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Area topics

Areas are the spaces within which characters move around and perform actions. Items, placeables, creatures, triggers, and ambient sounds can be located inside of areas.

An area has its own coordinate system and a consistent art style so that its resources can be packaged together. Areas are limited in size. In DA, the player will travel between areas by doing area transitions. DA will keep all of the game objects in the player’s area active. They will use physics room shells on the server to determine perception and movement. Artists construct areas using the Environment Editor.

The area editor displays the selected environment in a graphics window. The currently placed objects are displayed in a tree view. Using the mouse or keyboard, the user can move objects around.

When an area is displayed in the main display, placeables and creatures can be placed within it by first selecting the item in the palette window list and then moving the mouse pointer to the correct location within the area. The object will appear and move with the mouse pointer until you left-click to affix it in place.

Camera control and moving objects

Since camera control and the movements of objects is a process common to areas, stages, and cutscenes, the documentation for this can be found at 3D controls.


Area toolbar labeled.png

  • "Set camera to object style" causes the camera to remain pointed at the selected object; rotating the camera causes it to "orbit" around this point. "Set camera to camera style" allows the camera to be rotated in position and moved freely around the area.
  • "Focus on selected object" moves the focus of the area display window to the currently selected object, if you have one selected. "Zoom to object" focuses on the currently selected object and also moves the viewpoint in close to it.
  • Fade cutaway and fade punch through affect how the ceiling and other upper view-obstructing parts of the area layout are rendered see-through.
  • The "display dynamic shadows" setting doesn't affect shadows that are directly "baked in" to the area's texture.
  • Setting the display window to continually refresh animates certain parts of the area that have decorative animations (such as torch flames).

Object list

Area object palette right click menu.png

All of the resources currently placed within an area are listed in a menu beside the main display window. The resources are grouped according to their type and sorted alphabetically within their groups. This resource list is very handy for finding specific objects that have been placed in large and complex levels; nothing ever gets "lost" in the clutter.

Right-clicking on the object's name in the list opens a popup menu with a variety of options.

  • "Copy" places a copy of the object into the clipboard.
  • "Expand all," "collapse all," and "expand" manipulate the tree view.
  • "Open Resource" opens the selected resource in the designer toolset. The other options available on this menu may allow you to skip this step and edit the resource's properties directly, however:
  • "Open Script" opens the event script resource attached to the object.
  • "Open Conversation" opens the default conversation resource attached to the object. If no default conversation is defined for this object it opens the object itself instead.
  • "Open Inventory" opens the inventory of the object, allowing items to be added or removed.
  • "Open Variables" opens the window for setting default variable values for the object.
  • "Zoom to Object" moves the camera to focus on the object within the area display window.
  • "Properties" shows the object's properties in the object inspector. Generally, clicking on this option is redundant since as soon as the object is selected from the list its properties will be displayed.

Editing objects

The Object Inspector Window is used to allow the user to edit properties for the objects in the area editor. Since DA is using a template model, the properties of a template can not be modified or overridden by placed instances in an area. Only a few properties can be customized on a case-by-case basis.

If you find yourself wanting to apply changes to several objects at once (items, stores, creatures, even areas), you are likely to want to try multi-edit. You can select several objects (eg by control-clicking) and any changes you make to properties in the object inspector will apply to all of them. To make this feature really usable and useful you might want to turn off the Automatically Open New Resources and the Automatically Open Checked Out Resources options in the General section of the options menu.

Volume objects

Area editor volume object.png
Main article: volume object

There are four types of object that are defined by enclosed polygons drawn within the area:

Their areas are defined by clicking once for each vertex, with the final vertex being marked with a double-click that connects the final vertex to the initial vertex and closes the polygon. The interior of the area is shaded blue and when the area is selected the corner points are marked with large yellow spheres that can be dragged with the mouse pointer to adjust their location. To abort drawing an area before you've finished placing the vertexes, press the escape key.

Volumes extend vertically through space. Parts of a volume might be visually obscured by the ground or by other objects in an area, but the volume still exists and entering or exiting it works normally.

Sound objects

In addition to being assigned to volumes, Sound can be placed within the area as point sources. A sound source can be activated or deactivated by setting the "Active" property. They are omnidirectional by default, but can be focused into a "spotlight" of sound by setting the ConeInside and ConeOutside angle parameters (360 degrees is omnidirectional). The ConeOutside angle is always greater than the ConeInside angle. The sound volume of the ConeOutside area is set with the ConeOutsideVolume parameter and the overall volume of the sound source can be set with the Volume parameter (both in dB, relative to event setting). The pitch of the sound can also be adjusted with the Pitch property (in octaves, relative to event setting).

The FadeIn and FadeOut properties (in milliseconds) determine how rapidly the sound rises or falls in volume when the sound's area is entered or exited.

MaxRange and MinRange (in meters) determines the distance from the source over which the sound can be heard, with MaxRangeMult determining how the sound drops off over that distance.

Finally, the Occludable true/false property determines whether surrounding walls will block the sound.


