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Jeremy Snook Interview

Once again, DSHeaven has been graciously granted an interview with another GPG employee. This time around we have Jeremy "Snooker" Snook, the Project Coordinator at GPG.

As the Project Coordinator at GPG, Jeremy assists the Project Lead (Chris T) with upcoming projects, including communication with outside sources, scheduling of resources, and other management tasks that Chris is too busy to deal with.

DSH: What types of maps are supported in the SiegeMax editor, as in bump, luminosity, etc?

JS: Siege Max takes advantage of the diffuse maps provided by the gmax material editor. The UV-coordinates of the diffuse map are exported and other material parameters are ignored. Siege Max does allow you to control "vertex alpha" by adjusting the ''w" coordinate of the diffuse material; this allows you to adjust the opacity of the mesh on a per-vertex basis.

Siege Max supports smoothing groups, so vertex normals are exported on a per-triangle-corner basis. This allows you create smooth shading effects across mesh edges.

Many more texture and lighting effects are exposed by Dungeon Siege's TSD (Texture/Surface Description) technology. TSDs can be edited with a text editor; we are considering a Siege U article on the topic. In the meantime, for those interested in it, look at the "Super Gom" TSD (b_c_edd_sg.gas) for an example of TSD capability.

DSH: Will SiegeMax be the only means of graphically editing Dungeon Siege or will the user be able to export 3d models from other applications into SiegeMax?

JS: We are excited about the capabilities of Siege Max and will be emphasizing its use. Photoshop is the other tool that we use, for creating textures. Any graphics program can create DS-readable textures, though, as long as you can save in either .bmp or .psd format. The benefit of using PSDs is that the artist can use the alpha channel.

Since many modders already have 3D Studio Max, we are considering releasing some 3dsmax tools for their use. However, if we do release those tools, they will probably not received the upgrade attention that Siege Max will get, so modders are encouraged to use gmax. No other 3D modeling applications are supported.

DSH: I have noticed in the Siege University at GPG's site that .DSDLL writing is to be used for what is referred to as "deep modding", how large of a role do you think .DSDLL editing will play in DS modding, and what will the learning curve be for someone with little or no programming experience writing the DLL's?

JS: DSDLL writing is not intended for the average modder. The majority of the mod teams out there will be able to create their mods with just the Dungeon Siege Tool Kit and perhaps some skritting. Programming experience will certainly be required to write a DLL, but like I said, the majority of the teams out there will not need to go into this depth.

DSH: I have also noticed that GPG is very active in the very large task the modding community has undertaken in documenting the Skrit language, by posting in community forums, helping to document Skrit at Skritter.com , etc. Do you see GPG playing as big of a role in helping the modding community in other aspects of editing outside of the Siege Editor?

JS: You bet! We are always willing to help out as much as we can. The best way to get an answer from us is to post on the larger forums under the developer sections. Polite, descriptive, and well-written posts are always preferred. : )

DSH: One of the best things about DS scripting is the wonderfully commented game files. This enables most modders to learn by example, will the practice of using good examples be used in teaching other elements of DS editing such as modeling and texturing with SiegeMax?

JS: We certainly hope so. The comments are actually very useful to us, as it is quite easy to forget how a particular file works when you are dealing with hundreds of files. I certainly hope that the thorough in-file documentation continues, and I'll be encouraging it as much as possible, as it makes my job much easier when coordinating Siege U articles.

DSH: What kind of documentation/ tutorials will come with SiegeMax?

JS: Expect it to be similar to the Siege Editor: a detailed manual covering technical specifications, installation, known issues, and version notes. Tutorials will be posted on DungeonSiege.com as a part of Siege U.

DSH: When will Scott Bilas finish his Skrit document?

JS: Scott has currently shifted his focus towards answering questions on forums and updating docs at skritter.com. He does not know when he'll return to his document. However, Eric Tams is writing an article on Skrit for Siege University. You should be seeing that in the near future.

DSH: Should we expect any more maps like Yesterhaven in the future?

JS: No plans at this time. However, I cannot wait until the full mods start hitting the 'net. I bet you'll see Yesterhaven-quality (or better!) maps by Christmas.

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