Note: This is an old page that has been updated/formatted, you can view the original here.


Author: Antony Espindola

Objectives Tutorial -- What they are, how they work and how to use them

There are currently other tutorials around for Objectives (which are also called "Goals") at the moment, but they seem to introduce too many concepts in the COG language at once and this can be a bit confusing for the novice programmers amongst us, therefore I have done this tutorial to explain more about how Objectives are defined in JK/MotS, how they work and give you a few tips on creating your own.

I'm pretty new to this - how do I add Objectives to my level?

First off, let's talk about what exactly Objectives are. When you play a Single-Player JK/MotS level, you will (normally) have a few Objectives that you must complete to end the level - be it picking up a certain object, killing a "Dark Jedi" or similar character, entering a certain area or even simply spotting a certain item in a room. The Objectives are designed to give you a purpose to the level, rather than just going round and killing all the enemies and finding keys to open doors (otherwise we'd all be playing Quake, right? ;-)

This doesn't mean that you can't end the level without completing all the Objectives- you will need to either setup you level so that you can only enter the end sector (say by keeping a door locked until a certain Objective is completed), or you will need to check that all the Objectives have been completed in your end-level COG.

So when we create our levels, the first thing we need to do is let our level know that we actually have Objectives in it! This is done through the COGSTRINGS.UNI file which holds things like lines of text, the name of your level and the introduction text you see as the level loads, but then you should be familiar with this file by now!

The Objectives are entered into the COGSTRINGS.UNI file in the following format:

"GOAL_01000"   0  "This is the first Goal Text"
"GOAL_01001"   0  "This is the second Goal Text"

The first number (in quotes) defines the Objective's number and level it it used in. It always starts "GOAL_" and then has a 5-digit number. You multiply the number of your level by one thousand and then add the number of the Objective in that level, but don't forget that the Objectives start at Zero and not One! For example, Objective 4 of Level 6 would be specified as:

"GOAL_06003"   0  "Gain access to the Security Tower"

The next number (always a zero) is not used. The next line of text is what appears in the "Objectives" screen in the game. This text shouldn't be too long- the loading screen's text should explain the overall purpose of the level. Keep the text short, but not too vague otherwise the player might get stuck. Something like "Get some Ammo" is rather dull and doesn't really help whereas "Find an alternative route into the Ammunition Room" would be a much better way of saying the same thing.

Great! I've typed in the Objectives but nothing appears! What am I doing wrong?

Now you have defined your Objectives, you need to add them into the game. This is done through COGs which can be kept very simple or made incredibly complicated - it all depends on your ability which can easily grow if you experiment, learn and practise. There are no easy routes to learning how to write COGs, but with a little programming knowledge (like how an "IF...ELSE..." statement works) and by looking at other people's COGs (I recommend you look through the ones by LucasArts that come with the game as these are well commented so you can tell what they are doing) and the use of the JK Specs to find out what they do, you should have no trouble understanding it.

Now we have defined our Objective in the COGSTRINGS.UNI file, we need to make them appear in our game - this requires a command inside a COG. To show the Objectives, we use the SetGoalFlags() command:

player = GetLocalPlayerThing();
SetGoalFlags(player, 0, 1);

The first line simple gets the "handle" for the Player and assigns it to the player variable (but then you knew that!) The second line makes the Objective appear in the list.

Let's take a look at the SetGoalFlags() command in more detail to show how it works as this is the important bit when working with Objectives.

The first parameter, player, is the handle for the current player. We got that in the line above. The second parameter (zero in this case) is the number of the goal that we want to show; our zero equates to the first Objective we defined. The second number (1 in this case) is the flag value:

1 = Visible
2 = Completed

By not setting the Goal flags, the Objective will not appear in our Objectives list. If you want to have all your goals appear at the start, add a SetGoalFlags line for each of your Objectives and set the flag for each of them to 1.

Another way to work with Objectives is to "hide" some of them until other Objectives are completed. This helps to keep some of the plot a mystery and won't give away any secrets or twists in your Level's story until the Player needs to know about them. To do this, simply don't add the required lines in your Startup COG, but do them elsewhere...

To make an Objective appear when we complete another Objective, we simply have to put the line which "shows" our Objective into the same COG as that which "completes" the previous Objective. I'll show you how to do this in a moment, but first let's see how you code to "complete" and Objective:

player = GetLocalPlayerThing();
SetGoalFlags(player, 0, 2);

Looks familiar? That's because we just set the Goal flag to 2 to make it "completed"! This shows you just how easy it can be to program COGs yourself!

Ok, I understand how to define, show and complete an Objective, but how do I work this into my level's COGs?

You simply need to add a COG that will be triggered when the player does something that would complete an Objective. For example, if one of our Objectives was to "Gain access to the Security Tower" then we would set up a COG that triggers when the player enters that sector. Showing you how you write a COG to trigger like this is beyond the scope of this tutorial and I'm sure it's been written far better elsewhere! So let's say we have a COG that triggers when we enter a sector, and we can just edit it and add our "Objective Completed" lines to it:


sound   goalsnd=Accomplish1.wav     local
int player              local

    // player has entered the sector!
    player = GetLocalPlayerThing();

    //complete the first objective
    PlaySoundThing(goalsnd, player, 1.0, -1, -1, 0);
    SetGoalFlags(player, 0, 2);
    Print("Now I'm in the Security Tower, I need to disable the alarm")

    // now show the second objective
    SetGoalFlags(player, 1, 1);


So you can see how easy it is to complete and show your Objectives. There are also conditions that can be triggered in a COG for things like when an item or surface is damaged, an object is sighted or when you walk into a certain sector - more information is available in other tutorials but I wanted to keep this one simple and explain about Objectives and not how to write COGs!

The tricky part to Objectives is thinking of inventive ways to use them- not just picking up items or opening doors, but by solving puzzles in the level or checking for certain conditions. As you get better and better with your COGs, you will be able to create more interesting and complicated ones which will help to make your level stand out.

Good luck!