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Thread: Assembly Kit Guide

  1. #1
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    Icon1 Assembly Kit Guide

    A GUIDE TO THE ROME 2 ASSEMBLY KIT

    This is a basic guide to the main areas of the current (16/01/2014) Assembly Kit from CA. It will give you a run down on how the tools work and the main workflow when using them. Basically just the introduction you might need to jump in and use the tools.

    Don't be put off by the size of this guide, it's easy to follow and there may be a lot of words but this is because I've tried to make it understandable by everybody, from beginners to existing modders.

    Step 1
    GETTING THE ASSEMBLY KIT


    Go into your Steam "Library", in the dropdown select "Tools".

    Scroll down to the "Total War: Rome II - Assembly Kit", right click it and install.


    Step 2
    THE TOOLS YOU'LL WORK WITH

    You'll be working with two programs primarily, TWeak and BOB.
    (BOB stands for 'Build On One Button', and should theoretically be called BOOB. I don't know why it isn't and personally it upsets me that it isn't.)

    The executables are located in the "Total War Rome II\assembly_kit\binaries" folder and are named:
    TWeak.AssemblyKit.exe
    BOB.AssemblyKit.exe


    You'll be using TWeak to do the editing, for example editing a units stats.
    You'll be using BOB to create the .pack file of your mod.


    Step 3
    THE WORKFLOW

    The workflow may seem daunting at first, but it is very simple once you understand it. For those of you who have used the PFM to mod before, a lot of the principles are very similar, but in some ways reversed.
    With the PFM you usually select what files are going in your pack, then you edit them, save pack. With the Assembly Kit you edit the files you need to in TWeak, then in BOB you select the files to go into your pack.

    The main idea is you edit raw data with TWeak. By raw data I mean XML files that hold all of the games database. This is then turned into working data. This working data is then turned into .pack files by BOB.

    Put simply:
    Raw Data -> Your Editing Happens -> Then You Export Working Data -> You Build Your Pack -> You Now Have Your Mod (.pack file) -> Upload Mod -> MODDING GLORY AWAITS


    Step 4
    USING TWeak

    Start by opening up TWeak.AssemblyKit.exe, you'll noticed a big blank grey screen, with a menu strip at the top.

    The only dropdown useful to us is "Tools". You'll get a DirectX choice for the tools rendering, largely unimportant. You'll now see DAVE, and you'll see the Variant Editor.

    DAVE, DAtabase Visual Editor, is the tool most will be using, it's the tool that let's us do the most common modding, editing the database.

    Select DAVE from the dropdown, you'll be greeted by a message asking if you'd like to connect to the database, this is the database (the raw data) that you'll be working from, all stored on you're local harddrive. Select Yes to continue.

    We're now connected to our local database, and you'll notice a secondary menu strip has appeared at the top of the form, this is DAVE.
    Connection allows us to connect/disconnet from the database, unimportant.
    View is where we'll access the various sub elements of DAVE, allowing us to do different types of editing.
    Export allows us to export a database element from the raw data, into our working data.
    Extra Tasks and Options, are largely unneeded for us at this stage, ignore them.

    View -> Table Launcher: This will open up a window that allows you to select a database table to edit.
    View -> Query Launcher: This again will open a window that allows you to select a database table to edit, but your options here are based around data that will be stored in a .esf file.
    View -> Form Launcher: This will allow you to access the many sub-tools within DAVE that provide a GUI to easily edit database tables, such as a building editor.

    For now we'll use a simple example to illustrate a common use of these tools, we'll edit a units stats, and create a mod pack with these changes. In this example we'll change Romes Praetorian Guard unit to have 99 morale.

    1- In TWeak open the table launcher, find the database table that contains unit stats, it's land_units. Double click the table to open it.
    2- Now our table is open, you can see a familiar database UI environment. Scroll down and locate the Rom_Praetorian_Guard unit, scroll across the columns and edit their morale to be 99.
    3- Now we've made our changes to this table, we need to apply them. At the top of this table form, click the "Apply" button. You'll noticed the status bar at the bottom of the program notes our change.
    "17:15:18> Value for record 'Rom_Praetorian_Guard' ({8da7b901-cb9a-4038-a287-3905a99f99b2}) in table 'land_units' has been changed from '70' to '99'."
    4- Our raw data has now been edited, you can go check the raw data yourself and see the change in the land_units.xml file. We now need to export our edits to working data.
    5- Select the "Export" menu strip item at the top, then select "Export Single Table(s)". You'll now get a new form pop up, this is where we'll select what tables we're using.
    6- You'll notice a handy listbox that contains the tables we've edited, you should select the tables you've edited from here, we'll select (double click) land_units. It should appear in the right most listbox now. You can then go ahead and click "Export" in the bottom right of this form, to export our selected tables.
    7- BOB now exports our table from our raw data XML files, and puts it into our working data set. It is now also in binary form, ready to go into a pack file. Our work in TWeak is done, this is now where we need to switch to BOB. (See below)


    Step 5
    USING BOB

    Oh no, not another tool?! Don't worry, you won't believe how easy BOB is to use. If you're making a mod, then at this stage you're literally 99% of the way there.

