|This article assumes you are currently using ME3Explorer v2.0 and not an older version of the toolset. If you are updating from a release that pre-dates v2.0, you should first read ME3Explorer v2.0: An Overview.|
Well, well. Only 6 months between stable releases. That's a much more manageable timetable, eh? We've been very, very busy since April.
Here's what's been happening:
- SirCxyrtyx has taken over as lead developer of ME3Explorer. At this point Sir knows almost every nook and cranny of the toolset and is an ideal person to have managing development.
- After a much-need break, Kfreon has started on the monumental re-write of Texplorer, ModMaker, TPF Tools, and Image Engine. Folks who want to provide input should visit his dev thread.
- ME3Explorer's main GUI has been rebuilt from the ground up, with a focus on modders. Designed by Giftfish and implemented by SirCxyrtyx, the new GUI is written in Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF), and allows much greater design flexibility than its predecessor, Winforms. All tools will slowly be re-designed and converted to this format.
- The forum overhaul is fully complete. Besides the improved aesthetics, the entire forum has been re-structured to make information more organized and easier to find. As a part of this goal, the scope of the community — which had become unwieldy over the last 4 years — has been refined to emphasize what it was built around: ME3Explorer.
As mentioned above, with the conversion to WPF the entire GUI of the toolset has been overhauled and rebuilt from the ground up. A full explanation will be provided in Getting Started, but we'll cover the main points here, focusing on how v3.0 has changed.
All the new pretty requires just a bit more time to launch, so you'll now see a splash screen for a few moments before the main window appears.
There is no comparison between ME3Explorer v2.0 and v3.0; they are drastically different animals. Despite these differences the same basic structure is still present. Let's take a look:
The toolset now opens to what we call the "CIC". This replaces the blank, desktop-like feel of all previous versions. Instead, it's filled with content.
- Search — A new Search Bar lies at the top of the CIC. All tools in the toolset have been assigned tags. Searches for those keywords will display in an infopanel that flies out to the right of the CIC.
- Links — Relocated from Help in v2.0, these are much more visible, just to the right of the Search Bar.
- Favorites — A new feature with v3.0, the bulk of the CIC is devoted to favorited tools as customized by the user.
- Install Mods — Previously located under User Tools, any tools standard users need to install mods are located in this section. No need to dive any further into the toolset. Scroll over any tool to trigger an infopanel with a description. Descriptions can be disabled in Settings.
- Settings — This correlates to the old Options area. Several settings have been removed that were either unnecessary or not fully implemented; new ones have been added.
Attached to the left of the CIC is the new Sidebar, which replaces the main menu in v2.0.
Content is divided roughly in the same manner as the previous stable, but assigned new names:
- Create Mods — Contains all former Developer Tools capable of editing game files. Tools highlighted in yellow have been favorited (as an example) and several new categories are present.
- Utilities -- In v3.0, all Utilities have been removed from User Tools and given their own home. Numerous former Developer Tools incapable of editing game files have been relocated here. Tools highlighted in yellow have been favorited (as an example) and several new categories are present.
- Task Pane — Akin to the old, bottom-centric task pane, this feature has been revamped with modders in mind and should be incredibly useful. Read more about it in Getting Started.
Also present on the sidebar is information on versioning, credits, and a button that will allow the Debug Window to be opened at any time. Click the toolset logo to return to the CIC; click again to collapse the entire toolset to the sidebar.
Under the Hood
The move to WPF and GUI overhaul have been accompanied by many changes under the hood. These include:
- .NET 4.6.1 — All the upgrades mean more stringent requirements. The toolset now requires Win7 SP1 and .NET Framework 4.6.1.
- Toolset Settings — These are now saved in your Windows "User" folder, which means all settings will be retained across toolset versions. No more having to update your settings when updating the toolset. This includes sequence views, TLK order, plot database, and any Settings in the main CIC panel. Texplorer trees are the exception to this. They may be added with Kfreon's re-write, they may not. The new folder can be found at: C:\Users\YOURNAME\Appdata\Roaming\ME3Explorer.
- Game Engines — The old ME1 and ME2 Engines are no more. Everything (almost) runs under the umbrella of ME3Explorer, and all functionalities in those engines have been rolled into other tools. For example, Package Editor now handles files for all three games in the same tool.
