One For The Weekend: Daggerfall Tools For Unity

Here’s something rather natty. Some clever sort has created a thing called Daggerfall Tools for Unity. They describe it as “a code asset which acts as a bridge between Daggerfall’s binary data files and Unity3D.”

What this essentially seems to mean is that if you own a copy of Daggerfall – which Bethesda offer as a free download, bless ’em – you can use Daggerfall Tools to import all manner of assets and content into Unity projects and then tinker as you like.

The list of features the tools include is dreamy: enemies come pre-loaded with animations, there are custom components to handle stuff like switches and doors, many of the GameObjects created during the import process come with useful metadata… why, take a look for yourself.

What you’ve got here is a big old game development sandbox based on one of the most famously sandboxey game series of them all.

Here’s developer Gavin ‘Interkarma’ Clayton on these tools:

Daggerfall Tools for Unity is a code asset which acts as a bridge between Daggerfall’s binary data files and Unity3D. It consists of a mature API for opening and converting almost all of Daggerfall’s content files – plus a set of editor windows, example classes, and prefabs for quickly converting Daggerfall’s environments into fully functional Unity scenes.

The underlying API, called DaggerfallConnect, is a battle-tested C# library that has been under development since 2009. This library is already used by content exploring tools with thousands of downloads and has been retooled specifically for use inside Unity. Full source code is included for everything related to Daggerfall.

Accompanying the API is a suite of components and editor windows to interface between Daggerfall’s files and Unity. You can import any mesh, block layout, city, building interior, or dungeon with a single click. There are dozens of options to control how content is imported into Unity, using either the editor or directly from code.

Everything you can import with the editor can also be imported fully procedurally at run-time, allowing you to build vast worlds out of Daggerfall’s content and extend however you like with Unity’s broad feature-set.

I literally could not have put it better myself. I’m no developer, but I have enjoyed fiddling about with Unity. I’ve made a few tutorial projects, a game level in which you walked towards a sphere that made noises at you, and – hat tip Kerry Turner – a rather nice tree. To this list I think I might add “making a tremendous, glorious mess out of something beautiful”.

(Unfamiliar with Daggerfall? Here’s a lovely article from the archives, contrasting its design ethos with that of Dark Souls.)

48 Comments

  1. satan says:

    I wonder what King Lysandus of Daggerfall would have to say about this…

  2. Pich says:

    I should give Daggerfall a try one of these days. looks like an interesting game.

  3. Stevostin says:

    I really can’t see the point. Unless it means you can recreate Daggerfall in Unity then enhance it, in which case, awesome.

    • Neurotic says:

      No soup for you!

    • Holysheep says:

      Have you played daggerfall? Have you read all that’s written in the video, or just simply watched it at all?
      There’s quite a lot of very obvious changes just by simply looking at it.

      • Stevostin says:

        I did play Daggerfall. I didn’t watch the video: as I said, what’s in the article doesn’t imply there would be a point to watch it.

        EDIT: watched. We see view from inside Unity, which 99% of RPS readership don’t have. It will sure be cool to have this in something we can all launch, but for now it seems a bit lost to me as a news on RPS. Also what are the IP issues, can this even be published etc.

        • Holysheep says:

          I have unity and know how to use it. It’s pretty easy for anyone who doesn’t even know much on development.
          There are guides everywhere.

          Unity is free, unless you don’t want the unity logo popping at the start of your game. It’s really easy to follow tutorials or whatnot.

          Now assuming you don’t care about that, which I would understand since I don’t care much about unity myself while being a dev, it means that anyone who has some basic unity knowledge can make this all work. Therefore, the fact that it exists, and is possible to use, means that it’s just a matter of time before anyone does anything with.

          Also, check the other comments, there are demos around.

          • Baines says:

            Unity is free, but some performance enhancers are paid version only. To be fair, I don’t know if Daggerfall Tools for Unity actually takes advantage of any of those performance improvements.

            EDIT: Ah, a link to the feature gallery does mention that some elements benefit from a Pro license.

        • RARARA says:

          Well, then this post is for the 1% of RPS readership. You bigot.

        • Mad Hamish says:

          Well of all the comments posted here so far yours is the only one moaning about the pointlessness of it all. There must be others who agree with you but I guess they must have realised pointlessness of posting about it. This is great news for us Daggerfall fans and even better for Daggerfall fans who use Unity. So let us have this, you don’t need to be here making this silly argument.

        • John O says:

          Well if you don’t have Unity then download it. It is free to use. You can pay and have super sweet realtime lighting and stuff, but you really don’t have to. Even if you have no clue as to how to use Unity and never played Daggerfall, this post could be interesting since it basically means porting Daggerfall to a modern engine is now a lot easier. So… eh. You are a meanie and i’ll eat your cake when you’re not looking.

    • Anders Wrist says:

      So what you’re saying is that you do see the point.

      • Stevostin says:

        Ok, so someone is working on a “full daggerfall remake”. On RPS I would have rather expect a news about this rather than tool level stuff (I don’t think we’re informed about how the other TES mods are being made and what one can do) but hey, why not.

