Basic Modding FAQ

For discussion and help on modding and customizing the game
Azeem
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Basic Modding FAQ

Postby Azeem » Fri Apr 17, 2009 11:01 pm

What is needed to mod SCS?
Most SCS data files are in XML format so modding in SCS requires basic knowledge of XML. You'll need a basic XML editor (Notepad 2, which is free for download at CNet's Download.com, is good enough).

If you do re-texturing (changing the building "skins" or modifying them), then you need a basic paint program since the file format is .PNG, which even your basic MS Paint program can handle. Software such as GIMP or Photoshop 7 is much more useful if you want to do more complex texture graphics alterations. Note that Photoshop 7 can use NVidia tools to automatically create bump maps for buildings; "bump maps" allow textures to acquire the illusion of depth.

Although formerly advertised as the "most moddable" SCS, SCS does have its limitations (unfortunately major ones, I might add) regarding customized content. On the one hand, editing building stats and giving them new attributes or abilities is a simple XML editing task. All XML files for building objects are located in your game's XMLDb folder category. You can determine what "social energies" a building creates, the population or the venue size limit, the resources required for construction, and what kind of specialist sims can be spawned. On the other hand, building models cannot be changed or modified. This is because all building models use .xac format, which require an extremely expensive professional's 3d modelling program.

What are the changes from SCS Patch 5 to SCS: Destinations?

SCS: Destinations added so many new things that modding has become a bit trickier (and a bit more confusing!). If you've installed SCS: Destinations, you'll notice that the SCS folder has an extra XP1 folder. This is for Destinations content. Adding onto the confusion is that the Destinations folder contains "clones" of buildings XML files, but with specific Destinations attributes. When you decide to modify a Destinations structure (a structure that admits travellers or serves as accomodations), take note of what attributes other Destinations structures use so you can get a good idea on how to make a "new" structure.

Localization Text, the text used for building labels and the brief description of buildings in the game, also has a "cloned" folder. All new localization text files must be placed in the expansion pack's Localization Text folder in order for the text to appear in-game. This folder is in Program Files\Electronic Arts\SimCity Societies\DataXP1\Localization. "en_us" and "en_uk" refer to "English-US" and "English-UK" respectively.

How do I get rid of map size limits and building caps?

SCS's default map size is 256 with a buildings limit of 1500; this is done primarily for gameplay stability reasons as the game is an unfortunate system resources hog.

To change the building limit, go to Program Files\Electronic Arts\SimCity Societies\Data\XMLDb\Constants and open up Constants.XML. Use the search feature on your XML editor to go to <Building Constants>. There you can change the limit.

To change the map size, go to Program Files\Electronic Arts\SimCity Societies\Data\XMLDb\Game\Random Map and open up the RandomMap.XML file. Note that you can only change the map size to multiples of 256. In other words, the next map size is 512, then 1024, and so on.

Be warned that setting higher limits can push your system quite a bit; do this only if your system is up to it!

Where do I put new customized textures and XML files?

When you start up SCS for the first time, your game automatically creates a mirror folder of your main install folder. The folder organization is similar to that of the game's primary folder. This mirror folder is in your hard drive, but is hidden. Set your folder viewing capabilities so that "Hidden" folders can become visible. The SCS mirror folder is under Application Data in Windows XP and ProgramData in Windows Vista.

All new textures are placed in ProgramData\SimCity Societies\Data\Graphics\Textures. If your new graphics are building textures, place them in the Buildings folder. New building XML files are placed in the XMLdb\Game\Objects\Buildings folder.

My Building Text doesn't appear! What happened?

This is one of the known bugs associated with SCS: Destinations. Because Destinations created a new folder format, the game gets a bit confused on choosing which folders to go through! To get your building text to appear, do what I mentioned above.

How do I get modded textures to appear?

This was again changed in the most recent SCS patches and Destinations. Again, the easiest way to do a new Building XML file is just to copy an original, re-name it, and edit it. This minimizes the chances of your XML file being saved incorrectly.

When you mod a building's XML file, put in this line:
<OverrideTextures>
<OverrideMaterial material="Default" diff="*file name*" emis="*file name*" bump="*file name*" spec="*file name*"/>
</OverrideTextures>

The file names do not need their .PNG file extensions. The game already knows what kind of files are used.

