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[ANSWRD] ME3Explorer console commands ?

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[ANSWRD] ME3Explorer console commands ?

Postby CreeperLava » 21 May 2016, 10:20

I'm searching for a way to facilitate the installation of ALOT. The main concern of users is the number of steps there are to the installation. Since I can't do neither a DLC mod, nor a MEUITM-like installation, my only option is to try and automate the use of ME3Explorer from the creation of the tree to the installation of ALOT, with a script. Are there any ME3Explorer console commands that could help me do that ?

If there aren't, would it be doable to create them ? Like eg me3explorer -game=ME3 -texplorer -create-tree ; me3explorer -game=ME3 -tpftools -install C:/whatever.tpf, or something like that. Basically do the same as the GUI, but input every needed variables through console commands.


Edit and TL;DR : Through discussion with giftfish, my idea of automating the installation process of large numbers of textures changed a bit. Instead of drag & dropping DDS', waiting for them to load, analysing, waiting for it to analyse, installing, waiting for it to install, and repeating x times with x batches ; you would be able to use one command to do all the work for you. That means you don't have to check every few minutes if ME3Explorer finished one of the steps. Obviously, this is more useful for jobs that take a lot of time to process, like ALOT.

The point is to only need one user input : launch the command ; instead of what I described above, where you need to check on the process regularly. The console command would only be meant to automate a tedious process that doesn't require much learning anyways ie no dumbing down (is that a valid expression ?) of the modding process and risking even more user errors.

The commands I would need are :
- load a file
- analyse
- install
- clear all files
The rest can be done with existing windows commands.
Last edited by CreeperLava on 21 May 2016, 19:52, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Are there any ME3Explorer console commands ?

Postby giftfish » 21 May 2016, 13:37

I'm guessing this stems at least in part from your recent exchange with Black Zero 500 on Nexus for ALOT ME3. I see that he doesn't mention using the wiki at all. Sigh.

This is really a matter of people just needing to learn how to use the toolset and wiki. People often don't like learning new things, many come in with expectations from modding previous games, and some younger players are especially averse to reading anything longer than a tweet. (Yeah, get off my lawn, okay?)

Setting up the toolset, running a Texplorer scan, and then using TPF Tools to run a TPF are not difficult things. They simply take time and people need to learn. The wiki is now fully complete for Users. All they have to do is Getting Started > Texplorer > TPF Tools. DLC extraction is even automated for them upon toolset open. The wiki has tons of pictures that have all been updated for v2.0, showing users *exactly* what they should see during all steps of the process.

Automating these things is problematic for several reasons. One, what happens if there's a problem during any part of this automated process? That means we need debug output, and then users will *still* need to know what to do if there's a problem and how to troubleshoot that issue (which was Black Zero's issue, anyway). Two, K's tools are archival. They will not be changed further, as they are way, way too much work to test. So, unless new commands can be implemented at a higher level, it won't be until if/when he proceeds with a re-write. Three, if the user ever wants to go back and replace one or two textures, has to revert a borked texture, or anything of that sort (which 99% of them will), they need to learn how to use the tools, anyway.

What it comes down to is that you can't solve all problems. You can't predict every issue users will run into. Using and installing TPFs is not a foolproof process. Autofix isn't perfect. This is *exactly* why users need to learn for themselves. They need to read the documentation, follow it, and learn how to use the tools. It's not your responsibility to troubleshoot everyone's problems and hold their hand until it's fixed. You can't help everyone. If certain users honestly can't handle it or can't understand why it has to be so hard, then they should not be using the toolset. They should be using Texmod. Texmod is as simple as it gets. The toolset will never, ever be this simple, b/c what it does is much, much harder.

I'd also recommend sticking with your instincts and not going CDAMJC's route with an EXE. Using an exe to replace essentially every game file is not a good way to install a texture mod. I can say from experience that the EXE of MEUITM has some modded hashes in it, which can only come from scanning on texture modded files (a pain if you want to run another TPF over it). Overwriting PCCs also makes it inherently incompatible with any other mods that do the same, as you know. The only reason CDAMJC could do it, is he basically had the the only mod for ME1. Now that we have ME1 tools, though, that will likely be changing. When it does, MEUITM EXE users will be in for a rude awakening.
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Re: Are there any ME3Explorer console commands ?

Postby giftfish » 21 May 2016, 14:36

@Creeper -- Also, from reading your exchange with Black Zero, it's possible your forgetting something about newer changes to TPF Tools.

