Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Black Ops 3 Mod Tools Released


After over a year, they're finally here. The Black Ops 3 Mod Tools, and after installing and using them for a bit, I can fairly state that they are damn sexy. How clean this launch and installation is compared to World at War is an astronomical difference, and so much has been improved with everything like stability, UI, and most of all, user friendliness. This has to be the first time I've been excited about a release related to video games in a long time. They've also provided amazing documentation to read through, an API, and even an official plugin for sublime text for GSC support. This was definitely worth the wait, that's not even a question.

It also seems that many things CoD 5 Radiant users are used to work the same way in the Black Ops 3 version of radiant. For example, clicking on and dragging brushes works the very same way on the grid. The Space Bar still duplicates brushes, the backspace deletes, and ctrl + tab can be used to switch from top-down view to side views. Navigating around in the preview camera is also the very same, using right click and moving the mouse to navigate, using the "d" and "c" keys to move up and down respectively, and using "a" and "c" keys to change the camera angle. They've managed to make these tools have a very small learning curve for those who have used radiant in the past, but they've also introduced newer and better improvements that have advanced it, it's truly quite impressive.

Now keep in mind, these tools are (as of writing) in a BETA state. This means things are subject to change quite a bit in the next few months, so it'd be interesting if you guys could leave any suggestions/ideas you have about the mod tools below, maybe they'll get noticed by @pcdev!

These mod tools are super resource intensive. At one point, radiant was using ~8GB of ram. It's recommended you have at least 16GB of ram and not 1,000 chrome tabs open like I did, or you WILL crash your system. This was however on opening "The Giant" in radiant which has thousands and thousands of assets. A new map / map that doesn't have a tonne of assets shouldn't be too harsh on your hardware.


Remember in World at War where you had to install the mod tools by unzipping them, then extract updates (in order to avoid massive screw-ups), then get a proper script placer, then do a million other things like setup sniper bolts prefabs, and THEN finally you may be able to make a map and if you were lucky, test it without errors? Well now in Black Ops 3 we can forget that shit, as these mod tools are way more user-friendly and stable. First, you must have Black Ops 3 bought on steam. Then you can go to your "Tools" section in steam, and "Call of Duty: Black Ops III - Mod Tools" should be right under the Black Ops 1 "mod tools".

From here you just right click and hit "install". It may take a while as the download is ~21GB. You will also have to update Black Ops III itself on steam. And that's it! We're done! No extracting, no manual updating, no trying 10 million things until it finally works, that's it. Amazing.

The Launcher

Opening the mod tools will open the "Launcher". This is VERY similar to the launcher from CoD 5, except a lot cleaner and easier to use. The console now provides useful error information, not random garbage. Maps and mods are organized neatly, and the entire interface is much cleaner.

Creating a map is simple, just go to file -> new (or click the page icon with the yellow star), and set template to "ZM Mod Level" and set the name to anything you want as long as you have a "zm_" prefix (it's no longer a nazi_zombie_ prefix). You have now created a map!


Now when you first open radiant, it will take forever to open, like 20 minutes. This is because it's converting all the assets, this will only happen on the first launch. Now when you first launch it, it will look a little different as I have changed my layout to what I'm used to, you can experiment and do this as well.

You can open XZ front and other panels from the "View" menu.

Then you can build and eventually publish your map to the workshop through the launcher via the green "Build" button and the cloud "Publish" button. It may take a while depending on how big your map is.


I am currently in the process of making some tutorials, when they are made I will make a new thread and link it here.

Nice Shortcuts

I've listed below some important shortcuts for the editor.


  • Grid Size: ` (0.25), 1-8 (1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128)
  • Space Bar: Duplicate Brush/Model
  • Backspace: Delete object(s) selected
  • Left click and drag: Draw brush
  • Right click and drag: Pan grid

Preview Camera

  • Right click and drag: Move around
  • "D" Key - Camera Move Up
  • "C" Key: Camera Move Down
  • "A" Key: Angle Camera Up
  • "Z" Key: Angle Camera Down
  • "F" Key: Filter View


I was happy to see that Treyarch included actual, proper documentation this time around. They can all be found in Steam\steamapps\common\Call of Duty Black Ops III\docs_modtools.

Looking through the GSC files, it actually seems that there have been some significant changes in GSC, such as the addition of more Pre-Processor Directives, classes (??), and namespaces are just to name a few. There is also an easy to use API now for complex tasks such as adding custom weapons to the mystery box, very nice.

Running Suggestions

Suggestions that are replied on the thread will be added here, I'll start it off with one I noticed;

  • There are only 5 ceiling textures, this is not nearly enough for a complex map


These mod tools are amazing, and well worth the wait. If you think I've missed any shortcuts/want to add suggestions, reply to the thread and I'll add it in here. This is of course a beta, so any bugs that you find / suggestions that you post here, you could probably forward over to @pcdev on Twitter. As this is a beta, things may change after the writing of this article. Happy mapping!


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