Beginner’s Guide

[TRA’HARI’S HAPPY HOTDOG BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO DROMED]

[..or..]

[DROM-DEAD: TRA’HARI’S NEWBIE TUTORIAL]

Hi. I’m Tra’Hari. I’m also bored, so I’m writing sort of a mini-beginner’s-newbie-guide to DromEd. Don’t ask about the title; it’s weird.

I was looking around at The Circle, and I saw a lot of really good tutorials, with either scattered tidbits of information, specific tutorials or the edited version of the Looking Glass Studio’s tutorial that comes with DromEd. However, there wasn’t much for someone who’d completed the tutorial, and while it’s not too hard to learn a lot of things by picking at sample missions and playing around, I figured: why not write something somewhere in between? You know, not too advanced, working up from the basics, including the little tips and tricks we usually learn about from the forums and talking to other people.

And so, for the purposes of this tutorial, I’m going to assume you read the edited version of the DromEd tutorial. This is the tutorial that’s the same as the one that came with DromEd (or DromEd 2), but contains information inserted by an independent editor. You can find it at Thief: The Circle, listed under “Those Useful Websites I told you about.”

I’m also going to assume you have a basic knowledge of Windows (i.e., able to find files, move them, create new folders, etc), nothing big, just so you can get around.

All right, so, how’s this for an introduction: I’m not an expert with DromEd.

What I have here is a synthesis of what I’ve learned from hours of playing around with DromEd, asking people questions on the TTLG message board, picking at some of the basic demonstration maps on The Circle, and reading some of the basic tutorial guides (also found at The Circle). The URLs for both the forums and The Circle can be found below. I highly recommend checking these locations out (tho since I’m sending it to The Circle first, this shouldn’t be too hard). Both the forums and The Circle are excellent resources.

Let me stress again that I’m no expert; this is merely what I’ve assimilated from my time playing with DromEd and DromEd 2. When I’m speculating, I’ll try to let you know; otherwise, this is all experience from spending late nights clunking about.

GETTING STARTED

(I always wanted to have a section called getting started.)

First, a note about versions. There are 2 versions of DromEd. If you bought Thief II, and it came as version 1.18 (like mine), you don’t need to worry about patching it; it’s on your first CD, and it’s all good to go.

If you bought Thief Gold, you have DromEd 1 on the CD. Don’t worry about that, either.

DromEd 1 and DromEd 2 missions are largely incompatible; you _can_ open up Thief I/Gold missions in DromEd 2, but most of the textures will be Jorge (as the texture families are entirely different). However, I had to alter something that seemed relatively important, so do this at your own risk. If you can open Thief I/Gold missions in DromEd 2 without needing to do this, so much the better, but otherwise, do this at _your own risk_.

Open up dark.cfg (and if you want to be careful, copy it somewhere safe beforehand) and look for the line that starts with “obj_min” (without the quotes). It should be near the top. It should be a negative number, and so, in front of the first number (but behind the negative sign), put a 1 (mine reads -18192, whereas before it was -8192).

All right, enough of that.

In DromEd, you can’t resize the window with a simple click and drag. It’s annoying, yes, but there’s a solution.

If your screen resolution is 800×600, I suggest you just leave it. But if it’s 1024×768, 1152×865, or 1280×1024…you’re in luck.

Open up the directory in which DromEd is stored, and then open up user.cfg. It doesn’t matter where you put it, and don’t worry about the other stuff. Put in this line…

edit_screen_size x,y

…and then for x and y the screen size you want, and you’re good to go. I know you can put it as 800×600 or 1024×768, but I’m not sure if you can go higher. My screen res is 1152×865, and I have it in 800×600, personally. Maybe I’ll resize it, someday. 😉

Another thing you might want to do is download some of the menu enhancement items; it’s not hard to change them yourself, but it’s a lot of work. They’re easy to install (they come with instructions), and I highly recommend Gonchong’s for Thief II, or Gamophyte 2000’s for Thief Gold/I. You can find these (as always) on Thief: The Circle.

As a side note, you’re going to be doing a lot of repetitive typing without them, and if this doesn’t bother you, then more power to you. However, if you’d rather not do a bunch of typing, they’re definitely worth grabbing.

