Difference between revisions of "Introduction to Arma Scripting"

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== Introduction ==
  
During [[ArmA: Mission Editing|mission editing]] and [[ArmA: Addon Editing|addon editing]] you may come across situations where actions or features you would like to have to have in your mission or addon cannot be accomplished using the basic (or even the more advanced) capabilities of the [[ArmA: Mission Editor|mission editor]] or within config files (in the case of addons). Some examples of this might be really cinematic cutscenes in missions or special animations for an addon.
+
This page should give beginners an overview of how to begin with scripting and where to find most of the information they need in the beginning. Some information might not be complete and can be found on other wiki pages.
  
 +
During [[ArmA: Mission Editing|mission editing]] and [[ArmA: Addon Editing|addon editing]] you may come across situations where actions or features you would like to have in your mission or addon cannot be accomplished using the basic (or even the more advanced) capabilities of the [[ArmA: Mission Editor|mission editor]] or within config files (in the case of addons). Some examples of this might be really cinematic cutscenes in missions or special animations for an addon.
  
The '''solution''' to this is to take advantage of the game-engines ability to call on an even more advanced feature known as [[Scripting|scripting]]. [[Armed Assault|Armed Assault's]] '''scripting language''' gives you more direct control of core game commands. With any combination of these [[:Category:ArmA: Scripting Commands|scripting commands]] you can then create custom processes that meet the specific needs of your mission or addon.
+
The '''solution''' to this is to take advantage of the game-engine's ability to call on an even more advanced feature known as [[Scripting|scripting]]. '''Arma''''s '''scripting language''' gives you a more direct control of core game features. With any combination of these '''[[:Category: Scripting Commands|commands]]''' and '''[[:Category: Functions|functions]]''' you can create custom processes that meet the specific needs of your mission or addon.
  
== Terms ==
 
  
Before getting started, you should understand the meaning of some of these terms.
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== Before anything ==
  
; Script
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=== Is your idea necessary? ===
: When speaking about a [[Script (File)|script]], it is generally considered a '''.sqs''' file, the same can be said for [[Function|functions]], since functions are a kind of script as well, the file ends with a '''.sqf'''. Both file types can be edited as a plain '''text''' file.
 
  
; Game Engine
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* Will players even notice or use what you want to script? Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Sometimes less is more!
: The core program of the game which reads and executes your scripting commands at run time.
 
  
== When Do I Need Scripting? ==
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=== Is it possible to do this in the editor? ===
  
'''Be careful:''' Scripting isn't a solution to everything.
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* [[Eden Editor]] is an incredibly powerful tool and with it alone one can achive a lot of things, even without writing a single line of [[SQF syntax|SQF]].
 +
* ''Poorly written'' scripts are often the reason for poor performance both in singleplayer and multiplayer scenarios.
  
 +
=== Can it be scripted using SQF? ===
  
The first thing to ask yourself is "Am I absolutely, positively sure this cannot be done using just the editor?" The goal with scripting is to create processes that can't be done otherwise. Scripting does use system resources, poorly written scripts can effect game play and/or performance. So, it pays to be sure you have learned as much as you can about how the editor works and you understand its capabilities and limitations.
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* This might be hard to answer, especially for beginners. Try to get as much information about what you want to do and what [[:Category: Scripting Commands|commands]] and [[:Category: Functions|functions]] there are before spending time on writing a script, just to find out it is ''not'' possible in the end.
  
The second thing to ask before you start scripting away is "Will players even notice and/or use the action or feature I would like to implement?". It may seem silly, but just because it can be done does not always mean it should be.
 
  
The third step (and after the first two are out of the way just may be the hardest step, especially for people new to scripting)is to try and determine if what you want to do can be implemented with the scripting language.  
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Depending on your answer for these questions, you may want to rethink your approach.
  
If you aren't sure even after working out the preliminaries - just ask in the [http://www.flashpoint1985.com/cgi-bin/ikonboard311/ikonboard.cgi official forums]or at [http://www.ofpec.com OFPEC](these would also be good places to ask other players for their feedback on question number two (and if they bite you've got some possible beta testers on the hook!).
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{{Informative | '''Scripting''' is <u>not</u> a solution to everything.}}
  
  
 +
== Terms ==
  
=== Checklist ===
+
Before getting started, you should understand the meaning of these terms.
 
