Adding Aliens


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#1 Galagher

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Posted 12 October 2006 - 01:50 AM

Hi all,

Question.  How difficult would it be to slam a bunch of the TFTD aliens into EU?  I've got a bunch of new weapons to play with and would be interested in having a slew of more interesting aliens to use them against.  The Floaters could certainly stand to be a little scarier.  

Also,  I've read that XcomUtil will produce hybrid games but am I right in thinking it is only terrains that are transfered between the games?

#2 Zombie

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Posted 12 October 2006 - 02:44 AM

From what I know, TFTD uses a different color palette than EU, so you would need to change that accordingly. That's a slight problem to overcome to successfully port them over. And XcomUtil only switches terrain like you say, not aliens.  :D

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#3 Galagher

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Posted 13 October 2006 - 01:41 AM

Any chance of adding new Aliens while hanging on to the old ones as well?  Is that possible?

#4 Zombie

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Posted 13 October 2006 - 02:05 AM

There's only so many alien races in the game, so I'm guessing that if you wanted to add another one, you would need to remove an existing race to make room.  :D

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JellyfishGreen said:

Zombie: Empirical data's your only man, when formulating a research plan.
A soldier's death is never in vain if it makes the formula more plain.
A few dozen make a better case for refining that third decimal place.
They call me Zombie because I don't sleep, as I slowly struggle to climb this heap,
of corpses, data points, and trials, but from the top - I'll see for miles!

#5 Galagher

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Posted 13 October 2006 - 03:36 AM

Ok. That's how I thought it would have to go.

Next question, in changing some of the graphics for weapons on the inventory screen something went wrong.  The Ammo for the weapon appears with it, just below it and somewhat scrambled.  How do I correct this?

#6 NKF

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Posted 13 October 2006 - 11:38 AM

It sounds like the image may either be too short or too long for storage, or the image data isn't closed properly resulting with the next image and some non-image data bleeding into it.

What are you using to replace the image?

Speaking of hybrid game terrain changes - XComutil doesn't convert the palatte from the first game with the palette of the game you're combining it with. So you end up with some very odd coloured terrain. I'm sure this can easily be fixed with a simple byte for byte index replacement to point the original pixel colour indexes to point to the closest matching colour in the target game's palette and creating a whole new set of terrain image files. I guess it sounds simple in theory...

You would have to do the same if you wanted to put a TFTD alien into UFO or vice versa. Or rather, any image from the target game and the game that is being combined.

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#7 Galagher

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Posted 13 October 2006 - 12:16 PM

I'm using PCKview to take some of the image files from the "New Weapon Mod" in the files section and put them into my regular game.  I like their pics but don't want to use the whole mod,  I hope they won't mind this borrowing since it's just for personal use.

#8 Bomb Bloke

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Posted 16 October 2006 - 06:34 AM

PCKView doesn't save inventory images correctly. It's a known bug. The only program I know of that works is my own, and I (still) haven't polished it up enough to release it yet.

It should be rather handy when I do finish it though, as it automatically recolors images to fit any given palette (in as much as that's possible). Which means it'd be easy to implant TFTD aliens into UFO.

As has been mentioned, you'd need to replace existing aliens to do it. There are two options - a permanent one, where you simply overwrite the old aliens, or a swap-out one, where a loader alternates between races as you play. The former suggestion means the new aliens can be viewed in the UFOpedia, while the later means that you get to have both the new and the old aliens at once (the add on races just wouldn't show up on the geoscape).

Though it might be possible to add another race with geoscape support... That'd require some tests, of course, but ya never know. You see, you can throw all sorts of weird numbers at the game and it takes them in its stride...
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#9 Galagher

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Posted 17 October 2006 - 12:32 AM

The loader option sounds very cool.  Though I don't know how to do such a thing.  My X-com wishlist of impossible things involves creating a true hybrid between EU and TFTD.  It's too bad you aren't ready to release your graphics editor, I'd love to have such a tool.  P.S. Bomb Bloke, I read on another forum that you are sort doing a rewrite of EU.  Anywhere I can find out more about that?

#10 Bomb Bloke

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Posted 17 October 2006 - 07:05 AM

I actually have a reasonable idea as to how to make such a loader, and because it would obviously be quite a cool mod, I'll certainly give it a go at some point.

If done properly, it might well be possible to correctly extend the 'pedia too.

The catch is I'd need to put a little bit more research into the geoscape engine data files. Though truth be told most of the decoding has already been done for me by our other hackers.  :D

I've turned my PCK tools into usable bits of software. They're now in our files section. Note that the thing uses GIF files, you'll need something a bit more powerful then MS Paint to deal with it.