 


All right, that seems like everything, does it not?

Now…a recap of some of the basic things you learned in the tutorial. laced with my observations and other tidbits. I’m going to assume you have navigating in the 3D world map down pretty well, and that you understand the basics of the interface. The tutorial should have helped you out with that.

I may repeat a lot of stuff that you already know, and you can skip it if you want. It’s in a fairly logical order (I hope), so if you’re looking for new stuff or tidbits, then just skim through.

 


BRUSHES

Brushes are the building blocks of your map, literally.

You’ve got a bunch of basic shapes at your disposal: cube, cylinder, pyramid, apex-corner pyramid, wedge, and dodecahedron (what a fun word). Out of these, you’re probably going to be using Cubes the most, but feel free to experiment. There’s a menu option for “Sides in Base…” that you can play around with, as well.

Now, while there are a lot of shapes, there are also a lot of different kinds of brushes, more than I know how to use. They are: fill solid; fill air; fill water; flood; evaporate; solid->water; solid->air; air->solid; water->solid; and blockable.

That sounds like a lot, and it is; I have no bloody clue how to use anything beyond the first two, which seems to be about what’s in the most basic levels. Don’t worry about the rest for now; this is a basic guide, so we’re dealing with what I understand about DromEd.

Anyway, the types.

Fill solid brushes are just what they sound like: they’re solid. In game mode, you can’t walk through them, and the textures are displayed on the _outside_ of them (very important). You’re going to be using these a lot for things like columns and structures that aren’t covered under Objects.

Fill air brushes are also what they sound like. They’re boxes with two dimensional walls. When they’re put _right_ next to another fill air, the walls of each brush that touch automatically disappear, and you may move freely between the two brushes.

If this sounds confusing, don’t worry about it; you saw it in the tutorial if you followed along, and if you didn’t, I suggest you go back and do it. It will _really_ help; trust me.

When you want to make a new kind of brush, first create the brush, and THEN change the type. Changing the type without having created a brush will change the type of the currently selected brush. In other words, if you have your room selected, change the type from fill air to fill solid, your room will become fill solid. Not good.

Moving brushes around is easy, as you know…however, before you start moving brushes around, MAKE SURE YOU HAVE GRID SNAPPING ON. At the top left of the console at the bottom of the screen (with all the green boxes and such) is “Grid Sz” box, and immediately below it is are “Show” and “Use.” “Use” should be lit (a violet color) at all times; if it’s not on now, turn it back on.

To move a brush, you have to have the brush selected first, but once it’s selected, simply holding down the SHIFT key and moving the mouse will move the brush. If you use CTRL, you can adjust the brush’s L, W, and D, and ALT to rotate it. Holding down ALT will allow you to rotate or spin it around in various ways.

Keep in mind that doing this in each of the little windows (Top, Front, and Right) will have a separate result. This may be easiest for you to think of in terms of the Top window. X is left and right, Y is up and down, and Z is closer and farther away. In this sense, X is width, Z is height, and Y is depth.

So…to clarify (hopefully)…if you move a brush around in the Top window, you will only change the X and Y coordinates (moving it left to right, as well as up and down).

If you move it it in the Right window, you will only alter the X and Z coordinates (left and right; closer and farther).

And if you move it in the front window, you will only change it in the Y and Z directions (up and down; closer and farther).

If you’re still confused, just play around with things until you get a feel for it. You’ll get the sense of it over time.

To adjust these things manually, you can use L, W, and D to alter the Length, Width, and Depth of your Brush; H, P, and B to alter the Heading, Pitch, and Bank of the Brush; and X, Y, and Z to alter the location of the brush.

You can alter it manually either by using the little arrows and clicking them a bunch of times until the number reaches the desire value (which is pretty slow), or by clicking on the numbers and changing them by typing (which is difficult unless you have a sense of what you’re doing). The numeric keypad doesn’t work for this, unfortunately (grr).

At any rate, I recommend sticking with the SHIFT and drag method; grid snapping will take care of everything for you. Once you get into more complicated brush placement, you’ll want to use the numbers themselves, but you should be okay for now. As I said, just play around with this stuff and get a feel for it. That will teach you more than my spelling it out ever will.

