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Problems with hair mods

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Problems with hair mods

Postby ElysiumFic » 18 Feb 2016, 00:26

Hi! I'm, well, me. Nice to meet you!

I want to say first that I really love that you guys have built this toolset and that people are still using it to create mods. In the ~3 weeks between my last ME3 playthrough and the one I would be starting now (if not for hiccups briefly mentioned below) two new major gameplay affecting mods have been released and a third has been significantly enhanced so that this new playthrough--once I get it working--will be a considerably different experience from the last one. That's just...wow. Amazing. And you make it possible.

I've only recently gotten into ME3 modding. Sadly, I'm not a modder myself. My technical chops maxed out back in the day with EverQuest when all modding required was tweaking some XML, which I could largely do only because of my uber monkey-see/monkey-do skills. I do like to think of myself as an advanced user, meaning I can often see what is going on behind the scenes with a mod, get a loose grasp of the theory of what is happening if not of how to actually make it happen, and reason out what the problem may be.

Anyway, I don't want to take up too much of your time. I know this forum is dedicated to actual modders, i.e. people who are considerably more knowledgeable than me. If you had it open to mod users who aren't modders themselves, you'd probably spend all your time doing tech support. I respect that.

So I won't ask the question I have about the mods I'm having issue with here. Instead, I will ask if you can point me at a place where a user like myself could get some help. Alas, with getting into a game almost four years after its release, much of the community has moved on. Go figure.

Most of the threads posted to the Nexus ME3 forum have gone unanswered for the last two years. The modders who made the mods I'm trying to use that aren't working haven't been active for at least a year or two. I have posted questions about the issue I'm having in those places, and it's possible someone may check in and get back to me, but I don't want to put my planned playthrough on hold waiting days or possibly weeks for that to happen. I've already been going around and around with this issue for three days and I've had no luck using the recommended troubleshooting measures.

So I need human engagement from knowledgeable people. But like I said, I know this isn't the place. The problem is, I don't know where the place actually is.

Would you mind playing gas station clerk for a moment? In other words, hand me a map and point out where I should go?

If anyone wants to see that I am actively trying to solve this for myself and have in fact RTFM, the thread is http://forums.nexusmods.com/index.php?/ ... ont-apply/

Thank you.
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Re: A place for mod USERS (not modders) to get help?

Postby CreeperLava » 18 Feb 2016, 10:51

Welcome to the forum :).
Your question is really interesting, as what you are asking for has been debated recently in the forum overhaul, which removed the user support part of it. giftfish (the forum manager) will probably explain the situation better than me. As for your problem, I don't know what you can try more than what you already did. Can you send me a link to the textures of the hair mod ?

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Re: A place for mod USERS (not modders) to get help?

Postby ElysiumFic » 18 Feb 2016, 11:18

Well, this is one of them: http://nerdykani.blogspot.ru/2013/09/me3-hair5.html but the same problem was happening with any of these I tried: http://www.girlplaysgame.com/mods/hair/

Like I said, I'm not asking for user support. It's fine that this isn't the place for it. It just happens that the place that WOULD be appropriate for it (Nexus forums) is a ghost town for getting answers to this sort of thing, apparently?

BUT, there has been a development since my last ETA on that post at Nexus. I went FULL ON vanilla, as in totally unscanned DLC that hasn't been extracted (before, I was vanillaing with the scanned/extracted DLC). Once I did that, I was able to get the textures to apply with texmod.

I just finished extracting the DLC and scanning again and I was about to test it once more. I'll let you know how it goes. :)

ETA: Broke it. Now the game won't launch at all. Which is the problem I had the first time I tried to extract the DLC a few weeks ago. Then a few days ago I extracted and scanned them and it worked just fine. *sigh* Ah well. Back to step 1.
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Re: A place for mod USERS (not modders) to get help?

Postby CreeperLava » 18 Feb 2016, 12:20

What revision of me3explorer are you using ?
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Re: A place for mod USERS (not modders) to get help?

