Post tutorial RSS Creating a mod

Every mod has to start somehow. This tutorial explains the basics of how mods are created, packaged and used in SG Warlords.

Posted by on - Basic Starting a mod

So you want to create a never before seen modification for Warlords? Good for you! And you have everything ready, but the final procedure is a bit blurry? Let's take it one step at a time.

Baby steps

  1. What do I need?
  2. Create the mod folder
  3. Make the modifications
  4. Package the mod
  5. Time for sharing
  6. Some final thoughts

1. What do I need?

A whole lot of things can be changed and / or added to Warlords, so answering what other software you might need is very difficult. It depends on what you're planning on doing, but let's go over the common stuff:

  • Quests - Notepad++
  • Ships - Blender or whatever modelling software you generally use (like 3DSMax) and Notepad++
  • Portraits, faction banners, customization brushes - Gimp or whatever graphics editing software you generally use (like Photoshop) and Notepad++
  • SFX or voices - Whatever audio editing software you generally use and Notepad++
  • ...

You might have noticed a commonality in the above list: Notepad++. You can use the ordinary Notepad, provided with MS Windows, but we really advise using the free Notepad++. It will make things a lot easier. The notepad is a necessity, because most of the things you modify requires you to edit some form of text file.

2. Create the mod folder

Changing or adding files directly to the InstallationFolder\Data folder is really not advised. The game expects mods to be in the InstallationFolder\Mods folder and you should do it like that. Separating a mod from the default game early on will be beneficial later on.

So, when you've decided on the name of your modding masterpiece, navigate to the InstallationFolder\Mods folder and create the folder for your mod. Let's call it NewMod for this tutorial's sake. Now that we have the Mods\NewMod folder, imagine this folder as the InstallationFolder. This is what a comparison would look like: InstallationFolder\Data is virtually identical to InstallationFolder\Mods\NewMod\Data. The game will treat it like that, so it's best if you do it too.

You might ask OK. Interesting. But why is that important?. This is the thing: the mod's folder structure should mimic that of the default game. This is by far the best possible practice, just in case some things are expected by the game to be in certain sub-folders. Let's take the game world as an example. The game knows it can find the World.ics and the individual sector files (Sectors\#.ics) in the Data\World folder. If you want the game to use a different game world, you have to mimic that by creating World.ics (and sector files) in the Mods\NewMod\Data\World folder.

For changes done to the game world, this is required. While other changes might not have this hard-coded, it is best to act like they do to prevent strange errors. As further examples, add new ships to Mods\NewMod\Data\Models\Ships folder and so on. Trust me, it will make things a whole lot easier to debug in case of an error.

3. Make the modifications

This section will be tiny, because this can encompass a massive amount of widely different topics. Search for more specific tutorials or contact us directly if you have questions regarding modding something specific.

For the sake of this tutorial, let's imagine we've added a new ship called NewShip (how creative...). This would require a new folder containing the ship in Mods\NewMod\Data\Models\Ships and a new entry in the Mods\NewMod\Data\Base\Ships.wdt database.

A good practice is to automatically create the Data folder inside your mod folder (Mods\NewMod\Data). You'll need it anyway, so you might as well do it right away.

Editing databases and the principles of dynamic databases are explained in another tutorial and please do take the time to read and understand it. It's crucial for making mods work properly with one-another and with the game.

4. Package the mod

OK. So we've got the modded files and everything. Now what? Now is the time to package it all up into a nice little single archive that can be easily shared.

The packaging is done through the Mod Manager located in the Installation Folder , but there is one more file you need to create for the packer to know what to do.

The mod definition file, .sgwm. For now, you'll need to create this file manually (Notepad++)... and note the extension!

The mod definition file MUST be placed in the InstallationFolder\Mods folder and nowhere else, otherwise the game won't register the mod.

Here's an overview of a few things to be mindful of when creating the definition file:

  • Make sure the name of your mod in the definition file matches the name of the mod folder AND the name of the definition file (.sgwm)
  • Make sure you have no empty spaces in the Name parameter. Don't name your mod Final Stand. Name it FinalStand or Final_Stand (no empty spaces!)
  • Use tab to separate parameter names (the game looks for these when parsing the definition file) from their corresponding values
Version: 1000
   Name: NewMod
   Author: LGM Games
   Description: The description can have empty spaces, but it HAS TO BE IN A SINGLE LINE!
   Picture: Mods\NewMod\NewMod.jpg

The purpose of Name, Author and Description should be self-evident (just be careful with the empty spaces and the tabs separating the parameter name from its value!), but what about the Picture? That is used by the Mod Manager. Once again, it is advisable to simply duplicate the template image and use that to determine the correct size. The picture size we recommend to get the best outcome is 1280x720 px, .jpg format. Although any ratio will work, the default is 16:9.

