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Munderbunny
05-18-2009, 06:57 PM
So, the basics of the Art Manager:

The art manager is multi-functional database program; it allows you to create and edit records within a database, and it compiles the database. In addition to this, it also compiles the resources for the game (these are the art pieces of the game, like particle effects, images/skins, sounds, etc..).

Records

You should read up first on what a database is and what records are. Here's a butt-simple example:

An address book is a database.
In it are your contacts.
Each contact is a record.
A record is a set of data.
If you open the record, you'll see this information: first name, last name, phone number, and physical address.
You can easily make a new record/contact by using a form.
A form is the list of fields the record will have. The fields for a contact will be: first name, last name, phone number, and physical address.
You can edit the form to add a field for email address, so next time you go to make a new contact with a form you'll see these fields: first name, last name, phone number, email address, and physical address.

A database can have different record types. A contact record will have these fields: first name, last name, phone number, email address, and physical address. If you have friends on planet Xennox, they will have different contact information, and their info should include this information: first name, last name (from father), last name (from mother), last name (from seed coordinator), ansible number, and email address.

You could add the missing fields to your contact form, or you could make a new contact type with a new form. So, after you'll have Human Contact Records (with a human contact form) and a Xennox Contact Record (with a xennox contact form).

The Art Manager similarly lets you open the game records. A creature record contains this information: mesh, skin, ai controller, animations, etc.. An item record contains this information: type, mesh, skin, damage, armor, etc..

There are bajillions of types of records the game uses. You don't have to memorize them all. The forms for these records are called templates. A template is just a collection of the fields associated with the given record (it does a little more than this, but that's all that you need to know).

The basic file structure is this:

The art manager keeps a collection of your records in plaintext format (each record a separate file) in your "Working Directory." When someone refers to working directory, this is located here: my games\tqit\Working\

Your mod's working records are located here: games\tqit\Working\custommaps\<yourmodname>\database\records\

When you build your mod, the art manager zips up all those files into one file with a .arz extension and places it in your "Build Directory." When someone refers to your build directory, this is located here: my games\tqit\custommaps\

Your mod's built database is located here: my games\tqit\custommaps\<yourmodname>\database\<yourmodname>.arz

Please note that both the working directory and the build directory have the "custommaps" subfolder.

When you install the game, the game's database is installed here: program files\thq\tqit\database\database.arz

When you start the game, the game loads the database.arz file. When you start the game and load your mod, the game loads the database.arz file and then loads your mod's database on top of that. So, if your mod has a record by the same name, in the same location, as an original game record, your record will be used instead. (There are a limited number of exceptions to this, and the default mastery skills are among them).

Resources

Resources are what the game accesses to add the other stuff to the game. A creature record only lists the data of the creature (strength, int, dex, controller, mesh, skin, etc..). Note, the mesh and skin references are just links to the mesh and skin files (the mesh and skin isn't actually in the creature record). The mesh and skin will be located in the resources directory; for the game, this is located here:
program files\thq\tqit\resources\

For your mod, it's located in your build directory (mygames\tqit\custommaps\<yourmodname>\resources\)

But, before it becomes a resource, it's a source file. :) Your source work is located in your working directory (mygames\tqit\working\custommaps\<yourmodname>\source\)

You place your source work within subfolders (important that they're not just in the source directory, but within subfolders). The top-level subfolder will be the name of the resource archive (basically a zip file with the .arc extention).

Your source work is the uncompressed version of your work. If you work with skins, your PSD files (or TGA files) will go in a subfolder in the source directory. Once those files are there, you can browse them in the art manager by clicking on the sources tab and double-clicking on the source file.

When the game builds the source files into a resources archive, it will convert some of them to a different format. For PSD files, they get converted into a .tex format.

But, in order for the art manager to know which source files to build, you need to create assets.


Assets

In order for the art manager to know which source files to build, you need to create assets out of them. An asset is a place-holder file that points to the source(s) related to it. This asset name will be the name of the resource file in the resource archive.

To create an asset, right-click on the source file and choose "Auto-create asset." This will create an asset file with the same name as the original file in the same relative location in the assets folder. The asset file contains a link to the source file. When you build your mod, the art manager will compile your assets. After building a mod, you can change the source for an asset by double-clicking the asset and changing the source link. Doing this will mean the new source will be used, but with the same asset name.

So, if you have donkeyskin01.psd, and you create an asset out of it, there's going to be a donkeyskin01.tex asset file, and when you build the mod, the art manager will create a tex file named "donkeyskin01.tex" in the resource archive. (Note: although the asset file has a .tex extension, it is not a tex file, it's just an asset file posing as the tex file the source will eventually be). Now, say you don't like the skin, and you want to see what your mule skin will look like instead, you can double-click the asset file and choose muleskin01.psd instead. Then when you build it, the game will create donkeyskin01.tex from muleskin01.psd. While this makes it easier to change a skin and preview different options without having to change the related links on the donkey creature records, it's not the recommended way to work, as if you want to make changes to sources later on, you may find yourself searching through asset files to find out which source file points relates to the skin you want to change. The only exception to this is with animated textures.

Poinas
05-21-2009, 06:36 AM
A must read for all who wish to begin modding TQ :)