My remake isn't exactly hidden, it's been floating around here for two years now. Best place to find out about it is in this thread. At the moment it's a map editer, and given the amount of time I've spent getting it that far, it'll be a while yet before it's a playable game.
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#11 Zombie

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Posted 17 October 2006 - 08:41 PM

View PostBomb Bloke, on 17th October 2006, 2:05am, said:

I've turned my PCK tools into usable bits of software. They're now in our files section. Note that the thing uses GIF files, you'll need something a bit more powerful then MS Paint to deal with it.
Great stuff Bomb Bloke! I have been fooling around with this for the past couple of hours or so and it works great. Only problem is my photo editing software doesn't handle GIFs. What software (free or shareware) would you suggest for editing GIFs? I tried Picasa2 and The Gimp, but both of those have corny UI and they chop off parts of images. (So does Paint, but I expected that). Everything I have right now deals with BMP's fine, just not  GIF's.  :D

- Zombie

My X-COM Patch Kit For UFO Defense | Emergency XCOM Meeting spoof on YouTube




JellyfishGreen said:

Zombie: Empirical data's your only man, when formulating a research plan.
A soldier's death is never in vain if it makes the formula more plain.
A few dozen make a better case for refining that third decimal place.
They call me Zombie because I don't sleep, as I slowly struggle to climb this heap,
of corpses, data points, and trials, but from the top - I'll see for miles!

#12 NKF

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Posted 18 October 2006 - 03:50 AM

How about work with an image converter? Convert it from one paletted bitmap to GIF and vice versa, and keep working in your favourite image editing environment.

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#13 Bomb Bloke

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Posted 18 October 2006 - 03:51 AM

Paint chops off bits of images? That's a new one on me. I use it for most of my image editing, but when I want to save a GIF file, I copy the result to Paint Shop Pro 7 and do it from there. Paint just has terrible GIF support for some reason. I really don't know how Microsoft managed to do that, it must be some part of their war against standards or something.

About the time I first wrote my GIF handling code (back when I was using QBasic), I also tried my hand at a BMP converter. Unfortunately I couldn't find a program which would output file headers that matched the standards documentation I had, which meant I couldn't get a good grasp of how the format worked. I'll write one some day, though.

Anyway. I downloaded The GIMP and had a go at saving a GIF with it. It's a little odd to use, but I came up with these steps -

1) Open the GIF you want to edit. GIMP will probably complain about my GIFs, but it'll open them regardless.

Hold Shift+Ctrl+A (de-select all), then Ctrl+C (copy). You can now paste the image into Paintbrush, or whatever program you prefer. For some reason, using Ctrl+A (select all) does result in a cropped image when you paste to Paintbrush. Don't ask me why. Also, it's best to drag the image size in Paint down as low as you can get it, that way when you paste, the image size will match what's on the clipboard exactly.

2) Edit the image as you see fit, select it, go back to The GIMP and paste it.

Press Z to highlight the magic wand tool, then click on the grey space around the image. Hold down shift, then click on each of the areas you want to become transparent.

3) Hit Ctrl+K (clear) to wipe out the unwanted zones. They should now appear as a grey checker board. If they do not, select the Layer menu, scroll down to Transparency, then select Add Alpha Channel from the sub menu before hitting Ctrl+K again.

Click once more in the grey area around the image to clear your selections.

4) Hit Ctrl+Shift+S (save as), click the little plus next to "Browse for other folders", and find where you want to dump the file.

Type in a name, give it a .GIF extension, hit Save, and then Export. Untick the "Gif comment" box (though I'm pretty sure my software doesn't care one way or the other), then hit Ok.

Hey presto, transparent GIF. Hopefully this should help you.

I surfed around a bit more and discovered Paint.NET, which requires .NET 2.0 (as opposed to 1.1, which is the minimum required for Daishiva's stuff). This program works a lot like the Microsoft version of Paint, but seems to be much improved.

All you need to do is dump the image in it, use the wand to select the areas as you did in The GIMP, then hit delete to clear them. When you go to save it as a GIF, max out the transparency levels, and minimise the dithering levels.

Note that Paint.NET doesn't like my GIF files at all. I guess they really do need work. You'll need to first open them with The GIMP, then paste them to Paint.NET, until I get the code sorted out.
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#14 Galagher

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Posted 18 October 2006 - 12:32 PM

Thanks BB.  This program is great.  I can start modding a bit now.

#15 Ender117

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Posted 19 October 2006 - 05:09 AM

Just wanted to say this is some great stuff guys. :D  I can't wait to have some fun with my X-Com, but I'm still waiting to get it from the U.K.  But when I get it, be waiting for a lot of questions. :)
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#16 Bomb Bloke

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Posted 19 October 2006 - 07:45 AM

I finished my Gif handling code, and uploaded a new version of the PCK converter.

Gif to PCK conversion now supports interlaced files.

PCK to Gif conversion now writes Gif files correctly, and they should open in any program that supports transparency (MS Paint does not, but later versions will deal with these files anyway - albeit treating them as opaque).

Also fixed a bug where the Gif writer would crash if asked to output a large image (which wouldn't occur when dealing with the tiny UFO sprites).

So I'd say the tools are done.
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