Tutorial: Example for making an easy Conversion

written by: General Mengsk

Required Tools:

Arsenal III,
MPQDraft,
TblPad,
WinMPQ

Note: You could also use another MPQ-Editor, but here only the steps in WinMPQ are described.

What is shown?

This tutorial describes how to make a basic mod using the tools above. In this case a Terran Marine gets shields, reduced building costs and is permanently cloaked and renamed. In addition to this the portrait of the Terran Advisor is changed to Edmund Duke.
By redoing these steps you get an example of how modding is done. It should lead to make some experiments with other changes by seeing how it works.

 

Getting started:

First make sure that you have all the required tools listed above. Also you should check if you you've updated the dat-files Arsenal III uses to the current ones Starcraft uses, otherwise you'll have to start from the 1.05 Balances in Arsenal III. If you don't know how to update the files check "The first WinMPQ part" in this tutorial and do the steps discribed there for all dat-files in the arr-folder in the patch_rt.mpq. Copy these files in the Arsenal III directory over the existing ones.
Second, make a new directory - preferably somewhere near the SC folder - for your projekt. In this tutorial it is called "Testmod". All files belonging to the projekt should be saved there. This gives an overview and avoids overrighting needed files for mod programs.


The Arsenal III part:

Start the program and choose the (StarCraft) unit editor. Choose the Terran Marine unter Terran Units, Ground Units in the left column. On the right side the "Basic" settings should show up. Here you can edit the main settings for a unit, how strong it is, how much it consts, the food and space (in a dropship) it requires and the points you get for building and destroying it. In this case we want to give the marine shields, so you'll have to check the box next to the "Shields" field. Then the Marine should be cheaper, so the put a "40" in the "Marine" field instead of the 50 there to reduce the costs to 40 minerals.

For special features for a unit, we need to go to the "Advanced" settings, right to the "Basic" ones. Here a list of special features can be found. For making the marine cloaked, the box before "Permanent Cloak" must be checked. The other settings could be left as they are.
(Note: Not all of these features should and can be combined, so make sensible changes to avoid chrashes.)

The work in the Unit Editor of Arsenal III is done, so it is time to save the changes. Choose "Save as" from the file menu and select the folder you created for this projekt. Then save the file in there leaving the suggested name "units.dat".

After saving you can now leave the Unit Editor and enter the (StarCraft) Portrait Editor. Here we want set Duke as the Terran Advisor, so search for Edmund Duke - Idle Animation in the left column first. On the right side three numbers are displayed, a file number and two unknowns. Remember or write down the one for Duke.

Now as you have the number for Duke's file select the Terran Advisor - Idle Animation on the left. Then replace the file number there with Duke's number.

Now half the way here is done. You might ask now: Why only half? The answer is simple: A portrait consists of two parts, a normal and a talking one. The first one is displayed as standard, but if the unit speaks the talking one is displayed. The Idle Animation - the normal one - is already done, but the Talking Animation is still left. Now you'll have to repeat the steps above again: Search for Edmund Duke - Talking Animation, remember the file number and put it in the field for the Terran Advisor - Talking Animation.

When both animations are done, it's time for saving again. The portrait information is stored in a different file, named "portdata.dat"! Save the this file in your project folder, too.

When you've done with saving the Arsenal III part is done. You can close this program now.
(Note: When making further changes later remember to save all files you edit! Every time the title bar of Arsenal III changes its name to another editor, you'll modify another dat-file, so save each of them.)


The first WinMPQ part:

This part deals with extracting the stat_txt.tbl out of the patch_rt.mpq to get the most current version of the file for editing it. The stat_txt.tbl contains most of the strings displayed during the StarCraft gameplay and even in StarEdit. If you already have extracted the file, you can leave out this part.


Before we start extracting, a view into the options menu should be made. In the "General" settings there is a field named Locale ID for extracting. Now it is important which language your extracted files should have. Put in the ID of the language your mod project should be in consulting the following list: (Normal setting is 0, you can leave this for this expample.)

