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UAW Mod Tool Interview with Ross Simpson!

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Duke

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Created: Wednesday April 2, 2008 - 10:28
Updated: Wednesday April 2, 2008 - 11:05
Views: 2695
Summary: An interveiw with Petroglyph programmer Ross Simpson about the UAW mod tools.

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Hello, Ross. Could you introduce yourself to the Petrolution members?

Hello there, I'm Ross Simpson (aka Argent-PG on the Petroglyph forums),
I'm a programmer hired at Petroglyph last January to work on our
development tools. It's my job to develop new tools for any of our
future projects and maintain several of our existing tools.

I, along with Brian Hayes, are in the process of trying to get several
of our development tools ready for public consumption.

Question 2: What tools are you working on that will be released to
modders to aid them with modding the game? How do you see these tools
being used?


Right now the planned tools to be released are...

- Terrain / Map Editor
- Asset Viewer (model viewer)
- Lua Debugger (helps to debug LUA scripts)
- GUI Editor (used to design user interfaces)
- Particle Editor (visual effects editor)
- Data Miner (helps to search through the XML files that define the
game)

Most of these tools have a pretty clear cut purpose.

Question 3: Was any of these tools actually used during the development
of the game? And which features were used more often? Is there any
tricks to share with us?


All of the tools we're releasing are the same we use internally. Which
features were used most often depended entirely on who was using them,
also some features were used more frequently at the start of the
development than later.

As for tips and tricks, the general rule of thumb is save often. Many
features were developed pretty rapidly to get whatever pressing task was
looming done more quickly, and some of these features were never fully
integrated with the rest of the tool. (Example, some features and tools
lack undo support). The schedule to get UaW out the door was pretty
hectic, and the tools reflect that to a point. We are in the process of
trying to clean up some of the more prominent issues with a Mod Tools
Beta that we've sent out, but as always our number one enemy is time.

Question 4: We know Petroglyph has released a selection of 'BETA Mod
Tools' to a few people. That must have generated some feedback. From
this feedback, can you tell us what is being taken into account that
should be featured in the public release of the mod tools for UAW?


Thanks to the Mod Tools Beta we've realized just how integrated our
tools were to our development environment. There were several hard coded
directories, that sort of thing. It's also helped us spot some more
glaring crash bugs that our team tended to avoid during development.
Different people use the same tools in different ways after all.

Question 5: If there are demands for certain tools to help with modding
beyond the current ones, will you provide help provide the community
with help ensure the longevity of the modding community?


As I mentioned before time is always our biggest enemy. New tools coming
out of Petroglyph are fairly unlikely, however assistance in helping the
community developing new tools is not out of the question. We will
likely release information as the community needs it. The best way to
accomplish this would be to post to our forums as we do in fact read
them, even if it's stealthily smile

Question 6: The documentation that came with EaW/FoC map editor
instructions were fairly simple. Is there any plans to include better
instructions and extend the current documentations to help modders and
mappers to learn the new tools?


The answer to this is probably no. I would like to write up full docs
for the tools, but that depends on time restraints.

Question 7: Is there any plans to release a either 3ds Max 8 version of
the alamo exporter for those who bought Max 8 during their modding days
of EaW/FoC or even an exporter for a different application altogether?


At the moment we only plan on releasing the Max 9 exporter, however I
know someone internally that expressed interest in maybe doing one for
Blender. I'll see if I can't poke and prod him into actually going
through with it, no promises though.

Question 8: From a marketing Standpoint, will you be advertising your
games as a modding game and release tools with the game to try to
increase sales?


I would definitely like to see this, but that's ultimately decided by
our higher ups and publishers.

Question 9: It seems Petroglyph really is making an effort to support
the modding community this time round. Do you know why this is?


We were pleasantly surprised by the plethora and variety of mods that
have been released for SW:EaW. So why not capitalize on it?

UaW is a very modifiable game. UaW was designed from the start in such a
way that our designers and artists could rapid prototype new units and
game mechanics to see which ideas worked and which didn't. So it really
isn't a stretch for us to want to take that power and hand it to the end
user as well.

Question 10: Of course you must have known this was coming, how long
must we wait! When do you anticipate a public release date for these
tools?


It's currently our plan to get the Mod Tools out at the same time as the
interop-patch between the PC and 360 versions of UaW.

Thanks alot for your time Ross, take care.

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