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Author Topic: SABOW Beginners guide to modding  (Read 6475 times)
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Posts: 1012

« on: November 27, 2012, 06:56:10 AM »

I already made a version in the APOS subforum, but it's also applicable here Smiley

Dear Kyth, could you sticky this for all to see?

Alright, before I begin, I'm assuming you've already figured out a few things. This tutorial is for putting the stuff you've created/edited into the game. Taking the files out and editing them is fairly easy, and I'm assuming you can do this without my talk-in-a-circle-and-use-big-pictures manner.

Once you've finished editing whatever you're going to edit, save the files and then use the "dds2atf" file in the mods folder to re-convert it to a format that the game can read. This is only done for visual things like textures and such. If you want to edit the in-game names or text files, you'll have to use the .txt converter, as well as the .config converter for files that mess with balances in the game.

Once you've done that for all the files you want, place them in a new folder in the (main steel armor/APOS directory)/users folder. It doesn't matter where they came from (.flatdata wise. they must all be from the same "shared" "loc_eng" or "loc_ger" folder) or that they're all the same file type, they just have to be in the same folder. Then, make a document labeled [your mod's name here].txt in the folder or copy the .!flatlist file over from one of the un-packed files (that's what I did). Add the entries so they look like so;

save the file, and then change the name from "[your mod's name here].txt" to "[your mod's name here].!flatlist". You'll get a warning that you might permanently damage your file or whatever, but just ignore it (FOR NOW. DO NOT MESS WITH ANY OTHER FILES ON YOUR COMPUTER IN THIS MANNER <= disclaimer) because notepad and word can still read the file. When you open it for the first time, Windows will tell you that it doesn't recognize the file type. There's two ways to get around this;
1. Right click on the flatlist file and go down to "Open file with.." and select wordpad or word or whatever you use. I use notepad2.0

2. double click and select "browse computer for program" or something along those lines. find notepad or whatever you use and select it.

Now, your folder should look like this

Congrats, you've reached level 2. Welcome to hell, because the first time you do this, it sucks Smiley

Now comes the fun part. go into your docs/modwork/flatwork folder, and select the "mkflat.cmd" file. Copy it and paste it in the main APOS directory, like so

Right click it and go down to "Edit with notepad++ [or whatever you use]". (Let me just say that you should download this program; it makes life about 83239478239847 times easier) The file should open up and should look confusing. Smiley the top row, when using notepad++, has cd../../.. or something along those lines. Delete it. since it's in the main directory, you no longer need them. If you understand how .cmd files work, have at it, however I took them out for ease of use.

Now that the top row has been removed, add two new sections to the remaining text. This is the entry I used;

starter.exe  root\programs\mkflat.progpack,  users\Mod tutorial.flatdata, users\Mod tutorial\Mod tutorial.!flatlist

The first bracket tells the computer what to use. The second tells it where to put the .flatdata file (if you want it in a separate folder, say the "docs" instead of users, you would put docs\[folder you want it to go into (optional)]\[the name you want it called].flatdata). The last bracket tells the .cmd file where to find the list of files to be compacted. This part is pretty nifty, because you don't have to delete a file out of the folder if you don't want it included in your mod; either delete or disable (put // in front) the entry in the .!flatlist

Save and double click the .cmd file. You should now have a file labeled [your mod here].flatdata somewhere. Whatever you put into the second bracket is where it will go. Mine went into the users folder, however you can also have it go into your mod's folder if you want to avoid clutter

This is the end of stage 2.

Now we need to get the .flatdata file into the game. To do this, make a new folder in the main APOS or Steel Armor directory called "[your mod's name here]". Then, you're going to make a bunch of different folders. The following is a tree of what needs to be there and at what level

[main directory]
[your mod's name]
shared / loc_eng / loc_rus / loc_ger
packed_data / packed_data / packed_data / packed_data

and then your .flatdata file

now go copy the "desc_example.addpack.engfcg2" and paste it in the CORE folder (THIS IS IMPORTANT. It should be on the same level as the "shared" folder). Open it up and edit the following

Now save it and convert it to a .config file using the config file converter in the docs folder. Once you've done that, rename and delete the "example" and "config" parts of the file. When you're asked about changing the file name, hit okay and change it. When you're done, it should say "desc.addpack"

Hit the UPDATE.CMD or go into the game and hit the "update" option. When the command prompt comes up, hit the "Install" button and get to your desc.addpack file. When you're done, it should look like this;


Posts: 1012

« Reply #1 on: November 27, 2012, 06:56:32 AM »


So somewhere along the line, you messed up.