    • LogicalDash says:

      Assuming you’re serious, this is sort of like if there were proper mod tools for Daggerfall, only actually it’s even better than that because you get to use all its stuff in a modern engine.

      As for IP issues: the ability to import those assets at runtime means that games made with this toolset don’t need to include Daggerfall, and will only run if you have Daggerfall installed.

      The user experience will be a lot like playing a mod, I guess

    • ahobel95 says:

      I mean Unity3d does have free Oculus Rift integration… :)

  4. SirBryghtside says:

    I found out about this a couple of weeks ago through Bethesda’s official forums, and I can’t wait for the full game to be remade in this. Daggerfall is a wonderful game, just one that’s filled with bugs, imbalances and other oddities that make it almost unplayable today, so being able to play it in a stable engine (and to be able to recommend it in good faith) is something I’m really looking forward to.

    • Herbal Space Program says:

      Did you say unsolvable random dungeons?

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        JiminyJickers says:

        Haha, the amount of dungeons I spent hour and hours in until I learned the mark and recall spells.

        • Captain says:

          yeah seriously before I found out about Mark&Recall I’d stare at the auto map and yell at the screen “THE MAP, IT DOES NOTHING”

      • phlebas says:

        He wrote a paragraph about those, but that bit fell through a wall and got lost.

  5. august says:

    As someone who has always wanted to play Daggerfall but found the DOS resolution a deal breaker, this is super exciting. That draw distance is amazing.

    I’m pretty sure creator of this thing is being coy about using the word “remake” in regards to this thing because a) he doesn’t want to limit the scope of the project (other people already have multiplayer and occulous rift support working!) and b) he doesn’t want to commit himself to being the one doing the heavy lifting of converting the whole game and getting it working. But since the tools are open that means that (unlike the DaggerXL project) as long there are other people with the time interest and Unity skills interested in working on and expanding this thing, the sky is pretty much the limit.

    • MistaJah says:

      Exactly. I couldn’t handle the antique interface but this sort of rejuvenation might make me get into Daggerfall. Currently replaying Morrowind and all it took was simply a 2x texture pack.

  6. august says:

    Also it’s worth noting that there are already demos up that let you run around Daggerfall as seen in the video in the article:

    link to dfworkshop.net

  7. Anders Wrist says:

    The link to reddit.com subreddit is worth following too, as Interkarma (the creator) is active there quite a bit. He also updates the forums of the hibernating Daggerfall XLengine, with news of this project often.

  8. acoff001 says:

    This will all be worth it if someone can just fix the dungeon maps so they actually make any sort of sense to a non-insane person.

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      teije says:

      Come on, the incomprehensible, maddening, sometimes unsolvable dungeons were a big part of the appeal!

  9. Janissaire says:

    OOOH YES DAGGERFALL IN 3D OOOOOH ORGASM OOOOOH GOD OOOOOH YESSS!

  10. Kala says:

    I <3 this.

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      JiminyJickers says:

      That’s a bit unfair, I’m sure it is worth more than 3. :P

  11. Detocroix says:

    Nice jab at Bethesda in the Mod/tools/whatnot feature list. They have CLIMBING. Mr. Todd Howard, your team was beaten by a crew of fans!

    • august says:

      Technically I think vanilla Daggerfall already has climbing.

      • Detocroix says:

        It does? Pretty impressive because Morrowind and Morrowind upwards you have climbing (By climbing we mean ladders)

        • Bassen_Hjertelos says:

          Daggerfall has real climbing. There’s even a dedicated climbing skill.

        • Captain says:

          Not really that impressive, since you could climb anything. The reason it was removed is that it gets very hard to design good dungeons and maps if the player can literally scale any vertical object in the game. Same reason why flying got removed.

          • Bassen_Hjertelos says:

            No, flying was removed because they couldn’t manage to make the cities part of the world map because, well, consoles. Flying and horse riding combat came back in Skyrim with DLC and a patch. They were both part of Daggerfall and regardless of the problems with it, they gave the player more freedom.

  12. piffleflop says:

    Does anyone know about copyright re daggerfall assets? Can you make your own game and release it or is this all just for the fun of tinkering?

    • august says:

      I’m going to guess that Bethesda would draw the line on someone making money of their content.

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      Dukey says:

      Given that Bethesda already give those assets away for free, I’d say anybody using them for a free project would be fine. No way you’d be able to use them in anything you sell though. . .

      • mike2R says:

        The licence when you download it from the Bethesda site just says you have a licence to it for your own use, so if you wanted to distribute a derivative, even for free, you’d need permission. I’d guess that might well granted for a non-commercial project, but they would need to ask.

    • Bassen_Hjertelos says:

      You can make a new game and release it as long as you don’t package it with any of Bethsofts assets. Those assets would have to be downloaded from Bethsoft. It’s just like they do it with OpenXCOM.

  13. Continuity says:

    ah Daggerfall, my most abiding memory of Daggerfall is the shopkeepers with that hilarious 2 frame animation.

  14. racccoon says:

    Nicely done, for those thinking…early access.. please don’t!
    Asking for hand outs on a copied game is just as shameful. :)
    Just make a game & release it..

  15. TheNelson says:

    Oh man I would love if somebody gets the game running in this and makes it available on Android with a proper interface.