It's no longer possible to autofix and install with one click. It doesn't all happen at the same time, like you mention. The "Autofix and install" button no longer exists. We made this change, so that autofixing would have to be done separately and users would more easily see any lingering problems with textures, and be able to address them prior to install. "Install Valid" is the only way to "install all", and "run autofix all" is the only way to run autofix on everything. Either way, they are both separate operations. The wiki explains this.
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Re: Are there any ME3Explorer console commands ?

Postby CreeperLava » 21 May 2016, 17:25

He wasn't exactly the cause for this question, I was thinking about it for a while, his feedback just decided me to try and do something to ease the process. Do you read all the comments on Nexus ? I'm impressed you saw that conversation this quickly^^.

Sounds like we have the same view of modding, gift, I used these very same arguments with Black Zero. I definitely think of the modding process as something you need to learn and not have everything come plug and play. Which is part of the problem with Skyrim, it is very easy to mod, but enormous amounts of users don't know what they're doing and just expect things to work out of the box, and break their game quite quickly. In Mass Effect, in the contrary, you have relatively few of these users, I think it is more than just a coincidence.

Having console commands to automate stuff would be useful for all users, even advanced ones. I recently started to learn bash scripts (basically linux console commands), it is incredibly powerful. Instead of drag & dropping DDS', waiting for them to load, analysing, waiting for it to analyse, installing, waiting for it to install ; just use one command to do all the work for you (in Linux that could be "find -type f -name *.dds -exec me3explorer -install {}"). That means you don't have to check every few minutes if ME3Explorer finished one of the steps. No user input required. Obviously, this is more useful for jobs that take a lot of time to process, like ALOT.

That being said, I don't think that facilitating the installation process would necessarily "dumb down" the modding of ME, either. I suppose what I would do is only provide the command line for the installation of ALOT, without the creation of the tree. That means users still have to read the wiki, and it gets rid of the tedious process of waiting that is the current installation of ALOT. Most users currently choose to install all of ALOT at once because they don't want to do it in batches of 3-400 textures, so that they don't have to sit in front of the computer. That poses problems when something goes wrong, but they are still willing to take the risk. A script could solve that problem.

Also, to clarify, when I say "script", it doesn't mean something that runs in the background and gives you no debug, like MEUITM's exe does, more or less. It means an open cmd exe with debug scrolling down, so there would be something to troubleshoot in case it goes wrong.

And to reassure you, a MEUITM like installation is definitely not planned.

I don't know what you are talking about, when you say I may have missed something with autofix ?
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Re: Are there any ME3Explorer console commands ?

Postby giftfish » 21 May 2016, 18:37

CreeperLava wrote:He wasn't exactly the cause for this question, I was thinking about it for a while, his feedback just decided me to try and do something to ease the process. Do you read all the comments on Nexus ? I'm impressed you saw that conversation this quickly^^.

Ha. No. Almost never actually. Your post had the tone of "the straw that broke the camel's back", so the logical thing was to check recent forum exchanges on the Nexus for ALOT. I wanted some additional context, before I responded (slightly bleary-eyed, as I was waiting for coffee).


CreeperLava wrote:Sounds like we have the same view of modding, gift, I used these very same arguments with Black Zero. I definitely think of the modding process as something you need to learn and not have everything come plug and play. Which is part of the problem with Skyrim, it is very easy to mod, but enormous amounts of users don't know what they're doing and just expect things to work out of the box, and break their game quite quickly. In Mass Effect, in the contrary, you have relatively few of these users, I think it is more than just a coincidence.

Yep, I saw your response to Black Zero, but you waffled a little bit, so I wanted to underscore what you said and let you know that I think most modders (and software developers) indeed share the same perspective. Modding Mass Effect and using the toolset has a large learning curve; it always has. That's what I think you're seeing.


CreeperLava wrote:Having console commands to automate stuff would be useful for all users, even advanced ones. I recently started to learn bash scripts (basically linux console commands), it is incredibly powerful. Instead of drag & dropping DDS', waiting for them to load, analysing, waiting for it to analyse, installing, waiting for it to install ; just use one command to do all the work for you (in Linux that could be "find -type f -name *.dds -exec me3explorer -install {}"). That means you don't have to check every few minutes if ME3Explorer finished one of the steps. No user input required. Obviously, this is more useful for jobs that take a lot of time to process, like ALOT.