Postby ElysiumFic » 18 Feb 2016, 12:36

r733. I was using 653 the first time this thing with the game breaking after I extracted and scanned happened. I downloaded 733 a few days ago (like the changes btw, stuff is easier to find.)
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Re: A place for mod USERS (not modders) to get help?

Postby giftfish » 18 Feb 2016, 16:46

Let's not turn the Introduction area into a mod help area, please.

ElysiumFic, please don't take this personally, but I'm going to use you as an example, b/c you're the second or third person to ask the same question in as many weeks. I totally get why you are posting here looking not for us to help, but to at least point you in a direction. I really do. What comes next in my post isn't directed at you personally, but the entire forum community -- and the authors who made those mods (who aren't here). I've added something on the bottom that is directed at you :)

----

1. Forum scope.
We're actually not a community strictly for modders. Not at all. We're a community of *toolset* users. That's the scope of the forum. Mod user, mod creator, it doesn't matter. It's about using the toolset. Hence, the "ME3Explorer Forums".


2. Hair mods.
I'm not even done rummaging through the Toolset Help area and I've lost count of how many users have posted for help using hair mods posted on girlsplaygame and KaniHine's blogs.

These blogs/sites are exactly the reason that when Ottemis originally created her "The Art of Bug Reporting" two years ago, she emphasized the fact that we do not -- cannot -- provide support other people's mods. These mod creators *need to support their own mods*. We've literally had folks coming here for going on 4 years now, and asking the *exact same questions*.

Why are these users coming here with questions? Maybe the author doesn't respond. Part of it is certainly due to the fact that neither site incorporates a help forum where the author and mod users can help each other. The comment section in blog posts isn't the best place to try to field requests; the format is very restricting. This is exactly why mods should be hosted on proper hosting sites like the Nexus, where there is dedicated forum support for the mod. That way, even if the author goes AFK, then there's always a chance the rest of the community can jump in to support help requests. Plus, discussions of past issues and questions answered will be contained in that thread.

Another huge part of the problem is that these hair mods are not mods that novices should be installing. This is something else Ottemis made clear. When it comes to textures and meshes, novices should be using TPF and MOD files. Period. Or DLC mods. Messing with PSK and UPK files is a recipe for disaster. They are modder's resources and are not mods, per se.


3. Support.
At some point support for every mods ends. This is the reality of using mods. If the mod author released the mod on their own site and they decide to not pay attention to it anymore, then it's always possible users will simply be left SOL. In other words, there might not be a place to ask questions. This is the drawback of using privately-hosted mods.

Sticking to mods on hosting sites like Nexus reduces the chance of this, as there's a larger community of mod users present to help and answer questions. There's also always the chance that the author will leave permissions for other authors to come along and update their mod, etc.

------

@ElysiumFic --

1. I've moved your post to "Other People's Stuff", since it really isn't an introduction, it's a help request for the hair mods.
2. You'll want to search this forum area, as that's where all questions related to mod-specific support requests are going. This area may or may not be retained as part of the forum overhaul.
3. Also try a forum-wide search for "hair mod", "girlsplaygame", and "Kanihine". You'll find answers :)

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Re: A place for mod USERS (not modders) to get help?

Postby The Fob » 18 Feb 2016, 19:05

Just a quick add, if you want to search these boards for something (like giftfish just suggested), I recommend you use google rather than this site's search function.

If you want to do a google search that is specific to this forum, type the following into the google search field:
site:me3explorer.freeforums.org SEARCHWORD


For example, to search for "Kanihine" here on these boards as gift suggested, type into google:
site:me3explorer.freeforums.org Kanihine


As long as you use the "site:me3explorer.freeforums.org" part, you can then use google normally (meaning you can search for multiple words or strings just like usual. e.g. you could do:
site:me3explorer.freeforums.org "hair mod"


This will show you all threads where the word is used. It's a much more comprehensive search than the search function of this forum for some reason.

