Fable Explorer

Fable Explorer is a content editing tool that is used to change or add content in Fable:The Lost Chapters. Currently it supports viewing and editing BIG (.big) and BIN (.bin) archives and the creation of Fable Mod Packages (.fmp). The archives are used to store a variety of data and the Fable Mod Packages are a simple way of distributing modifcations. There are many different types of entries across all of the archives used and only some are supported for extended editing.

Fable Explorer can be downloaded here:
Fable Explorer Beta 4

System Requirements

Fable Explorer requires a number of things to be properly setup on the user’s computer:

  1. DirectX 9.0c installed
  2. Graphics Card supporting 16bit W-Depth Buffering

If you have problems running Fable Explorer make sure your computer meets these requirements before asking for help.

Basic Operation

Opening A File

To open a file simply press on the ‘File’ menu in the top left corner of the Fable Explorer window. Once the menu opens up select ‘Open’. After you do this a dialog will pop up asking which file you want to open. You will have to browse through your computer to your fable directory which will have the BIG archives. Once you have found the file you wish to open select it and press the ‘Open’ button in the dialog. Once this is complete the listbox at the upper left of the Fable Explorer window should contain the name of the file. Double click on the name of the file to begin browsing its contents.

The 'Save Mods And Run Fable' Option

A recent addition to Fable Explorer. This option found under the ‘Actions’ section of the toolbar saves all the open archives and runs Fable:The Lost Chapters. This will not automatically apply any changes however so you must ensure that you have hit the ‘Apply Changes’ button where appropriate to ensure that any alterations you have made are tracked and stored.

BIG Archives

Browsing Through A BIG Archive

Once you have opened an archive up and it appears in the list box in the upper left of the Fable Explorer window you need to double click on it to display a list of banks and entries within the archive. When you do this the tree view box below the list box with the archive name will display a list of the banks in the archive. Be patient while waiting for the banks to show up. This sometimes takes quite awhile to do for archives with large numbers of entries or slower computers, clicking on the archive name more times will only make it go much much slower.

Once the list of banks is displayed you can then click the ‘+’ icon next to a bank to expand it and see the entries within it. Then to display an entry simply double click on its name in the list. A window displaying more detailed information about the entry should open up. Fable Explorer has built-in support for extended editing of certain types of entries. For a list of these types and how to edit them see Extended BIG Entry Editing.

Editing BIG Entries

Each type of BIG entry holds different data and is in a different format. Some types support Extended BIG Entry Editing, but all types require ‘Apply Changes’ button to be pressed for any modifications to be preserved after you close the window for that entry. If you have modified an entry and do not wish to keep those changes, simply close the window and open the entry again and it will have reverted to its original state. If you wish to keep the changes press the ‘Apply Changes’ button. Once this button is pressed you cannot revert the entry to its original state unless you close the archive without applying changes(in the BIG file menu, not entry window) and open it again.

Adding a BIG entry

Right click on the name of a bank within an open BIG file and select the “New Entry” option. A window should appear that requires you to enter information about the entry you wish to add. The information required is the Symbol Name - the unique name the entry is identified by and Type - the data type of the entry. Once you have added this press the ‘create entry’ button. A new entry will now be added to the list using the next available ID number.

On double-clicking the new entry you will recieve the message “Error displaying entry”. This is because the newly created entry contains no data and you will have to provide this in order for the entry to function. To do this you will have to give the entry both sub-header and entry data. The easiest way to do this is to export these from an existing entry of the same type using the ‘export’ buttons next to each data type in that entries window and then using the ‘import’ buttons in the window of the new entry. Now the entry contains data you are able to edit the entry as detailed in the Extended BIG Entry Editing section.

Saving BIG Archive Modifications

There are three different ways Fable Explorer currently allows saving of modified BIG archives. You can: try to ‘Apply changes’, ‘Recompile’, or ‘Save changes as BIG’.

