How to use the Particle Editor
Firstly, familiarize yourself with the interface. Unlike the Model Configurator, all the buttons work as intended with the Particle Editor and the editor itself is nearly fully-featured. However, it is not user-friendly at this time and requires a little bit of forethought and experimentation to get things to look right. We do, however, have mouseover-enabled tooltips on the interface so you can get the 'lay of the land' if you've forgotten what function a button provides.
A quick guide on navigating with the camera in the Particle Editor: RMB pans, LMB rotates, and LMB+RMB zooms. Be nice to your camera: don't throw it around. We do not have a 'reset camera position and angles' tool or button
On the bottom left is the Emitter Settings. The Emitter Settings control what and how the particle system you're viewing spawns particles. Here's the meaning of the listed settings:Spread
: Spread is a slider that ranges from 0 to 360 degrees. At 0 Degrees, the particle system will always shoot in a line and at 360 degrees the particle system will pick any angle and fire a particle in that direction.Speed
: Speed controls how fast the Particle moves.Spawn
: Spawn controls an alarm that, when it goes off, spawns a particle. It is measured in seconds.Life
: This is the life of the particles
the Particle System
. This is extremely important to know as all Particle Systems default to a one second emission. If you want Particle Systems to last more than a second, you'll need to add them to a Master Particle System which controls children Particle Systems.Particle System List
: The first grey box underneath Life is the Particle System list. The Particle System list lists all the children particle systems of the particle system you're observing at the moment. To the right of the list are the list's controls.
The top box is the name box where you can put in a particle system's name and click Add Particle Sys to explicitly add a particle system by name*
. If you would rather browse and/or add a particle system with a specified duration and offset, click Pick Particle Sys.
The next grey box is a list of the materials used in the current particle system's emitter. Materials are picked at random from this list to be spawned. To add preference to one material over another, simply add more of that material. You may Pick the material as with the Particle Systems, which brings up a window which allows you to visually browse all the materials in the game. Any material added to materials.txt can be used in a particle system's emitter. Some images may be stretched to fit the screen but should be fine when actually emitted.
Two final quirks you should be aware of: When you add materials or particle systems you may have to do a manual Clear Particle System to get that material/particle system to be spawned. Also, when you're working with a master particle system: When all your children finish playing, they do not attempt to play again. To get them to play again, clear the particle system.
(*NOTE!*: Particle Systems added this way will always have 1 second emission time
This small window will require a surprising amount of discussion for you to truly understand how to fully utilize it, unfortunately, as its basics are easy, but some quirks and interesting behaviors about it are necessary to understand if you wish to create more than basic on/off 1/0 transitions. This is one of the more subtly complex parts of the interface and the part that you'll be working with most of the time, so get comfortable with it before you try to do a complex particle system.
First, let's break down the window into its components. There are two lists of numbers in grey boxes; these are the times at which the conditions you set to the right of them are to execute. The list can
go beyond 1.000, but it is not recommended
as often times this is not how you actually want the particle system to work as the system will be cleared after 1 second unless it's being spawned by a master particle system; in which case, 0.000-1.000 becomes the Timeline and the Duration you gave the Particle System will be how long it takes to get from 0 to 1. As an example, if I had three time-stamps (0.000, 0.500, and 1.000) and spawned that particle system with a Duration of 6 seconds it would play the transitions at 0 seconds, 3 seconds, and 6 seconds after it spawned.
If I wanted the size of my Particle to be 10.0 when the particle was first spawned, I would do: Size (10.00 | 10.00), Add at... (0.00) and press Enter. The Enter is important because that actually commits the change to the time graph. If you click on another timestamp before pressing enter to commit your changes, you will lose whatever unsaved numbers you typed
. If I wanted to then edit that change I made, I would click on 0.000 in the list, change the numbers to what I wanted, and press Enter after selecting the "Add at..." box. Important note: REALLY READ THIS
: Adding transitions to the end and beginning of a particle system may be permanent, as Remove may not actually remove the transitions correctly. This is a known bug/quirk, so it is recommended that you do not
add more than 1 transition to the beginning and end at more than 2 decimal places (e.g. 0.001 over 0.01) and not
overlap times at any point. These can cause irrecoverable changes to the particle system that may be permanent, causing you to lose time and possibly the particle system itself.
Now, an interesting thing we can do (and thus why we have two numbers that we specify) is give random sizes to things. It's very simple: The first box in Size controls the minimum the Size can be and the second box in Size controls the maximum. This works the same way over on the right side, where we set colors and color ranges.
About Color Transitions: First things first: (1) What you're seeing is hexadecimal color code
and (2) The format we use is ARGB (Alpha [How transparent the particle is], Red, Green, Blue)
. So if I wanted Solid White I would put in FFFFFFFF and if I wanted semi-transparent black I would put in 88000000. The same rules with the Size Transitions applies here. Be careful as you work and have fun but keep in mind the quirks of the editor as you do so.
Alright, so now that you've got the basics of the window down let's make a quick and cheap particle system. This particle system will be a replacement for the impact of the laser beam and will run you through the 'typical workflow' of a single-particle-system based particle emitter. We will leave more complex particle systems with chained particle systems and emitters up to your discretion. If you'd like to see a more complicated particle system at work, take a look at how we do the Nova (star_explode_stage2a).
First thing's first, let's open up the current laser impact effect (laser_impact). Zoom up to it. We'll start with a small change and work our way up to something interesting. First thing we'll change is the color of the emitted particle. Click on the 0.900 timestamp in the Sprite Effects box. 0FC22222-0FC22222 is its current color transition, which gives it a slightly purpley/reddish hue; we'll make it light red instead. Give it the new color 0FFFA244 in both boxes, click on Add at...'s text box, and press Enter. You should see your change immediately; if you accidentally added another transition at 0.000, re-open the particle system without saving it. If your particle system did not change to a different color just before fading out, make sure that you selected 0.900's timestamp, changed both boxes to 0FFFA244, and pressed enter in "Add at...".
Now we have a uniform red whenever the particle system fades out. But what if we want it to be somewhere between a pale blue and pure red? Simple: Substitute 0FFA244/0FFA244 with FFFF0000/0C2F6244. Now, remember, it picks between these color ranges randomly
so it might now show your change for the first couple of times it emits.
Click the Save button to commit your changes to the game if you'd like to see the changes in action. That's really all there is to it.
You now know everything you need to know in order to use the Particle Editor effectively. I look forward to seeing what sorts of crazy things you all come up with!!BE WARNED
: It is advisable that you keep in mind how often you're spawning a particle when you create it's system as the game will slow down a lot when emitting large numbers of particles or particle effects. It is often best to KISS than to revise later.