Game Art in general is created via various external Applications, 3rd_party_extensions ,and with the Dragon Age Toolset. Which you will need depends only on the type of Resource.
Sound and Music is covered in the Article: Sound and music
Creating content to be usable with the Toolset can probably be separated into 2 fields. That is the actual Resource type, and telling the Toolset about it.
For example a Model in itself is only a set of files, while 2DA's assign ID's and kind of like a place in the "Shelf" which is what you are seeing in the Toolset. Otherwise it would not be able to tell what a given Model is supposed to be. Furthermore, the Toolset will get to know Properties once it knows which kind of Model it is.
- Art Resources are the Files that exist in the file system.
- Two-dimensional Arrays (2DA's) are compiled Excel Tables, containing various Data about the Resources.
Art Resources are, with the exception of Level layouts, only indirectly linked to what you see in game. A Model has to be applied to a Item, a Face morph to a NPC, etc. This whole Art category ends for the most part once the Resources are available to be used in the Toolset. Anything you make with the art resources there is a matter of Design.
The diagram illustrates the general outline of how each of these types of resource is edited, processed, and used by the game.
- See Main Article: Module
Resources are not created into the blue, as each has to be created on top of a so called Module. Art Resources and 2DAs are not directly tied to a Module, however they are referenced by Designer Resources which instead are. When creating an installable package, an Resources has to be present in the correct Modules override folder. There are multiple Override Folders which the Game reads, however it is important to choose the correct one for the Module to be separated and Toolset functions to work later on.
- Art Resources and 2DA Files have to be placed into the Modules directory by hand.
- The Toolset is responsible for exporting Designer Resources out of the Database into the corresponding Module directory.
- See Main Article: Art Resources
Art Resources are all Art created and stored into the Dragon Age file system. Creators of world maps will need Art Resources to shape them with Models, while creators of face morphs need models of faces. With that, they are also creating Art Resources.
Art Resources include the following, but not exclusively:
Any Art Resource is also made available to the Game Design Process, where Game Designers create Designer Resources like Characters.
Models (Art Resource)
- See Main Article: Model
Models are the smallest Pieces in Art Creation, that make up any visible Entity in the Game, consolidated into the complete visible appearance of the Gameworld by the Worlddesigner.
Walls, Houses, Creatures are all made up of one or multiple Models. They are as such 3d Meshes, created using external modelling Applications, which export them into a gamereadable Format.
Level/Area layouts (Art Resource)
- See Main Article: Level editor
Level layouts (also called Area layouts) are another Art Resource in itself. They are a simple world Design, that includes nothing more than wide Terrain with Trees, Lakes, Bridges, and pratically a playground where any game can take place. Dragon Age play-areas are based on such Layouts.
Models is what makes up a layout for the most Part. Terrain, Lakes, and Weather are however unique to the Level Editor and can only be created with it.
Note that Level layouts are non interactive. Interactive Areas are build based on these layouts, and described in the Article Area.
- See Main Article: 2DA
2DA's contain various Data not only for Art Resources, but for the whole game as well. 2DA's are packed into GDA file type, which are generated from XLS (Excel) files. The original XLS files supplied with the Toolset can be found in:
[Dragon Age install directory]\tools\source\2da
For converting XLS files into GDA files, see compiling 2DAs.
Art sources for the Single Player campaign
Many Art Resources are processed and binarized, therefore not in the final product in its source form.
For size reasons the sources for the levels, head morphs, and visual effects projects used in the Single Player campaign were not included with the toolset installer. You can find these available for download at the Single player and core resource source files project.