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Thought it might be good to pool any information we find about the engine/editor that may give clues to file structure etc.

Blog for Johan Andersson, DICE Frostbite Dev.

Includes lots of presentations mostly looking at shaders etc.

High Quality copy of one presentation - Andersson-Tatarchuk-FrostbiteRenderingArchitecture(GDC07_AMD_Session).pdf

http://repi.blogspot.com/

FrostEd Screenshot (Recent) - Level Editor

FrostEd_2.png

FrostEd Screenshot (Old) - Materials

frosted.jpg

Edited by PiratePlunder

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Those .PDF's and other information are available as slideshow downloads. They can be downloaded from here once you register.

http://www.slideshare.net/repii/presentations

Once downloaded and opened in Openoffice or Powerpoint, there is some interetsting nuggets tucked away in the "notes" section of each slide, along with embedded images, which are the two above I posted last week. Under the slide from which the FrostEd Materials image is is the following text, along with this image of a build in progress.

editor.png

Before I continue talking about Frostbite there are 3 core concepts of the engine & framework architecture that it is important that everybody knows how they relate to each other. And that is the runtime, the editor and the pipeline.

The editor is where all the asset creation happens, such as artists and level designers creating levels, shaders, meshes, objects and so on. These assets are not usually directly usable by the runtime tough and that is where the pipeline comes in. It is responsible for processing and converting the source assets that the users have created in the editor or other external tools to a format that can be used by the runtime. This is a quite complex topic

The runtime is the actual game & executable that runs on the different platforms. It is from a rendering point of view rather dumb and is in many cases spoon-fed by the pipeline.

There is also this screenshot of the RU_Solider from Paralled Futures of a Game Engine, the most recent slideshow, to do with shader types.

FrostEd2.png

Editor (”FrostEd 2”)

WYSIWYG editor for content

C#, Windows only

Basic threading / tasks

Pipeline

Offline/background data-processing & conversion

C++, some MC++, Windows only

Typically IO-bound

I have also seen reference to Microsoft Visual Studio as a debugging tool. I have more images and such, but they'll have to wait til tomorrow, they're on my work PC.

Bo.

Edited by BO109-BOM-

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That "builder" screenshot is particularly interesting. It seems at some point it exports a static, and it seems to be using Granny 3D. I bet they use it for all their assets, not just for deformable player models. Which would make things more easier for us as the geometry format is well-designed and documented. I had a brief stab at reading the geometry files, but I'll think I'll dig up the Granny 3D SDK before I waste more time on it.

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So you're saying the actual format being an adaptation of Granny 3D? Because I know from text in some of the files that they still use Maya (DICE must have some deal with Autodesk or something)

EDIT: And yeah, I had a go at reading the format, but when I plotted the dots, they were most densely distributed along the outside, rather than the middle (in other words, I failed)

Edited by UberWazuSoldier

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As I understand it Granny3D is middleware as opposed to an interface such as Maya. If DICE are using Granny, they would still create the assets in Maya, then export to the granny file structure / mesh compression to be used in frostbite.

It would be a good choice when developing an engine from scratch as it eliminates a large swathe of work, whilst using a system that has already been used a lot in the game industry.

Edited by PiratePlunder

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But then why would they make staticmesh, bundledmesh, collisionmesh and skinnedmesh formats for BF2 which was actually designed with mods in mind?

It was not. Unless you count BF2 and it's xpacks as mods. Don't be fooled by mod support promises. No sane game developer designs it's game engine around mods (even I don't). The best any game developer can do is release the tools they used in making the game, and perhaps some documentation. That never happened with BF2 (I refuse to believe the editor we got was the one they used for BF2, it is probably a very old beta).

Edited by Remdul

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Well, no the editor wouldn't have been the same as they used (too many inconsistencies with line spacing and what not), but the use of .zips, commented .con and .tweaks, the "mods" folder too. Most games don't have a mods folder, they'd just have a more hardcoded solutions to expansion packs. I didn't mean that I thought it was built AROUND mods, but that it was built with support for mods. Other than the meshes, it really couldn't have been any easier, and I personally refuse to believe that was coincidental.

Anyway, undoubtedly they made those formats so that it can tie in with shaders from BF2. From what DICE is saying, Frostbite needs to be spoon-fed everything, so that's why I'm sure they would have made their own format. What I was trying to say is that if they made their own format for something as mod-friendly as BF2, then they would almost certainly have made their own for the hostile modding desert of Bad Company 2.