0 Neutral (English)
1031 German
1033 English (neutral is usually used instead of this)
1034 Spanish
1036 French
1040 Italian
1046 Portuguese

When you've put the correct ID in press "Ok". Now you can start extracting. We need the most current version of stat_txt.tbl! This file can be found in the patch_rt.mpq, the archive with the most current files. So open the patch_rt.mpq in your StarCraft folder (with the newest patch). When the file list has completely loaded go down until you find rez\stat_txt.tbl. Now extract the file by choosing "Extract" in the MPQ-menu or the context-menu (shown here):

Extract the file into your project folder to have all files together in there:

When you're done with that, you can close WinMPQ. Depending on what your WinMPQ options are a subfolder named "rez" might have been created in your project directory now. Open the Explorer and check the folder. If a subfolder is there, move the file out of it into the (main) project folder and delete the subfolder. This will give you an easier and quicker overview, subfolders make only sense in case of bigger projects.


The TblPad part:

Before you start working with TblPad your project folder should look like this (or at least contain the same files):

Now start TblPad and open stat_txt.tbl from your project folder by choosing open in the file menu. When you've opened the file and marked the first string in the list on the left, it should look like this (details depending on the language of the file):

On the left side you can choose the string, on the right side edit the chosen one. Do not change the "<0>" in the strings, as they are subdivisions between parts of a string and have to stand at the end of each string. The unit strings are made in the following system:

{unit name}<0>{Editor information}<0>{StarEdit folder}<0>

{unit name} is the name of unit, displayed in StarCraft and StarEdit.
{Editor information} contains additional information of a unit which is displayed in StarEdit in brackets after the unit name.
{StarEdit folder} determens the folder of units it can be found in StarEdit.

Display examples:
"Terran SCV<0>*<0>Ground Units<0>" is displayed as "Terran SCV" in StarCraft and in StarEdit (where it can be found under Ground Units).
"Hyperion<0>Battlecruiser<0>Heroes<0>" is displayed as "Hyperion" in StarCraft and "Hyperion (Battlecruiser)" in StarEdit (where if can be found under Heroes).

Now with these knowledge you can modify all unit strings and even the folders in StarEdit. In this example we change the Terran Marine to Terran Shield-Marine. The changes are automatically made in the list on the left, too. When done it's time for saving the file with choosing "Save" in the "File"-menu:

Now you can close TblPad, you've made all changes in the files you need. It's time for WinMPQ again!


The second WinMPQ part:

Now it is time for putting your files together in an MPQ. Open WinMPQ and create a new MPQ in your project directory. In this example it is named "Mod.mpq" (Don't forget the mpq-ending!):

After creating the MPQ you need to import the files in to it and give them the exact name, they have in the Blizzard archives. To add files to your MPQ click the "Add"-Button and choose your project folder. Mark the three files you've created/modified and import them:

When the files are imported you'll be asked to input the subdirectory they should be in. As the dat-files need to be in the arr-Subdirectory you should put "arr\" in here (Don't forget the backslash!):

Now you'll see the imported files - and a (listfile) perhaps, but don't worry about that, it's just a list of what's inside the MPQ - in your MPQ. The dat-files are already in the correct subfolder, but the stat_txt.tbl isn't. As you might know from extracting is must be rez\stat_txt.tbl, so rightclick on it and choose "Rename":

Replace "arr" with "rez" and press Enter, you'll now be asked to confirm the changes:

Now you can close WinMPQ, saving is done automatically when changing s.th.


The MPQDraft part:

Now you're mod is nearly done, all that's left is running it. Now start MPQDraft for that. You'll have to choose between two options: Load a patch via MPQDraft temporary or make an EXE-file (SEMPQ). For the SEMPQ choose "Create Self Executing MPQ", for temporary patching click on "Load MPQ Patch" on the main screen that opens up right when you start MPQDraft.

