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White

Any modding guides?

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I'm an artist, and I'm working with a modeler to make isometric graphics.

I'm new to all this, but are there are guides for making assets for avadon/avernum/the new geneforge? It'd definitely take a lot of work out. 

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Thank you Random! It's nice to see you still around, I remember you being active here over a decade ago when I use to lurk. 

I might hit him up as well to see if he's willing to share more indepth. 

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Welcome back to the forums, White!

 

Unfortunately, there aren’t really any guides at the moment for making graphics for the newer Spiderweb games. Mods for these newer games are relatively few and far between, and the majority of these focus entirely on altering internal game text and numerical details.

 

Altering the graphics of recent games is still something of an undiscovered country, and that’s quite exciting!

 

However, all is by no means lost. While Spiderweb’s games have evolved, streamlined and improved over many years, the very heart of the game engine has remained fairly constant from game to game. This means that there are some earlier guides that could still probably be of great help in guiding anyone who wanted to make graphics modifications for these newer games.

 

In particular, I think the most helpful engine to look at by way of example would be Blades of Avernum. This engine was designed more than any other to be transparent, to be played around with by users, and many of the aspects of this engine can be traced through subsequent games to be found in not dissimilar forms in the present day. [Actually, as a brief aside, it looks like as if the core of the engine really crystallised in the first Geneforge game, which is rather topical at the moment!]

 

As an example, take script editing. Blades of Avernum introduced users to scripts, several governing the global behaviour of things such as walls, objects, enemies and so on, and one for each town/dungeon and outdoor section. These specialised scripts controlled things such as dialogue, cutscenes, dynamic changes to the dungeon during play, etc.. Further, there were scripts that controlled how monsters reacted, scripts that were enormously powerful and could be used to heavily customise fights.

 

These scripts – all of them – are still to be found today. In the most recent game, Queen’s Wish, all of these scripts still exist. Granted, there are some slight differences in form, but the basic idea still applies.

 

The same holds true for the graphics, although that’s said with the caveat that I’ve not done any modifications myself. In the modern games, much like in Blades of Avernum, each floor/item/creature is defined in terms of a graphics sheet. In Blades, this was a single .png file, but the recent games have slightly more detailed graphics so, particularly for characters, one graphic sheet might extend across several .png files (so, in the scripts, only the starting file is indicated). Remember, for characters you need to have all aspects of their behaviour – standing, walking, fighting, taking damage, dying etc. – from every angle. Note that Queen’s Wish is a little more efficient in this, since certain angles are obtained by just mirroring other angles, cutting down on the number of poses that need to be stored.

 

As a way to get started, then, I’d suggest that you read about the way that Blades of Avernum stores its graphics. This will give you a good idea of Spiderweb’s modus operandi. Combined with looking at examples from the game you want to modify, this should give you a strong start towards making some changes!

 

Perhaps the best way to do this – with apologies for the slight faff – is to go to the address below and download the Blades of Avernum demo. Then, navigate to the editor and look at the documentation. It has several useful sections about graphics, and how these connect to the scripts. That should give you a good, broad starting point!

 

http://www.spiderwebsoftware.com/avernum/blades/index.html

 

Otherwise, I’d suggest just looking at examples from the games themselves and diving in with some experimenting (of course, be sure to back up your game before making any changes!). Do let us know how you do! If you have any specific questions, we’ll of course be happy to try and help out!

 

Lastly, I might suggest getting in touch with Slarty. Slarty is definitely one of the most knowledgable of us regarding modding of Spiderweb’s recent games, in part due to producing the excellent balance mod for Avernum 1. If anyone will have picked up detailed knowledge of graphics adjustments in these games, it will be Slarty! Have a look at the staff tab at the top of the forums, and look for the canine avatar!

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Posted (edited)

Thank you Ess! I'll take you up on your advice.

I managed to make some progress already by contacting the artist Random suggested! 
I got the dimensions down for the most part and finding those sprite sheets means I can start modding! 

 

I'm going to try using mixamo for the animations and rigging some commissioned models up.

cUnCBNS.png

Edited by White

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Nice work! It’s great to see that you’ve got something working so quickly!

While this is clearly a proof of principle, your additions fit into the engine nicely. That's a good sign, since you've obviously found out how to access the sheets and work with the appropriate dimensions. That's arguably the tricky bit – now you can focus on working art into the engine, and do some playing around with it to see how it works!

 

Do keep us informed of how you get on. Because this is such a new area for modding, it will be interesting to see where your ideas take you – and you may just provide some food for thought for other potential modders further down the line!

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