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Modding Mass Effect: what do i need to know?


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#1 Layarion   Members   -  Reputation: 107

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Posted 28 July 2014 - 08:35 PM

I'm in the middle of learning C# at home, and I plan to make a top-down 2D game hopefully in the near future. anyway, I figured one way to break into code might be to mod my currently favorite game Mass Effect 1. specifically I want to mod the UI, add some weapon swap profiles, improve shop UI and add splitscreen view to the Mako so that I can see the tank and aim down sights at the same time.

 

I basically have no experience in anything so wanted to start here because my retention goes up when I do rather than just read and do some meaningless line of code. so again, I know how to use a computer but know almost nothing beyind that, i'm starting to understand some things though.

 

a quick search to a forum from someone says that ME1 is Unreal Engine 3 and that it uses .pcf files and he/she basically says it's not really possible because no one knows how to open or what to do with those. Is that true? should I just stop there and pick another game to mod or is it simply a matter of having to dig around some more?

 

basically I need to know:

1) what I need to know before trying to do this

2) what if the games language isn't C#, will I have to learn another language or try another game?

3) any thoughts or experience about possible walls and advice you can throw at me



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#2 Servant of the Lord   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 19568

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Posted 28 July 2014 - 08:54 PM

You may want to try a mod-specific community; especially if you can find a community with experience with Mass Effect. We can help with abstracts, but can't give detailed instructions unless one of us happens to have modded Mass Effect in the past.

 

Most 'modding' happens by replacing or modifying existing files, without doing any programming. Things like, "Change X to Y", whether they are images, sounds, 3D models, or damage amounts, constant game values, and so on.

Backup the entire game directory before you begin, so you can undo any changes if you accidentally bork your install.

 

The more complicated modding requires programming, and it requires access to the game's source code, and requires learning the basics how that specific game's code architecture is laid out. People who have already explored that architecture can help you in much more specific ways.

 

Likely the game language is C++, so yes, you may need to learn bits and pieces of C++. However, since you aren't writing the game from scratch, and since C++ is in some ways similar to C#, you really only need to know enough to half-way understand it, unless you intend to make serious modifications. Many games also use scripting, and if Mass Effect uses scripting, you may need to learn bits of that instead (or in addition).

Learning the basics of a second language is much easier/faster once you know the first language. You won't be able to master the unique strengths of each language overnight, but you can pick up the basic syntax fairly quickly.


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#3 Layarion   Members   -  Reputation: 107

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Posted 28 July 2014 - 09:03 PM

You may want to try a mod-specific community; especially if you can find a community with experience with Mass Effect. We can help with abstracts, but can't give detailed instructions unless one of us happens to have modded Mass Effect in the past.

 

Most 'modding' happens by replacing or modifying existing files, without doing any programming. Things like, "Change X to Y", whether they are images, sounds, 3D models, or damage amounts, constant game values, and so on.

Backup the entire game directory before you begin, so you can undo any changes if you accidentally bork your install.

 

The more complicated modding requires programming, and it requires access to the game's source code, and requires learning the basics how that specific game's code architecture is laid out. People who have already explored that architecture can help you in much more specific ways.

 

Likely the game language is C++, so yes, you may need to learn bits and pieces of C++. However, since you aren't writing the game from scratch, and since C++ is in some ways similar to C#, you really only need to know enough to half-way understand it, unless you intend to make serious modifications. Many games also use scripting, and if Mass Effect uses scripting, you may need to learn bits of that instead (or in addition).

Learning the basics of a second language is much easier/faster once you know the first language. You won't be able to master the unique strengths of each language overnight, but you can pick up the basic syntax fairly quickly.

okay, but i'm 100% clueless as to what scripting is. I've like seen that word before but what is I don't even know



#4 SeanMiddleditch   Members   -  Reputation: 5872

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Posted 28 July 2014 - 09:21 PM

okay, but i'm 100% clueless as to what scripting is. I've like seen that word before but what is I don't even know


Most games embed a simple programming language in them that is used for modifying "soft logic." These are generally called "scripting languages."

I can't find any information about any such language used in Mass Effect.

#5 Servant of the Lord   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 19568

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Posted 29 July 2014 - 01:33 AM

okay, but i'm 100% clueless as to what scripting is. I've like seen that word before but what is I don't even know

 

It's the exact same as a programming language, except the code is loaded by the game and is run during the gameplay (instead of being pre-compiled). Usually they are simplified languages, with smaller collections of functions to expose only the features the game wants to expose.

 

I'm honestly surprised Mass Effect doesn't have a scripting language - what with all the interactive dialog, cutscenes, and events and such. People with experience modding that specific game could give more Mass Effect specific answers instead of my generic programming answers.


It's perfectly fine to abbreviate my username to 'Servant' rather than copy+pasting it all the time.
All glory be to the Man at the right hand... On David's throne the King will reign, and the Government will rest upon His shoulders. All the earth will see the salvation of God.
Of Stranger Flames - [indie turn-based rpg set in a para-historical French colony] | Indie RPG development journal

[Fly with me on Twitter] [Google+] [My broken website]

[Need web hosting? I personally like A Small Orange]


#6 FRex   Members   -  Reputation: 412

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Posted 29 July 2014 - 07:42 AM

 

I'm honestly surprised Mass Effect doesn't have a scripting language - what with all the interactive dialog, cutscenes, and events and such. People with experience modding that specific game could give more Mass Effect specific answers instead of my generic programming answers.

Mass Effect games are on Unreal Engine 3 so they use UnrealScript (you can google around and find a tool to rip scripts bytecode out of the third game even - I have no idea if it's legal or even real and won't post a link).

It hardly fits your definitions of a 'scripting language' and is a precompiled (to bytecode), beast language that has a lot of Java and C++ inspired features and syntax, localization, event system, states and handles (almost) all logic in the game.


Edited by FRex, 29 July 2014 - 07:43 AM.


#7 Layarion   Members   -  Reputation: 107

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Posted 29 July 2014 - 01:06 PM

okay ill start looking for mass effect communities and unreal  engine 3 communities.



#8 Layarion   Members   -  Reputation: 107

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Posted 29 July 2014 - 01:30 PM

actually it looks alittle over my head for a noob. think ill just go to making a prototype of my game. gonna be a top-down 2d game






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