 
In summary:
 
 
 
# Can I do it with the ([[ArmA: Mission Editor|mission editor]], [[ArmA: Addon Configuration|addon ]] config files etc.).
 
# Will players notice and/or use it?
 
# Is it possible?
 
 
 
If all of the three points are answered with "Yes", go on and script it! But be warned: It won't always be easy. ;-)
 
 
 
== Scripting Code ==
 
 
 
The core of scripting is '''scripting code'''. The code consists of [[:Category:ArmA: Scripting Commands|scripting commands]] that tell the game engine what to do. These commands are executed one after another.
 
 
 
The code is written into special fields of the [[ArmA: Mission Editor|mission editor]] (see below) or into separate files that are executed at some defined point (f.i. through [[Triggers|triggers]]) during the running mission.
 
 
 
=== Syntax ===
 
 
 
Every code has to follow a '''syntax'''. The syntax makes sure that the ''game engine'' can read and understand the code.
 
  
The primary syntax used in [[Armed Assault]] is [[SQF syntax]]. Read the corresponding article to inform yourself about it.
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'''Data Types''':
 +
See [[Data Types]]
  
At some point you may also find scripts written in the deprecated [[SQS syntax]]. This syntax was the primary syntax in [[Operation Flashpoint]], but is considered deprecated since Armed Assault.
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'''Algorithm''':
 +
In mathematics and computer science, an algorithm is an explicit specification of how to solve a class of problems. Algorithms can perform calculation, data processing and automated reasoning tasks.
  
All scripting pages about Armed Assault will focus on [[SQF syntax]].
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'''Interpreter''':
 +
Reads your code from a script file and translates it into instructions for you to achieve your desired outcome/effect in the game.
  
=== Layout ===
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'''Control Structures''':
 +
See [[Control Structures]]
  
Code should be written in a specific '''layout'''. Complementary to the syntax, the layout assures that ''you and other coders'' can easily read the code. This is especially important when you haven't looked at your code for a long time and want to improve or change this code.
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'''Syntax''':
 +
* See [[SQF syntax]]
 +
* See [[SQS syntax]] (obsolete)
  
* There should be '''only one [[Statement|statement]] per line''' in [[Script (File)|scripts]]. This doesn't concern script lines in the mission editor, since there all the code has to be written within a single line.
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'''Script''':
* Use '''spaces or tabs''' to indent code in [[Block|blocks]]. This way you can easily tell to which block some code belongs.
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When speaking about a [[Script (File)|script]], we usually mean a .sqs or .sqf file.
  
Example:
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'''Game Engine''':
 +
The core program of the game which reads and executes your scripting commands at run time.
  
Statement 1;
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'''Function''':
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See [[Function]]
Block
 
{
 
    Statement 2;
 
 
    Nested block
 
    {
 
        Statement 3;
 
        Statement 4;
 
    };
 
};
 
  
=== Comments ===
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'''Variables''':
 +
See [[Variables]]
  
You can and should write comments into your [[Script (File)|scripts]] that describe the purpose of your code. These comments are written in free text and completely ignored by the game engine.
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'''Operators''':
 +
See [[Operators]]
  
Check out [[SQF syntax]] for information about the notation of comments.
 
  
'''Important:''' Don't write down what the code does, but rather what ''you'' want to do with the code. This is not as easy, but maybe the following example explains it a bit better:
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== Recommended programs ==
  
Bad comment:
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'''Code Edition''' programs can be found on the [[:Category:Community Tools#Code Edition|Community Tools - Code Edition]] page section.
  
// the variable i gets the value 1
 
i = 1;
 
  
Good comment:
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== Must-read articles ==
  
// reset the counter to start with 1 again
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=== Best Practices ===
i = 1;
 
  
== Code Execution ==
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* [[Code Best Practices]]
  
how can I execute code? (external files vs. mission editor)
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=== Debugging ===
  
=== Mission Editor ===
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* [[Debugging Techniques]]
 +
* [[:Category:Community_Tools#Debug_Console.2FSystem|Community Tools - Debug Console/System]]
  
how to execute code in the editor, listing of mission editor fields to start scripts
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=== Optimisation ===
  
=== External Files ===
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* [[Code Optimisation]]
 +
* [[Mission Optimisation]]
  
how to execute code in external files, scripts & functions
 
  
== Developing a Script ==
+
== Useful Links ==
  
script in this case: code in external files (scripts/functions). how to develop a script?
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These links offer a great deal of information about [[Scripting]]:
 
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* [[:Category:Example Code|Example Code]]
* Requirements
 
* Concept
 
* Implementation
 
* Test
 
 
 
usually in your head, for complex scripts on paper and drafts
 
 
 
=== Requirements ===
 
 
 
what shall the script do?
 