    Open up BOB.AssemblyKit.exe, you'll be greeted by three tree view controls. One showing us our raw data, one showing our working data and one showing our retail files (essentially the .packs).

    BOB is the tool that takes our raw data and turns it into working data (binary files) which we can then put in our packs. This is almost always done through TWeak and autonomously done by BOB, however it can be done manually, it is however highly suggested to do so via TWeak's export feature so much so as I won't explain it here as there is no point. TWeaks export function is much more intuitive and will allow you to easily recognize what DB tables you actually need to export by highlighting the ones you've edited.

    At this point if you have BOB open, you've usually got some working data you want turned into a pack. BOB stands for Build On One Button.. and while you may require more than 1 click, you'll now see why BOB is an accurately named tool, as you'll only ever be pressing one button.

    We'll continue on from Step 7 above in the TWeak section to show how we'd go about turning our working data into a finished mod.

    8- Currently we have in our working data folder the database table land_units, it should be noted at this point that we also have a localization file in there too, we didn't do this personally, but this file gets created when we export the land_units table, it simply contains the localization (text) file containing the names of the units in the table (Note the name field in the table). We want to put our working data into a .pack file. We want a retail file (a .pack file), so go to the retail tree view control and select the mod.pack file.
    9- Now we have the file selected that we want created, we can press "Start" in the bottom right to let BOB do his thing, and build us our mod pack.
    10- Providing no errors, now in our "Total War Rome II\assembly_kit\retail\data" folder we can find our finished mod.pack file! It contains all of the working data that we exported from our raw data that we edited in TWeak.
    Simply put in this pack file is a database table with our Praetorian unit that has 99 morale.

    Congratulations you've now made you're very first Mod with the Assembly Kit. This is just the basics and there are many more possibilities to explore, so go forth and mod!


    Finally
    A FINAL BIT OF ADVICE

    -In terms of developing a mod, the Assembly Kit is much more capable and fluid tool than the PFM (in my opinion). It will do things that you maybe didn't think of and do things that will save you a lot of time. That said it's always worth noting that with a more complex tool, there are more things to go wrong (or more accurately that you didn't predict).
    You can't look at a finished .pack file with the Assembly Kit, like you can with the PFM, you can't edit an existing pack file, it's very much a one way street. So I'd always advise you to open you're mod up in the PFM afterwards just to make sure that all the files are in there that need to be, and there aren't any files in there that you don't want!

    -Developing separate mods with this toolset isn't easy. When you edit a file in TWeak, it's edited in the raw data, and that's where you draw all of the data from for future mods. A new/fresh mod will require you to either validate the tools files in Steam to acquire the originals, or for you to keep a backup of your raw data folder from which you can reinstate the originals if you want to start a new mod.


    Any questions related to the tools (eg. how do I export table X), I will answer. Any questions on tool functionality not discussed here is also welcome.
    Any questions related to modding in general (eg. how do I change X units stats), I will not answer. There already exists endless materials to answer these questions and this isn't the place to discuss them.

    Thanks! Happy Modding!
    Last edited by .Mitch.; January 16, 2014 at 02:21 PM.

  2. #2
    Dynamo11's Avatar Domesticus
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    Default Re: Assembly Kit Guide

    Thanks for the guide Mitch


  3. #3
    Noif de Bodemloze's Avatar The Protector of Art
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    Default Re: Assembly Kit Guide

    Thanks, I will keep this guide in save.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Assembly Kit Guide

    Great work! I have a question : Can I use Zbrush to edit/make the model and after that can I export it to 3ds Max? And what 3ds Max version should I have? I have the 2014 version

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Assembly Kit Guide

    Quote Originally Posted by zackstefy View Post
    Great work! I have a question : Can I use Zbrush to edit/make the model and after that can I export it to 3ds Max? And what 3ds Max version should I have? I have the 2014 version
    I'm not a modeler and haven't ever done a single bit of modeling nor have I delved into the world of model import/export. I would expect as long as Zbrush can produce a format that can then be opened in 3ds Max then yes you will be able to use whatever modeling software you like providing it can at the end be brought into 3ds Max for the conversion.
    Infact I know for The Great War mod our modeler uses I think Milkshape and then exports it to another piece modeling software for import into the game, but that is NTW and unrelated here.

    As to your second question, the Assembly Kit comes with 3ds Max exporters for versions from 2009 to 2013. So I cannot say whether you're 2014 version will work with the 2013 export script or not.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Assembly Kit Guide

    Wow that was quick, thanks Mitch

    EDIT: I hope that PFM will not be discontinued because I think its still a vital tool to use even now.
    Last edited by Denco; January 16, 2014 at 01:15 PM.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Assembly Kit Guide

    Was thinking of getting into modding now with mod tools being released and all. However, I've come across a problem that I can't find the solution to. It seems that whenever I make a new mod all the changes I've done in previous mods still remain. How exactly do I revert back to default so to speak?