Hope that helps. :)

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Re: A place for mod USERS (not modders) to get help?

Postby ElysiumFic » 19 Feb 2016, 00:55

Giftfish,

I certainly understand and respect that.

Please understand that I would not have posted the question I did if I had thought it was only a problem with someone's mod, especially when that someone doesn't come here (as far as I know.)

The problem was that it was the same issue for ANY mod--no matter the source--in this one particular regard, which indicated to me that the issue lay not in the mods, but either in my setup or something I was doing in the process of applying them.

So it was, in fact, very much a toolset users question and thus topical and appropriate.

Thank you for clearing that up. I actually feel better now that I know that my inquiry was actually quite comfortably within the intended scope of these forums.

I do, however, feel bad that you would think I would come here asking you to support someone else's mod. I wouldn't. I was looking for help trying to figure out where I had gone wrong in the PROCESS and since the toolset figures very heavily into that process, this was the last place I could resort to to figure out where to go to get help. Obviously it wasn't a step I undertook lightly, as evidenced by the extensive documentation I posted on Nexus detailing my efforts to troubleshoot the problem myself and the fact that I tried for several days before bothering anyone else with it.

Anyway, thanks to CreeperLava and the rest of you for replying. I will continue to attempt to go it alone as I work on getting to the bottom of what went wrong.
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Trying to make hair modding idiot-proof

Postby ElysiumFic » 24 Feb 2016, 17:51

Okay technically this should be posted in the modders help forum, but I don't have access to post there so hopefully it will be moved. :)

I admit I’m a little afraid I’ll be patted on the head and told to go back to the sandbox because this is too advanced for me, but I know I’m capable of doing this and I've come quite far just working with it hands-on. I’m almost there. I just need to make it the last couple steps.

I posted last week about a problem I was having getting custom hair mods to work (yes, go ahead and groan, lol.) I wasn’t looking for support with any one specific mod. The problem was that ALL of them, no matter who made them or when or where I got them, weren't accepting the new texture file when I attempted to apply it using texmod or TPFTools. I posted here because I figured it was either something wrong with my build or the way I was attempting to use the mods, though I had no idea what it could possibly be.

I never did figure out why. I have a theory that it has something to do with the cumulative thing that happens with textures in the .tfc file. It only seemed to start happening for me after I’d changed hair mods once or twice, swapping out the PCC and applying a new texture. Also, it was only happening with my femshep hair mods, which is what I was playing with. When I tried to apply a mod to broshep's hair, it worked just fine, because I hadn't already applied multiple mods to that hair. Alternatively, maybe that hair is just less of a ******* to work on, I'm not sure. At any rate, when dealing with femshep, eventually the textures just stop being applied to the mesh until I went completely vanilla and rebuilt everything from the ground up.

If my theory is correct, the best way to avoid the problem (and by happy coincidence make hair modding easier for everyone) is to make the mods more truly plug-and-play and eliminate the need for adding textures to the .tfc every time I decide I'm in the mood for a femshep with different hair.

As I said at the time I posted last week, I don't code and I don't visual/graphic stuff (I’m using meshes and textures made by other people, just experimenting with packaging them differently, and yes if I ever get it to work and decide to share it I will get permission and/or give credit.) I am, however, fairly good at following tutorials and intuiting whatever I might be missing when I try to apply them to something similar-yet-different. I pick up on things really quickly (I have extra-uber monkey-see/monkey-do skills with a generous side of monkey learns-by-doing.) So I've spent the last week reading up on how to work with custom mesh and texture mods. What I was hoping to do was idiot-proof the process of USING these hair mods, since so many people appear to have trouble with them. Like I said, make them more plug-and-play. I had a few ideas for doing this.

The first was to try to make it a completely self-contained DLC mod, using this tutorial It would definitely be, by far, the easiest route, and considering the tutorial itself uses hair meshes and textures as the example, it's certainly possible (the tutorial doesn't mention as much but I assume all the user would need to do is edit their savegame for the appropriate mesh and hair diff/hair mask?)