Waypoints are markers you can place in an area either for use as reference points in scripting or for placing notes on the map. To place a waypoint, right-click on the area editor and select "insert waypoint" from the dropdown menu. The waypoint will be created and can be positioned within the area just like any other placeable object. See waypoint for more details on their properties.


Stages are layouts that define how a group of creatures are arranged and where cameras are placed during a conversation. See: "Stage" for details about how to create a stage. To place a stage within an area, simply select the stage from the palette window and click on the location within the area you want to create it. The stage can be moved and rotated to adjust its position.


Creatures are the most common entities the player is going to interact with; see Creature for details on how to define them.

When placing a creature within an area, you will be able to customize some (but not all) of its details to suit the situation it finds itself in. Selecting the creature within the area brings up the following relevant properties in the object inspector:

  • Active: True/false, determines whether the creature is visible
  • Rank: sets how much of a combat challenge the creature should present to the player
  • Team: Used for keeping track of groups of creatures, for example a script may trigger when all members of a certain team have been killed.
  • Trackable:
  • Treasure Category: Determines what kinds of treasure is automatically generated for this creature.
  • WeaponsDrawn: True/false, determines whether the creature is prepared for combat

The orientation parameter for creatures only sets its facing angle around the vertical axis.


Merchants are triggered by a script that's usually itself triggered by a conversation node belonging to a creature (the 'merchant' that the player will actually see and interact with). The merchant object placed in the area map won't be interacted with directly.


Placeables, also known as Interactive Objects, are parts of the scenery that the player can interact directly with and that can themselves respond in various ways to events. The internal details of placeables are defined in their own section of the editor.

Once placed in an area, the following properties can be set:

  • Active: Determines whether the placeable is visible and interactive or not.
  • Initial State: Some placeables will have two or more states they can be in, for example a chest may be open, closed, closed and locked, or destroyed. This sets what state the placeable starts out in when it's first spawned.
  • Pick Lock Level: All placeables can be locked, though this normally only has a useful effect for things like chests and doors. This property sets how difficult a task it is for a character to unlock the placeable.
  • Rank:
  • Team:
  • Treasure Category:

Placeables can be reoriented along all three axes.

"Active" vs. "Inactive" objects

In-game, objects can be set active or inactive by script. Inactive objects are still accessible to script calls but have their command queues cleared. Objects placed in an area not on the current area list are not accessible by tag based searches. I don't remember if they are accessible by local objects,[Undocumented] but it is generally best to act as if they are not accessible unless in the same area list (or a general object loaded into memory like a party member or a map or a map location).

Refreshing resources

To improve toolset performance, many resources are cached and will need to be refreshed before changes you've made will show up in other editors. This can come up a lot in the area editor since it brings together a wide variety of other resources such as creatures, placeables, sounds, and so forth.

If you've edited a resource that's used in an area you have open you can manually force a refresh by selecting the "Refresh" option from the View menu, or by pressing F5.

Refresh resources menu.png

areadata 2DA

See areadata.xls


Variable name Type Default Description
AREA_COUNTER_1 to 10 int Available for use by scripting.
AREA_DEBUG int [Undocumented]
AREA_DO_ONCE_A and B int [Undocumented]
AREA_GAME_MODE_OVERRIDE int [Undocumented]
AREA_ID int References a row in areadata.xls for combat balance and other information
AREA_PARTY_CAMP int [Undocumented]
AREA_WORLD_MAP_ENABLED int If this is set to 1, the party can switch to travel on the world map at any point within the area.
CODEX_PLOT_FLAG_1 to 10 int When the area is entered, any codex entries listed here will be given to the player.
CODEX_PLOT_NAME_1 to 10 string The plot names containing the codex plot flags listed above.
ENTERED_FOR_THE_FIRST_TIME int Defaults to false. If false, set true when an area is first entered and exploration XP is awarded.
INJURY_FLAG int [Undocumented]
PARTY_PICKER_ENABLED int The player may change the composition of their party at will within this area, drawing from their pool of available party members.


Area Layout One of the existing area models in the database. (See Area layouts used in the single player module for a list.) See also: Level editor
AreaList Assigns this area to an area list.
Comments General information about this resource
Name Name of this area as seen within the game.
NameRequiresReTranslation A true/false flag used during game development for localization work
Resource Name A unique string identifier the toolset and the game both use to refer to this resource
Script Event script associated with this area
Variable 2da 2da file containing a variable table. Only the values in the table can be set and retrieved by scripting.
Variables Opens the variable table for editing, allows the initial values of the variables to be defined.
No Teleport Sets whether you can jump to the party camp or world map from any point in the area - used in non-hostile regions where there should never be a significant obstruction to reaching the exit aside from the tedium of running there.
Non Hostile may be legacy - may have been to mark certain areas as being combat-free[Undocumented]
Music Preset A music preset that applies throughout the area.
Reverb Preset A reverb preset that applies to all sounds throughout the area.
Area Map [Undocumented]
Area Map Height [Undocumented]
Area Map North How many degrees clockwise you would need to rotate the area for 'up' to be north on the map.
Area Map Width [Undocumented]

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