TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Required programs
- Exporting the game resources
- Types of moddable files
- Editing the textures
- Extracting the Chunk
- Importing files back into the engine
- Your Mods in-game
This tutorial will touch on the basics of modding and should give you enough to get you started. By reading this, I assume you have a basic knowledge of 3D/2D design or experience with tools such as Photoshop and 3DS Max, which you might need to fully understand the potential of this method.
As for now, no tools allow to add extra content in AvP. However there are ways to modify the existing textures and sounds and import them back into the game. The talent in the AvP community has been proved to be endless, and so are the possibilities now.
This guide is by no means complete and we invite others to share their knowledge with the community at large. If you have any questions or comments after reading this guide, please feel free drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. Required Programs
To get started, there are a number of programs you need to download in order to be able to start modding the game.
QuickBMS Asura Script
Asura Engine Extractor
Photoshop DDS Plugin
2. Exporting the game resources
- Run the program QuickBMS.exe.
- Select the BMS script (asura.bms).
- Pick the input files to extract from your target Asura file ( *.asr, *.pc or *.en). For eg: Multiplayer.asr, StreamingSounds.asr, A04_Colony.pc.
- Enter in the output folder and press 'Save'. The program will start exporting the files to the specified folder now.
After the process has been completed, QuickBMS will ask you to keep or delete a TEMPORARY_ FILE. Do not delete it.
3. Types of moddable files
Textures: First thing you notice is the texture files are extracted with a *.tga extension. The textures are in .DDS format actually, hence why you need the DDS plug-in to be able to import and export them in Photoshop.
You will encounter many different types of texture maps in AvP. The most common and the ones we are going to use are Diffuse, Normal and Specular maps. Below you’ll find a little bit about the differences between them.
bbc_standard_quote wrote: Diffuse maps represent the diffuse reflection and colour of a surface. In other words they define the colour and intensity of light reflected back when it strikes a surface.
Normal maps define the slope or normals of a surface. In other words, they alter the direction a surface appears to be facing. Bump mapping adds an illusion of depth and texture to images. It doesn't actually alter geometry but rather affects the shading over a surface.
Specular maps represent the specular intensity and color of highlights on a surface. In other words they define the "shininess" and color of specular reflections. The brighter a specular map is, the more shine is applied to the final material.
Sounds: Sounds are exported on its original format, *.wav.
4. Editing the textures
- Install the Photoshop DDS Plug-in* and restart the program.
- Pick the texture you want to edit from your extracted files. The character textures are always placed in a folder called /Graphics/Characters on each Asura file. For e.g.: graphics/characters/predator/newpredhead_col_1024x1024.tga. The rest of editable textures are outside this folder.
- Change the texture extension to .dds if Photoshop gives you any trouble when importing it. (Be sure to make file extensions visible)
- Open the .dds file you want to edit in Photoshop and edit it.
- Once you're done editing your texture, save the file as .dds. A new window should pop-up. Select DXT5 settings. Click Save.
If you don't have/use Photoshop, you can use any other programs such as Paint.NET or GIMP. DDS converters are also a possibility, you can either use ATI Compressonator or DDS Converter 2.
Sounds are exported in their original format (.wav), you just need to keep the same format and settings after you have edited them. The recommended audio settings are:
General Format: Wave
Audio Format : PCM
Codec ID : 1
Codec ID/Hint : Microsoft
Sampling rate : 44.1 KHz
Resolution : 16 bits
You can use SUPER to convert your sounds to wave files.
6. Extracting the chunk
- Open the Asura Engine Extractor.
- Click on "Open File" (All files *.*) and open TEMPORARY_FILE* you previously saved.
- A list will appear, find the file you want to mod there ( for e.g. /graphics/characters/predator/newpredhead_col_1024x1024.dds) and click on Export Chunk.
- This will save a BLOCK.XXXX.bin file in a new folder, the path where your new file is located is noted on the extractor's UI.
Now you have the chunk of information, which you will need to import your custom files back into the game.
Note: If you have clicked on Export Chunk and the new folder with your .bin file doesn’t appear, just rename the TEMPORARY_FILE file to something different, and click on Export Chunk again.
*If you are extracting data from an .en file, note you can open it directly using the Asura Engine Extractor. No TEMPORARY_FILE is needed in this case.
7. Importing the files back into the engine
Now you need an Asura template file to import your edited files back in the game. You can use any uncompressed ones. It just needs to include at least one editable chunk in it. Either Beams.asr, Fonts.asr or some other will do the trick. We will use Beams.asr since it contains just one editable chunk and it makes it easier to share the file online.
- Open the following file: /Steam\steamapps\common\aliens vs predator/Graphics\beam.asr with the Asura Engine Extractor.
- Select the /Graphics/beams.dds line from the list and click on Import Chunk.
- Browse for the BLOCK.XXX.bin file you previously saved. Load it. Now the line should have been replaced with the name of the file you want to modify.
- Click on Load from File (Materials). Browse for the .dds texture or .wav file you created and click on Open.
- Click on Save As. Accept and name your file XXX.en, for eg: Avpgalaxy.en. Click Save. You are done.
IMPORTANT: The extension .en of your modified file means that the game has to be in English or the modification won’t work. If you want to use mods with a different language pack, this extension should be changed to the one from your region. For eg: Spanish = .sp, French = .fr, Italian = .it, German = .ge, Polish = .pl
8. Your Mods in-game.
- Copy the .en file to your AvP Steam or custom created folder (for eg: \Characters, C:\Program Files\AvPMods, etc...).
- Now open the .lst file from the AvP folder where you wish to apply the mod with the notepad*.
- Add a line at the bottom with the path of your .en file. (E.g.: Character\XXX.en, misc\XXX.en, C:\Program Files\AvPMods\XXX.en...) and save it.
- Now run the game and enjoy your modification.
*IMPORTANT: If you want to apply your modification to both SP and MP, then put your .en file in the \Misc folder. Edit Common.list and add the path of your .en file. For MP put your .en file in the \Characters folder and edit Multiplayer.lst.
Finally note plenty of the game resource files are shared between 3D models (Alien body textures, some biomask's Normal maps, Predator body textures, Marine armors, etc...).
Modifications can only be noticed by you. Other players won't notice any changes unless they are running the same modified file on their clients.
This method and tools are unofficial. Use them at your own risk. We do not take responsibility for its use or distribution. Also, DO NOT distribute any original game content with your modifications.
Special Thanks and Credits
Ikarop - Author of the guide, method and mods displayed here, Aluigi - QuickBMS/Asura Script, LZTK - Asura Engine Extractor translated by Ikarop, Ambrosiia -Tester, lamiszcze - Tester, CodeX, Photoshop DDS Plugin - © 2010 NVIDIA Corporation. Aliens vs. Predator™ © 2010 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation © 2010 SEGA ©2010 Rebellion.