It's been a long time coming, but we're finally here. The new stable: ME3Explorer v2.0. Thanks for sticking with us; we know 21 months is a long, long time to wait for an update, and appreciate your patience.
ME3Explorer v2.0 represents a new era in development of the toolset:
- Kfreon is now Lead Developer, with Heff and SirCxyrtyx offering additional coding support. Giftfish is the Toolset Coordinator.
- Project hosting has been moved from SourceForge/SVN to GitHub. Git's system has already revolutionized development. Bugtracking is more organized and has allowed us to create the most easy-to-use, bug-free version of the toolset to date.
- An overhaul of the existing forum, started in January, should wrap up in the coming weeks. Old sections have been closed, new ones opened, and a huge amount of clean-up and general maintenance completed. New forum groups have been created so all members have a clearer understanding of each other's main role in the community. If you haven't dropped by recently, please do so. We think you'll be pleasantly surprised... and not just due to the new, better-looking themes!
- The new ME3Explorer wiki has been started here on Wikia. A free site with proven longevity ensures the toolset's online manual and modding knowledge base will be around for years to come.
- The stable release of ME3Explorer is now hosted exclusively on Nexusmods. We can think of no better place to host the toolset than on the site also houses the best mods for the Mass Effect trilogy.
- In an attempt to unify all our sister sites and garner a more professional appearance, we've created new "branding" for the toolset and set up a main web portal that houses basic information and links.
Now that we've all caught up a bit, let's take a brief look at how the toolset has changed from the last stable, revision 653/109w, to the current stable, ME3Explorer v2.0.
The v2.0 GUI has undergone a significant amount of refinement as part of the process of writing the wiki. Menus have been re-structured, deprecated tools removed, new tools created, and some much-needed "window-dressing" added. Most tool articles on the wiki have been updated to reflect these changes; a few are still in process. Over the next 1-2 weeks we'll be coming up with a visual indicator that will help readers better discern the difference.
There are four key changes in this department: background, versioning, icons, and taskbar.
- Background — From now on, every release of the toolset will have the same background with a custom logo. This logo is part of the toolset banners on all our sister websites.
- Versioning — The toolset's version is now embedded in the GUI, and even easier to see. Also, versioning has changed. Due to the relocation of project hosting and changes to development, new releases will follow a more standard versioning scheme (v2.1.1). No more "rev7xx", in other words.
- Icons — The toolset has long suffered from a deficiency of icons. Some tools had them; others didn't. Most weren't legible and they had no standardized design. With v2.0, all tools now have icons of a different color that coordinate with each other and the new logoing. A combination of color and letters help users differentiate among all 60+ tools. The program itself also has a new icon.
- Taskbar — The taskbar has had some small tweaks in size and functionality. Icons are now square and 64x64 pixels; adjacent tool names have been removed.
The main menu itself will look very familiar, but has been re-structured for neatness and clarity. The contents for each dropdown are now alphabetized, and similar tools are grouped together by function:
- User Tools — This is the old "Tools" area. Now is restricted to utilities and mod installation tools, including Texplorer. All old categories have been removed; new categories include: Textures, TOC Tools, and Utilities.
- Developer Tools — Contains all editors and mod creation tools besides Texplorer. ME3Creator and the former "Crazy Tools" have been moved into this category. New categories include: Coalesced, Scripts, SFAR Tools, and Unreal. "TOC" has been relocated to User Tools.
- Options — Configuration parameters for the toolset. Contains a new option for DLC extraction; read more about this in Getting Started.
- Other Engines — For now, ME1Explorer and ME2Explorer tool engines (and their resident tools) remain separate from the rest of the toolset. They will likely all be combined in a future stable release. Menus have been overhauled to match the rest of the toolset.
- Help — New for the stable. Contains links to the forums, GitHub, Nexusmods, and the wiki. Also houses the toolset Credits.
Almost all existing tools have seen some type of change since the last stable. A full changelog would be extremely tedious at this point (and also unnecessary since many users had already been using newer versions of the tools) so for the most part we suggest you just open the toolset and take a look. A few things are less straight-forward, so those we'll cover below. We'll also included a brief explanation of any new tools that have no existing counterpart in the old stable.
More details about all User Tools and a few Developer Tools can be found in their relevant tool article.
Additions, Removals, and Name Changes
As you'd expect, there's been a moderate amount of flux as to what tools are still part of the toolest after almost two years. Below is a list of tools that have been renamed, added, or removed due to deprecation/low usage.
Note: Tools in italics were added after rev653.
|Camera Tool||DLC Crack (ME2)|
|Dialogue Editor (ME1)||DLLInjector|
|Interp Viewer||SVN Checker|
|Sequence Editors (ME1/2)||Texture Tool|
|TLK Editor (ME1)||TOC.bin Editor|
|TOC.bin Editor (AK86)|
With the changes above, all console-related tools have been removed from the toolset. We are now solely PC-focused. Users who are interested in flexibility and modding their games should be playing on PC; consoles are specifically made for simplicity, which is what contributes to their rigidity.
|Old Name||New Name|
|AFC to WAV||Audio Extractor|
|DDS Converter||Image Engine|
|DLC Editor||SFAR Basic Editor|
|DLC Editor 2||SFAR Editor 2|
|DLCTOCbinUpdater||SFAR TOC Updater|
|GUID Editor||GUID Cache Editor|
|Language Select||Language Selector|
|Movies.tfc to BIK||BIK Movie Extractor|
|Plot Var Database||Plot Database|
|Property DB||Property Database|
|Vanilla Maker (Backup)||ME3 Backup Tool|
Editing functionalities have been removed from Asset Explorer. This is a highly-deprecated Developer Tool, with a GUI is much more user-friendly than the PCCEditor2. This can be helpful for less-technical players who are dipping their toes in the modding pool for the first time.
