taaspider

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TAA_SmartHelpWindow - v1.0.0
Created by taaspider

This plugin is compatible with both MV and MZ.

Terms of Use

Any plugins developed by taaspider are free for use for both commercial and noncommercial RPG Maker games, unless specified otherwise. Just remember to credit "taaspider".

Redistribution of parts or the whole of taaspider plugins is forbidden (which also includes reposting), unless it comes from the official website (linked within the post). You are allowed to edit and change the plugin code for your own use, but you're definitely not allowed to sell or reuse any part of the code as your own. Although not required to use my plugins, a free copy of your game would be nice!

Introduction

By default, help windows are included by the engine in all menu scenes as a way to convey additional information to the player, either by showing an item, weapon, armor or skill description, or by showing a descriptive text for the scene (like showing "Which slot to save?" in the save scene, for example). This window takes a considerable area of the screen, even when there's no text to show.

This plugin aims to effectively remove the help window from all selected scenes, while also allowing for its existence (in whichever window from the scene you want it to be enabled). However, when the window is activated using this plugin it is show close to the selected item, and the window is resized to fit the text it has to show without taking more space than needed to convey the required information. Also, the player has the power to show or hide this window as he pleases, so that experienced players can remove unnecessary information from the screen.


Screenshots

This is an example of how the help window behaves by default.
This is an example of how the help window behaves by default.
Below examples of the Smart Help Windows in action!
Skill Menu (Help Window Off)

TAA_SmartHelpWindows_example2.png
Skill menu (Help Window On)
TAA_SmartHelpWindows_example3.png
Item Menu
TAA_SmartHelpWindows_example4.png
Equip Menu
TAA_SmartHelpWindows_example5.png
Shop Menu
TAA_SmartHelpWindows_example6.png
Battle Skill Selection
TAA_SmartHelpWindows_example7.png

How to Use

WARNING: This plugin requires RPG Maker MV 1.5.0 or above! Please make sure your RPG Maker MV software is up to date before using this plugin. You don't need any specific version if you're using MZ.

WARNING 2: This plugin messes A LOT with any scene it is enabled on. To ensure it works properly, place it as far below in your plugin list as possible. Be sure to check plugin compatibilities as well.


First of, download the plugin here. You can also test it using my sample demo project. It was built with MV, but you can open it with MZ as well (just open the game.rmmzproject file and you're good to go).

There's a long list of parameters used to configure the plugin operations. However, most of them are used to tell the plugin which scenes should keep the original help window, and which should adopt the plugin's dynamic window. For each scene, you can also select which windows will allow the smart help window to show. When it is disabled for a window and that window becomes active, the help window is hidden from the player as long as he remains in the current disabled window.

The plugin also allows you to change the remaining window positions (to account for the help window absence). That works only if the dynamic help window is enabled for the scene (and the proper custom parameter is also enabled). There's a long section in the plugin help file describing how custom window positioning works, along with some suggested settings. Be sure to take a good look into that before customizing its parameters.

Input Info Settings

Each scene has its own input info settings, so you can determine how this window works for each scene independently (you can see this small windows in the screenshot examples, where it reads "Press 'tab' to toggle help"). However, parameters are always the same for all the scenes. You can enable / disable it, change the window position and size, change font settings, padding, opacity and window skin.

Input Key

This parameter determines which input key is used to show or hide the smart help windows. It provides a list of supported keys for the developer to select.

YEP_EquipCore has a hardcoded effect programmed for the 'tab' key. If you're also using this plugin and select the same key for Smart Help Windows input, it won't work as expected. If that's your case, select a different key to ensure compatibility. That's also valid for any other plugin that alters input behavior for any given scene.

Input Default Settings

This parameter tells the game if the Smart Help Windows are shown or hidden by default at game boot.

Global Parameters
  • Display when empty: If disabled, Smart Help Windows will be automatically hidden when the highlighted item has no attached description. This can be strange for a player (the window appearing for some items, and some not). Use it with caution;
  • Help Window Setting: This allows you to configure the help window as a separate entity from all the other windows (effective only on scenes where the plugin is enabled). It allows you to set properties like line height, font settings, padding, window opacity and skin. This settings also allow you to draw a flat color rectangle behind the smart help window. You can use that to replace the window skin itself (to do that, set both standard and back opacity to 0), or to replace the window skin background only (by setting only back opacity to 0). The color settings for the background rectangle is based on the html color code, and alpha is used to set opacity, being 0 completely transparent, and 100 completely opaque.
  • Help Preferred Position: This allows you to choose what's the preferred method of placement for the help window. If set to 'Above', the plugin will try to always place the window above the selected item. If the help window falls out of screen the plugin will move it below the selection. If set to 'Below' the inverse occurs.
  • Item Category Help: If enabled, whenever a Window_ItemCategory (with its corresponding scene Parameter enabled) is active the plugin will load category descriptions from Item Category Texts to be shown in the help windows (be it smart or not).
  • Item Category Texts: This array defines what text description to show in the help window when an item category is highlighted. It basically an array of key value pairs: for each item category name (as shown in the menu), it gives a description text to be shown.
  • Skill Type Help: If enabled, whenever a Window_SkillType (with its corresponding scene parameter enabled) is active the plugin will load type descriptions from Skill Type Texts to be shown in the help windows (be it smart or not).
  • Skill Type Texts: This array defines what text description to show in the help window when an skill type is highlighted. It basically an array of key value pairs: for each skill type name (as shown in the menu), it gives a description text to be shown.
  • Equip Command Help: If enabled, whenever a Window_EquipCommand (with its corresponding scene parameter enabled) is active the plugin will load command descriptions from Equip Command Texts to be shown in the help windows (be it smart or not).
  • Equip Command Texts: This array defines what text description to show in the help window when an equip command is highlighted. It basically an array of key value pairs: for each equip command name (as shown in the menu), it gives a description text to be shown.
A few compatibility issues have already been identified which requires specific configurations and settings. If you're having issues while using one of the plugins listed below, be sure to read and adjust your settings accordingly.

