Getting started with the Deus Ex SDK


The Deus Ex SDK was released on September 22, 2000 as a free download.  It allows you to make your own missions for Deus Ex, one of the best single-player games of 2000 (if not *the* best game of 2000).  Since Deus Ex uses a modified version of the Unreal engine, some of the tools used for making an Unreal or Unreal Tournament map are the same, namely UnrealEd.  It's the program that you use to build a three-dimensional world and populate it with characters and items. While UnrealEd is a pretty nice program, making levels for a 3D game isn't necessarily for the faint of heart.  Once you get familiar with the tools, it's not all that difficult, but expect a considerable learning curve. Hopefully this site will help.  The other main component of the Deus Ex SDK is called ConEdit.  It's the conversation editor for setting up dialogue with characters in the game, among other things.

NOTE: The SDK is only for the original Deus Ex, it does not apply to the sequel (Deus Ex: Invisible War) released in December 2003.  None of the editing tools for that game have been released, so there is currently no practical way to create levels for the sequel.

To get started using the Deus Ex SDK:

1. Download the SDK

Get it here:

Deus Ex SDK 6 MB (File Planet)


2. Make sure the Deus Ex game is properly installed and install the SDK

This may not strictly be necessary, but I would recommend installing the Deus Ex game in C:\DeusEx. I would also recommend finishing the game before using the SDK. You'll be more familiar with the possibilities and what's already been done. Go ahead and install the SDK.


3. Review the documentation

You should at least be familiar with WHERE the included documentation is and what each document is for. In your C:\DeusEx\docs folder are four documents:

ConEditDocumentation.doc This is the doc for ConEdit, the conversation editor. This is actually one of the better docs, as it explains how to use it in English.
DeusExSDK.doc Mostly an overview of the docs, it does contain some info on building your own classes (important if you want to build your own conversations or custom items like textures or meshes)
EditorDocumentation.doc This is a large doc that describes in detail all of the Deus Ex specific things you can do. It's not going to tell you how to build a level or even how to use UnrealEd. However, it is full of great information on adding all sorts of things, such as keypads, e-mail messages, ladders, and doors that can be locked, unlocked, picked, or blown up.
MusicDocumentation.doc This is a short doc on using music in your maps. The cool thing about "tracker" style music and Deus Ex is that you can set it up to change depending on what's happening in the game.


4. Make a very basic map

Fire up UnrealEd (labeled Deus Ex Editor in the Start menu). If you want to know what all of the unlabeled buttons to the left are, see my UnrealEd Reference Guide. For some instant gratification, continue on. If you're more of the "I'd like to learn UnrealEd systematically", go ahead and skip to Wolf's Basic Tutorial at his site. You'll want to go through his tutorial after this anyway, but it is fairly meaty and if you're like me, you just want a quick sample before diving in fully.

Click on the Build a Cube button: . Right-click it and enter 256 for the Height, Width, and Breadth. Hit Build. Not much should happen yet, but you should see a red cube in the 2D and 3D windows. To zoom in and and out of the 2D windows, hold BOTH mouse buttons down and move your mouse up and down. To pan around, hold the left button down and move your mouse around.

Now click on the Subtract Brush from World button: . It's the second button down in the third column. This will essentially carve out a hole which will act as a single room where we can start the player and place objects into.

Now place a PlayerStart item. This is where the player will, uh, start. Go to the drop-down on the upper right of the screen and select Classes. Now expand the NavigationPoint item and click on PlayerStart. Right-click in one of the 2D windows somewhere inside your room and select Add PlayerStart here. Move it around if you need to by pressing Ctrl and left-click and moving the mouse around.

We'll also need to place a light to be able to see anything. Right-click somewhere in your room and select Add Light here. Move it around if you want with Ctrl and left-click.

Press F8 and then Rebuild Geometry. Then hit Close.

Save your level by selecting "Save level" from the File menu.

Make sure your Deus Ex CD is in your CD-ROM drive and select "Play level."

If everything worked, you should be running around in a boring, ugly, one-room level. If it didn't work for any reason, don't worry about it, this isn't a very detailed tutorial.

Now go on and do Wolf's Basic Tutorial. It's a great way to get started.

Back to main page