Sunday, February 24, 2013

Not all saves are created equal

A quick post today regarding progress on The Shattered War... or rather as I could put it more accurately, a loss of progress.

One of the quite time consuming but important things I've been doing lately is VO integration. This is where characters animations, the speaker's facial expression and the camera angles used for every single dialogue are checked.  It's making sure that a speaker's arms or hands aren't moving when they should be, or that I customise their movements to better match with the line of dialogue they're speaking.

As I do this, I save regularly.  Unfortunately, unbeknownst to me, that doesn't actually directly and immediately save this information. The Dragon Age toolset saves everything to a database, and it seems that when you hit the save button, that doesn't mean it automatically saves it to the database. Instead, it appears that it merely prepares them to be written to the database.  It appears that the changes aren't written until you either close the dialogue that you're working on within the toolset, or close the toolset entirely.

Why is this a problem? The problem is that the toolset isn't the most reliable of tools. It can, and does, crash periodically. It can easily occur while you're generating lip sync information or previewing dialogue lines, both of which are things you need to do on a regular basis while doing VO integration. If the toolset happens to crash, then all those prepared changes are lost. They're not written to the database.

Unfortunately, I didn't realise this the way that the toolset worked. I've come to this conclusion after losing several hours of VO integration work. After that, I needed to take a bit of a break away from the toolset.  Now that my anger and disappointment have faded, I feel I can restart the process of redoing all the work I've already done once today. I'll also be closing and re-opening the dialogue/toolset on a regular basis to ensure I don't lose any more work.

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