So here's a reference on how GW2 TacO supports this effort.
What is a marker?
On the face of it, what GW2 TacO does is pretty simple: it asks GW2 what your current location and the camera position are, and draws billboards in 3D space based on that. The trick is knowing where in space to place those points in the first place. The locations come from the information that we already have: your character position. You press a key, the system takes your current position and creates a marker. But if this was all there is to it, there would only be one type of marker and soon enough chaos would ensue.
|The current default marker icon|
So besides the position in 3D space, markers need other properties:
- What image should be drawn for the marker?
- What size should the marker be in the game world?
- How transparent should the marker be?
- At which distance should the marker show up at all?
- How high off the ground should the marker be? (Your location is actually on the ground)
- What should happen if you press the action button when you're at the marker?
- ... and a lot of things I probably haven't encountered yet
Each marker can store all of the information above, and if you wanted you could edit the poidata.xml right now by hand and add these properties to all the markers individually (given that you know the format, but more on that later). So there is a need to somehow organize markers into groups, optimally in a way that lets us keep the option open to change markers individually.
Enter Marker Categories.
An introduction to Marker CategoriesA marker category is a description of a group of markers containing some or all of the information mentioned above in the list. Each marker can have a type field that describes which category it fits into. Any values defined by the category will be set for the marker, unless the marker defines them for itself as well - in this case the value coming from the category is overwritten by the value specified in the marker itself. With this we have a system where we both have grouped data (if I change the image for the category all the markers in that category will change their icon) but with the option of having individual markers a say in how they behave (a marker can still have its own separate icon defined with all the rest of the values coming from the category it is in).
Each marker can belong to exactly one category.
But categories can be organized into a hierarchy.
|Example hierarchy for categories: resourcenode.chest.mapspecific.verdantbrink|
Now to set the category for a marker you need to write out the full name of the category, which is the parent-to-child order combination of the names of the categories separated by dots. For example: 'collectible.goldenlostbadge' will refer to the golden lost badge category. Category names are case insensitive to avoid any confusion.
This is all pretty standard, but the biggest point of this system is that it's expandable. Nothing is hardcoded into the overlay and if you distribute your own marker pack that can have its own category definitions that will seamlessly integrate into the hierarchic system. The final category tree you will see in the overlay is a combination of all the categories loaded from all the marker files.
Data formats, file system info, what goes whereGW2 TacO stores all data in xml files. There a bunch of these, but the ones used in displaying markers are the following:
- poidata.xml - this is your local marker database, it contains all the markers you placed on your own. It can also contain category descriptions.
- categorydata.xml - this file is loaded first, it contains a default category tree. This category tree for now is pretty much only preliminary and will be expanded/rearranged later.
- activationdata.xml - this file contains when you last pressed 'F' on a marker that has a behavior different than 'always visible'.
- any xmls under the POIs directory will be loaded. The format of these matches the format of poidata.xml, however the markers in these data files will always be loaded. If you get a new marker pack you just need to drop it in there and restart the overlay.
All of these xml files have the root tag <OverlayData>. All tags in the xml files are case sensitive.
Markers in the xml files are described under the <POIs> tag under the root <OverlayData> tag. The <POI> tag describes a marker. The following attributes can be set for each marker:
- MapID - integer, required. Describes which map the marker is located on.
- xpos - float, required. X position of the marker in world space.
- ypos - float, required. Y position of the marker in world space.
- zpos - float, required. Z position of the marker in world space.
- type - string, optional. This is the full name of the category the marker belongs to. If this is not set, the marker will be presented with default parameters. Must not contain any spaces or special characters.
- GUID - base64 encoded string, optional. This is a unique identifier for the marker used in tracking activation of markers through the activationdata.xml file. If this doesn't exist for a marker, one will be generated automatically and added on the next export.
- The following tags are all optional, and can be both set for each category (description below) and each marker individually. Ideally these should be set in the categories and only overridden for a handful of icons if at all, but the option is there.
- iconFile - string. The icon to be displayed for the marker. If not given, this defaults to the image shown at the start of this article. This should point to a .png file. The overlay looks for the image files both starting from the root directory and the POIs directory for convenience. Make sure you don't use too high resolution (above 128x128) images because the texture atlas used for these is limited in size and it's a needless waste of resources to fill it quickly.
- iconSize - float. The size of the icon in the game world. Default is 1.0 if this is not defined. Note that the "screen edges herd icons" option will limit the size of the displayed images for technical reasons.