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Zips, cons, shaders etc. I'm not convinced any of these were design decisions with mods in mind. To my best judgment, they simply took the BF1942/BFV engine and upgraded it. Any mod aspect are leftovers, which by design were core elements of the engine. And they kept that because of the expansion packs. Had they chosen it be removed, they likely wouldn't have promoted mod support at all.

As for Frostbite, clearly DICE sat down and looked at every aspect of their past game development successes and failures and build a new engine with that information. Maybe file paths in BF2 were an issue, and they ended up with a more complex resource structure and builder that removes the need for paths. Maybe those hashes are global unique identifiers (GUIDs). They needed cross platform support, so they couldn't work with individual files, and they made a pipeline that outputs more than one build. Their geometry exporter was slow complex and buggy, so they opted for Granny3D. All those sorts of things.

Anyway, IMO, Frostbite looks much more mod-friendly to me than BF2 ever has, our chances are good. The only question is, will DICE tolerate mods if we can get them to work.

We can build our own tools. IMO the worst thing that happened for BF2 modding was that DICE released such a buggy editor. Had there not been, some modder would have build one that worked better. Maybe not as complex or complete, but it would have been quicker to work with from modder perspective.

Disclaimer: I am an old-skool hacker/modder. :)

Edited by Remdul

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Given the current state, BFBC2 won't have the option to run mods on the server-end, as leased servers do not permit access to server files as per direction from DICE. No access, therefore no ability to change or upload new content.

Now, single player may be another story. If we can get assets built and are packaged to be compatible with the engine, we may be able to test content in this fashion. Given the folder structure in the beta, there is a place for future DLC/expansion packs from DICE to be stored. Thus I believe we can add our content as an expansion pack per-say and test it out in-game via single player.

Edited by Mach10

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Zips, cons, shaders etc. I'm not convinced any of these were design decisions with mods in mind. To my best judgment, they simply took the BF1942/BFV engine and upgraded it. Any mod aspect are leftovers, which by design were core elements of the engine. And they kept that because of the expansion packs. Had they chosen it be removed, they likely wouldn't have promoted mod support at all.

As for Frostbite, clearly DICE sat down and looked at every aspect of their past game development successes and failures and build a new engine with that information. Maybe file paths in BF2 were an issue, and they ended up with a more complex resource structure and builder that removes the need for paths. Maybe those hashes are global unique identifiers (GUIDs). They needed cross platform support, so they couldn't work with individual files, and they made a pipeline that outputs more than one build. Their geometry exporter was slow complex and buggy, so they opted for Granny3D. All those sorts of things.

Anyway, IMO, Frostbite looks much more mod-friendly to me than BF2 ever has, our chances are good. The only question is, will DICE tolerate mods if we can get them to work.

We can build our own tools. IMO the worst thing that happened for BF2 modding was that DICE released such a buggy editor. Had there not been, some modder would have build one that worked better. Maybe not as complex or complete, but it would have been quicker to work with from modder perspective.

Disclaimer: I am an old-skool hacker/modder. :)

If you're old-skool, then you'll appreciate that BF2 didn't require you to add the file path to a global database of all the game files, and then update the indexes all over the show. In BF2 it was as simple as notepad + pretty much any version of windows since 2000 and you can go far. With Google, you could go further. With Frostbite, you have to actually figure out the format for each file, and decompile the binary. There's absolutely no way your argument that it's easier than BF2 holds up, no offence. Yes BF2 was just an updated BF1942 engine, but they used zip rather than a proprietary format, which made it very easy for someone to jump straight in without touching the internet. With BF2 the only new formats were the geometries, and with this the only existing format is the .zz format.

EDIT: DICE will probably allow it, since LexLuther has himself said that he expects mods to "find a way".

Edited by UberWazuSoldier

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I didn't mean it would be easier, just that it would be better. With the proper tools, made by modders, for modders it can work better than official SDKs that are full of bugs and disappointment. Personally, I have no real interest in modding for BFBC2, but I'm happy to help anyone who does. If only to show publishers that they can't stop mods.

Edited by Remdul

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is it just me that instantly thinks of terragen 2 with that node system and the way the models seem to be manipulated in a map? on the surface it doesn't look any more complicated than an advanced terragen 2 simulation to me.

EDIT: after a lookie through those presentations, it seems obvious that we'd have a much more functional editting package, a hell of a lot more control, and asside from meshes and maybe editting to the way exploding terrain works on custom objects, possibly alot more intuitive. I'd be absolutely dying to get a crack at making maps and maybe even working a new kit set together with this. I really wish i could have some different ghillie suit styles :D

Edited by littlet15

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