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Assembly Kit Guide

    Quote Originally Posted by Le_Swede View Post
    Was thinking of getting into modding now with mod tools being released and all. However, I've come across a problem that I can't find the solution to. It seems that whenever I make a new mod all the changes I've done in previous mods still remain. How exactly do I revert back to default so to speak?
    Hi, refer to the second piece of advice at the end of the guide. It's almost certain this is your problem.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Assembly Kit Guide

    Ah I see. Seems I accidently skipped over that part. Thanks alot Mitch, especially for this nice tutorial! Keep up the good work.

  10. #10
    Magnar's Avatar Artifex
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    Default Re: Assembly Kit Guide

    mitch, is it possible to have multiple differently named versions of the same table in the same pack? eg mag_celtic_land_units and mag_rom_land_units? Or is would that need to be done by editing the raw data files directly?

    Also, with having multiple versions of the same mod files (eg x1 unit sizes and x 2 units sizes), would it have to be done with separate raw data files ?

    How would one go about using the data files from an existing mod? is it as simple as extracting with PFM and overwriting the existing files?

  11. #11
    alQamar's Avatar Citizen
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    Default Re: Assembly Kit Guide

    well mitch I think Trish and other employees have certain reasons why it is not called BOOB but BOB

    rep for this amazing article.
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  12. #12
    Biggus Splenus's Avatar Primicerius
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    Default Re: Assembly Kit Guide

    nice sticky?
    EDIT: So they haven't given us the raw campaign model yet...
    Last edited by Biggus Splenus; January 16, 2014 at 03:34 PM.

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  13. #13
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    Default Re: Assembly Kit Guide

    Quote Originally Posted by Magnar View Post
    mitch, is it possible to have multiple differently named versions of the same table in the same pack? eg mag_celtic_land_units and mag_rom_land_units? Or is would that need to be done by editing the raw data files directly?
    It is possible, but not easy. The raw data files are static, there is a manifest that specifies what XMLs are loaded, so simply copying and renaming an existing XML doesn't work. You'd have to add your new table XML to the required files every time you wanted to add a prefix to a table, which isn't a feasible solution imo.

    In the Software world I'd call your problem a design problem, you'd don't actually need to have multiple tables with multiple prefixes, infact your mod should only ever need one. The only reason for multiple prefixed tables is to keep things organized, but your trade off here is more work. What I would do is simply use the standard name, then with the PFM after the mod was created just rename the table(s) quickly and simply. There's no need for 10 tables of land_units with different prefixes if you think about it, even if it is neater, and its just not feasible with this toolset atm.
    Quote Originally Posted by Magnar View Post
    Also, with having multiple versions of the same mod files (eg x1 unit sizes and x 2 units sizes), would it have to be done with separate raw data files ?
    This is something I'd use the PFM for, make the base mods major changes with the toolset then use the PFM to do the smaller changes with less hassle.
    Quote Originally Posted by Magnar View Post
    How would one go about using the data files from an existing mod? is it as simple as extracting with PFM and overwriting the existing files?
    This toolsets process is only a one way street, once you've made the mod into binary (working set or above) then it can't go back to XML (not that I know of) and so you've passed the point of no return and would have to create it from scratch.

    I think its best to invision these tools as mod creation software and not mod maintenance software.

    For example I'd keep a "build" of Magnar mod separate, safe in a folder, then for every iteration of Magnar mod I'd take the XMLs put them into the raw data and create the iteration of the mod with the changes.

    Forget maintaining an old build, people should now change their mindset to creating new builds every update. It's more like the real software world (hence why a professional company created these tools that suit this methodology) and much more clean and professional IMO.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Assembly Kit Guide

    Every time I try to exit I get the Locally Edited Tables window pop up, is there a way to reset the tables back to default?
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    Default Re: Assembly Kit Guide

    Not that I know of, infact just now I verified the tools cache with Steam to get the original files back as this message was bugging me.

  16. #16
    Magnar's Avatar Artifex
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    Default Re: Assembly Kit Guide

    Cheers mitch.

    Yup planning my mod organisation atm so as to make best use of the tools while maintaining ease of maintenance and flexibility.

    The idea of having multiple differently named tables is only for the short time after release of an update, while bug fixing is still occuring. So i can find bugs quicker and test do tests without certain tables to find bugs quicker. The use of one taable is not an issue if there are no bugs. But without a debugger, thats the quickest way Ive found so far.

    I think I will be keeping multiple copies of raw data and of course back ups until im more familiar with the tools.

  17. #17
    pajomife's Avatar Protector Domesticus
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    Default Re: Assembly Kit Guide

    Jesus have have to translate all this in my head for may native language. I remain with pfm.
    PS:How can we accede a existent mod?In pfm was simple.

  18. #18

    Default Re: Assembly Kit Guide

    Ya, tbh for simple pack file stuff the pfm is sooooooooo much easier

  19. #19

    Default Re: Assembly Kit Guide

    Congratulations on the topic! really very good


    I followed exactly what you taught, but when I copy the mod.pack (generated) and paste in data folder the game crashes on the first screen. he did not open the videos
    I test with another mod from the workshop and worked


    You can imagine what's going on?

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Assembly Kit Guide

    Could be so so many things. Firstly try opening the .pack in the PFM. If it opens then the culprit is almost 100% likely to be some changes you've made within the database.

    What changes have you tried to make?

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