1. We have added a Gift Upgrades feature that allows you to gift an account upgrade to another member, just in time for the holiday season. You can see the gift option when going to the Account Upgrades screen, or on any user profile screen.
    Dismiss Notice

The Cheat's Guide to Making Units

Discussion in 'Civ4 - Modding Tutorials & Reference' started by Flying Pig, Aug 17, 2009.

  1. Flying Pig

    Flying Pig Utrinque Paratus Retired Moderator

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2009
    Messages:
    15,651
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Perfidious Albion
    This is just a simple tutorial about how to make decent-looking units without a lot of skill, experience or effort. It covers simple things that can make a lot of difference to how a unit looks, and combined can make an almost unrecognisable new unit.

    Software you will need:

    NifSkope
    SceneViewer (you can probably do without either this or NifSkope, but I use both)
    GIMP, with the .dds plugins


    All of these are free and can be downloaded with a simple Google search. I may post links later on.

    So, onto the main tutorial. I am going to cover weapon swaps, re-skins, animation swaps (simple), adjustment via rotation and item grafting.

    Weapon Swaps


    This is probably the simplest thing you can do to a unit. What you need to do is to go into SceneViewer and open the two units simultaneously (suppose, for example, that you wanted to give the Marine an M-16 from the Navy Seal, then you would open the marine, click 'Add File', and select the Navy Seal.) Then, you put your cursor into select mode (the button that looks like a normal mouse pointer) and click on the Navy Seal's weapon, then on the Marine's weapon, so that the two will appear on the right as NiTriShapes. Then, drag the Navy Seal's weapon onto the NiNode above that of the marine, make sure that the two are rotated and positioned in the same place (using, if we think of the 12 boxes that appear when you press Properties under Local Translation and Local Rotation as a-c across and 1-4 down, a1, b2 and c3 for rotation and all of the d row for translation (up, down, left and right). The picture shows this more clearly, with the rotation boxes in red and the translation boxes in green. The a column deals with the x axis, b with the y and c with the z (into the screen)



    When they are in the same place, delete the old Marine's weapon, and save the file. Copy the Navy Seal's texture (or whatever file the texture for the weapon is on, if you are using another unit) into the Marine's folder, and then you have it! This works with all weapons of the same category, for example gun-to-gun, sword-to-sword and bow-to-bow. I'm not sure about the Maceman's weapon, and x-to-y swaps need animation swaps.


    Re-Skinning


    Re-skinning is simply changing the colours of a unit without editing the model itself. To do it, go into the unit folder and look for a file called ____.dds, and then open it. If there is more than one, you will need to open up lots of them and see which cover the areas that you want - one thing to bear in mind is that in the Marine's folder there is a Marine.dds file that doesn't do anything - in general, the file you want is going to be . .. .something like Unit_128.dds. Once you have the file open, you can then change the texture at will. Something useful to know is that if you want to change the colour of part of a unit without losing highlights, then use the Paintbrush tool with Opacity set to between 60 and 80. This doesn't work so well with white or other very light colours, but it's often useful - for example, I used it to colour most of my Armed Police unit.
    Another trick is to use the select-by-colour tool and then the paintbrush, which allows you to replace all instances of one colour with another. This does often provide a poor finish if only done once, so you need to go back in and check for the parts it has not selected and repeat the process. You can also set the Paint Bucket tool to about 70% opacity and to fill similar colours for a similar effect, and what I tend to do is use that on the large areas then do the select-by-colour method.


    Once you are done, save the file and your changes will have been applied (you can normally see them in NifSkope, and what is good about that is that it updates while it is still running, so you can see what you are doing by opening the model, saving the new texture and if you don't like it GIMP lets you undo things past the last save.


    Simple Animation Swaps


    This is a method of making one unit use the animations from another similar unit. All you have to do is open the two models in NifSkope, right-click on the first model, press 'Copy Branch', and then open the one with the animations you want to use. Then, find the NiNode above the new model's body (the NiTriShape that you see highlighted when you select the model) and right-click and click on 'Paste Branch'. Then, delete the old model and copy the texture file for the model you moved into the folder for your new unit. If you want to keep the original weapon from the unit, you will need to perform a weapon swap.

    This works with most gunpowder units and most melee units, but there are occasional surprises. A good example of this would be here with GarretSidzaka's SMG infantry, which are an animation swap between the Infantry and the Marine and a weapon swap.

    Using Rotation


    As shown above, the different boxes in the properties window can be used to rotate and scale a model. When it comes to 90 degree rotation I think Rabbit, White put it best, so I'll use mostly his text: All you need to do is switch the column locations of the other two digits and switch the sign of one digit, so to rotate in the x axis you keep that one the same, and then put b2 into c2 and c3 into b3, and reverse one of the signs on them.


    The other interesting thing is that changing the value in a box will scale something, so a common thing to do is shorten or elongate the Tank's barrel. You can also use the LocalScale field in SceneViewer to scale an entire NiNode or NiTriShape.


    Transparency


    This trick is used to remove things from a unit without editing the model. The only drawback is that it removes Team Colour on unit, but I think it's worth it some of the time, for example taking the backpack off the scout. To do that, just right-click on the unit in NifSkope and select Properties. Scroll down a bit and open the NiProperties tab. You should see a “NiTexturingProperty” item on the list; double-click it and you should see something about Texture Properties. In the list of the maps you’ll see a Decal Map and a Base map. Take off the Decal map, then select the Base Map and click Change, look for the unit’s texture (remember the re-skinning part) and select it. After that you will see the entire model turn pink. Save it and reload it, and you should see the model the same as normal but with no team colour. This means that where parts of the texture are transparent they will be transparent in the model, as opposed to team coloured.


    Item Grafting


    This is similar to weapon swaps; all it is is adding a NiTriShape from one unit to another. So do as for a weapon swap, but put it in position on the model and it should work fine. You can also take off a NiTriShape by right-clicking on it and clicking remove.
     
  2. The Cosmic Kid

    The Cosmic Kid Warlord

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2009
    Messages:
    118
    Location:
    Arlington, VA
    When you say "This works with most gunpowder units and most melee units", does that mean you can't cross the two? I'm trying to give a warrior monk a shotgun, and though the shotgun moves just fine the padre is stuck in that default spread-eagle position. So is this idea doomed to failure, or am I just doing something wrong?

    EDIT: The really odd thing is that this moving-weapon-stuck-monk effect also occurs when I load melee animations in NifSkope, but in-game the melee monk animates fine (and, in fact, makes the Jaguar animations look really cool).
     
  3. Flying Pig

    Flying Pig Utrinque Paratus Retired Moderator

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2009
    Messages:
    15,651
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Perfidious Albion
  4. The Cosmic Kid

    The Cosmic Kid Warlord

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2009
    Messages:
    118
    Location:
    Arlington, VA
    Thanks for responding; that does indeed look very helpful. Things are still going wrong, but I'll take my questions over to the other thread.
     

Share This Page