TAA_SmartHelpWindows overwrite most of MOG's changes (when the plugins are properly ordered and SmartHelpWindows is enabled for the battle scene). However, the "Layout (Picture)" property is not, and is also not supported by SmartHelpWindows. So for this plugin to work properly along with MOG_BattleHud either keep "Layout (Picture)" disable in MOG's plugin, or disable smart help windows at the battle scene.

MOG's slide animations are not a problem in itself, but they can render an odd feeling when toggling smart help windows. My general advice is to use it with caution, or (even better) keep them disabled (set to 0).

A third (and final) warning about using MOG's plugin alongside SmartHelpWindows is that Custom Window Positioning for the battle scene must be either disabled or set to the same dimensions configured in MOG's plugin. If that is not taken care of, skill and item selection can have unexpected behaviors (like, for example, having a skill item width larger than the window width).

Most of Yanfly's plugin that alter scene behavior have been tested and validated. If you're using this plugin to move the other windows to account for the help window general absence, just be sure to check previous help sections to learn how to better adjust settings.

Since all plugins are obfuscated, I can't make them compatible. If you're trying to use SmartHelpWindows and any VisuStella's plugins that alter scenes, contact them to see what can be done.

Credit and Thanks

I would like to give a special thanks to my friend DarkSearinox92 for bringing me the idea for this plugin, and relentlessly helping me test the many iterations needed for a stable release (and also for helping me test many of my other plugins).
Thank you!

  • Version 1.0.0:
    • Added a preload of custom window skins (both for help windows and input info windows);
    • Fixed an issue in MV that caused a highlighted selection to be wrongly sized in MV the first time a scene was loaded;
    • Added compatibility with TAA_SkillMastery custom level descriptions;
    • Fixed a bug that would make the smart help window disappear when changing active windows;
    • Fixed a bug that would cause text to be cut out due to the window not moving properly;
  • Version 0.8.0:
    • Fixed a compatibility issue with YEP_X_TurnOrderDisplay;
    • Fixed a compatibility issue with wordwrap plugins (like YEP_MessageCore), which would cause part of the help window text to be cut off, even though the window was resized correctly;
    • Added a parameter to turn the Input Info Window always visible for each scene, if enabled;
  • Version 0.7.0:
    • Added MZ support;
    • Fixed a bug that could cause the shop scene to show a misplaced help window when entering the scene;
    • Fixed a bug that would cause descriptions with more than one line to not position the help window properly;
    • Fixed a bug that would cause the custom window positioning to be always enabled;
    • Added a parameter to determine the preferred help window position (above or below the selected item), which substitutes the previous behavior that would automatically place above when the item is below the half of the screen, and below when above;
    • Changed the info window parameters, so that each scene has its own settings;
    • Added new parameters to custom window positioning to allow changing the number of visible columns for items and skill listings;
  • Version 0.6.0:
    • Added rectangle and rounded rectangle with flat colors background for the smart help windows;
    • Added custom window positioning for the battle scene;
    • Fixed a bug which would cause issues with the help window in the skills menu;
    • Added a help section with compatibility warnings;
    • Added a new info window (which you can enable or disable) to show an informational message to the player, so he knows when the smart help window is available;
  • Version 0.5.0:
    • Beta Release
 

DarkSearinox92

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Credit and Thanks

I would like to give a special thanks to my friend DarkSearinox92 for bringing me the idea for this plugin, and relentlessly helping me test the many iterations needed for a stable release (and also for helping me test many of my other plugins).
Thank you!

Thank you too, friend! I am happy to help you, it is a lot of fun! Thanks for the kind words!


Guys, if you can, despite the Spider plugins are free, consider donating something to this guy, who is really smart, kind and always available to read your requests, unlike many other people.

He really deserves a lot more exposure, his plugins are truly masterpieces and his skill is incredible.
There is so so much work behind a simple plugin, try to pay off the work, despite the creator being kind enough to make it free.

A small contribution can make a difference, enhance and give an extra boost to those who work for us.

have a good fun! :)
 

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