Common errors/failures and their solutions;

1. you put the desc.addpack in the wrong folder.
-put it in the right one (CORE) Smiley

2. you put text files in the shared folder/texture files in the loc_eng folder, ect.
- This one is still a simple fix. separate the files into their apportioned folders and re-flatten them.

3. you forgot to add the line to the .!flatlist file or forgot to re-enable the given line
- Fix and re-flatten

4. the DESC.ADDPACK isn't showing up in the UPDATE.CMD prompt
- Sometimes files for this game get "infected" for some reason or another. Try re-making the .addpack from scratch and ensuring it's in the right folder.
- make sure you're patched up with the latest patch (August 2012)

5. You edited the menu files to change flags/insignia's/ect, and it looks like someone threw up on your screen when you go to try out a quick battle
- Open up the latest patch to find the most recent texture files.

6. You edited that pesky politically correct German flag, but it's not showing up correctly in all the places that it should
- as with all fixes, make sure you edit ALLL of the files involved

I'm sure there are more. maybe flashburn and Donken can weigh in Tongue

Posts: 1012

« Reply #2 on: November 27, 2012, 06:56:53 AM »


The name of this game is "Isolate and conquer". Unfortunately, there isn't a definitive list of the crashes and what causes them at the moment. Hopefully in the future we can change this, however right now this is largely unmolested territory. 

FOR 001 crash during loading

First, make sure you used the most recent patch as a base for the stuff you were editing. If you made a mod from the base game but have the August 2012 patch installed, a crash is imminent.

46% it's the players tank
-Whatever you did, undo it. Go back into the .!flatlist file and put a // in front of the last thing you just edited. If you added something new, put the double mark thing in front of everything you edited. Spending three hours on a model-conversion problem that was really a typo in the ir_hum file sucks, so save yourself from the heartache

<46% it's the AI's tank/infantry/whatever
-Same as above. the goal here is to isolate the problem and make sure it's not something minor

Now that you've isolated the issue, go into that file and correct any typos.
If there are none, make sure all the "."s, ","s, ";"s, and ":"s are in line.
Make sure all the entries are correctly placed, ect.

Correct any other errors and retry.

If there were no errors and you still got a crash, try remaking the file. As mentioned earlier, some files get corrupted or "infected", as I like to put it, for no real reason whatsoever.

If you haven't noticed, I'm really stressing the "ISOLATE THE PROBLEM AND MAKE SURE IT"S WHATEVER YOU"RE ABOUT TO "fix"!", because big mods in particular have a nasty habit of getting complex. You can literally spend days correcting "problems" with something, just to find that it was a typo in another file that caused the issue.

Posts: 1012

« Reply #3 on: November 27, 2012, 06:57:10 AM »

(last one, I promise)

1. Back up everything you're about to edit. When you mess up (you will), re-installing may not be an option depending on where you purchased it from. Even if you can re-install, it's still a pain

2. When editing paintschemes or anything visual, make 2 copies. One needs to be a layered .psd/.xcf (depending on which graphic design thing you use) and the other is one that can be exported into the game. Remaking from scratch for a minute problem is a dreamkiller

3. Make only a few improvements at a time. If there are any problems, it really helps to figure out what they are

4. START SMALL. Doing a full conversion mod that turns APOS into a star-wars strategy game when you've never even dreamt of editing game files is a bad, bad idea.

5. Ask for help, but don't be angry if there aren't any answers. We're all fairly new with the APOS/SABOW series

6. You can use other modders' work, but make sure you ask them in advance and get permission before you take their stuff and pass it off as your own creation. We're all gentlemen here, no plagiarizing. Smiley

7. HAVE FUN. This is about making new things for a fun game. You're not at work, so enjoy what you do and be sure to spend as much time in game as you do editing the files for it.

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