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[Article] Mod Formats

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[Article] Mod Formats

Postby giftfish » 27 Feb 2015, 23:19

Name: Mod Formats
Status: Complete
URL: http://me3explorer.wikia.com/wiki/Mod_Formats

Ok, I got this cranked out today. I started with Otte's awesome Bug Report sticky:

sticky-the-art-of-bug-reporting-t1117.html

And added several file types to cover more content modding details (this section of the post was pretty texture/mesh-centric). I also took out a bit of the more technical language (some of this I'm going to move to the Dev section), and updated certain sections to reflect various changes since it was created over a year ago. Finally, I added a section on the DLC Mod method.

I think it should cover most questions mod users have. I'll get out the "Reporting Bugs" article tomorrow, which will cover the rest of Otte's post. By then, we might have the Texplorer stuff wrapped up, and I can use elements of Kfreon and Fob's current tutorials to work on generating that article. I doubt it will be out by the time the SF is released (depending on how soon that is), but I can have it done within a week.

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Re: [Article] Mod Formats

Postby The Fob » 27 Feb 2015, 23:27

Cool!!!
Just a suggestion: In the .bin section, you could mention the PCConsoleTOC.bin, which contains information on all other files used by ME3 (most importantly their size) and which should always be updated when installing new mods.
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Re: [Article] Mod Formats

Postby giftfish » 27 Feb 2015, 23:52

The Fob wrote:Cool!!!
Just a suggestion: In the .bin section, you could mention the PCConsoleTOC.bin, which contains information on all other files used by ME3 (most importantly their size) and which should always be updated when installing new mods.

Doh, very good idea. I'll do that in just a sec :)

Thanks!

EDIT: And done.
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Re: [Article] Mod Formats

Postby giftfish » 25 Jul 2015, 15:16

@FemShep -- I see the section that you added for your Mod Manager mod format on this page. I also see why you added it, considering how the opening paragraph for the mod formats section is worded: you didn't want your users to potentially be confused by what they read there in relation to your mod file format. I get that. Note that I took much of this information from Ottemis's Setup Guide/Bug Reporting posts here on the forums and her blog.

The problem, however, is that adding this content about your Mod Manager can be confusing for two reasons: 1- your Mod Manager is not a part of the toolset so even mention of this format will confuse some readers. Two, all mod types in the Mod Formats subsection are then reiterated in the Installation Order subsection. The latter subsection then focuses on what the order to install all the aforementioned formats; in other words the two sections are complimentary. There should not be content in one that isn't found in the other.

A better solution would be for me to clarify the opening paragraph to explain what mod formats may be used with *the toolset* so it doesn't sound like any other format is "bad". I'll then clarify that any other formats will be rare and only made to go with other tools (like your Mod Manager.

I'll get a quick revision of the article together, and you can take a look :]

EDIT: And, done. The section no longer makes it seem like every single mod format for ME3 is listed and that unlisted mods are "bad". It also clarifies installing/uninstalling procedures as they apply to mod formats used with ME3Explorer. Readers should no longer make any inferences about other programs/mods outside of ME3Exp.
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Re: [Article] Mod Formats

Postby FemShep » 25 Jul 2015, 16:12

giftfish wrote:@FemShep -- I see the section that you added for your Mod Manager mod format on this page. I also see why you added it, considering how the opening paragraph for the mod formats section is worded: you didn't want your users to potentially be confused by what they read there in relation to your mod file format. I get that. Note that I took much of this information from Ottemis's Setup Guide/Bug Reporting posts here on the forums and her blog.

The problem, however, is that adding this content about your Mod Manager can be confusing for two reasons: 1- your Mod Manager is not a part of the toolset so even mention of this format will confuse some readers. Two, all mod types in the Mod Formats subsection are then reiterated in the Installation Order subsection. The latter subsection then focuses on what the order to install all the aforementioned formats; in other words the two sections are complimentary. There should not be content in one that isn't found in the other.

A better solution would be for me to clarify the opening paragraph to explain what mod formats may be used with *the toolset* so it doesn't sound like any other format is "bad". I'll then clarify that any other formats will be rare and only made to go with other tools (like your Mod Manager.

I'll get a quick revision of the article together, and you can take a look :]

EDIT: And, done. The section no longer makes it seem like every single mod format for ME3 is listed and that unlisted mods are "bad". It also clarifies installing/uninstalling procedures as they apply to mod formats used with ME3Explorer. Readers should no longer make any inferences about other programs/mods outside of ME3Exp.
Technically though my Mod Manager uses ME3Explorer. It uses it extensively to install mods. It's even included with my Mod Manager. If you clarify that there are other mod types that this editor can't process (mine, I guess, with how you wrote it) that's be great cause when I read it it seemed pretty cut and dry this was it.
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Re: [Article] Mod Formats

Postby giftfish » 25 Jul 2015, 17:51

FemShep wrote:Technically though my Mod Manager uses ME3Explorer. It uses it extensively to install mods. It's even included with my Mod Manager. If you clarify that there are other mod types that this editor can't process (mine, I guess, with how you wrote it) that's be great cause when I read it it seemed pretty cut and dry this was it.

