Game Tech: Custom Helpfiles
  In this tutorial we will explain how to make a regular text-file and explain the basics behind how the files work and coloring our text and how to make your text link to other help-files, creating a more userfriendly reference.      
  What are help-files?

Help-files can be mistaken for references easily, since they both use the same kind of interface, but if you have used the in-game helpfiles by using /help you know there are differences. Most notably the difference between normal references and helpfiles is the fact that you can make helpfiles links, and make AO execute commands for you. The best example for this is really

/help emote

Which presents you with the different emotes in the game - clicking on these will make you perform various emotes in the game. The help-files are also linked to each other via hyperlinks, making navigation a lot simpler.

So come with us on the tour to making your own help-files which can be used to control bots if you use them, or used for making your own databases over various items, as well as other interfaces for commands that you use, or simply make a couple that lists the rules and conduct for your organization...

Where do I begin?
First off you need to make a script which will call on our helpfile. You really should read the Anarchy Arcanum guide to Scripting unless you already know how to create scripts. Lets say we are going to name our script to "helpme" and our text-file to "organizationhelp.txt".
What you will need is the basic script (helpme) to contain a single line :

/showfile organizationhelp.txt

The /showfile command shows the contents of [filename.txt] in the references window. Now, all we need to do is to create the [filename.txt] file, in our case "organizationhelp.txt". The file needs to be located in this drawer in order for AO to make this work properly :

Anarchy Online/cd_image/text/help/[filename.txt]

Important notice! While it is possible to make your own txt-files from scratch - we highly recommend that you do NOT do this, but instead copy an existing file and delete the contents inside it. The reason for this is word wrapping. The original files are saved in a slightly different text-encoding, which might make your own text-files look like this:

Organization Informati
Svea Rike is an organi
zation that is all abo
ut having fun in the g
ame and not a politica
l guild. Bla bla bla b

Naturally that is highly unwanted. Looking at that can get very frustrating, it feels very choppy. In order to bypass this - Copy one of the original files - or download this TEMPLATE to use as a base for your help-files.

  Coloring your text
You are able to use colors in your text. There are 32 colors available (actually less, since some of the colors appear in the list more than once) as you can see in this numbered chart. The corresponding numbers are important when you are typing the text because you will need to use the coloring command.

#C20 This is green text
#C5 This is yellow text

Remember to put a space between the color command and the text or the first word in the text will be enterpreted like part of the command (which is a bad thing, since there is no color called "20this"). In order to look at the colors in-game, you can download this small helpfile. Unzip it into the "Anarchy Online/cd_image/text/help/" drawer and activate it from within AO using the command

/showfile colortester.txt

Now you should be ready to try on the more advanced workings of making help-files, and certainly the most interesting ones, as these will make it possible to create a lot of fun things - here is a couple of tips:
1. Make your own tradeskill book
2. Make your own In-house rules for the guild to download
3. Make a text-adventure
4. Make a user-interface for easy commands with bots

Linking helpfiles together
By linking helpfiles together you are making them more user-friendly. Imagine surfing the internet having to retype if there were no hyperlinks. It would be about as much fun as watching paint dry and hyperlinking inside helpfiles is actually not very hard at all.

Lets say you have two files - "organizationhelp.txt" and "organizationrules.txt" and you wish to link to them. The command for linking between the two files is quite basic, as you will see below:

#L "Organization Rules" "/showfile organizationrules.txt"

The #L is the link command and you should recognize the /showfile command at the end. Linking like this might seem like a hassle at first, but its not really that tough when you get into the whole thing. Its just like riding a bike. Once you learn, you wish you never had, and then you fall off it, it gets stolen, Okay, maybe its not like riding a bike after all, but its not that complex.

You can use that to start any file you want locally with or without arguments, so indeed you can, with a bit of tinkering, administrate your own administrationscripts using notepad for instance! This command works best if you are running in windowed mode, naturally. Apart from the /start and /showfile commands you also use any kinds of in-game scripts or commands as you see fit :

#L "Disco" "/disco"
#L "Bank assets" "/org bank"
#L "Big favor" "/petition Give those guys at their own in-game nightclub!"

Just kidding about that last one. Kinda. After a few links you will get the hang of how it works and after that you will be on your way to greatness and everyone will bow down to your mighty skills.

For your scripting pleasures there is also something called a "Messagebox" function which you can use in your scripts. The command is fairly simple and works like this:

/messagebox Thank you for using the Administration Helpscripts

Which outputs a messagebox displaying the text "Thank you for using the Administration Helpscripts". Its a novelty mostly but still might just add that little extra spice to your helpfiles. So get out there and do some more scripts, and interfaces for them!

Last updated 02.July 2003

Beaexn, Atlantean
Amona, Atlantean