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Tutorial: Creating Texmod Package Files for Mass Effect

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Tutorial: Creating Texmod Package Files for Mass Effect

Postby Ottemis » 24 Aug 2013, 13:38

I wrote another guide and thought to toss it up here as well for those interested. Originally posted on my blog.

What is Texmod?
Texmod is a utility to browse, extract, save and modify textures in Direct3D 9 applications.
In order to share and distribute texture modifications, packages can be created which are compressed to prevent further modification. This modding method allows you to temporarily replace any texture in your application without the need to use an application specific modding tool or replacing any files in your application's installation. Download texmod here ( or from this mirror ). For Mass Effect it is the natural counterpart to ME3Explorer, which allows for permanent texture replacement.

The application interface offers three modes:

1. Package mode: If you're looking to run texmod's created by others, this is the correct mode. Add package files to a list and load them into the selected application. Packages on top of the list are loaded first.
2. Logging mode: If you are looking to extract textures, this is the correct mode. Choose between several options and start in logging mode. You can browse through all loaded textures of the application and save the selected one in the output folder.
3. Package Build mode: If you are looking to create a texmod package file, this is the correct mode. Create a package by selecting a definition file (.log) and entering your name and a comment.

How to launch Mass Effect (1/2/3) with Texmod
Before you can use texmod fully, you'll have to load the target application .exe properly ("Target Application" box in the top left corner). Depending on which game you want to launch and which Client you own them on, the technique for loading an exe correctly and launching with texmod effectively differs.

For the Origin / boxed copy of ME1 and ME2 you can launch "texmod.exe" and manually browse to the target application exe file ( "..\Mass Effect\Binaries\MassEffect.exe" and "..\Mass Effect 2\Binaries\MassEffect2.exe") and select them. Simple.

For the Steam version of ME1 (and ME2) it's a little more complex the first time around:
1. Place "TexMod.exe" in the Binaries folder.
2. Rename "MassEffect.exe" to anything you want (example: "MassEffectOriginal.exe").
3. Rename "TexMod.exe" to "MassEffect.exe".
4. Launch "Masseffect.exe" (=renamed texmod) through Steam.
5. Point TexMod to your original "Masseffect.exe" (now renamed)
This renaming process is only nessecary the first time you set up, you can leave it like this and everytime you launch ME1 or 2 through Steam (whichever you set up) it will launch TexMod instead and you can start the 'real' exe through TexMod (example: "MassEffectOriginal.exe").

For ME3 you'll have to take a number of steps every time you want to launch the game with texmod.
1. Download this .bat file to simplify the renaming process. Alternately, download this .rar file containing both texmod.bat and texmod.exe.
2. Place "TexMod.exe" and "texmod.bat" in the "..\Origin Games\Mass Effect 3\Binaries\Win32" folder.
3. Launch "texmod.bat" and follow the instructions in the prompt in the correct order to go through the entire renaming process. When done, you can use texmod normally.

Note: Make sure you always manually browse to and select MassEffect3.exe under "Target Application". If you experience issues, have a look at a more expansive tutorial on how to run TexMod with Origin and Mass Effect 3 by Sundance31us hosted here (bottom file in the list).

Logging mode explained
Once you've successfully added the .exe to "Target Application" you'll notice the checked options in Logging Mode are no longer greyed out. How you ultimately set this up is up to you, but I'll give you some information and tell you which setup I personally use.

Draw control and Texture info: This shows text information and controls in red in the top left corner of your screen while cycling through textures ingame. I have this unchecked.
Show texture in upper left corner: Speaks for itself, texture cycle overlay position is the top left corner expanding to the right/bottom ingame. I always have it checked.
Replace Texture: This applies a green overlay to meshes when cycling over diffuse textures that are applied to them. The overlay colour will be different for specmaps (with and without alpha) and normal maps. I always have this checked.
Alternative Method: No-one seems to know what this does exactly. I keep it unchecked.
Translucent: Lowers the opacity of the texture overlay. Useful as you can still see your game through the overlay this way. I have this checked, unless I'm looking to extract a normal map from ME1/2.
Output format: Variety of formats available, I strongly advise using "DDS" to preserve alphas.
Log with: Key used to extract textures with ingame. Defaults to "Enter".
Output folder: Every successfully extracted texture will be saved to this folder. I create a folder for every texture mod that is appropriately named to avoid confusion.
DefFile: Definition file location that you want to use. If you don't select any it will create a new one in the Output folder you selected. I always keep this box empty.

Basic controls for Logging mode ingame (there are more, I just won't cover them):
Numpad + Select next texture
Numpad - Select previous texture
Enter Default logging key

When extracting a texture from ingame, the naming will always be similar to this:
MASSEFFECT3.EXE_0x487289A3.dds
The first part will reflect the application the texture was extracted from, the second part is the hex code that is used to identify that particular texture with (0x487289A3). I call them identifiers for short. TexMod will also generate a file called "TexMod.def" in the same folder, but I don't use it so honestly, just forget about it. I'll explain how to create these from scratch in the next section.
While it's tempting to change the name of textures completely, I'd advise keeping the identifier in there so you have an easy time creating manual definition files for TexMod Packaging.

Package mode explained
Definition File: Definition file location for the mod you are planning to build.
Creator Name: Your name goes here, it will be visible when loading the tpf under Package Mode.
Comment: Specify what your texmod does, also visible when loading the tpf under Package Mode.

To build a texmod TPF, you'll need to create a definition file for it. Definition files lists the identifiers for the texture you are going to replace and point to the location of the texture that is supposed to replace it.
An example: Hex Identifier - Seperator - Texture location
0x487289A3|D:\Projects\Texmod\Out ME3\skin\MASSEFFECT3.EXE_0x487289A3.dds

Now the texture location can be inserted relative to the location of the definition file as well, but I prefer using absolute paths to avoid any issues while building. To create one from scratch you can simply create a new text document (.txt) using notepad or wordpad, add in your texture information and when you save the file, change the extension from .txt to .log. The file-name is up to you.
Every texture should be defined on a new line in this file, so counting the number of lines counts the number TexMod should return when you build your TPF with this definition file selected.

When you've created your definition file, browsed to and selected it, added in your name and comment, hit "Build". It should pop up a save dialog and return how many textures were packed in the program itself.

Note: If you are unable to view extensions, this can be changed in your folder options. While you have your folder selected, press "Alt+T" followed by "o" (aka in the menu go through Tools, Folder Options). Open the "View" tab and under "Files and Folders" uncheck the box next to "Hide extensions for known file types".

Extra tip: I like to name my textures according to what type they are and what object they belong to.
For instance, I've named the diffuse texture for the Female N7 chest: MASSEFFECT3.EXE_0xD57919C1_N7chestFem_Diff.dds

Extra tip:
If you have trouble opening DDS files, make sure that you have installed the appropriate plugin. While it might seem more convenient to work with other filetypes, I personally advise against it as Mass Effect uses DXT1 and DXT5 compression for all textures apart from normal maps. To save as DXT you will need the DDS plugin. For Photoshop, it is located here.
Last edited by Ottemis on 31 Aug 2013, 16:52, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Creating Texmod Package Files for Mass Effect

Postby Renmiri » 31 Aug 2013, 03:06

Awesome tutorial!

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Re: Creating Texmod Package Files for Mass Effect

Postby giftfish » 31 Aug 2013, 15:02

Agree. I was looking for this ages ago around the web and could find nothing.

Thanks :D

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