SDK/MOD SUPPORT

  • Idea
  • Updated 4 years ago
  • Not Planned
From the forums:
"The devs have mentioned that they're not planning on doing mod support soon, unless the community clamours for it."

Let's clamour - vote if you care.

I can see the advantages of client-only binary releases and total control over the servers (and server configuration), but unless I am misreading the response so far, SH is niche, and will not financially carry the devs with this release alone.

SDK's are a lot of work. There are subsets in opening up the engine that could be considered one at a time. E.g.:

1. Input bindings and config file. No need to extend the UI, allows for experimentation, can be disabled with a patch in a pinch (macro cheating), client-side only (unless network protocol pushes interpretation of keys to server).

2. Map Editing: If there are tools that are not ready for release or have steep hardware requirements (lightmap generation etc.), skip those - just let the community create geometry. If there is any real interest, let's see some "orange maps" first. This, too, does not require opening the server, but it does require some kind of upload/hosting solution - popular vote? If it works out, release more tools to the community.

Then watch the dynamics - if there is a vibrant mod community, consider community-run servers or even an SDK for code mods. You don't even have to make it free-for-all releases - early access to modding for registered developers etc are a possibility. The key is "release early, release often", and encouraging the mod community to share instead of embarking their own proprietary niches.

nn

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Posted 4 years ago

Kumquatxop

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Map editing. Yes x1000. This alone would make the game exponentially longer-lived. Especially due to the unique zero-g nature of the game, we will probably see some incredible community-made maps.

Not only should there be a map editing tool, I think there should be an official map-making contest sponsored by Futuremark. One of the few things I DON'T like about Shattered Horizon is the limited selection of maps. Futuremark, let your fans do the work for you!

Thomas LeBlanc

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A released mapmaker for this game would be something i'd adore

HeatSurge

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Personally, I'd rather them release a few additional maps before developing something like a map editor, which would be very very time- and effort- consuming... *thumbdown*

Maybe in 6 months or more, after 4-6 new maps?

Mickey62

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Good point.

Kumquatxop

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Oh for sure. There need to be some more official maps first. But in general, there needs to be a map editor at some point.

Death Dream

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I agree as well. More official content before an editor is released. I do want a editor though, I would love to make some maps for this game.

nn

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I don't really share the concern on "developing something like a map editor" - (a) a map editing tool chain exists, otherwise there would be no maps, (b) if it is commercially based (XSI), then that might be a problem for modders (costs of purchase), but that's our problem, (c) just releasing map file specs might be sufficient to co-opt existing 3rd party editors.

To rephrase: FM has information and even tools that can be released to kick-start the community (DOOM modding started with file specs, no tools at all), and if the community takes the ball and runs with it, that's an answer. If the community does not, then that's an answer, too - if we don't do anything with whatever FM can hand us, there is no point for them to put actual man hours in creating new tools.

There are reasonable concerns: legal issues (3rd party middleware used in the toolchain, proprietary file formats), cheating concerns (opening any information removes hacking delay by obfuscation, whatever that's worth to the dev), tech (absent of e.g. instancing and prefabs, modding thresholds are high for modern games), and most importantly, without player-hosted (dedicated) servers, only FM could host a map anyway. But I politely suggest that we let FM worry about whether or not this is sensible and feasible, and focus on whether there actually is enough interest.

If you are a modder (you *have* modded in the past) and would invest time to give an FM mod toolset a try, votes YES. If you are not interested, or not a modder, do not vote. Feel free to list modding credentials if you support the request for throwing us some information, however introductory.

Minutia

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I disagree, but only on the assumption that FM's mappers are not also their programmers. If it's one person's job to map and another person's job to program, there is no reason additional official maps cannot be developed alongside a mapping engine.

nn

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Well, we had a map pack - 4 more maps.

nn

  • 85 Posts
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Well, we had a map pack - 4 more maps.

nn

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Well, we had a map pack - 4 more maps.

Phasy

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I'd go for that map editor!

