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Class for Dark Forces Editing : LFD Overview
LESSON ONE - THE IMPORTANCE
LFD is important.
Plain and simple, it's important. Why? It covers so many of the essential elements, that it simply can't be ignored. Sure, it's the hardest part of Dark Forces editing, but that doesn't negate its importance.
LESSON TWO - WHAT DOES IT DO?
LFD covers these : cutscenes, textcrawl, creditcrawl, briefings, and ingame MIS and OBJ screens. Some of these are more important than others, and can be separated into groups.
Essentials - textcrawl, creditcrawl, briefing, and ingame MIS and OBJ screens. These go here because they're quite easy to do. Mostly, you're simply extracting the file you need, editing it to suit you, and then putting it back in in a custom LFD file. Easy!
Extras - cutscenes. Cutscenes can simply go on forever. It all depends on what you want. In this category also goes upgrades on some of the essentials, such as a narrated textcrawl, there's a lot of cool stuff you can do to the creditcrawl, you can edit the briefing background, and do special stuff to the ingame MIS and OBJ screens, as well as the ITEMS and INVENTORY screens.
LESSON THREE - WHEN AM I SUPPOSED TO DO IT?
Well, you can't work on your level ALL the time, can you?
I know from experience that sometime in the middle of the levelmaking process, you start to lose interest, and that's when you could do it. But, there's an even better option.
When you are around halfway through your mission, you have probably thought far enough ahead that you know what's going to happen. Now you can hire a volunteer to do your LFD for you, then you don't have to worry about it! The best way to work this out is to have the main author create most of the images, like the creditcrawl, the textcrawl, briefing, and whatnot, then get the LFD man to put it all together while you're writing.
That's what I personally did on my Information Trilogy. I was lucky enough to get a talented man who was good at LFD work to stay on for the entire trilogy, even while I have 2 levels going at once (one of the benefits of making good levels is that everyone flocks to join your committee :) so make good ones and you'll get famous!). I made most of the images, because frankly it's hard for someone who hasn't even seen your level to write a textcrawl for your level, or know what kind of stuff you need to give credit for. So make your own stuff, pass it on to the LFD guy, then forget about it (at least until it's time to write your BAT).
LESSON FOUR - I HATE LFD WORK!
Well, yeah, most people do. It is quite temperamental, because, unlike GOB editing, lots of stuff is hardwired and has to be named something certain for it to work. Also, there isn't any great LFD editor like there is GOB editor. You've gotta do a lot of it with Notepad and such like that.
Plus, it's a whole new language to learn. You thought you were just getting down INF, now learn FILM! It's very tough.
The point is, it takes a special kind of person to be able to sit down and make good custscenes for a level. Especially the building part - you've gotta make ANIM after DELT after PLTT, and it gets old, and plus it's hard to make an ANIM of say a moving ship. The easiest way, I hear, is to make in 3D Studio or something a 3D ship, then make it into a group of frames.
Unfortunately, I'm not exactly an LFD guy. I draw the stuff, then give it to someone else to put together. I don't even try. I guess that's kinda bad, but that's the way it is.