If you play around a bit, you’ll notice that the grid “snaps” your item to a particular coordinate, angle, or size. This is good; you want this, because without it, things start to become unstable. I don’t think the tutorial stresses this enough (I believe the edited one may, though).

The snapping may not be to your liking, but you can alter your grid size if you need to do more fine placing. I generally keep mine at 12 at all times. I haven’t had to turn it down further yet, but if I did, I was told that 11 or 10 are acceptable.

Keep in mind that if your brush doesn’t conform to the grid, DromEd will automatically resize it so that it does. I was frustrated by this at first, and I had no idea what was going on, so there you go; I hope I saved someone some frustration. 😉

I am under the impression that the most stable increments are .25.

So for instance, it seems that 10.25, -23.50, and 1.75 are all right, whereas 9.34, -41.60, and .06 are not. Sometimes your grid might not accept .25 or .75; I just took that in stride, and moved things over .25 so that they could fit together better.

As far as aligning brushes is concerned, it’s easy. You’ll know when two brushes (or an object and a brush) are aligned when their lines intersect, as if they were part of the same brush. If you have grid snapping on (which you should), it should be easier to have them intersect.

Always remember to portalize when you make adjustments to or with brushes; often, the 3D world view will update itself, but usually, you should just portalize it beforehand.

MULTIBRUSHES

(This is sort of a sub-section of brushes, I guess)

Multibrushes have been something of a mix of pain and pleasure for me. You “create” a multibrush by holding Shift and clicking on a number of brushes. They will all become yellow, except for the one you have currently selected; that one will be white (maybe with a little orange box on one of the ends).

If you want to deselect a multibrush entirely, go to Multibrush in the top menu, and select Dissolve Group. If you just want to select something else, and come back to the multibrush later, select a different brush…when you want it back, click on one of the brushes in the Multibrush, and SHIFT-click on it…that should work. As I said, play around and see what works; experience is usually better than knowledge.

You can also save and load Multibrushes. Go to the Multibrush menu, and there you have it.

Now, once you have a Multibrush selected, you can now rotate all of these brushes freely; Multibrushes are good for this, but they come with a risk.

However, I mentioned the grid snapping ealirer for a very good reason: multibrushes do _NOT_ automatically snap to the grid, which is why I rarely use them (well, thus far, anyway).

In essence, the advantage is that you can move and rotate them just as you would a regular brush, but their disadvantage is the lack of grid snapping.

If you just need to move a bunch of brushes over 1 unit, then I suggest selecting the brushes that you want to move, and use the X, Y, and Z coordinates to adjust them. It’s much easier that way.

Multibrushes get kinda funky like this: they display different size, location, and angle values when you have many selected. If all else fails, you can use the arrows to the left and right of the value to adjust your multibrush, but with a little bit of playing around, you should be able to figure it out.

If you need to move or adjust them a great deal, then you may have to resort to SHIFT-dragging them over. Use the Front, Top, and Right views to have it properly angled and situated in all dimensions.

What I usually do from this point is adjust their values manually, changing them (as appropriate) to x.00, x.50, x.75 (where x is whatever the number is right now). Change it to whatever is closest to .25, .50, or .75, and you should be okay.

If, for some reason, that does work, moving them brush by brush will snap them back to the grid. It’s not pretty, and it sure isn’t fun, but hey, it works.

All right, I think that’s it for multibrushes.

 


TEXTURES

Ah, yes. I have a lot of trouble with textures, myself, for a variety of reasons.

If you followed along with the DromEd tutorial, you should know the basics about adding familes. You can also “remove_family” (as always, without the quotes), or simply “compress_textures” to get rid of any excess textures.

You know how to put textures on a brush, which is good; keep in mind that fill solid brushes will display the textures on the _outside_, and fill air textures will display the textures on the _inside_.

This is where I always get messed up, and I often have to do this a couple times to put a texture on a brush. There’s another way that I do it, but I’m not sure if this is the way I should do it. I’ll mention it anyway because it works, but as always, use it at your own risk.