If you're using an edited building XML file for your new building, note that there's a line that says <!--Add Any new Data above this line-->

Put the <Override Textures> information right above this line.

How do I make an SCS Pack?

SCS Pack files are XML files that enable the game to package all modded files into a single SCS Pack.

If you make a new modded building, your pack XML file should look like this:
<Package>
<FileAdd name="Data\XMLDb\Game\Objects\Buildings\*.xml" />
<FileAdd name="Data\Graphics\Textures\Buildings\*.png" />
<FileAdd name="Data\Graphics\Textures\Buildings\*.png" />
<FileAdd name="Data\Graphics\Textures\Buildings\*.png" />
<FileAdd name="Data\Graphics\Textures\Buildings\*.png" />
<FileAdd name="Data\Graphics\Textures\interface\portraits\*.png" />
<FileAdd name="Data\Graphics\Textures\interface\portraits\*.png" />
<FileAdd name="Data\Localization\en_us\ObjectText\*.xml" />
</Package>

All lines refer to the name and location of the modded files.

SCS Pack files, the XML files that compile all your modded content into a neat little package, are placed in your My Documents\SimCity Societies\Export folder.

Although you can, just edit and replace the files in your game's main folder, doing an SCS Pack and putting files in the "clone" folder will create a "new" building and not replace an original.

Here's a quick and easy way to make a new SCS Pack file:

Download any of the buildings mods on this forum and double click on them after downloading to get them to "unpack." Go to ProgramData\SimCity Societies\Import (or Application Data\SimCity Societies\Import for Windows XP). Copy the pack XML file there. Re-name it and place it in your My Documents\SimCity Societies\Export folder. Open up this copied pack file and just change the file names for each category (or delete unnecessary lines where a certain file isn't needed).

NOTE!: File names have to match with the names listed in the XML. If file names don't match, then no pack can be made!

How do I "unpack" files?

If the mod you downloaded is in an SCS pack, then all you need to do is double-click on it and the program will unpack itself.

Note that sometimes your computer may not automatically recognize an SCS pack file. When this happens, right click on the SCS pack file and select "Open With." Browse through and select the SCS "Package Installer;" this will inform the computer to associate pack files with Package Installer.

NOTICE: A few here have mentioned that The Sims 2 and SCS seem to conflict with one another at times; for some reason, having The Sims 2 may render SCS Pack files unusable.

Why don't the Sim Specialists of some mods show up?

Norm35 and I have been discussing what might be the cause and it seems that one needs to create a Scripts folder for the SCS mod folder's DataXP1. Move the associated scripts XML files into this folder.

http://www.tiltedmill.com/forums/showthread.php?p=275008#post275008

Is it possible to have different Airplane textures showing up at the airport?

Originally we thought it wasn't possible, but Norm35 has found a way around this. So now we can have multiple airliners landing at the airport. :)

Refer to this thread: http://www.tiltedmill.com/forums/showthread.php?t=25888

How can I get Resorts to affiliate with a modded venue?

Refer to this thread: http://www.tiltedmill.com/forums/showthread.php?p=275699#post275699

For a modded venue to be able to be affiliated with a Resort, the venue must be under one of the categories of travellers' needs. For example, if you create a modded restaurant venue and want it to be able to hook up with a Resort, you must first designate your building specifically as a "Dining" venue. Create a modded Dining.xml in the hidden mod folder's DataXP1/XMLDb/Categories folder. And then edit the All.xml in the original folder's DataXP1/XMLDb/Categories folder to include your modded building.
Last edited by Azeem on Thu Jul 01, 2010 12:19 am, edited 16 times in total.

Zach
Posts: 42
Joined: Tue Nov 20, 2007 1:07 am

Postby Zach » Sat Apr 18, 2009 8:02 pm

Great post, Azeem! Extremely detailed and, more importantly, very clear and easy to follow. It goes without saying, but this thread should be stickied. :)

Azeem
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Joined: Wed May 05, 2004 9:30 pm
Location: Hetepsenusret

Postby Azeem » Wed Feb 17, 2010 4:40 am

Added another section and reference link on why modded Sim Specialists may not appear in SCS Destinations.