- alpha - float. How opaque the displayed icon should be. The default is 1.0
- behavior - integer. This is an important one, it describes the way the marker will behave when a player presses 'F' over it. The following values are valid for this parameter:
- 0: the default value. Marker is always visible.
- 1: 'Reappear on map change' - this is not implemented yet, it will be useful for markers that need to reappear if the player changes the map instance.
- 2: 'Reappear on daily reset' - these markers disappear if the player presses 'F' over them, and reappear at the daily reset. These were used for the orphan markers during wintersday.
- 3: 'Only visible before activation' - these markers disappear forever once the player pressed 'F' over them. Useful for collection style markers like golden lost badges, etc.
- 4: 'Reappear after timer' - This behavior makes the marker reappear after a fix amount of time given in 'resetLength'.
- 5: 'Reappear on map reset' - not implemented yet. This will make the marker reappear when the map cycles. In this case 'resetLength' will define the map cycle length in seconds, and 'resetOffset' will define when the first map cycle of the day begins after the daily reset, in seconds.
- 6: 'Once per instance' - these markers disappear when triggered but reappear if you go into another instance of the map
- 7: 'Once daily per character' - these markers disappear when triggered, but reappear with the daily reset, and can be triggered separately for every character
- fadeNear - float. Determines how far the marker will start to fade out. If below 0, the marker won't disappear at any distance. Default is -1. This value is in game units (inches).
- fadeFar - float. Determines how far the marker will completely disappear. If below 0, the marker won't disappear at any distance. Default is -1. FadeFar needs to be higher than fadeNear for sane results. This value is in game units (inches).
- heightOffset - float. Specifies how high above the ground the marker is displayed. Default value is 1.5
- resetLength - integer. For behavior 4 this tells how long the marker should be invisible after pressing 'F'. For behavior 5 this will tell how long a map cycle is.
- resetOffset - integer. Not currently used, this will supply data for behavior 5. The data will be given in seconds.
- DisplayName - string. This text is used to display the type of the marker. It can contain spaces.
<POI MapID="1062" type="collectible.journalentry" xpos="-266.477" ypos="52.4114" zpos="-628.789" GUID="XtFDXUUJO0aDsDzjZOt7NQ=="/>
Categories in the xml files are described by <MarkerCategory> tags under the root <OverlayData> tag. They can be nested to build a hierarchy. Any marker parameter defined in a category will propagate down to categories nested in it unless they opt to override the parameter. Besides the marker parameters described above the only thing that can be set for a category is the name parameter.
<MarkerCategory name="JournalEntry" iconFile="Data\raid1_achievements.png" behavior="3"/>
If you're planning on creating a marker pack and your markers don't fit into existing categories I suggest you start with an empty poidata.xml and create your categories in that file. This way if you distribute your poidata.xml people can drop it into their POIs directory and load your markers easily.
For the time being you'll need to create new categories by hand using any text editor. Just add the category to your poidata.xml, restart TacO and you're good to go.
Placing your own MarkersThis is the easy part. Any markers you place will be added into poidata.xml. You can place markers by default using the '+' button and remove them with the '-' button.
If you have the marker editor open (toggle it open in the TacO menu, then turn on window edit mode to move and resize the window to the correct position) and you're standing on a marker you placed, the marker editor will show the type of the marker you're standing on, a button to change that category, the default type a new marker gets assigned to and a button to change the default category. Assuming you want to create a marker pack for similar items all you need to do is select a default and visit all the locations you want marked. The poidata.xml will be written every time you add or remove a marker.
To override category settings for individual markers you'll need to edit the xml by hand for the time being. Later updates will address this issue.
Ideal targets for markingI'll start with what you should NOT try to mark:
- hero points
These have official APIs and I'll look into acquiring them that way once the marker system has settled.
Nice things to go for:
- world chest locations
- any type of location based achievements like lost coins etc (for these I suggest you use the corresponding achievement icon)
- map chest spawn positions (think dry top, silverwastes, HoT maps, etc)
- JP start locations
- where to place siege in WvW
If you create a high quality (all positions marked, precisely) marker pack send it my way and I'll put it in the next release.
SharingIf you have created a marker pack that you feel can be shared with the community simply rename the poidata.xml, gather the images you used, zip them all up, and tell people to decompress the package into the POIs directory next to TacO. It's also wise to try the marker pack on a freshly uncompressed download of TacO this way to make sure that the markers load the correct icons.