This image is also used on Steam Workshop, if you decide to publish the mod there. A template definition file and mod folder is supplied with the game by default. Duplicating that as the starting point for a new mod is advised.

Great! That is set, so let's move onto the packaging itself.

  1. Start the Mod Manager
  2. Click the Select mod button to choose what mod you'll manage (edit)
  3. Select either the .sgwm (mod definition file) or the .sgwma (mod archive) to select the mod for packing (and other options). If there is no archive yet, you can only select the definition file. In that case, the manager will automatically create the archive, right beside the definition file. (Mods\)).

You'll usually be creating a new archive, meaning you'll likely select the .sgwm file, but in case you just want to do some other action through the Mod Manager (like unpack a mod archive you took from your friend) then you'll select the archive file (.sgwma). Unpacking mods is also done automatically by the Game Launcher when you set a packed-up mod as active.

That .sgwma file is the complete mod, rounded up into a nice single-file package, together with the mod picture and the definition file. The game uses the unpacked version of the mod, but sharing a single file is simply easier.

5. Time for sharing

Now that you've got your mod all packed as .sgwma and ready to go, the method of sharing is basically on you. We place no restrictions on this. The Mod Manager can share the mod directly onto Steam Workshop, but you can just as easily take the NewMod.sgwma to your friend on a USB stick, or upload it to some other repository.

To use the mod, copy the NewMod.sgwma into the Mods folder. If you've subscribed to a mod through Steam, then the mod will get copied into the Mods folder automatically the next time the Game Launcher is started.

Use the GameLauncher -> Mods window to set the desired mods as active (the checkbox on the left of the mod name in the list).

When a mod is set to active, the launcher unpacks it so it's ready for use in-game (if it wasn't unpacked already). To deactivate a mod, simply toggle the active flag off. Deactivating a mod does NOT delete the unpacked mod folder!

Sharing on Steam Workshop

As was noted before, to share the mod on Steam Workshop, simply log into Steam Client and run the Mod Manager. Select the mod you want to upload, set the desired parameters (tags, visibility...) and click on the Publish button. When players subscribe to a mod via Workshop, the Steam Client downloads the mod into a temporary cache. This is additionaly triggered when the Game Launcher starts up, so if you're not seeing any Workshop downloads (Warlords related), make sure you're running the game launcher. Once the download is finished, the launcher will copy the mod to the game's local folder. It is then ready for activation through the Game Launcher -> Mods window.

The mod list is also the load order of the mods. This means that the game first loads the first mod, numbered with 1., then it proceeds to 2. and so on. If two mods are changing the same file, the one LATER in the list (higher order number) will be used!

Sharing on third-party sites

This method depends on the site itself. Usually it's done by a simple upload form. Our recommendation is to take the .sgwma archive and zip it up to reduce its size and then simply upload it to wherever. You could simply zip-up the unpacked mod folder, but don't forget about the .sgwm file that's outside of the mod folder! Again, further steps necessary in this case depends on the site itself.

Sharing by physical media

You know... brute force, old-school, flash memory stick. You could use floppy disks, but that's really not advisable ;). The point is, once you have the .sgwma package, you can do with it what you want.

Once you've obtained the mod in whatever fashion, the mod .sgwma has to be placed into the InstallationFolder\Mods folder (subscribing through Steam Workshop is explained above). Unpack and activate the mod through Game Launcher -> Mods window.

6. Some final thoughts

Creating mods can be daunting at times, but we encourage you to give it a try. You never know can come from that.

For more info, we invite you to browse through the articles on our dev-blog where we regularly publish tutorials on a number of topics.

If you have a question about something that wasn't covered in any article, or you simply couldn't find the answer, please don't hesitate and give us a shout directly on . We'll answer as soon as possible.

We wish you the best of luck with modding Warlords!

For more information about SG Warlords check out these links:
Starpoint Gemini Warlords homepage
Starpoint Gemini Warlords forum
Starpoint Gemini Warlords Steam store page
LGM Games dev-blog
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