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PG Dev Chat: 1st Feb 07

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After noticing that I've not posted this on here yet.. (Sorry), here is the PG Modding Dev Chat from Feb 1st


Here are the questions of the developer chat from the 1st Feb 2007.

Special thanks to Sageking-PG, BHayes-PG, Xung-PG and Hjelstrom-PG (Kevin, Brian, Andre, Greg) for taking their time to answer all these questions.


Are there any plans for more Modding tools to be released from PG for future games?

  • Yup we will continuously be supporting the modding community in future games :)

Is there a way to get Lua debugging output (like, in the console)? If not, could that be turned on in a patch or something?

  • Not in the current version of EaW.  It something we can consider adding to UaW.  Traditionally we dont' have support for it cause it take extra performance to do logging.

Why weren't the full decompiled Lua's Provided for modder's use? Was it due to LucasArts?

  • It was actually to save memory.  The compiled versions of the scripts cut about 1/3 off their memory usage.

What is the reason for the non-standard Lua file format (one additional integer per function)?

  • We use a special version of lua that supports persistence of a running lua state.  As part of that support I had to modify the lua compiler a little, since we use it to save the running scripts into our save files.

Will it ever be possible to design our own special abilities, event/reward types?

  • Probably not with EaW.  With UaW some special abilites and behaviors are implemented in data (XML/LUA) so there's certainly more opportunity for that.

Can  we somehow make new Event Types?

  • No, those are hard coded in the EXE for EaW.  That system has been redesigned for UaW and should be almost all data driven, so you should be able to in UaW.

Are there future plans to enable Spectator Viewing in MP? Something like Source TV for CSS?

  • It something we've always wanted to do and would be very cool.  However those kinds of things are usually first to get cut when you start running out of time.  We definately want to expand on replay files and making it easier to pass them around and view other peoples games.

Are there any plans to release an updated documentation for the story files? There are a lot of errors in the current one.

  • No, probably not.  Like I said that system doesn't exist in UaW, and has been reimplemented in Lua.  It should hopefully be a lot easier to figure out now too.

Could the exact formula for the autocombat be released so we can adjust our new units and buildings to it?

  • I don't think we could give you the exact formula.  It's based on the combined AI_Combat power of the attackers vs the defenders, taking into account their Category_Masks as a weight of what they're best at attacking.  Yea, that makes it clearer...lol..

Is there any plan to release the unreleased story/intervention Lua source for FoC? 

  • This system ended not being used for FoC and doesn't even exist in UaW, so there's nothing to really give out for it.

I have been wondering, if you are willing to release the EawShell console commands in the near future? Would be helpful for debugging our mods.

  • That's something we can put together for you and release on the forum. The list will be relatively short though, as most console commands useful for development purposes were disabled for the commercial release (mutliplayer problems etc.)

Is there anyway to *switch on* the Political Control system? If not, could this be done in a future patch?

  • No, the political control system was something we experimented with quite a bit during development (5 levels of political control) but we decided against it. It just wasn't clear enough to the players how the economy was functioning. It's not a system that could be turned back on.

Is friendly fire possible, and if so, how? Can you make rockets or missiles path around friendly collisionmeshes (asked in conjunction with the previous question)?

  • No friendly fire is disabled at a very low level in the engine code. We do not check collision of projectiles against friendly units as a (large) optimization.

Is it possible to rework the GUI through XMLs to accomodate more than 26 buildings/units per tab, or is that hardcoded?

  • No. Although you can adjust a lot of UI's properties (fonts, colors, etc.) through XML, changing the number of production buttons would require a code change, so it's not something you'd be able to mod. :(

Is there any way to get more then 2 people in a game of Galactic Conquests?

  • Although that's something I would have liked to see too, it isn't possible in EAW. Something for the future maybe?

Why are the Track, etc buttons disabled in the map editor? Would it be feasible to turn them on?

  • We disabled a few map editor features before releasing them because they weren't ready for prime-time, and weren't critical to map development. Dev tools are notoriously crude for the majority of the development process and as a result, the designers worth with what they have and those tool features may never get finished. This was one of tho

Is it possible to create a completely new and fully-functional playable faction without changing engine code?

  • Should be able to, yes, though you may run into some assumptions in the UI code that restrict your ability to select that new faciton when starting a new game.

Is there any limit on the maximum number of playable factions?

  • Yes, there is a maximum limit of 21 supported factions (including unplayable and neutral factions). Also keep in mind when editing factions that you always want to add factions at the END of Expansion_Factions.xml otherwise things will get very messed up.

What is the purpose of Alt Dec Stay Hidden in the exporter, and what does it apply to (meshes/proxies)?

  • This is used on building models to make them not 'explode' when they get repaired.

Is there any reason why a model added as a Planet model should revert back to 0,0,0 in the GC when the Placement for the planet (The Location that the ships move to) stays the same?

  • sounds like a bug.  There is no reason it should do that.

Do you z-sort all transparent particles and transparent meshes independently when rendering?

  • We group things per emitter.  Its too slow to sort every particle against each other and the visual errors are rare.

do you group them per emitter or something to speed it up?

  • We group things per emitter.  Its too slow to sort every particle against each other and the visual errors are rare.

What visual element has the greatest performance cost in EaW/FoC? (ie polygons, alpha blending, shadows, etc)

  • Thats a tough one, those things all tax different parts of the system and it just depends on what part of the system is the bottleneck in a given situation.  (polygons tax the vertex throughput of your video card, alpha blending the filrate, and shadows do both, maybe shadows!)

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