Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Dragon Age Toolset

Installing and first steps with the Dragon Age Toolset worked well so far for me (Toolset Links in my last post). Unfortunately there are many posts on the forum, that there can occur some problems during installation of the toolset and even some side effects to the game as well.
Best to prevent sides effects to the game is not using the 'single player' or 'demo' modules that come with the toolset and insetad create your own module from scratch as described in the wiki.
With reading through the Wiki before it was quite easy to get the fist cut-scene done and be able to play it with the game. Although not as tough to use as the Cryengine2 or Unreal3 engine it need some time and knowledge with that kind of toolsets to have fun right from the start. It's for sure not as easy to use as MovieStorm or iClone.
To help you get started I've found this 6 part video tutorial for the toolset on Bigdownload.com:
Dragon Age: Origins Toolset Video Demo #1

But there are not only good news. From reading through the Wiki docs I was quite impressed about how easy it can be with this toolset to create facial animation and lipsync with just a few mouse clicks. That was the main part I got interested and already had a project in plan to try and use it. Unfortunately it looks like they have totally removed that feature from the toolset. The tool (FaceFX) is delivered, but the integration in the toolset has been removed.
That limits the use of the DA toolset for machinima. Of course we can have our characters put helmets on and and create RvB Halo style films. But I expected more and now can throw my project into the bin. I'm disappointed since that's not the first time that happened.
I'm even pesimistic enough to claim that we'll never get that feature back into the toolset.
Without that capability the DA toolset fails to be a promising Machinima tool and we won't see many films made with it. That's the same story as with engines like Cryengine2, where they removed automatic phoneme extraction. And even worse, after we have found a workaround for that, patched the facial editor dead and useless for everyone. Same story goes for the Unreal Engine. FaceFX was delivered, but couldn't be used with the ingame characters. You had to create your own facial rig, which is out of reach for most of us and needs good knowledge of tools like Maya or 3dmax. And that's the main reason why you haven't seen only very few Machinima made with these engines so far. How to get it right is shown by Valve and their toolset. They included a nonrestricted version of Faceposer that simply worked. And you know what comes next. Yes, there lot of excellent HL2 machinima films out which creatively used facial animation and lipsync for storytelling.


  1. I'm disappointed to read about the FaceFX not being integrated with the toolset. Why would they do that? Perhaps I can get some answers for you as I know some of the people who worked on the game cinematics for DA. I'll ask around.

    I agree that if this part of the toolset isn't available, the toolset is crippled and while it might work for modders it certainly will discourage any machinima filmmakers who want to use it.

  2. Hey guys, FaceFX and RoboBrad (emotion generation) is absolutely 100% integrated/supported. We are looking at your posts in the BioWare toolset forums and are working to get you up and running ASAP. These tools were made by machinimators for machinimators and we pushed really hard to make everything we use available to the machinima community. These really are the best tools out there for machinima and modding. Please bear with us, post any issues with the toolset in the forums, and we'll make sure we fix the issues or provide workarounds. We can't wait to see what you all create with these tools!

    Jonathan Perry

  3. Tnx for the good news, Jonathan.
    I have no idea why there is a different toolset out
    now than described in the Wiki documents.
    I've posted my questions inthe ttolset forum already. Good to know the are read and someone is willing to help us. Tnx again. I look foward to see the issues around FaceFX fixed and soon be able to
    have a closer look at those features.

  4. I'm having issues figure somethings out with toolset...can anyone help me?

    I was wondering how to import custom morphs from your ingame chacter? or custom hair? I have a mod for more hair and these dont' show up in toolset...

    also how do you reopen a cuttscene you started but didn't finish?

    and how do you delete somthing your done with? like a bad scene, area, or character?