Actually, the Particle Editor is nothing new in our toolset. Those who picked the HPL tools pack to make a map for Penumbra (or just for the sake of getting them) surely will have spotted a ParticleEditor.exe in there. You could create and control every aspect in a particle system with it.
Good ol' Particle Editor
It worked like this: you created a new Particle System, added at least one Particle Emitter, and then set these up with stuff like starting position, velocity, material, etc., which would be used by every particle created by each emitter.
When you are creating the Particle System, you sure need to check how it looks while you are at it, and this was the main flaw of the old Particle Editor: you could do a preview of the Particle System in the works, but the method implied saving it to a file and loading it on a viewer program. This was done automatically by the editor, so no sweat in there, but having to save to a file + loading the viewer is a rather blocking combo (meaning it makes you wait and only wait), which can last up to a few seconds.
Hey, wait a moment, this nutty is telling us to wait a few secs... what's the big deal? you might think... but if you spend a couple hours working with it, you will notice you will have to do tons of previews (even more when tweaking little details), which translate to a lot of time wasted in the end (not to mention the actual time spent checking the Particle System while it runs)... and also you will find it really annoying :P
Ahh, the old times.We spent a good time together,right? Wait, that was actually a LOT of time.
So for HPL2 we decided to make a "new" Particle Editor, which basically is the same editor for HPL1, but with a really übernice realtime preview. It still has some details that could be polished further, but it is quite nice to work with at the moment,and that's the important thing.
And now it's time to see this in action: behold while I make some strange effect in this video :)
Hope you liked it. Will get back to the Particle Editor at some point in the future. As always, you can voice your thoughts on this. I'll be happy to know those :)