AutoTOC is a fantastic tool that generates new PCConsoleTOC.bin files -- something necessary for all DLC mods to function. It now has a "Generate All TOCs" feature that will create new TOCs for the base game and any DLC installed with a single click. It also replaces both, old TOC Editors for TOC updating functionalities, and any tool that used to call on those tools for TOCing should now call AutoTOC, instead. TOCing inside other tools is now restricted to DLC Editor 2, ModMaker, Texplorer, and TPF Tools.
Created by Warrantyvoider, this tool is a precursor to the more advanced Interp Viewer. It uses a simple tree structure to depict Interpdatas and their child matinee exports inside a PCC.
These remain in the toolset for now, but will be overhauled in the future. It's best not to use them in their current state, and to instead use Wenchy or TankMaster's Coalesced Editor.
Image Engine, by Kfreon, is a conversion utility that allows the user to swap among various texture compression and file formats. It can also generate and remove mipmaps.
SirCxyrtyx's Interp Viewer serves the same purpose as the Camera Tool, but in a much more sophisticated graphical interface. Similar to UDK's Matinee Editor, all tracks associated with an Interpdata are displayed on a timeline, with their associated properties displayed in a bottom pane.
ModMaker's interface is much more graphical, and .mod creation -- which was inadvertently stripped out after the last stable -- has been returned. ModMaker should now *only* be used to install or extract assets from .mod files. It should not be used for texture installation, and TPFs are no longer loadable. Read more about how to use .mod files in combination with DLC mods in the ModMaker article.
Texplorer is considerably more user-friendly, with each game texture now having a real thumbnail. The 3 versions for each game are now united into the same tool. Texplorer no longer extracts DLC in preparation for treebuilding; instead this process is now initiated upon first opening the toolset.
TPF Tools, like Texplorer now has thumbnails and is more graphical. It also is compatible with a wide variety of image formats, able to utilize much more than just TPFs and METPFs. Installation works for all 3 games, and all the past issues with ResIL.dll have been remedied.
Updating to ME3Explorer v2.0
There are a variety of procedural changes that accompany this stable. All are (or will be) covered in the relevant tool articles, but the most important ones are summarized below.
With the move to Nexusmods and GitHub, methods of updating the toolset have changed. There is no longer a tool built into ME3Explorer to assist in updates. Instead, Beta releases are downloaded manually from Git, and stable releases from Nexusmods.
Also, with the move to Git and change in versioning and workflow, "Download the latest rev" is no longer the motto to live by. Average users should stick to the mostly bug-free stable release on Nexusmods. Only modders and testers should be using the Beta. For more information, see Getting Started.
ModMaker, Texplorer, and TPF Tools all depend upon DLC extraction to work properly with DLC mods. Therefore, DLC extraction now occurs outside these tools and triggered upon opening v2.0 for the first time. There are some important details to understand about this process:
- It is "all or nothing". It's no longer possible to only extract certain DLC and not others.
- Extraction is required to keep things fully-functional with texture modifications.
- Old versions of the toolset did not *completely* extract DLC, and instead left the PCCConsoleTOC.bin file inside the DLC which led to problems. The new method of extraction fixes this issue, so it's possible that already extract DLC will be subject to extraction again, if this file is still in the SFAR.
We strongly suggest you allow the extraction. For more information on how the new process works, see Getting Started.
|It's imperative that DLC extraction is allowed to proceed properly before treebuilding. PCConsoleTOC.bin files must be present in each DLC's root directory.|
Trees made with the old stable will need to re-built with the new stable; they are incompatible. Sorry, but, you'll need to vanilla.
We also suggest that trees built with revisions older than 748 be re-built, as certain new functionalities in Texplorer seem to prefer this. The good news is that this tool won't be changing again for a long time. Trees created now may last literally years. Possibly forever.
Oh, and by the way, it's now possible to scan a new DLC and add it to the tree... but we'll let you read about that in the Texplorer article :)
We want to be very clear that we make no guarantees of further development on the toolset. The ME3 modding community is small and getting less active; Mass Effect 3 is now four years old. We've also had a lot of staff turnover during the course of the project, and the last two years have been an especially long haul. However, we are still discussing new content, which is a good sign.
If and when we proceed, here's what you might see:
- A completely revamped, modern GUI, as you would see in Windows 10.
- New features like "Favorites" that allows you to bookmark a selection of tools to the same area.
- A universal toolset Search feature that uses a tagging system.
- Overhauls of every tool for better functionality, unified design, and to make them more user-friendly.
- Combining of ME1, ME2, and ME3 engines into a single, MEExplorer toolset.
- Porting of all ME3 tools to ME1 and ME2. All tools work for all games.
- Fixes for the broken/currently buggy Coalesced and TLK Editors.
- New tools! Incorporation of TankMaster's Plot Editor, and other additions.
Yep, it sounds like a lot of work to us, too. If you want to pitch in, let us know :) We hope you enjoy ME3Explorer v2.0!
--The Toolset Team