Mods & Total Conversions


Mods & TC's Mod Links Game Types TC's Retunes Single Player Races HW1 TC's Mini-Mods Defunct Mods Top

Now that Relic Entertainment has released a number of modding tools for the game through the Relic Developers' Network (RDN) there's a good number of interesting and fun mods circulating in the Homeworld 2 modding community. Big, high quality total conversions are just starting to make their appearance known. Homeworld 2 spacecraft were originally designed in the high-end 3D animation package called Maya (an old version, no less: 3.0), which caused a few headaches for the fans due to the high cost of this professional package and the difficulty in sourcing older versions. As you might imagine, many of them are already dissecting data files and writing their own editing tools to compensate. While the Maya tools and plug-ins might be a problem, there is still a wealth of information and data to be found in the downloads from the RDN. I'll focus on the player's end of things, since I'm sure most of my mates are more likely to jump right in and grizzle that it doesn't work straight away than spend horribly long hours trying to work it all out.


Badges

As far as regular gamers are concerned, the only bit of modifying they might want to try themselves (apart from downloading custom maps) might be building their own personal badge to adorn on their space fleet. For a downloadable tutorial on making your very own custom badge, along with a few other useful guides, try this simple web page at ghosty's HW2 files or consult the excellent Karos Graveyard Badge Tutorial. Custom badges must be 64x64 .tga file images, in 24bit (that's RGB colour; not colour mapped) or 32bit (RGB colour with an alpha channel to apply a mask to the image on your badge so you can see the ship's hull through it rather than a solid blank square for a background). You place them in your Homeworld 2 installation folder, in the /bin/Profiles/Badges subfolder, which you may have to create. Badges are automatically downloaded in a netgame, so you can always be sure everyone will get to see it.

Homeworld 2 Badge Links
boolybooly's decals A nicely decked out, single page with some distinctive badges.Back
BrickSpace Home of the excellent BrickSpace LEGO total conversions for Homeworld 1 & 2, this site's Files section also contains a large Badge pack for download.Back
PDS Mod Badges The Point Defence Systems custom mod has an entire page of custom badges, most downloadable in themed packs.Back
Military Badges From the Military Members Apple User Group, a small pack of US military badges for your Homeworld shipping.Back
Tommy's Homeworld 2 Badges A single Tripod user page that features a huge number of Homeworld 2 badges - nearly all of them anime faces, with only a few Calvin and Hobbes and the odd symbol to break up the barrage.Back

Custom Mods

Relic News
For the more serious mod fans, this is where things get interesting: overcranked gameplay, funky new spaceships, weird weapons or simply curious to mess around (or "sandboxing") with customs just for the hell of it. For anyone interested in checking out Homeworld 2 mods, Relic News' Tanis Shipyards Forum should be your first port of call. Would be modders should check out the Newbie Guide to HW2 Modding or the So You Want to Make a Mod? threads. A more up to date thread is Moe's excellent Making the Keeper a playable race - a modding tutorial for newbies (goe Moe!) More serious folk should really suss out the Wikipedia styled Karos Graveyard, an excellent contributor driven resource.


The .big file

Homeworld 2 handles all its data using .big files. They live in the Data subfolder of the game install on your hard disk. These giant all-in-one compressed data files contain everything the game needs to run: descriptions and model files of spaceships, maps, how weapons work, the rules the pilot AI's follow; how much asteroids are worth to mine, how many ships you are allowed, how the menus are all arranged, and so on and so forth.

Left, you can see a screengrab of my Homeworld 2 game install on my hard disk (I've called mine HW2, and by the way, the highlighted ssm_v040_beta.big file is a custom mod I happened to have installed: the Siege Station mod.)

Essentially, a .big file is one of those huge directory trees full of scripts, graphics, sound and model files recompiled into a big archive, just like a .zip file. Its far easier for the game to quickly load up a couple of big files than wade through hundreds, if not thousands of smaller files. Given Windows' file management is, ah... somewhat less than optimal, you may want to defrag your hard drive to get the most speed out of loading such files and running the game after you've installed it. The game can tax your system resources so you may want to spend a little time and fine-tune your PC. You'll be amazed at the amount of clutter Windows buries your system with by default and just how much of your PC's resources (and your hard earned cash!) are squandered on the altar of User Friendliness. And that's before we get into the galaxy of system sucking utilities like browser tool bars, automatic software updates, virus checkers, malignant spyware and adware, and so on. You can find more details about "tweaking" your PC and getting the best performance out of it as some of these excellent sites: TweakTown, PurePerformance.com, Black Viper, or TweakUI.

There's no in-game switching between mods in Homeworld 2, unless the mod appears as a Game Type. Many of the more organized mods come as self contained .big files with their own Windows icons anyway; I've successfully installed several of them into the game with absolutely no ill effects. .big files won't screw up the original game, or any other .big format mods. But remember, unlike bought software, modding is a bit of a backyard business, much of it wildly speculative - so be prepared for things to go a bit pear shaped at times. Some mods are just small tweaks to see what can be done with the game engine, while others try to push boundaries to see just how far they can go with the game engine. A lot of the bigger mods are simply collections of these small mini-mods and tweaks fitted together.


