On Thu, 7 Jun 2001 14:32:24 -0500, someone using the alias "SeventhSaint" wrote:

I read the data tha describes what does what but there is no real description about what needs to be done. For instance i downloaded a mod anaxis (spelling) made and it had several documents with dats and etc..

Do i just make one dat or what. I know if i want diffferent ships i have to make them on a graphics program. But really where do i start.

Start with a working mod by someone else.

Let's choose First Contact, which comes with Stellar Frontier and has lots of features.

Make copies of FirstContact.scn and FirstContact.dat with new names: maybe for this we'll use "MyMod" as the marker for your new mod.

So you get MyMod.scn and MyMod.dat.

The .scn file is the version of the scenario (mod) that you play when you choose "Play against the computer." The .dat file is what you will be in if you run server.exe and server the game to the Internet, then run your client (frontier.exe), choose "Play on the Internet" and enter your server's game.

With a text editor, open the .scn or the .dat file. Get yourself a notebook. Make notes about the information in the first section of lines, the "game" section.

Examine the file. You'll see that it is set up in sections, and each section, or almost every section, "calls" another file. Some are called "sf_*.sec" and some are called "fc_*.sec".

Make a list of these. Make copies of them, renaming them to "mymod_*.sec".

Now edit mymod.scn and change the lines near the top of the file where you see the name and the description. Put "mymod" and a description of it. (Remember that "mymod" is just our marker word here for whatever you really want to call your mod).

Now, go through the .scn file and change all the occurrences of sf_ and fc_ to mymod_.

Now, if you've done this accurately, you can launch frontier.exe and choose "Play against the computer," select "mymod" as the game scenario to play, and you'll be in a perfect version of First Contact (because we didn't change anything yet - we just got our mod's "platform" ready, and we run it now to be sure we got it right, because we're going to run it again everytime we change or add something, so we can test as we go and not get to the point where we've changed or added ten things, one of which is wrong, and not be able to tell which one it was...).

Now you can change stuff.

The "map" or layout of the game is controlled by the planet data and .bmp files. If you only change the contents of them in the .sec files for planet data and .bmp's, you don't need to change the "calling" line in your scn/dat file. I wait until I'm happy with my .scn file before copying it to "mymod.dat" for network play.

The ships' standard starting configurations, speeds, volume, etc. are set in the mymod_design_ships.sec file. Here, and in mymod_bmp_ships.sec, we decide how the ships will look (what .bmp's will be used).

The warhead strengths and ranges of weapons are set in mymod_design_missiles.sec.

The 'look' of weapons is controlled there and in mymod_bmp_missiles.sec.

Other aspects of weapons and systems (energy needs, powers, how much mass you can carry in qdrive, etc.) are controlled by mymod_data_modules.sec.

I think the other .sec files are self-evident, or obvious if you just look in them. As soon as you get how these files are interwoven, you're on your way.

If you test each change as you make it, you'll save a lot of time later because you'll never get more than one move into it before you find out if it's still working.

During a game on the Internet, your client checks and gets "correct" .sec and .dat files (and bmps) from the server hosting the game. So that's a good reason to not change the provided Stardock files, since you'd lose your work as soon as you went and played another game.

Hope this helps you. Have fun modding! I started out just making new variations on the existing mods and fooling around, just trying stuff. More AIs, fewer, more colonies, that kind of thing. Different orbits and so on. Then once I understood it all better, I started trying to weave all the things I knew into truly original mods, such as Silence's Slingshot or Battle for Orion's Belt.