Apply Changes

To ‘Apply changes’ to a BIG archive that you have modified right click on the name of the archive in the list box in the upper left of the Fable Explorer window and click on ‘Apply Changes’. Fable Explorer will immediately try to save that changes you have made to the archive by writing the new data over the original data in the archive file. This method will fail if a new entry is larger than the data block of the old entry. If this happens a message box will pop-up telling you this infact happened. To avoid this use the ‘Recompile’ method.

Recompile

To ‘Recompile’ a modified BIG archive into a new archive right click on the name of the archive in the list box in the upper left of the Fable Explorer window and click on ‘Recompile’. Fable Explorer will then open up a dialog asking you for the name of the new file. You CANNOT RECOMPILE onto the ORIGINAL file. You MUST select a new file name that is not the original. Once you press the ‘Save’ button Fable Explorer will begin to reconstruct a new BIG archive from the original file and the modified entries. While this is happening Fable Explorer currently just becomes unresponsive until it is finished.

Save Changes As BIG

To ‘Save changes as BIG’ right click on the name of the archive in the list box in the upper left of the Fable Explorer window and click on ‘Save changes as BIG’. Fable Explorer will then open up a dialog asking you for the name of the new BIG archive. Once you press the ‘Save’ button Fable Explorer will go through all of the MODIFIED entries in that archive and ONLY save them into a new BIG archive. (Note: Any entry that has had its ‘Apply changes’ button pressed will be considered modified, even if no data was actually changed.) This method is not useful for modifying fable itself, however it is ideal for exporting your modifications for distribution. Once this BIG archive has been created if anyone wishes to apply the changes to their exisiting original archive they can use the ‘Merge BIG’ functionality with the created new BIG archive.

Merging BIG Archives

Fable Exporer supports ‘merging’ of BIG archives. This is not in anyway useful when working with original BIG archives alone. This feature was added to allow easy implimentation and distribution of modifications. When merging a BIG archive into an existing archive Fable Explorer replaces any entries with common ID’s in the original archive with new ones from the archive that is being merged. If an entry with the same ID does not exist in the original archive a new one with that ID is created. See Save Changes As BIG above for more details of how to create a mergable BIG archive.

Extended BIG Entry Editing

This section has detailed information for entry types that support extended editing. Here are the extended entry types discussed in this section:

Texture Entries

These entries can be found in textures.big and front_end.big archives. These entries store most of the textures used by Fable. When you open the entry window for these entries they will automaticly display the extended editing features. In the entry window you will see a number of fields with data about the texture displayed. The main concerns will most likely be with the functionality of the ‘Open New’ and ‘Save As...’ buttons.

The ‘Open New’ button will allow you to open a texture from a file. When you open a new texture it will load it and replace the current texture in the entry with the one you opened. Once you have your new texture loaded into the entry make sure to press the ‘Apply Changes’ button to make the changes persistent.

Text Entries

These entries can be found in the text.big archive. These entries store most of the text used during game play in Fable. When you open the entry window for these entries they will automaticly display the extended editing features. There are two types of text entries: pure text and text groups.

Pure Text Entries

These entries store a literal text strings. There are other properties and modifiers to these entries other than the main content text. These additional properties are undocumented, but feel free to experiment and maybe provide some feed back with which future documentation could be created.

Text Group Entries

These entries store a list of pure text entry ID’s. Fable uses these groups for doing multi-screen dialogs and random NPC speach. These have not been greatly tested, so use this documentation only for a loose guide.

When a script points to a text group as its content for a dialog it displays the pure text entries listed in it one after the other as the player presses ‘Continue’ in game until they finish the list.

When these are used for random NPC speach one of the pure text entries listed is randomly selected from the group.

To edit a pure text entry that is in a text group you can simply double click on the ID and it will open an entry window for that entry. If you edit a pure text entry and want to see the updated text in the text group entry window press the ‘Refresh’ button. To add a new pure text entry to a group enter the ID in the text box next to the ‘Add’ button and press the ‘Add’ button. To remove entries from the group select the entries you wish to remove and press the ‘Remove’ button. To move pure text entries in a group up or down select the entry you wish to move up or down and press either the ‘Move Up’ or the ‘Move Down’ buttons as needed.