Using .big files

While most modders are organized enough to release their .big format mods with an installer, or at least a readme, not all of them do. But you can create your own Desktop icons to use a .big format mod if you're missing any installation instructions.

Duplicate your Homeworld 2 game icon. If you don't have a Homeworld icon anywhere, you can always make a shortcut of a new one by opening up your Start menu, and bringing up Programs / Sierra / Homeworld 2 menu, and then right click and hold the Homeworld 2 game icon in the menu and drag and drop it to your desktop. You'll be given the option of making a shortcut.

Right click on the duplicate icon or shortcut, and bring up the Properties menu. Inside Properties, open the Shortcut tab (it should default to this anyway) and alter the Target entry to include: -mod modname.big, where modname.big is the filename of the mod concerned. For example, -mod modernizationeng.big runs the Modernization mod.

So, most of the custom mods that you encounter will appear as a nice, neat, self-contained .big file. However, some don't. What you might get is an mod made up of hundreds of small files and subfolders. This simply means the mod hasn't been compiled into a .big file: to take that .zip file analogy, the mod is in an "unarchived" form. Unarchived mods can permanently change the game, and having two unarchived mods installed on top of each other leads to overwritten files and lots of problems with each mod.

Fortunately, this sort of potential mess can only upset itself. The original game, and any properly bundled .big format mods are completely unaffected by it.


Using "unarchived" mods in Homeworld 2

This is based entirely on my own experiences as a user. Homeworld 2 seems to be fool-proofed against un-.bigified mods. Unless a custom mod comes as a Game Type or it conscientiously provides its own game icon to run from, Homeworld 2 simply won't see any changes as a default unless you expressly ask it to. This is great for most people - but if you consider yourself up for some tinkering then you'll need to follow this little procedure:


-overrideBigfile

Copy your Homeworld 2 game icon as before, and open its Properties. This time, you change it to: -overrideBigfile to the text in there. Press OK, and you're done! Clicking on this new game icon will activate any and all customized files floating around your Homeworld 2 install. To play the original unmodified game, just double-click on the original Homeworld 2 icon instead. Without that -overrideBigfile option, the game simply ignores any modifications and reverts back to its original data files.


-nomovies

Oh yeah, here's another nifty little option you may want to add: -nomovies. It turns off the opening logos and animations - but also the black and white movies between the single player missions. Read the Homeworld 2 readme file for a list of other command options you can use.


General Links Ship Links Mapping Links Mod Links Online Gaming Links Top

Homeworld 2 Modding Links
B5Mods.com No Homeworld 2 mods as such, but this Babylon 5 modding site are producing some Homeworld 2 modding tools... In the meantime, you may want to check out their old Great Wars mods for the original Homeworld.Back
Homeworld Game Modifications weblink Homeworld Game Modifications: A fantastic page with a collection of all kinds of modifications, maps, resources and tutorials for both Homeworld 1 and 2. This page also contains the Homeworld Classic and Special Fleets Game Type mods. A good starting point for any mods or maps!Back
Karos
Graveyard
A Wikipedia style resource for Homeworld 2 modding, with many tutorials on just about everything to do with modifying the game. This has become the definitive source of any online Homeworld 2 modding tutorials. Like the Wikipedia, this is an open ended database that invites contributions from its readers, so its always evolving and improving.Back
modDB.com - every game, every mod, one site... go figure!

The moddatabase's Homeworld 2 mods section. moddatabase has ambitions of becoming an one stop online resource for custom mods for all PC games.Back

Modification Projects
Catalogue
A single, mostly up to date, occasionally maintained, and "sanitized" list of all the Homeworld 2 custom mods registered with the Relic Developers' Network forums. This list tracks every mod in development, even those that haven't posted anything yet. Worth a look if you're chasing anything up, but updates are infrequent.Back
Relic Developers' Network Relic Developers' Network (RDN). Relic Entertainment is actively supporting the modding community around Homeworld with its own official resource site. Any would-be modders need to sign up and register to be able to access the RDN tools and files, and there's a few levels of access based on just how serious and committed you actually are. Back
The Tanis Shipyards
Relic News weblink
The Tanis Shipyards is a big epicentre for Homeworld modding at the RelicNews forums and should be the first port of call for anyone interested in modifying the game or using custom mods for it. It formed the basis for a lot of the info found in this RTSC game section. If you want to find out anything here about any mod or game type, or at least touch base with the modding community, start here. In particular, chase up these forum threads:

Newbie Guide to HW2 Modding

So You Want to Make a Mod?

Making the Keeper a playable race - a modding tutorial for newbiesBack


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Last modified Fri, Dec 1 2006 by Lindsay Fleay.