Kumquat

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Modding or at least custom map support are must haves. As awesome as FMs maps are the game is very likely to get stale after a few months, even with occasional new maps from FM.

I agree that even if community mapping requires 3rd party tools like XSI it should be opened up so people can take a crack at it. There are a lot of serious modders and mappers out there that have access to these types of tools. And who knows, because of the uniqueness of the game it could attract a lot of mappers. I dont doubt that if FM opened it up we would see some really creative map features that even FM didn't think of.

And if the community was churning out maps that would give FM more time to focus on new game features, game modes, etc, and really unique maps with cool features.

wahbuddy

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This would be totally awesome.By no means do I feel the current map's suck but all games can use a wide variety of maps.

blueyes77

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map editor so someone can make babylon 5 station map:D

george hess

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woot battle on the out side of the death star

nickschot

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IF there is a map editor being released (which I doubt because I think most of it is hand crafted?) there must be an auto-downloader too. Else it will fail...

AXEL

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The UT mod made game Red Orchestra would have died out many years ago if it weren't for custom content developed by the community. I enjoy the approach that Tripwire Interactive has taken (sure they just use UT2004's SDK) that they let the community develop custom content, but client file and settings are still locked (so that nobody can make the enemies skins lime green a la Source). From past experience mapping contests always produce a plethora of maps, not all good, but most are fun. So yay SDK!

LoganDougall

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With some minor support in terms of XSI materials/prefabs some users could at the very least create some 'mock-up' levels and submit them as proposals to the community/Developers.

With quite a few players coming from Source engine games they could use the existing Valve tools (Hammer) and import them into XSI again with Valves plugins. All that would need to be done is the material applications & complex shapes within XSI etc.

A work-around is feasible at this stage, dedicated mod tools I can see being a large project to take on and a little out of reach for a team this small.

Carc

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I used to be a level designer for Team Reaction. We did great stuff in the past like Jailbreak for Quake2/Quake3, QPong, Gloom, etc. I would gladly map for Shattered Horizon, given an SDK.

My $0.02

vladbahur

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All I gotta say is: "HAL.. Open the bay doors, HAL..."

Adam Velazquez

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We should have an SDK so we can make custom maps and game types for Shattered horizon, similar to the source and unreal SDK's. This would really get more people playing, and people playing more because with more variety in how we play rather than just playing the same maps over and over. A site dedicated to user generated content similar to tf2maps.com would be a great addition to shattered horizon.

This reply was created from a merged topic originally titled
User Made Custom maps/game types.

blueyes77

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About map making, should there be some FM approval mekanism like on those servers, when stats are collected?

CS Source has maps like million and many are so sucky that you dont like to play them at all, i dont want to see million different maps that loads and they are not even playable.

LoganDougall

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Approval before implementation is definitely required, or kinda like you've mentioned with the servers, have no stats be recorded on custom maps until they've been added to the approved community map list.

I too don't want to see this game go the route of CS:S with thousands of blank/spam maps...

Adam Velazquez

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I compared it to TF2(not CS) which constantly has good custom maps being played by and seen by valve and sometimes made into official maps. It is undeniable that there will be bad maps but if your skeptical about a map just look at the player count, if there's a lot of people playing it must be fun on that map or server. So the point is, there will be crap maps (that may literally happen) and the may be custom maps that are like gifts from god.So just play the ones that Great.

p.s. if there ever is a shattered horizon maps web site, there should be a rating system so it's easier to get to the good maps

jethrovolders

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just have a look at a site like interlopers.net to see what kind of professional level content for the source engine that can come out a mod community.
you just have look for the better sites and forums when it comes to custom maps.

blueyes77

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I dont know any good custom made maps for CSS and i don't play TF2 at all. They can't be even compared to this piece of art. This game has set bar very high, even space height.

But i do think that developers own maps are allways the best and fun to play with other people.