Model Entries

These entries can be found in the graphics.big archive. This is where Fable stores all of its in-game models. Currently you can only preview them and export them to X-File format(.x). When exporting, Fable Explorer will also dump and link the model to its textures if you have the textures.big archive open. This also applies to the previews, you will get gray-scale, none textured models if you do not have textures.big open. Importing is still in development.

X-File importer plugins:

Note: This importer does not import skinweights correctly.

BIN Archives

Browsing Through A BIN Archive

Once you have opened an archive up and it appears in the list box in the upper left of the Fable Explorer window you need to double click on it to display a list of banks and entries within the archive. When you do this the tree view box below the list box with the archive name will display a list of the banks in the archive. Be patient while waiting for the banks to show up. This sometimes takes quite awhile to do for archives with large numbers of entries or slower computers, clicking on the archive name more times will only make it go much much slower.

Once the list of banks is displayed you can then click the ‘+’ icon next to a bank to expand it and see the entries within it. Then to display an entry simply double click on its name in the list. A window displaying more detailed information about the entry should open up. Fable Explorer has built-in support for editing these entries. For details how to edit them see Extended BIN Entry Editing.

Editing BIN Entries

Each type of BIN entry holds different data and is in a different format but all types require ‘Apply Changes’ button to be pressed for any modifications to be preserved after you close the window for that entry. Once a BIN entry is opened a window will appear showing its symbol name, definition type and editable values. The purpose of some of the values has not yet been discovered and as such they will be labelled “unknown” in the window. Use caution when altering these values as they can lead to the game freezing, crashing or failing to load completely.

Adding a BIN entry

Before adding an entry you will need to export an entry that is the same type as you wish to insert. To do this find the entry you wish to export in the BIN listing, open it, press the ‘Export’ button in it’s window and give the exported file a name. To add a new entry right click on the filename of a BIN archive and select ‘Create New Entry’. A window will appear requesting 3 things, Symbol Name - the unique name by which this added entry will be identified, Type - the type of entry you are adding which can be found by looking at the entry you exported from and the name of an imported file.

After entering the Symbol Name and Entry Type press the ‘Select Data File’ button next to the filename textbox and navigate to the entry you exported earlier. Select this file and press the ‘Open’ button. Fable Explorer now has all the data necessary for a new entry. Press the ‘Create Entry’ button and wait for a new entry to be created using the next available ID number. Once created the entry is immediately available for editing.

Fable Mod Packages (FMP)

Creating a Fable Mod Package (FMP)

To create an FMP click ‘File’ on the toolbar and select ‘Create Fable Mod Package’. A window will appear. This is where you will place all the files you want added into the package. To add to the package open a BIG or BIN archive and find the entry you want. Once found, select the entry and drag it onto the window that was opened earlier. Repeat this step until all the files needed by your modification have been added. When all the required entries have been added press the ‘Save FMP’ button and select a destination and a filename. Fable Explorer will then create the fable Mod Package and save it to th especified location.

Loading a Fable Mod Package (FMP)

To load a downloaded package click ‘File’ on the toolbar, select ‘Load Fable Mod Package’ and select the file in the window that appears. Once selected press the ‘open’ button and Fable Explorer will add the entries contained with the package to the relevent BIG/BIN archives. Once this is done either save the BIG/BIN archives manually in you want to play the game later or go to ‘Actions’ on the toolbar and select ‘Save Mods And Run Fable’ to start the game straight away.

Credits and Acknowledgments

  • Hunter: Programmer.
  • Keshire: File formats, testing.
  • Silverback: File formats, testing.
  • Satan: Testing, wiki entry.
  • Pe_Ell: For providing the means and resources to keep our modding community alive.
 
utilities/fable_explorer.txt · Last modified: 2007/01/23 13:20 by satan
 
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