Rejoice mod creators, for tonight’s Orange Box update also brings about the release of the binaries for the particle editor, the commentary editor, and the materials editor. Mike Durand, via the HLDS mailing list, mentioned that he is "still working on an SDK update that includes a convenient way to
launch the tools as well as some example particles and commentary files."

For the time being, you can run any of the three games with the additional command line of ‘-tools’ included in order to access the new tools.

Full documentation is also on the way. For the time being, have a read through of the CliffsNotes version of the changes.

* 1. These three tools run in the same process as the engine and you can switch between the tools.
* 2. The F10 button changes context between playing the game in the ‘Engine Viewport’ window and editing content via the current tool.
* 3. In the lower left corner is an input field that allows the user to dispatch console commands to the game while working with the tools.
* 4. Particle systems are defined in .pcf files that are located in the ‘particles’ subdirectory beneath the game directory. You should extract some of the TF2, Portal, or Ep2 particle files from the game caches if you would like to see some examples. The SDK update will include example particles.
* 5. Commentary node information is stored in text files in the games’ ‘maps’ subdirectory and the established naming convention is _commentary.txt. Again, you can extract these files from our shipping games to check out the editor ahead of the SDK update and example nodes.
* 6. The material editor is a GUI front-end and preview tool that provides a more convenient way of tweaking materials settings. You can extract VMT files from our shipping games or those from your own mods to check it out.

So has anyone got the particle editor to work? I’ve heard reports of crashing upon saving and some people who can’t run it at all. I myself get to the save part and then it crashes.