FM_James, Community Manager

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Please use "add a comment" to respond to another person's reply. Only use "Reply" if you are making a suggestion or comment which develops or improves on the idea in the original topic at the top of the page. Thanks!

jethrovolders

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so not knowing any good maps means there are none for you? like i said before if you wanna find good quality maps for any source game you should have a look at the interlopers.net site...

and i bet you that if they released an sdk for SH, i'd make a map evenly good or maybe even better than the once it had now!

FM_James, Community Manager

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Please use "add a comment" to respond to another person's reply. Only use "Reply" if you are making a suggestion or comment which develops or improves on the idea in the original topic at the top of the page. Thanks!

blueyes77

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New maps made by community is usually worse than developer has made, but few or some maps are as good as originals or maybe even better, quality of maps have to be somehow proved before added. there could be voting system for maps that gets into this game, or we have tons of servers with lame maps.

Adam Velazquez

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this in response to blueeye's comment:
it's simply Sturgeon' law it's applicable to anything.

p.s. I think your trolling

blueyes77

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Adam, if you can call being worried about changes that could make this game shitty like CS or TF2 or Cod games is trolling, then you are right. i have been involved in this game since beta and sticking with it, hope you have some respect for peoples opinions someday.

Adam Velazquez

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In response to blueyes: Harsh. :(

AXEL

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There is no need for a map voting system, if a server admin wants to put shitty maps on his server nobody will play on it, the bad maps will get weeded out on their own. A map voting system will only complicate things. On most games the community makes up to twice the amount of better than original maps, and this is on games with 10 or more maps, so don't worry while there will be utter shit, there will be some amazing ones as well. But don't everybody get side tracked, we need an SDK before any of this can happen :D

Adam Velazquez

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I can't like this idea more!

Adam Velazquez

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Imagine, all the maps from all the sci-fi movies ever.

macing

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It just baffles me how Futuremark doesn't acknowledge the importance of an SDK these days. The Half-Life franchise for example has only had such a staggering success because of the ability to use the goldSource and later the Source engine to create your own mods. Why do you think people still play Quake up to this day? A 14 year old game! Had it not been for the huge amount of maps and mods supporting the game it would have died out many years ago because players would have gotten bored, despite how good the game was for its time. These fan-made contributions add important replay value to any game.

This game absolutely NEEDS mod support. Futuremark has to give players the possibility to extend and customize their game. This is the only way they can keep up a good and growing fanbase in the long term.

Adam Velazquez

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yeah, maybe then there will be more than 1 or 2 populated servers at a time, It'd be like the holiday sale every day!

nn

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Let me revise and re-iterate my original proposal.

Mod/SDK support has many aspects. It is important to realize that any part of it - any opportunity for experimenting or modifying - is much better than nothing.

For the developer, preparing a release - any release - has cost. You need to set up a EULA/license and disclaimers to cover the legal side. You need to make sure that nothing you release is in fact encumbered by 3rd party rights. If you did not aim for an SDK throughout development, you might have very little that can be released as-is, and not much that can cheaply be refactored, bundled and prepared for release.

The community can make the decision easier in two major ways:
a) Make clear that getting anything - anything at all - will be appreciated. We do not expect a full SDK, we just want to see some momentum towards letting us modify with the game to start a competition of ideas and initiative.
b) Make some clear proposals as to what you - you - would do if you were given access to a specific aspect of the game. It is one thing to have a general consensus that an SDK might just be what SH needs, it is another to form a small team and make a mock-up of a moddb page describing a doable change.

I'll try to break down different possibilities for opening up the game. Some or even all of these might not be applicable to SH, I have no knowledge of the engine internals and toolchain.

a) Data Files. If the engine has support for "loose" and/or "raw" data files (text, standard texture file formats, standard mesh/geometry data files), the community can modify existing content in place, or even make new content.

b) Asset Packages: If the engine requires assets to be "cooked" into archives and cannot load or override files through "loose" mode, documenting the asset package file format would allow us to write tools to unpack and repack the archives. If the existing archiving tools can be released, or are standard (e.g. ZIP) it is not even necessary to make our own.

