GEM - Graphics Enhancement Mod features: - New icons & pictograms for game's interface - New cursors set - Restyled ship graphics - Improved planet & star graphics - New landscapes - New ruins - New galaxy backdrop

Quick overview of GEM features, a sci-fi mod for Distant Worlds. GRAPHICS ENHANCEMENT MOD (GEM) Current version: 2.4 Updated: December 22, 2012 Quick overview of GEM features: - New icons & pictograms for game's interface - New cursors set - New restyled ship graphics - Improved planet & star graphics - New landscapes - New ruins - New galaxy backdrop

Posted by first_martian on Dec 22nd, 2012




53 new redesigned and refined icons & pictograms for game's interface.

User Posted Image

Resized to perfectly fit interface's elements so there is no need for the game to resize them to fit in buttons and frames. As a result all new pictograms look very sharp and clear in the game (except those which are used in more than one place and with various scale). Here are some examples:

User Posted Image

User Posted Image

User Posted Image

Unfortunately most of other interface elements are not available for modding. There are some of interface's resources present in "images\ui\chrome" folder which are not used by game (Or at least not where it was expected).
Another issue is that the game sometimes uses same resourcses for different elements of interface (for example "firepower.png" is used both for military ships and crash research icons). This fact limits design choices for the interface improvement. So looking forward to modding improvements in DW's future releases.


14 all new "pixelart" cursors.

User Posted Image


The ship restyling has several purposes in mind:

1. Make ships look clearer and distinctive on various bright and dark backgrounds during gameplay.
2. Quick identification of all controllable state ships.
3. Quick identification of military ship types.
4. More eye candy look.[;)]

I know that game already has good ship type identification signs such as triangles for military ships, rectangles for construction ships and so on, but I believe average human eye is much more responsive to colours than to shapes. So I decided to use different colour outlines to make it even easier to quickly identify ships during a gameplay.

All controllable ships have various colour outlines:

Red - Military ships
Green - Construction ships
Cyan - Exploration ships
Blue - Colony ships

Military ships have following distinctive insignia painted on them:

One stripe - Escort
Two stripes - Frigate
Three stripes - Destroyer
Four stripes - Cruiser
Five stripes - Capitalship
Small circle inside a bigger one - Carrier
Small diamond inside a bigger one - Troop transport

Here are few examples:

User Posted Image

User Posted Image

User Posted Image

Additionally, there is an alternative shipset for those who prefer ships with black outlines only:

User Posted Image

User Posted Image

User Posted Image


Continental planets
User Posted Image

Desert planets
User Posted Image

Ice planets
User Posted Image

Marshyswamp planets
User Posted Image

Oceanic planets
User Posted Image

Volcanic planets
User Posted Image

Barrenrock planets
User Posted Image


Main sequence star
User Posted Image

Red Giant
User Posted Image

Super Giant
User Posted Image

White Dwarf
User Posted Image

Neutron Star
User Posted Image


Original artworks were not created by me but were searched and taken from the net, mostly from Terragen's gallery. I just resized, framed and colour graded them. So all kudos and credits go to their creators.

Landscapes are resized and adjusted to perfectly fit game's interface.

Unfortunately, at the present moment DW has a hard-coded limit to use only few first images. So it uses only 4 images for continental planets (+1 from forest folder), 3 for desert, marshyswamp and ice planets, 2 for volcanic and oceanic planets. Hopefully this will be fixed in "Shadows" release, but for now most of these landscapes wouldn't appear in the game.

If you want some particular landscapes to be present in the game, please rename them to use first few numbers. For example, use names from "landscape_0" up to "landscape_3" for continental planets.

Continental planet's landscapes
User Posted Image

Desert planet's landscapes
User Posted Image

Ice planet's landscapes
User Posted Image

Marshyswamp planet's landscapes
User Posted Image

Oceanic planet's landscapes
User Posted Image

Volcanic planet's landscapes
User Posted Image


For the ruins I used amazing and myserious paintings of Polish artist Zdzisław Beksiński.

User Posted Image


User Posted Image


GEM v2.4 - Complete mod

Alternatively, if you don't need all of the features, you can choose which individual parts of the mod to download:

GEM v2.4 - Galaxy backdrop only

GEM v2.4 - Cursors & icons only

GEM v2.4 - Landscapes & ruins only

GEM v2.4 - Planets & stars only

GEM v2.4 - Shipset only

GEM v2.4 - Alternative shipset only (without colour outlines)


1. Backup original "Distant Worlds\images" folder
2. Extract archive and overwrite original files in Distant Worlds\images
3. Enjoy!


[+] new content/feature
[-] update/fix

+ Upgraded original graphics for all planets except frozen gas giants & gas giants.
+ Upgraded original graphics for all stars on a system zoom level.
+ Upgraded original galaxy backdrop.

+ Upgraded original ship graphics.
+ Integrated updated version of "Surrealistic ruins" mod.
+ Integrated updated version of "Beautiful landscapes" mod.
- Made an atmosphere slightly visible even on a dark side of planets.
- Fixed a shadow artifact appeared when a planet overlaps another planet.

+ Added 9 new cursors.

+ Added 5 more new cursors and updated most of previously released cursors.

- Minor design update of bombard, construction and mine cursors.

+ Added 53 new & refined pictograms for game's interface.
- Most of the cursors are redesigned or refined.
- New version of galaxy backdrop.

- Improved planet graphics, including new atmospheric effect.
- Added an alternative version of shipset without colour outlines.
- Updated version of galaxy backdrop. Slightly redesigned and significantly desaturated to improve contrast between backdrop and active objects on the map.

Post comment Comments
Swyter Dec 22 2012 says:

Pretty cool. You seem like an experienced and proficient artist with good taste.
Kudos for all the effort. Great outcome, professional quality pixel pushing.

+4 votes     reply to comment
first_martian Author
first_martian Dec 22 2012 says:

[to Swyter] Thank you very much!

+2 votes   reply to comment
the_dingle Jan 24 2013 says:

This is fantastic, thanks!

+2 votes     reply to comment
first_martian Author
first_martian May 29 2013 replied:

you are welcome

+1 vote   reply to comment
Guest Jun 3 2014 says:

This comment is currently awaiting admin approval, join now to view.

Post a Comment
click to sign in

You are not logged in, your comment will be anonymous unless you join the community today (totally free - or sign in with your social account on the right) which we encourage all contributors to do.

2000 characters limit; HTML formatting and smileys are not supported - text only

Distant Worlds Icon
Developed By
Send Message
Official Page
Release Date
Released 2012
Mod Watch
Track this mod
Post news
Report Abuse
Report article
Related Games