But the problem is, the majority of the hair mods there out replace the Allers hair mesh. Which means they will mess up the hair on Allers herself if you have her on the Normandy. They would also be incompatible with, say, the Modest Allers mod (if a similar problem exists with the very few mods that use the Custom Cute mesh, I haven't found which characters it messes up yet nor have I seen any reference to it. )

Furthermore, my ultimate (and maybe impossible—I haven’t had a chance to research that far yet) aspiration is to find a way to add these hairs to the character creator, so that even the savegame editing step won't be necessary for a new PT. I don't think(?) that would work with a DLC mod (though maybe I'm wrong?)

That's is when I started experimenting with this tutorial and this one) trying to apply the cloning technique to hair mods. And as far as I can tell after multiple attempts, I did everything right, but it's crashing my game, which means I've probably missed something or messed something up.

I'm looking for someone to help me troubleshoot this, yes, but also just the process of writing this up, going through my steps and explaining them, may help me figure it out myself. If that happens, no one will ever know because I won't end up posting this. :D
ETA: Yep, posting it. :?

What I've done so far is this:

Shorthand:
T1 = Tutorial 1
T2 = Tutorial 2

Taking my cues for most of the steps from T2, but implementing them primarily using ME3Creator (per T1, because I found it easier to work with ME3Creator), I made the following changes to the PCC:

Add names (Step 2 of either tutorial, works roughly the same way in both):
Hair_Mod001 (package)
HMF_HIR_Mod001_MDL (mesh)
HMF_HIR_Mod001_MAT_1a (material)
HMF_HIR_Mod001_Diff (texture)

The package aspect wasn't covered specifically in either tutorial, and maybe adding it was a mistake. But that is how all the other hairs in the game are put together: There's a package, and the mesh, mat and texture all link to that package (and thus are within the package in tree view.) I assume this is what T2 (Step 3) means when it refers to "Class" -- Hair_Mod001 would be analogous to the class FBDn cloned in that tutorial.

I cloned the appropriate objects (a hair package, mesh, diff and mat) and then edited their names and changed their index to 0 as per the instructions in T1 (step 2, at the very end). But I also changed the link of the mesh, mat, and texture to the package (Hair_Mod001.) Again, this is not something that was specifically stated in either tutorial, but it's the way the other hairs in the game are set up.

Per T2 (Step 4), I changed the texture association of the Mat to point them to the new Diff.

I went into Meshplorer per T2 (step 5) and changed the Material ID#, and also imported the new mesh from the resources of the modded hair I'm trying to use.

At this point I tried to test it, because if it worked, it seems to me the mesh should be there, but it wouldn't have the texture (since I haven't imported that yet) so I'd have blocky/stringy Medusa hair. I edited a copy of my savegame as follows (basically the way all hair mods require you to edit the savegame, except pointing them to the new mesh and diff):

Hair Mesh: BIOG_HMF_HIR_PRO.Hair_Mod001.HMF_HIR_Mod001_MDL
Hair Diff/Mask: BIOG_HMF_HIR_PRO.Hair_Mod001.HMF_HIR_Mod001_Diff

Buuut it crashes my game, so obviously I got something wrong. I just can't figure out what, because I've gone through the process step by step multiple times over the last few days with the same result.

I'm giving my cloned hair the same structure (mesh, texture, mat all within a package) as the other hairs in PCC.

Looking ahead at the stuff I’ll need to deal with once this is fixed, I'm also unsure how I should handle the replacing the texture with the custom one. Obviously I can replace it with texplorer, but that's going to generate a .tfc which would have to be packaged with the mod as a DLC if I want to make it truly plug-and-play. This mod includes new textures and materials right in the PCC. But I guess it's possible that it actually just repurposed textures and materials already in the game in new ways, rather than importing anything custom. I don't know.