Yeah, the changes to the wording make it clear now.

From what I can see, your Mod Manager is only for coalesced files ("ME3 Coalesced Mod Manager") and makes use of certain ME3Explorer assets related to DLC authorization and SFAR editing. In other words, ME3Explorer's functionalities are built into your tool's usage, and your tool presumably contains a bunch more code to make it do what it does and look how it looks. The mods you host say explicitly that they should be installed with "Mod Manager 3.1" or whatnot, which means you intend on users installing the mods you host using your ME3 Coalesced Mod Manager tool and not ME3Explorer proper. Presumably, this is why you created the Mod Manager tool in the first place.

Downloading one of the "mod manager mods" on your site, I see that what it contains is several BIN and TOC files. So, there's no actual "mod manager file format" so to speak. It's not a TPF file, nor a MOD file, nor a DDS file, nor is it a DLC mod that is packaged exactly how it's meant to be installed by the user. It's simply a mod for ME3 in the form of coalesced files that contain specific changes (similar to MOAM). Information on both types of BIN files is already covered by the mod format article.
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Re: [Article] Mod Formats

Postby FemShep » 25 Jul 2015, 21:11

It is named Coalesced mod Manager because it was built for that purpose. It has since expanded to others and I typically call it Mod Manager. I called it Coalesced Mod Manager in the wiki to make it obvious this was not someone else's Mod Manager.

And I have mods that are not simply .bin and .TOC. Most old ones are but that's changing a lot real soon with my mixins library coming out. My mods typically are Coalesced edits simply because I as a user don't care about textures or content mods.

For example my mod Manager makes installing the Controller Support mod 1 click. No having to follow all the directions, its just done for you. In terms of getting people to actually use mods, the more work it is, the less people you'll have do it. It's the whole reason I built my ModMaker mods.

Mod Manager mods must be packaged in a certain way to be recognized and configured. You should try it out so you understand how it works. It's essentially a different way to automate ME3Explroer compared to
.mod files.

The format is documented in my faq: http://me3tweaks.com/tools/modmanager/faq

Essentially Mod Manager automates ME3Explorer, because changing mods quickly or adding them takes too long. Or if you want to restart fresh, it backs everything up and restores (something .mod files don't do according to documentation)


At the end of the line, if your wiki is strictly only about ME3Explorer, I don't understand why TankMaster's tools have a page. My ModMaker is huge in making Coalesced editing less difficult and it uses ME3Explorer to make mods much easier to install and use. Hell I could turn your Thane Mod into a Mod Manager mod so you can install *and uninstall* without having to deal with game files. The Controller Support mod works with it just fine (and a lot less painful to install)
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Re: [Article] Mod Formats

Postby giftfish » 26 Jul 2015, 02:54

@FemShep -- Yeah, I looked at the ini and that page, as well. I just meant that the files aren't bundled into some type of package (like a TPF/MOD). Instead, the mod files are simply various file types (BIN, TOC, whatever) that are native to ME3. Prior to our recent edits, the Mod Formats article simply stated that any mod wasn't in one of listed formats (TPF/DDS/MOD/DLC mod) OR that didn't contain the file types outlined in the previous section would not be easily installable. Since mods for mod manager contain native MP3 files, they would 100% fit into the latter category. And, since they aren't packaged into a TPF/MOD/etc, it's very easy for users to browse the folder structure and see exactly what they contain.

Either way, it's been clarified, to ensure users of your tool don't draw incorrect conclusions. Plus, it's always possible someone else will come along and write a new program that *does* bundle files into some type of new format, so it's good to keep the discussion in the context of ME3Exp rather than trying to cover any existing or future mod.
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Re: [Article] Mod Formats

Postby giftfish » 23 Feb 2016, 03:45

Significant update for this article.

--Added a new section on Mod Types, to clarify coalesced, texture/mesh, and content mods. Clarified the toolset is only 100% necessary for the latter.
--Revised all other content
--Added a warning box for the "Other File Types" section, to bring more attention to this.

This is actually one of the most important articles on the wiki for all users. Once I get a bit further along with other revisions I'll work on reformatting the TOC a bit to bring attention to it -- along with the Getting Started article.
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Re: [Article] Mod Formats

Postby CreeperLava » 23 Feb 2016, 07:48

Quick suggestions :
- What about METPFs ? They're a legitimate alternative to the less than ideal TPFs. I use them for ALOT, because Texmod gets buggy when dealing with a big number of textures (ie you end up with 0 bytes TPFs). Modders generally shouldn't encounter these problems, but you might as well put a warning.
- coalesced can also be used to edit graphics (Shadows, AA, etc). I can send you a list of things you can edit if you want.
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