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Posted by Odin

FALLOUT TACTICS - THE BROTHERHOOD OF STEEL GAME EDITORS


Ever wanted to know more about the FOT editors? I know I do, all we have heard about them is simply that they are semi difficult to master, but people who are familiar with editing quake levels, should get the hang of the FOT editors without problems.

This is why I contacted Ed Orman (Micro-Forté) and asked him about some info on these editors. Ed and Karl Burdack sent me info and some screenshots of the editors.

Generally Karl would recommend 128MB RAM, but it will work with 32MB RAM. It works under WinNT4.0, Win2000 and Win98 and WinME, the artist at Micro-Forté work under WinNT4.0 and the programmers work under Win2000.

Karl also said that they would try and give out documentation about these editors, and that they would hopefully be released 1 month after the game ships (but he wasn’t sure).

To start off there is five editors available:
  • Mission Editor
  • Entity Editor
  • Sprite Editor
  • Tile Editor
  • Campaign Editor
So let’s start at the top:

Mission Editor


This editor is where you would make a map/mission and it also contains features to script the actions in the map/mission you’ve made, so this would be the editor most people will use.

It seems straightforward, place tiles and entities, and tell them what to do and off you go (of course this would take some time).

The mission editor features include:

  • Placement of tiles
  • Selection of tiles, and move/cut/paste type operations
  • Placement of entities
  • Customizing entities, and assigning speech etc.
  • Generating visibility data, and roof popping information
  • Sorting tiles.
  • Scripting actions and triggers.


Typically a map will range from 500KB to 1500KB in size, but this is all depending on the sheer size of the map (Mission 2 in the demo was 600KB).

Now as far as the question to how long it will take to make a map, Karl had this to say:

“So far? A typical single-player map goes through well over 100 revisions, and we've been working on them since around September last year.”


-Script/Action feature in the mission editor (picture to the right):

This image shows the Triggers and Actions editors, where you would do all the mission scripting (what

happens, and what would happen if you do this and so on.).

-“Structure viewing mode”:


These images demonstrates the “structure viewing” mode of the editor. The user can see the bounding boxes of the level, and the different heights and properties are color-coded.


Entity Editor



The entity editor is a tool that allows the user to customize any aspect of an entity (i.e. creature, person). Its attributes including primary SPECIAL stats and skills. What items the entity carries, its default AI properties, it colors etc. The editor is also used for editing weapons and more esoteric objects such as lights and doors.

When you are using the Sprite/Entity or Tile editor you can choose to save over current files or you could save it to another location. Another location would be advisable seeing that you can make your own folder for your campaign or missions…

Sprite Editor



The sprite tool is mostly used by artists who import max renders from .png files (“PNG stands for Portable Network Graphics. Its a standard that was setup after .GIF came under copyright/patent problems. We (Micro-forté) use it because it supports varied bit depths, and alpha channel information, and has built in zip compression”). The editor converts and compresses these into the compact sprite format. They can then further modify the animations by adjusting sequences and animation rates.


Tile Editor



Here the tiles for the map are created. Tiles are similar to sprites, but with much less information attached. Tiles are imported from png files in a similar fashion to the sprite files.


Campaign Editor



The campaign editor enables the positioning of core missions, special encounters, and random encounters. The makeup of random encounters is contained within a special text file that is imported into the editor. Different world map pictures can also be imported.

The random encounters are built up out of a list. Each list entry has a field for:
  • Entity
  • Level

  • Chance for appearing in the encounter and different encounters obviously have different entities in their list.


Those percentage numbers you see on the world map image, is simply the likeliness of a random encounter, Karl said this about it: “Each random encounter has a grid of those values.”

The world map image is a PNG format file, so you could make your own. Karl added: “Yep, you have to import a PNG, with the alpha channel serving as the "speed map". Black areas on the alpha channel mean cannot walk there, white areas mean maximum movement rate, greys in between move slower than normal.”

It’s fairly easy for your own campaigns to be put into other folders, similar to mods for Quake/Half Life. Meaning that when you’re making a campaign, you can use a different directory to "core" so that the normal game can be preserved (If you made differences to the weapons etc.


Summary

Making entire campaigns or simple missions seem quite “easy” according to this info, the only issue is if you’re familiar with the editor or not, and of course have the time to make the maps and revise it a couple of times to get it right. Give it some time and I’ll guess you’ll get the hang of the different editors, but then again most people would only need to use the mission editor or campaign editor.

I know I’ll be one of the first to download these editors in order to start making my own campaigns.

Special thanks to Karl and Ed for helping me with this article!

Atle 'Odin' Wilson
Webmaster@NMA......