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Enhanced Description Box

Page history last edited by Little Alien 15 years, 2 months ago

Enhanced Description Box


Welcome to the Enhanced Description Box Mod, the mod that will end your ALT-TABbing misery.





This is a small modification to JA2 1.13 that is intended to allow us, players, to get as much info as possible about our guns, armor, ammo, explosives, and all other equipment, without having to ALT-TAB out of the game and check external programs or the game's XML files. It adds an extended version of the item description box which shows much, MUCH more data than the unmodded version.


The description box now shows a lot of data about items. Most of this data was previously not shown at all, and there was no way of learning the real difference between items without checking outside the game, not even with the tooltips. Weapons now show such data as AP cost to Ready or Reload, Auto/Burst penalty, etc. Explosives (like grenades) show their damage and blast diameter. Armor shows all armor-relevant data. Ammo shows penetration capability, bullet tumble, etc. All other items may also show data, provided they have anything interesting to show.


All in all, this mod is excellent for those of us who've been wondering about the difference between items, and have been too lazy to check the XMLs or simply didn't know how. It also allows those of us who like to get the best out of their equipment compare items quickly and efficiently, without having to leave the game at all.


Please note that EDB has been added to the official 1.13, as of build 2415. By upgrading to this build (or higher), you will automatically have EDB available, and do not have to install EDB on top of that. The EDB download available on this webpage is for users of build 2382 only.



The Enhanced Description Box has been released as version 1.3. This version offers a lot more compatibility and user-friendliness. Most importantly, EDB 1.3 can be used with the Old Inventory System, if that's your fancy. It can be toggled on and off through your in-game Options Menu, and you can decide whether to use it in the Strategic screen, Tactical screen, or both!




This line controls how much of EDB you'll see during the game. A setting of 0 will enable EDB in both Tactical and Strategic screens. A setting of 1 will enable EDB in the Strategic screen only. A setting of 2 will enable EDB in the Strategic screen only. Disabling EDB is no longer handled through its INI setting - you can turn EDB off inside the game by using your options menu!



Version history


New in 1.3:

This release version is based on build 2382, but may run on earlier and later builds too. It offers the following user-friendliness features:


1. Old-Inventory Compatibility

      This is the first version of EDB to allow full use in Old-Inventory mode. It is used exactly the same as in New-Inventory mode, so no special instructions are necessary.


2. Options Menu settings (Toggling EDB from within the game)

      A new option has been added to the in-game options menu. This will toggle EDB on and off. Please note that you can also set which parts of EDB will be used, through its JA2_Options.INI setting.


3. Fixed attachment areas in the Strategic Description Box

      New STIs and new coordinates gives us a better-looking attachments region.

Obviously, includes all 1.1 features:


New in 1.1:

Version 1.1 offers a couple of fixes and one addition.


1. Fixed Shopkeeper Interface EDB

      Previous builds had an error where the EDB for the shopkeeper's interface was cut-off inappropriately. This has been fixed.


2. Fixed Strategic EDB "Pro's-and-Con's" width

      The pro's and con's text was badly arranged, causing it to overlap. This has been fixed.


3. Added "Minimum Range for Aiming Bonus" indicator

      EDB now shows the minimum range-to-target required before aiming bonuses kick in. This is displayed for scoped weapons, and also for scopes themselves.

NOTE: If you're playing at 640x480 resolution, the EDB will automatically turn itself off.



Item Stats Guide


This is a guide for all the different new icons present in EDB. Actually it's also a guide to all the different item statistics in JA2. You're all invited to have a read, as I'm sure it'll come in handy, especially if you're interested in finding out how items actually work.


Click here to go to the Item Stats Guide





If you're wondering what exactly happens once you've installed the mod, please have a look at these screenshots:


Before     After


As you can see, the old description box showed very little information about guns. When JA2 was created, there wasn't much more to show anyway. However, in today's JA2 1.13, there is much more information available. Until now, we've had to search through the XML files for all this data, and sometimes had to compute it in our heads. With the new description box, all (or almost all) relevant information is displayed easily and INSIDE THE GAME.


Granted, this may seem like a whole lot of information, especially for anyone who hasn't had a look inside the XML files. Don't worry though, I will try to explain some of it. Most importantly, you can always mouse-over one of these icons to show a textual tooltip explaining what the value represents.


The picture above doesn't even come close to showing all the data that the new description box displays. For example, here is a screenshot of a fully tricked-out weapon:



Much more data here, and again I'll remind you that tooltips are available for all these icons and numbers, so you don't need to worry about it at all. Most of the data is self-explanatory, others are a bit more obscure. Read on for more information about each value.