LOAD MPQ PATCH

First, the patching method is explained. This method is recommend if you just want to test your MPQ or perhaps keep the file size small. Another point is that you can use more than one MPQ-file for patching, but only one file for making a SEMPQ.

When you've selected Load MPQ Patch the "Patching Wizard" appears. In the first step you have to select the program you want to patch. Choose StarCraft and the which EXE you want to patch, Starcraft or Staredit. In this case we'll choose Starcraft. Normally you can leave all other things on this page unchanged, unless the version of StarCraft you've got in the installation folder is different from the one you want have for your projekt. In this case click on "Browse" and select the starcraft.exe of the version you want. When you've finished, move on to the next step.

In second step you select, which MPQ(s) you want to use. If your MPQ doesn't appear in the list, click on "Browse for MPQs" and select the one from you project folder.

Now mark the ones you want to use - in this case only Mod.mpq (which we've just created) - and make sure no others (which you don't want to use) are selected. When you've done, move on to step three.

The last page (and step) deals with the plugin selection. Only if you have one and want to use it, you'll have to do s.th. here. (You would have to browse for the qdp-file perhaps and configure it, if it let's you do configuration.) In our case you are now ready to test your conversion. Klick on the finishing button and enjoy your work. The modified StarCraft (or StarEdit) will appear and MPQDraft will minimize until you close the game (or the editor).

When you've closed the modifed program you'll be back at the MPQDraft main screen.

CREATE SELF EXECUTING MPQ

The SEMPQ-Method helps you to make your projekt independent from a patcher program like MPQDraft. All things nead for patching are in one EXE-file you just need to execute. It's also easy to give it to your friends or upload it somewhere on the internet. The disadvantages of this method are that you can only use one MPQ-file and the size is increased a bit.

When you've selected Create Self Executing MPQ the "Self-Executing MPQ Wizard" will appear. The steps are a bit different from the patching method, but not much. In the first step you have to select a name for your project as well as the MPQ for making a SEMPQ out of and the SEMPQ-filename. When you've done all that, go on to the next step.

In the second step, you'll have to select which program you want to patch. This is very similar to Step 1 in the patching method. In this case select "StarCraft" in the programs and in the components field. The only real difference here is that if you change the program file that you want to patch to a different folder than the installation one the path on other computers must be exactly the same. So here you should have the version of StarCraft you want for your project in the installation folder.

The last step is the same in both MPQDraft methods: It deals with the plugins. So in general you can just click on the finishing button here. (See patching method if you have plugins and want to use them.)

When you've finished with the SEMPQ Wizard your SEMPQ will be created. The time this process takes is depended from the size of your MPQ. For this project time should be under a second so that you can't really see the creating status window, but this could happen in case of bigger files.

To run your SEMPQ, simple doubleclick on the exe now. When you saved the SEMPQ in your project folder, you should now have the following files in it. You can delete the dat and tbl files now, as they are in your MPQ, too. But if you don't need every space you can get leave them there, so that you avoid extracting them each time you want to modify them.

Congratulations! You've just made your own conversion. It's time for testing it now!


Screenshots - The result of your work

Here are three pictures of the running conversion: Here you see the permanently cloaked Marine (in front of the barracks) and the changed portrait (Duke as Advisor):

The second image shows the renamed Marine, now "Terran Shield-Marine". Notice the blue shields around the wireframe and the shield points.

The last screenshot displays the changed costs of a Marine (40 minerals instead of 50) and Duke as Advisor again. Please not that you've not changed the Sounds for the Advisor, so his voice will sound quite female now. ;-)

If you've further questions, ask in the forums of: Camelot Systems or contact me via e-mail or ICQ:

e-mail: General_Mengsk@stc-f.com
ICQ: 137486195

2002 General Mengsk, Camelot Systems Technical Support.

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