That being said, I don't think that facilitating the installation process would necessarily "dumb down" the modding of ME, either. I suppose what I would do is only provide the command line for the installation of ALOT, without the creation of the tree. That means users still have to read the wiki, and it gets rid of the tedious process of waiting that is the current installation of ALOT. Most users currently choose to install all of ALOT at once because they don't want to do it in batches of 3-400 textures, so that they don't have to sit in front of the computer. That poses problems when something goes wrong, but they are still willing to take the risk. A script could solve that problem.

I'm getting confused about the "no tree" part. Do you mean that they still need to set up the toolset and run the Texplorer scan on their own? Initially, you had said: "automate the use of ME3Explorer from the creation of the tree to the installation of ALOT, with a script".

Also, they won't still need to wait as the textures are being installed via the script?

Installing that many textures at once is a very bad idea, as I'm sure you've warned users. I'm not sure "willing to take the risk" explains their actions as well as "aren't taking the risks seriously enough".

I get that scripting can be powerful, works well for Skyrim, and streamlines the process from the user's end. But there are very significant differences between the games, and so far you haven't actually addressed how it would deal with any of the problems I brought up. I'm not saying that it can't work; I'm saying that I see many, many hurdles, and I'm not sure it's something that *should* be done. Obviously you can have users install your mod the way you want -- I'm specifically commenting on whether it would be appropriate to build those features into the toolset for use. On whether it's truly practical. B/c if we build them, we're saying they *can/should* be used.

To paraphrase, my understanding of you're idea is that scripting the entire process would allow the user to install ALOT with essentially one click. This would appease users complaining about the complexities of the install and that learning the toolset is hard. It would remove the requirement for them to read the wiki and learn how to set up the toolset, run a Texplorer scan, and then use TPF Tools to install TPFs. Or, am I getting that wrong (see the tree confusion above)?

What I'm saying is that I can almost guarantee they will need to learn to do all those things, anyway, so why bother scripting it? *If* the point of scripting the process is to prevent them from having to use the toolset, then I don't see that happening. Users are almost guaranteed that when running that many textures there's going to be a glitch somewhere. Once there is, then they're going to have to open up TPF Tools -- and possibly Texplorer -- and address the problem. If they've already done this as part of the install process, then they are better-equipped to know what to do to fix it.


CreeperLava wrote:Also, to clarify, when I say "script", it doesn't mean something that runs in the background and gives you no debug, like MEUITM's exe does, more or less. It means an open cmd exe with debug scrolling down, so there would be something to troubleshoot in case it goes wrong.

The toolset GUI has all sorts of built in messages to deal with this stuff, but if it isn't actually being used, what happens? Still not getting that part (see above).


CreeperLava wrote:I don't know what you are talking about, when you say I may have missed something with autofix ?

It was about this comment of yours to BlackZero on Nexus: "If it installed the files, then there is no reason it would be fixing them. It ALWAYS fixes files BEFORE installing them."

TPF Tools doesn't fix textures before installing them. Not to my knowledge. This suggested to me that you were referring to the old "Autofix and Install" button that is no longer a part of TPF Tools. Especially, since Black Zero followed up with "And about Texplorer, There are two buttons, one is Install Valid and one is Analyse with Texplorer" (he means TPF Tools).

It just seemed like you might have forgotten that button/operation no longer exists, so was giving you a heads up.
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Re: Are there any ME3Explorer console commands ?

Postby CreeperLava » 21 May 2016, 19:38

I'm getting confused about the "no tree" part. Do you mean that they still need to set up the toolset and run the Texplorer scan on their own? Initially, you had said: "automate the use of ME3Explorer from the creation of the tree to the installation of ALOT, with a script".

I did, but I changed my mind :). What you said makes sense, and I feel automating the actual texture installation would be sufficient, especially since some users may already have a tree.

Also, they won't still need to wait as the textures are being installed via the script?

Installing that many textures at once is a very bad idea, as I'm sure you've warned users. I'm not sure "willing to take the risk" explains their actions as well as "aren't taking the risks seriously enough".

The point is to only need one user input : launch the command ; instead of what I described above, where you need to check on the process regularly. I did warn them, and I agree with you, but if I can find a way to install everything at once while still keeping the "per-batch" method, it's way more convenient. That's what the script would do.

But there are very significant differences between the games, and so far you haven't actually addressed how it would deal with any of the problems I brought up.