c) Tools: FM uses XSI, licensed technology such as PhysX, FMOD, morpheme, Umbra. They cannot release something like morpheme to the community, and anybody wanting to use XSI would have to purchase their own license. However, FMOD is available for non-commercial use, so is PhysX. Proprietary tools, if any, could be released as source or binary at FM's discretion. The community might be able to create content that, without proper lighting/occlusion/shadowing, still plays as proof-of-concept (orange maps etc.). If data file formats are standard, or documented, existing modding tools might be extended to support parts of SH editing.

d) Developer Instrumentation: any console, config text or commandline instrumentation that exists in the engine (even if only in non-final builds) could be exposed, if necessary in a "modding build" of the engine. The usefulness of this depends on how configurable the engine is - id's CVar system is a great example.

e) Code/Script: depending on how much runtime scripting is used, or how modular the codebase is, it might be possile to isolate parts of the multiplayer game code into a separate DLL that can be modified, compiled and linked separately and loaded at startup or map reload.

The biggest risk here is tampering and cheating, the flip side of any modding support. SH is a multiplayer only game, and its small userbase does not need griefing. This issue was big when Quake3's source was released under GPL, and competitive play requires certified, trusted builds.

However, there are several options to resovle this: at its most simple, FM could release a "moddable" version of the game (similar to the dedicated server) that has no code to submit stats (similar to LAN play), is clearly marked in the server browser (and can be hidden from it if the user does not enable searching for it). If the engine supports a "loose" file mode, then asset packing does not have to be revealed, hence no hacking the "pure" datafiles. Possibly the engine already does checksums on assets loaded (id's "sv_pure").

If FM wants to be really restrictive, it could release a crippled "loopback" build of the engine w/o working network code (dedicated server on local machine, or server-client linked into a single executable), allowing us to mod and test "SP only", which is fine for a lot of initial content work and any movement/weapon mod.

Even if there was a major hack, the user community is small, and can find trusted servers and admins. If FM at some point wishes to end the modding experiment, changes to network protocol, asset cooking and a new trusted engine build would do that.

I think the important part is: we do not need a full SDK or "total conversion" mods, we need just an openingor two to be able to tinker. Then the burden is on us to show what we can do with what we are given, and if the results justify it, FM can consider investing resources and taking risks to open SH up a little bit more.

Ultimately, the question is: Is FM confident that "they know best" as to how to use the existing tech and where to take it, or do they see merit in letting their current core userbase do some exploration of their own? The benefit for FM is that they get a chance to "harvest" the best results for SH 2. The benefit for us would be that we could try to make the case for our most cherished ideas.

LoganDougall

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The XSI modelling package can be used by the community free of charge via the "Mod Tool" version which has very few limitations when you break it down to what you are using it for. The other tools however I don't believe there are free versions available that I've seen or used and so the legal issues still stand for them as you've mentioned.

My "wants" would just be A and B personally. Opening those and letting us learn from trial/error and document things ourselves would work well and not take away people on the FM team from more important work such as functioning tools :P

nn

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Somebody mentioned the Softimage Mod Tool (formerly XSI), the free-for-noprofit version of the tools FM uses:

XSI version 7.5:
http://www.moddb.com/downloads/autode...

There are apparently some issues with the most recent release, e.g. if working with the Source SDK. XSI 6.01 download:
http://www.moddb.com/downloads/xsi-mo...

Official site and other starters:
http://usa.autodesk.com/adsk/servlet/...

http://softimage.wiki.softimage.com/i...
http://softimage.wiki.softimage.com/i...

http://developer.valvesoftware.com/wi...

As the original poster suggested: If you want to make mock-ups of maps or parts of maps that you think would make for good SH gameplay, making them with or importing them into XSI would be a good idea.

FM could bootstrap this by releasing a sample XSI map source - following this example:
http://play.tm/news/25156/valve-unlea...

Which version of XSI is used by FM?

arramus

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Thumbs up for the reminder. I enjoy modding and mapping for a variety of games and would really like to build around the wonderful game physics in place.