Azeem
Posts: 3678
Joined: Wed May 05, 2004 9:30 pm
Location: Hetepsenusret

Postby Azeem » Tue Mar 09, 2010 6:04 am

Edited to include Norm35's discoveries. :)

MidrealmDM70
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Postby MidrealmDM70 » Tue Apr 13, 2010 5:09 pm

"Azeem" wrote:How do I get modded textures to appear?

This was again changed in the most recent SCS patches and Destinations. Again, the easiest way to do a new Building XML file is just to copy an original, re-name it, and edit it. This minimizes the chances of your XML file being saved incorrectly.

When you mod a building's XML file, put in this line:
<OverrideTextures>
<OverrideMaterial material="Default" diff="*file name*" emis="*file name*" bump="*file name*" spec="*file name*"/>
</OverrideTextures>

The file names do not need their .PNG file extensions. The game already knows what kind of files are used.

If you're using an edited building XML file for your new building, note that there's a line that says <!--Add Any new Data above this line-->

Put the <Override Textures> information right above this line.


Very nicely written

Also worth mentioning is that if you use the default 'ems', 'bump', or 'spec' files associated with the xac model for your building, you dont need to include them. Essentially if the only thing you change is the normal visible texture, all you need is:
<OverrideTextures>
<OverrideMaterial material="Default" diff="*file name*" />
</OverrideTextures>


Also, and I won't swear this will work on everyone's system, but I comepletely disregard the line <!--Add Any new Data above this line-->
and have never had any problems.

Fairfield
Posts: 37
Joined: Thu Jan 07, 2010 12:53 am

Postby Fairfield » Wed Jun 30, 2010 11:53 pm

I don't see any "import" or "export" folders in the game directory; will ones I added work?

Azeem
Posts: 3678
Joined: Wed May 05, 2004 9:30 pm
Location: Hetepsenusret

Postby Azeem » Thu Jul 01, 2010 12:00 am

The "Export" folder is found in the Documents\SimCity Societies folder.

"Import" is found in the C:\ProgramData\SimCity Societes folder; if you have Windows XP, it's C:\Application Data\SimCity Societies

Note that "ProgramData" (Vista) and "Application Data" (XP) are hidden folders; if you can't see them, you will need to set your folder viewing capabilities to reveal hidden folders. Select "Folder Options" from the "Tools" menu.

Fairfield
Posts: 37
Joined: Thu Jan 07, 2010 12:53 am

Postby Fairfield » Thu Jul 01, 2010 12:15 am

Sorry to sound dumb, but where is the tools menu?

Azeem
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Joined: Wed May 05, 2004 9:30 pm
Location: Hetepsenusret

Postby Azeem » Thu Jul 01, 2010 12:16 am

Open up a folder as you normally would. On the menu bar near the top, Tools should be right before the "Help" category.

Fairfield
Posts: 37
Joined: Thu Jan 07, 2010 12:53 am

Postby Fairfield » Thu Jul 01, 2010 12:27 am

Vista looks different. There really isn't much of a menu bar near the top. "Help;" for example, isn't even there; only an icon. A demonstration of this problem, in picture.

Any idea where I'd find it in that interface?
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Azeem
Posts: 3678
Joined: Wed May 05, 2004 9:30 pm
Location: Hetepsenusret

Postby Azeem » Thu Jul 01, 2010 4:37 am

I am using Windows Vista also.

Click on "Organize" and set the Layout to include the Menu Bar.

Fairfield
Posts: 37
Joined: Thu Jan 07, 2010 12:53 am

Postby Fairfield » Thu Jul 01, 2010 5:14 am

Okay, thanks; I understand that now. My next (hopefully last) question is where exactly to look for "ProgramData."

Edit: Never mind; I've got it. Thanks again!

Quantum Reality
Posts: 202
Joined: Sun Apr 13, 2008 8:06 pm

Postby Quantum Reality » Mon Oct 21, 2013 2:20 am

Nice writeup! One thing I would like to know is how to manually unpack an SCS mod outside of SCS for editing or just for general edification. :)


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