- Debug log : you can add debug to a command line application.
- On the actual implementation of the console commands : I would need the opinion of a developer on that, which is why I posted this topic. From what I can tell, adding console commands shouldn't be very hard or bug prone, you just use the same functions you did before, but without a GUI.
- Learn the tools : they will necessarily learn how to use Texplorer, and learning TPF Tools should come naturally if the need arises. I don't see any problem here.

On whether it's truly practical. B/c if we build them, we're saying they *can/should* be used.

I think what I describe in my post above shows a few uses you could have for console commands.


It would remove the requirement for them to read the wiki and learn how to set up the toolset, run a Texplorer scan, and then use TPF Tools to install TPFs. Or, am I getting that wrong (see the tree confusion above)?

As I explained above, I changed my mind :). In the case of ALOT, the console command would only be meant to automate a tedious process that doesn't require much learning anyways. To be clear, that process is : open TPF/DDS Tools, load a batch of 3-400 files, analyse, install, repeat 6 times

The toolset GUI has all sorts of built in messages to deal with this stuff, but if it isn't actually being used, what happens? Still not getting that part (see above).

You should be able to output the GUI debug to the cmd exe, the code is pretty much the same afaik. I'm not an expert by far though, so again, I would like the opinion of a developer :).


TPF Tools doesn't fix textures before installing them. Not to my knowledge. This suggested to me that you were referring to the old "Autofix and Install" button that is no longer a part of TPF Tools. Especially, since Black Zero followed up with "And about Texplorer, There are two buttons, one is Install Valid and one is Analyse with Texplorer" (he means TPF Tools).

Ah alright, I see how this can be confusing. I was just saying that you can't install unautofixed textures, but I suppose I should have worded that better^^.
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Re: Are there any ME3Explorer console commands ?

Postby giftfish » 21 May 2016, 21:06

CreeperLava wrote:I did, but I changed my mind :). What you said makes sense, and I feel automating the actual texture installation would be sufficient, especially since some users may already have a tree.

Gotcha.

CreeperLava wrote:The point is to only need one user input : launch the command ; instead of what I described above, where you need to check on the process regularly. I did warn them, and I agree with you, but if I can find a way to install everything at once while still keeping the "per-batch" method, it's way more convenient. That's what the script would do.

How do the users launch the script?

CreeperLava wrote:I think what I describe in my post above shows a few uses you could have for console commands.

I'm not saying console commands aren't useful. The command to autotoc, for example, can be very, very useful for modders as part of a mod install process. I'm just not convinced console commands are appropriate for this particular instance. Especially if you are now saying that users have to launch the script from the cmd line, themselves (see above).
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Re: Are there any ME3Explorer console commands ?

Postby CreeperLava » 21 May 2016, 22:40

Probably a .bat file (right click > execute, is all you need). Users won't need to actually run the cmd tool unless they want to tweak some things. A .bat file is basically a text file were you write down the commands to be executed one by one, in order. I will need to read up on Windows scripting, but it should be doable. All I need is the ME3Explorer command line functionality.
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Re: Are there any ME3Explorer console commands ?

Postby giftfish » 21 May 2016, 23:43

CreeperLava wrote:Probably a .bat file (right click > execute, is all you need). Users won't need to actually run the cmd tool unless they want to tweak some things. A .bat file is basically a text file were you write down the commands to be executed one by one, in order. I will need to read up on Windows scripting, but it should be doable. All I need is the ME3Explorer command line functionality.

Sure, a BAT file would work. You also might be able to get a little fancy and build it into an NSIS script, and have an actual "installer" if you want. I haven't tried executing a BAT via that method, but there might be a way; NSIS has a decent amount of configurability. I've got a tutorial around here for NSIS scripting if it would get to that point.
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Re: Are there any ME3Explorer console commands ?

Postby FemShep » 22 May 2016, 02:29

You mean command line access? I use em all the time, I build all of the current ones into the toolset. The toolset code though doesn't segregate business logic and GUI logic which kinda means quite a few things need changed.

Scripting is a godsend, doing things in a GUI that is super repetitive is a HUGE turn off. Mod manager scripts a lot of different tasks including some me3explorer stuff, I think having a scripted install of a lot would make the mod much more accessible.

Looking at mod manager telemetry there are tons of users who don't read directions on everyone's mods, I've seen direction files in the dlc folders, the patcher as dlc, even a cookedpcconsole as a dlc folder. The less directions a user had to follow the better.

I've worked pretty extensively on batch scripts if you're interested creeper. I use them for scripting GUI injections and a lot of other things.
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