What you usually do is select your brush, hit Alt-T (I like keyboard shortcuts), and there you have your textures. The names are kinda hard to read if you have a lot of them, but just look at the pictures and try to keep the numbers down, if you can. Typing in “compress_textures” in the text box will get rid of all the ones not used in your level.

Now, the tutorial says that you should have “default” selected as your current side. You’ll find whatever side you have selected is displayed in the second box below “Jorge.” It should read “default.”

So, assuming you’ve already added your texture families (“add_family bob”, where bob is the name of the family), you can browse through and pick one.

This is where it messes up for me: the tutorial says to simply select the texture, and click “Put on brush.” This usually doesn’t work for me. I usually have to use the 3D window to click on each side of the brush to apply it to the entire brush, which is a pain in the buttocks, but it usually works. Turning on the “solid + wireframe” option usually helps.

My dubious solution is thus:

There are two buttons to the left of the selected brush’s texture that say “Show” and “Reset.” By clicking on “Reset,” somehow and for some reason, it changes the entire brush’s texture to whatever texture I have selected.

This may or may not be a good thing, as another picture of the texture pops up, offering me other options. “Rot” is rotation (I’m assuming), but I don’t know what U and V are good for.

The reason why I am somewhat unsure about this solution is that it may be adding unnecessary information to the brush, in that it is giving the brush extra parameters that I’m not using. Who knows? Probably someone… 😉

At any rate, feel free to play around with all of this. If you adjust “scale,” you adjust the scale of the texture, but don’t adjust it too low, or it may crash DromEd. Turning it up doesn’t really seem to adversely affect it, however.

Remember to portalize after you change textures so they will be reflected in the 3D world view.

Later on, I’ll list the little tricks and such I’ve picked up with textures, but for now, this is basically a really long recap with added speculation and comment. 😉

 


OBJECTS

Objects are a wonderful thing, let me tell you. Objects are different from brushes in that they are usually comprised of multiple shapes (instead of cube, cylinder, etc), and they tend to be a heck of a lot smaller (I like the word heck…although I often use ‘hell’ anyway).

In addition, you can alter a lot more about them; generally, you may interact with them in a lot of different ways, and even if you don’t, they’re a hell of a lot more detailed than brushes.

Objects cover everything, including particle effects, furniture, debris, enemies, lights, weapons, tools, patrol points, et cetera, et cetera. They cover a lot of stuff. A lot.

They also vary a great deal in complexity. Doors are pretty simple, as are “Tulz” (lockpicks, compass, water arrows, fire arrows, etc).

“Grenadz” (flash bombs, mines) tend to act up sometimes.

For instance, I had a trio of flash bombs that would go off every time I entered game mode. I fixed that by turning off their gravity (under Properties -> Physics). However, I’m not sure if they’d work if I tried to throw them…so if an object is acting up, you should feel free to play around with it. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you; objects may act weird if you play around with it.

Anyway, as you can see, you can change a lot about objects by altering their Properties (under, of all things, Properties). The tutorial introduced you to that, very basically. One thing you should be careful not to do is alter the bottom half of the Properties screen; that is the Archetype of the item.

If you know anything about philosophy, it’s probably clear how this works. Basically, the game creates objects based on the generic parameters of a given object. So, for instance, when you create a Flash Bomb, it takes the parameters and properties of _the_ Flash Bomb and creates _a_ flash bomb. Therefore, if you alter the archetype’s properties, all of the archetype’s descendants will inherit these properties. Neato, eh? Just like Plato…

Okay, well, this may be confusing; if it is, don’t worry about it. Just don’t alter the bottom half, and stick with what’s already expanded. If you change what’s on the bottom, you’re (basically) editing the game itself.

One thing to note about objects is that they don’t need to snap to the grid (as far as I know; I’ve never had a problem with it). In some way, this is good, as you can place objects at whatever angle or location you need to; in another way, if you want them to line up, you will probably have to do it manually, very carefully, or using a specific window to move them around.

 


More to come later!

Stay well,
– Tra’Hari Vandaette [ TRA_HARI@HOTMAIL.COM ]


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