the tools & files

Post by ccc » 2010-08-06, 03:15:11 PM

Snake Man wrote:
ccc wrote:F4browse - it can export/import edits as *.f4e.
Can it export only one entity like one aircraft or one squadron at time?

Like if I'm editing A-10 2d range then you can edit the squadron stores, is that possible or will there be conflicts?
i don't know. the linkings between theses data files are highly complex.

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Re: Community development work; the tools & files

Post by Fighting Falcon » 2010-08-06, 06:23:23 PM

hello snake, here I come I'm ready to help you. but I am determined to do all the tiles of new korea 8-)
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Re: Community development work; the tools & files

Post by molnibalage » 2010-08-06, 08:14:31 PM

Snake Man, if you wish to edit anything in DB it have to be done in a separated DB. FF5.5.x supports the indentical DB + simdata for each theater. Adapting an upgrade for your DB to another is possible but IMHO have to be done manually by typing the new values (and use recalculte and maybe retype some data again) and not by importing even you use the same DB for each (sub)theater.
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Re: Community development work; the tools & files

Post by Ed_1 » 2010-08-06, 09:15:08 PM

If you want to have multiple people editing object files (F4browse) you need to have plan mapped out what changes are being made. Docs made with feature/value changes . then you can have each person work on a file type and still be able to check others work because changes are documented .

You need close communication to do this and have it work . I agree you need your own DB for each theater (don't try to share DB )

I have ability to export whole file types to a text file, but honestly this doesn't help and I never used it other than checking "what has changed here from previous version"

What we used to do is make sure we each worked on separate files and we would finish off a feature change then upload to CVS (or send all files out). Then one person check all linkage to make sure nothing went bad (test make sure changes worked in game and move to next type of changes) .

You can export a single line in F4browse (x.f4e ) as ccc mentioned . I hardly every used this when we did AF DB work but I guess its doable . It depends on how much work your going to edit ..

Its best probably to have one person oversea DB cause it can get all messed up if not overseen . SP3>SP4 and above was all messed up by multiple people not adding new objects and not linking it all right .especially with ct entry's .

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Re: Community development work; the tools & files

Post by Fighting Falcon » 2010-08-09, 09:52:44 PM

hello snake,
here is the link with tiles made in three days. thanks to your help.
you have the link for the dowonload :mrgreen: http://freefalcon5.forumattivo.com/skin ... 8.htm#1030





http://www.freefalcon.com/forum/showthread.php?t=18192
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Re: Community development work; the tools & files

Post by Fighting Falcon » 2010-08-10, 04:23:51 PM

hello snake, I have to redo the fartiles.pal but I do not know which software to use to create a new fartiles pal. I wonder if disturbance to create a new palette til I put a how to type?

I understand from your tutorial how to create a very fartiles pal. sorry :roll:
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Re: Community development work; the tools & files

Post by Snake Man » 2010-08-10, 04:36:34 PM

This is not generic editing topic, use forum search to look for answer and if you do not find, start a new topic to theater tools section. Thanks.
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Re: Community development work; the tools & files

Post by demer928 » 2010-08-10, 09:01:10 PM

Ed_1 wrote:If you want to have multiple people editing object files (F4browse) you need to have plan mapped out what changes are being made. Docs made with feature/value changes . then you can have each person work on a file type and still be able to check others work because changes are documented .

You need close communication to do this and have it work . I agree you need your own DB for each theater (don't try to share DB )

I have ability to export whole file types to a text file, but honestly this doesn't help and I never used it other than checking "what has changed here from previous version"

What we used to do is make sure we each worked on separate files and we would finish off a feature change then upload to CVS (or send all files out). Then one person check all linkage to make sure nothing went bad (test make sure changes worked in game and move to next type of changes) .

You can export a single line in F4browse (x.f4e ) as ccc mentioned . I hardly every used this when we did AF DB work but I guess its doable . It depends on how much work your going to edit ..

Its best probably to have one person oversea DB cause it can get all messed up if not overseen . SP3>SP4 and above was all messed up by multiple people not adding new objects and not linking it all right .especially with ct entry's .

Well Said!!!

demer

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