 
 
=== Concept ===
 
 
 
How shall the script do it?
 
 
 
=== Implementation ===
 
 
 
Writing the code
 
 
 
=== Test ===
 
 
 
Testing the code
 
 
 
== Further Reading ==
 
 
 
If you want to learn more about [[Scripting]], read the following articles:
 
 
 
* [[Variables]]
 
* [[Data Types]]
 
* [[Operators]]
 
 
* [[Control Structures]]
 
* [[Control Structures]]
* [[Exception Handling]]
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* [[Multiplayer Scripting]]
 +
* [[Exception handling]]
 +
* [[Script (File)]]
 +
* [[Function]]
 +
* [[SQS to SQF conversion]]
  
== See also ==
+
Additionally, the following are more resources for more general learning:
 +
* [[6thSense.eu/EG|6thSense.eu Editing Guide]]
 +
* [http://www.armaholic.com/page.php?id=20465 Fockers Arma 3 Scripting Guide]
 +
* [http://www.armaholic.com/page.php?id=4847 Mr-Murray's Armed Assault Editing Guide - Deluxe Edition]
 +
* [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WmEBN-RbK44 Excellent German SQF tutorial (YouTube)]
  
* [[Script (File)]]
 
* [[Function]]
 
* [[SQF syntax]]
 
  
[[Category: Scripting Topics|Introduction to Scripting]]
+
[[Category:Scripting Topics]]
 +
[[Category:Operation Flashpoint: Editing]]
 +
[[Category:ArmA: Editing]]
 +
{{GameCategory|arma2|Editing}}
 +
{{GameCategory|arma3|Editing}}
 +
[[Category:Take On Helicopters: Editing]]

Latest revision as of 21:17, 2 August 2020

Introduction

This page should give beginners an overview of how to begin with scripting and where to find most of the information they need in the beginning. Some information might not be complete and can be found on other wiki pages.

During mission editing and addon editing you may come across situations where actions or features you would like to have in your mission or addon cannot be accomplished using the basic (or even the more advanced) capabilities of the mission editor or within config files (in the case of addons). Some examples of this might be really cinematic cutscenes in missions or special animations for an addon.

The solution to this is to take advantage of the game-engine's ability to call on an even more advanced feature known as scripting. Arma's scripting language gives you a more direct control of core game features. With any combination of these commands and functions you can create custom processes that meet the specific needs of your mission or addon.


Before anything

Is your idea necessary?

  • Will players even notice or use what you want to script? Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Sometimes less is more!

Is it possible to do this in the editor?

  • Eden Editor is an incredibly powerful tool and with it alone one can achive a lot of things, even without writing a single line of SQF.
  • Poorly written scripts are often the reason for poor performance both in singleplayer and multiplayer scenarios.

Can it be scripted using SQF?

  • This might be hard to answer, especially for beginners. Try to get as much information about what you want to do and what commands and functions there are before spending time on writing a script, just to find out it is not possible in the end.


Depending on your answer for these questions, you may want to rethink your approach.

Scripting is not a solution to everything.


Terms

Before getting started, you should understand the meaning of these terms.

Data Types: See Data Types

Algorithm: In mathematics and computer science, an algorithm is an explicit specification of how to solve a class of problems. Algorithms can perform calculation, data processing and automated reasoning tasks.

Interpreter: Reads your code from a script file and translates it into instructions for you to achieve your desired outcome/effect in the game.

Control Structures: See Control Structures

Syntax:

Script: When speaking about a script, we usually mean a .sqs or .sqf file.

Game Engine: The core program of the game which reads and executes your scripting commands at run time.

Function: See Function

Variables: See Variables

Operators: See Operators


Recommended programs

Code Edition programs can be found on the Community Tools - Code Edition page section.


Must-read articles

Best Practices

Debugging

Optimisation


Useful Links

These links offer a great deal of information about Scripting:

Additionally, the following are more resources for more general learning: