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A Neophyte Tackles the FG Extension - Share the Combat Map

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I will explain how I have set up my Fantasy Grounds development environment to make it easier for me to go into the rulesets, edit them and observe how it affects FG.

Detour: As a prospective content developer you must be familiar with the Windows (or whatever OS youíre using) folder or directory structure and you must know how to manipulate it: make folders, copy and rename files, create shortcuts, etc. I am assuming that you have this knowledge.

Nobody enjoys, End User License Agreements. They do exist and they do limit what we are allowed to do with software we license from a company. I spent a little time with the EULA and asking questions on the FG Forums. As a developer we are allowed to have more than one copy of Fantasy Grounds and we are allowed to unpack and examine the rulesets.

Furthermore, Fantasy Grounds EULA states that Smiteworks is not responsible for any consequences of using their software. That you assume all risk in doing so. I am adopting the same policy: in this and future blog posts I will explain how to modify certain files that are part of the Fantasy Grounds suite. If you decide to modify your copies of the files you assume all risk in doing so. If you are not willing to assume that risk, Stop right now, do not proceed any further.

Holy Mielikki, I hate fording that swamp; what a nasty piece of work that is. Now on to the better part of the adventure.

Development PC: It is imperative that the day-to-day gaming files be kept isolated from the development files. The safest and surest way to ensure this is to use two computers: one for gaming and one for development, with copies of FG on each. The remainder of this, and future blogs, assume you will be working on a computer solely dedicated to development.

FG Data Directory: All files mentioned in this blog series are in the FG Data Directory. If you are unsure as where it is, start the Fantasy Grounds application. When the FG Launcher comes up choose Settings. About one-third of the way down the Settings window is the name of your FG Data Directory. Make a note of it, I will refer to it often, and as the ďdata folderĒ or ďdata directoryĒ.

FG Shortcut: During development, the Console can give the developer invaluable information. So that I donít have to invoke it every time I run FG, Iíll create a shortcut with a command line parameter that brings up the Console for me.

I have a shortcut on my desktop that I use to start up Fantasy Grounds. Iíll right click it and choose Properties. Then click on the ďTargetĒ field and navigate to the very end of the text, past the word ďFantasyGrounds.exeĒ. I must make sure I donít overwrite any of the content of this field. Then I add a space, a forward slash and the word ďconsoleď. When Iím done it should look like this:
Ö\FantasyGrounds.exeĒ /console
Click OK to close the Properties window.

To try it out, I double click the shortcut, the Console window pops up and then the FG Launcher.

FG Rulesets: The CoreRPG is the basis for most, if not all, of the other rulesets. They can be thought of as just extensions of the core ruleset. I use the 5E ruleset exclusively for gaming so it interests me more than the others. I will unpack these two rulesets.

In the data folder there is a rulesets sub folder. In the rulesets sub folder there should be at least six .pak files (for FG version 3.1.7).

Here is the process:
(1) create a folder to hold the unpacked data,
(2) unpack the ruleset,
(3) copy the unpacked data to the new folder,
(4) rename the original ruleset.


Iíll will do this with each ruleset of interest. Iíll detail the process step-by-step for the core. (1) Create a folder with the exact base name as the ruleset, e.g. create a folder named ďCoreRPGĒ (without quotes). (2) Change the extension part of the ruleset name from .pak to .zip. The ruleset will now look like a folder to the OS. (3) Copy the entire contents of the ďzip folderĒ to the newly created folder. (4) Finally, rename the .zip file to .pak.original.

So to recap, the core would have gone through these steps:
CoreRPG.pak to CoreRPG.zip to CoreRPG.pak.original
And the contents of CoreRPG.zip are in the CoreRPG folder.

Iíll repeat this process for the 5E and whatever other rulesets that might be of interest.

What this process has done, is replace each packed ruleset with a ruleset comprised of folders and files that can be edited. I can actually go in and change the ruleset and see what happens.

Detour: Please keep in mind, that in the next few blog posts Iíll just be poking around in the rulesets trying to get a feel for what they do and how they do it. One would never develop an FG extension right in the ruleset. By doing so, if one were to release that extension one would be taking credit for all the other content, all of which they did not develop but simply took from others. Poor form and a definite copyright infringement.

Until next time keep on role playing.

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Updated May 18th, 2016 at 02:56 by Minty23185Fresh

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