Alright, let’s get into how the Mod Maker works at the moment. Short version is: you can create a new body part, body covering or colour pattern, and import it into the game. It may then appear in the game naturally, by mutation.
(As a bonus, I’ll also show you how you can cheat the system to swap out almost any existing content, from textures to models)
There are roughly three categories of mods: Textures (Body Coverings, Colour Patterns and Feature Textures),Models (Heads, Feet, Features), and Animated Models (Limbs). The steps are slightly different, but very similar, for each.
Step Zero: Install XNA
Unfortunately, if you want to make mods, you’ll need to install the full version of XNA Game Studio (not the redistributable version you already installed to play the game. Sorry). You can get it here. Don’t worry, it’s free, and not too big.
Edit: Crud, it looks like you may have to install Visual C# 2008 Express (also free) before you can install XNA. How irritating. Oh well, once that’s done it’s easy to make parts…
First Step: Make Your Content
Species Sample Scenes and Textures (you can use these to follow this tutorial, as well as reference material)
Naturally, you can’t do anything until you have something to import. There are a few tips you’ll need to know for this, depending on what content you’re making…
1. Body Coverings are the easiest thing to import. For your first mod, I recommend taking a random texture photo (bricks or something) and importing it as is: it’ll appear on some of the creatures in your game. You don’t really need to know anything special about making body coverings, except that pale or greyscale colours work best.
2. Colour Patterns and Feature Textures are also easy to make. Red will be converted to the creatures primary colour, and Green or Blue respectively is the secondary colour (why are they different? the better question is, why have I not noticed that they’re different until now?).
3. Texture Size doesn’t really matter. I generally use 512×512, but it’s up to you. Just don’t go above 2048×2048: some graphics cards can’t handle it.
4. Texture Format again doesn’t really matter. The mod maker will accept a variety of formats, including jpg, png and bmp.
1. For modelling new body parts, you’ll need to obtain a 3d editing software, like Blender or Maya or 3ds Max (I use 3ds Max).
2. Next, open up or import one of the sample scenes (link above) There’s two each for Heads, Feet, Features and Limbs. This should give you an idea of the size and orientation of a default body part, and you can easily hide or freeze it and begin work in that file.
3. Model your body part. There are loads of online tutorials for modelling, and the help documents for modelling programs are quite detailed.
4. Recommended steps: (Not strictly necessary, but I generally do these before exporting every model to save on headaches later. There are a plethora of things that can go wrong when exporting models: these steps eliminate at least a few of them)
a. Convert your model into a single object, if necessary (3ds Max: Convert To Editable Poly => Attach).
b. Position the object at [0,0,0]. Also move the Pivot Point to [0,0,0]. If you have to reposition it after this, select it’s vertices and move those directly.
c. Remove any textures you may have applied (just give it one of the default materials).
d. Reset XForms.
5. Export your models to either *.FBX (Autodesk) format or *.x (DirectX) format. These are the only formats the mod maker accepts.
The Mod Maker
Once you have your content ready, open the Mod Maker application. You will be greeted with this horrendously hideous screen, the mere sight of which caused the ugly duckling to grow into a vulture:
Obviously, the first step will be to pick what type of content your content is. Do that and click “Next”. You’ll be asked to select the content file: do that now.
The Mod Maker will import your mesh, and you will find yourself looking at the next extravagantly disgusting screen.
Here you can define the in-game statistics of your body part. Most of these stats are self-explanitory: look in the vanilla folders or ask me a question if you are wondering about the usual ranges for some of the statistics. After you’ve specified your stats, click “Next”.
Modded parts are stored in Mod Packs: self-extracting Zip files, which can contain any number of modded parts. You will need to create and select a Mod Pack (with the create button) to add your part to. When you’re done, click okay.
The next page you are greeted with depend on what you are making. If it is a Head, Foot or Limb, you will go to the Mutation Map page.
For these body parts, you will need to add the part to the mutation map. Click and drag to attach the new part to an existing part, allowing mutation between them. If you want to see it appear immediately, attach it to “None” or “Gen1”. (I’ll try to put up some basic screenshots and data about the vanilla parts on the Wiki)
Once it’s added and you click next, or if you were making a texture or feature, you’re done!
The part has been added to the Mod Pack you specified earlier (which can be found in the Mods folder), and will appear in the game the next time you play it.
To uninstall it, simply remove it from the mods folder. Easy!
Now, for the bonus stuff!
If you want to replace an existing vanilla asset (recommended: make a backup!), for example if you’re trying to create a hi-def texture pack for the game or want to replace the background model, run the asset through the Mod Manager as a Body Covering or Feature Model (depending on whether it’s a Texture or Model). Once that’s done, edit the zip file to match the directory structure of the Content directory: specifically, the location where the original file is stored.
Finally, move and rename the *.xnb file to the same location in the Mod Pack as it is in the Content Directory.
And you’re done! This mod pack is now a replacer: the next time you run Species it will replace the existing file with this one and you’ll see it appear in game, replacing the old asset.
(Note: you’ll probably want to take a backup of the vanilla asset, just in case things go wrong)