However, since I'm not sure about how to fulfill my (hopefully) ultimate goal of adding them to the character creator, I'm not sure I can make this a DLC mod. (I'll know more once I figure out if it's possible to add things to the character creator and how, but I haven't gotten there yet.)

Best case scenario, even if I can't do anything more than make it work beyond what I've done already, it would be possible to treat this hair mod just like any other--i.e. you swap out the PCC and then use a .tpf to apply the texture (or make it a DLC with its own .tfc) but without the issue of messing up Allers (or whoever's) hair.

It could also eliminate the issue I was having (at least I think that's the issue) of the texture not applying after I've switched them a couple times. Each mesh (there could be dozens, if I wanted) could be added to the PCC rather than changing the mesh each time we changed hairs, and each corresponding texture would apply to a unique mesh, so all the user would have to do would be to change their savegame.

Another possibility might be to find a way to add them to the closet, like helmets. Maybe. Again I have no idea if it is possible yet or not, I’m just spinning random ideas.

Admittedly I got this idea from a coalesced edit for ME2 that tries to do that (though it doesn't actually work all that well.) Once in-game to the point where the player has access to the closet, they could change hairs. It would have to be applied to both casual and armor appearances, which would mean the slider would need to be LIKE the causal outfit or armor sliders (i.e. the ones in the upper section) rather than like the armor customization sliders in the lower section, which of course only apply to armor and not casual.
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Re: Trying to make hair modding idiot-proof

Postby giftfish » 25 Feb 2016, 00:25

Holy long post, Batman. Coming from me, that's saying something, lol.

Okay, so a few things:

1. Modder's Help is not the place for your request; that area is for mature modders. This will get merged into your last post, b/c it's still essentially the same issue.

2. Only GUI textures are PCC-stored, as the tutorial title says. Hair textures are not GUI textures, which is why that method isn't working for you.

3. You never stated the format these hair mods are in. Some are in UPK/PSK, some as MOD files, and some as PCCs. For info on how those are different, see this article on the wiki. The wiki is very clear that mesh mods distributed as PSK/UPK are *not* user friendly and should *not* be used. They are modder's resources, to be used only by folks who have experience with them. It's also very clear that we won't help if players refuse to listen to our advice on this.

To investigate your issue further, I downloaded one hair mod on girsplaygame -- this one. This mod has the mesh already in the PCC, which means literally all that has to be done is install the texture TPF.

Loading the TPF into TPF Tools via rev738 of the toolset and I see that neither texture is formatted properly. Both are DXT5 instead of DXT1. For information on why that matters, see this article on the wiki.

So, you have two options:

  • Run the TPF through Texmod. This is by far the easier method, as Texmod doesn't really care about texture format. It also may be the method you *must* use due to changes in the toolset since this mod was made.
  • Use the toolset; probably rev738. After ensuring there are no modded textures in your files, run a Texplorer scan with the hair mod PCC in your game directory. This will build it into your me3tree.bin. Once it's done, load the TPF in TPF Tools. Allow TPF Tools to autofix both textures -- it won't install them otherwise. Once finished it should TOC the game for you. If it doesn't, run AutoTOC. Use the proper "User Tool" articles on the wiki to help you do all these things, as I'm bering *very* brief (TPF Tools doesn't have one yet). You should also look at the ME3Explorer Setup Guide if you haven't before.
If the hair texture doesn't work after installing the TPF, then it's entirely possible you'll have to run it through Texmod. If the vanilla texture doesn't have an alpha channel built in (can't tell from Texplorer; DXT1 can go either way) and the modded one needs an alpha channel (DXT5 always has an alpha channel), and autofix doesn't deal with this properly, then it can't be perma-installed. Older versions of the toolset might have allowed this before autofix was implemented, but more recent versions will not.

Btw, the author of girlsplaygame doesn't respond to help requests on Nexusmods, but she does on her website. There are very recent posts by herself and her users.
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