- File Sharing — Aimed at modders, the toolset is now a single-instance program. Most tools share files and update their changes in real time. If a file is open in Package Editor and Sequence Editor, the toolset will track changes and display them simultaneously in both tools. Exceptions to this include: ME3Creator, Texplorer, ModMaker, TPF Tools, and most Utilities.
- DLC Cloning — This problem is mostly alleviated through some wizardry involving the SeekFreeShaderCache. Cloning should be done in Package Editor and not ME3Creator to take advanage of the changes.
- File Save Methods — The toolset is much smarter about which save methods to use when editing files. Modders no longer have to choose a save method; the most efficient way will automatically be used. This also takes into account issues with the SeekFreeShaderCache in DLC files.
- Cross-Game Handling — Certain tools can now handle files from all three games, in addition to importing exports across game files. Pretty cool stuff.
- TPF Building — No longer requires Texmod, which has been removed from the toolset. AV programs around the world, rejoice!
As with v2.0, a full changelog would be overly tedious, and for the most part can be referenced in the New Releases section of the forum. What we'll cover here are the highlights, most of which affect developer tools used in mod creation.
Additions, Removals, and Name Changes
Several tools have been added or removed due to deprecation/low usage. These include:
|Curve Editor||Batch Renamer|
|FaceFX Editor||Camera Tool|
|Hex Converter||Coalesced Operator|
|ME1 TLK Editor||Codex Editor|
|ME3 Backup Tool|
|Quest Map Editor|
|UE Code Viewer|
This old, broken, highly-deprecated editor has been replaced with TankMaster's fantastic tool. This treats coalesced files in a similar manner to TLK files, where they are converted to XML. Edits are done via an external program such as Notepad++.
Located inside Package Editor, the new Curve Editor is meant for editing matinee tracks with InterpCurve Properties. Once the Interp Viewer is re-written in WPF and given editing capabilities, the Curve Editor will be relocated there.
This tool is the successor to the existing FaceFXAnimset Editor. With it, modders can edit the individual bones, phonemes, and Robobrad associated the animations for a specific line of dialogue. It can also import animations between ME2 and ME3.
PCC Editor 2.0 has been renamed to Package Editor, as the tool is now capable of handling package files from all three games. This tool has seen a massive amount of changes and improvements, including a much-expanded Interpreter, new Curve Editor, expanded cloning capabilities, ability to edit names and imports, and much more. The need to export and edit hex directly is almost entirely gone, making modding with the toolset much more user-friendly. In the next stable, Package Editor will likely fully replace ME3Creator.
TankMaster's Natives Editor has been re-written and incorporated into the toolset. It replaces the old Codex and Quest Map Editors, and provides additional functionality. Plot Editor is currently only compatible with ME3, but support for ME1 and ME2 is planned in the future.
Lots of improvements here, including the ability to clone entire sequences, cloning support for ME1 and ME2, labels for input links, ability to break all links, open an object directly in PackEd, displaying all file sequences, and more.
ME1 now has its own TLK Editor capable of handling its unique file structure.
The existing TLK Editor (for ME2/3) has been overhauled to incorporate TankMaster's changes, making it much easier to use. Also added is support to provide calculated IDs for "no data" entries, ensuring modders don't reuse valid vanilla TLK strings.
Updating to ME3Explorer v3.0
Despite the large visual difference, there are a much smaller amount of procedural changes that accompany this stable. All are covered in the relevant tool articles, but the most important ones are summarized below.
There is a shiny, new interface for this that should make things more straightforward. Read more about it in ME3Explorer Setup Guide.
Trees remain compatible between v2.0 and v3.0. No need to rebuild, yay!
Sequence Views used to be stored in a folder within the game directory, but are now stored inside the Windows User directory. Sequence Editor will move them automatically, but may throw an error saying it was unsuccessful. If this happens, first ensure they have indeed been moved, then manually delete the Sequence Views folders inside your ME1/2/3 CookedPCConsole folders to prevent the error from triggering again in the future.
Lots more coming down the pike, including:
- ME3Creator features integrated into Package Editor and the redundant tool removed
- A new "Audio Editor" that combines Audio Extractor, Soundplorer, WwiseBank Editor, and Fob's AFC Creator
- Further refinement of the new FaceFX Editor
- A new "DLC Mod Creator" to generate a DLC mod structure for modders
- Additional settings to customize
- ME1 and ME2 support for Plot Editor
- Revamped Properties and Interpreter
| Happy Modding!
--The ME3Explorer Team