Oh, and the screenshot above doesn't even display it all - weapons have another value that isn't shown here, the AP cost to reload a bolt-action or pump-action weapon. That value appears only for weapons that require manual reloading between shots. Similarly, all data values only appear if there's something to show. Note however, that a value of 0 is sometimes neccesary, especially with data values that can go above and below 0. For instance, the weapon above has 0 AP cost to Ready (that's the small arrow below the words "AP Costs"). A weapon with 0 AP to draw is very quick, and some high quality guns can achieve this with the help of good attachments. Therefore, the value 0 is shown. The opposite example is the auto-penalty value. If you'll look at the previous screenshot (.38 Special) you'll see that it does not display the auto penalty icon. That's because the data there is irrelevant - revolvers can't fire in auto mode, so their penalty is inconsequential!


The most important achievement of this project is that we can now truly compare between different items, to see which one is best without having to go nuts looking for data. Read one weapon's statistics, then another's, and decide which one suits you best!


The new Description Box doesn't only add weapon data. It adds data for items that never displayed any at all! For instance, here's the new description box for armors:



This armor is also fully-tricked out, at least as much as the game allows. Common armor stats, such as its protection value, are always displayed on the left side of the box. Other stats, such as the AP penalty given by Spectra armor, is displayed only if it is relevant.


In this case, a Camo Shirt has been attached to the armor. You can see a +5% woodland camo bonus here. Remove the camo shirt, and this icon and value will disappear, indicating that Spectra armor does not give camo bonuses on its own. Other armors may give camo bonuses even without additional attachments.


There are many values that don't appear in this screenshot because it would require modding the XMLs to make items that give these values. For instance, there are now four different kinds of camo, and each has an icon that appears if the armor gives such camo bonuses. They don't appear now because such armors don't exist. Other icons are also not appearing here, such as stealth bonus and different vision/hearing-related bonuses. If someone makes a mod that contains armors with these bonuses or penalties, the icons will appear as appropriate.


Ammo also has new data displayed. It shows the quality of the ammo compared to a "regular" or "ball"-type ammo:



The three decimal values on the left side show the prowess of the ammo in penetrating armor, in injuring the target, and in exploding before impact. In this case, the Penetration value is less than 1, but it is colored green to indicate that this is a GOOD THING. The lower this value goes, the better the ammo is at going through armor. Color codes like this are used throughout all description boxes. A negative or lower value shown in green is always better than a positive value shown in red. The opposite is also correct. Therefore, the color indicates whether this is a bonus or penalty, not the actual value. You'll see more examples of this later.


Also note of course that there's a large icon without a value in the center of this box. This icon indicates that this particular type of ammo gives tracer effect, meaning that it lights up when fired. While this might be obvious considering the fact that this is a TRACER magazine, modders might someday make items that are more obscure by name - the description box will then show you that the magazine gives a tracer bonus, even if its name indicates otherwise. Since tracer effect is either "on" or "off", there's no need for an associated value. If this icon appears, the ammo gives a tracer effect. If it does not, then the ammo is "regular" and does not light up. There are several more icons like this throughout the various description boxes. Actually, there are four more such icons just for ammo - they do not appear in the screenshot because this particular magazine does not give those bonuses.


Explosive data has been given special treatment:




Explosives come in two flavours - single-effect, and prolonged-effect. A frag grenade is a good example for a single-effect explosive - it blows up and then it's gone. A Mustard Gas Grenade, on the other hand, as shown in the picture above, gives an effect that lasts several turns. 5 turns, to be exact. Their description boxes are similar, but there are small differences.


In the picture above, you can see basic data about explosives, like their damage and stun damage. This is very important for comparing grenades, and I'm sure it will be very useful as there are many types of grenades now. In the middle column, you can see the starting diameter of the gas, the ending diameter of the gas, and how long it takes before the gas dissipates. A frag grenade would show a single diameter, because it has an immediate rather than lasting effect.


There are many other item types in the game, but most of them don't require any sort of rigid display of values. For items such as attachments and headgear, data is displayed according to the bonuses the item gives:



Each of these items gives different bonuses, so their displays look different. This is true for all types of items that don't belong to any of the groups explained above. Some items give no bonuses, and their data charts will look empty.


You can see lots of different data here, but I won't explain it thoroughly for now. But please pay attention to the second bonus of the ACOG scope. Remember I said that green indicates a bonus and red indicates a penalty, regardless of the actual value? This icon stands for "Modifier of AP cost to fire". In this case, the value is negative, -20% to be exact. But the green color indicates that this is a good thing! It reduces the time it takes to fire a shot, making the weapon 20% quicker! If the value was positive (+20%), that would be a bad thing, and then it would be colored in red. So the negative/positive value of the bonus isn't as important as the color, except for actual comparison between similar items.


I hope you enjoyed the presentation! Now go play the game!



Brought to you by: Headrock Independent Studios.

"We're independent 'cause they won't pay us!"

-- Headrock, Regional Manager & Chief Executive Janitor.


Disclaimer: those guides are made by Headrock. Visit he's internet site for most recent version: www.bookgallery.co.il/JA2PublicPosts/descbox.asp


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