Guide to a SWGB Total Conversion by Blood Phoenix

Introduction
Hello, and welcome to my guide on how to create a total conversion. I advise that only the more advanced members of the community read on, as some of this content may be to complex for the more “newbie” forummers.

Well, as you may have guessed by the title, in this tutorial I will be giving the basic instructions and course of action on how to create a successful total conversion. I wish there not to be a flood of conversion projects now which will never get finished, but im sure that the community will find this useful.

To do this guide, you will need to have a good understanding of the SWGB Mod Editors (Check my “Moaner To Master Guide 1”) and of MS Paint (I suggest having a read through Brownboots guide “Modding with paint!”- A Tutorial, as I am sure that will help you understand further) and if possible, a understanding of the basics of 3d tools.

Part 1: Decisions and Referencing
Before you can start on your grand project, you will need to decide what you wish to do. By this I mean, which civilisation you would wish to do, the style in which you will do them, and how you are going to work it. May the civilisation be Mandalorian, Jedi, or another race, you have to think about what YOU want in game. As the fact of the matter is, this conversion is as much for you as the rest of the community.

After you have decided on your race/civilisation, you need to do some research. Its not a “OMG I want to do jedi!11”, you have to plan it out. The best place to start is a good star wars book/comic. If you don’t have one, I would advise a goggle search for information on your civilisation, by this I mean a text source not just all out images. Before you can do a civilisation, you need to understand your civilisation. Read through a few of these text references, they will defiantly help you.

Part 2: Concept Work
Now that you understand your civilisation, its time to see your civilisation in a bit more detail. Now, I highly doubt you will find a mass of pictures for buildings, so this is where imagination comes into play (as well as a decent pen, pencil and sketch book of course). Because you have read through your text sources, you should have a good idea of the type of people they were, what planet styles they lived on and their tech level. This is key to the success of a conversion, you need to know what the race is all about.

Now, doing a conversion is much different to doing a mod. You need to have stamina, and a good imagination. Also, you need to be a bit arty. Now, go and fetch a pen/pencil/sketchbook. You so far know the majority about your civilisation (if you did good research), their habitat and their technology. This information should be plenty for you to design your buildings around. But don’t just jump into MS Paint or your 3d tool, you need to think about what your buildings ect are going to look like. I normally draw my concepts (ideas) by hand, but if you are experienced in flash, that can also sometimes be a good tool to draw in.

You want to draw your concepts in a certain order, the best to do first is normally buildings. Whatever you do, never start with units. This will end in disaster, the reason for this, is that you will get tired of your conversion and just give up on it due to the excessive amount of frames (although you will most likely give up on it anyway). Buildings are a good place to start. Read on now through the various stages, as I'll be incorporating the concept design into each stage.

Part 3: Buildings
The Troop Center is normally the best building to start with. troop centers are an important player in a game, and often are the most used. Troop Centers normally have a main building which is situated at the back, and the have two pillar type lines on either side. I would advise viewing some of the current civilisations Troop Centers for some ideas of the styles. Although you do not have to stick with the “game ideals” it is sometimes advisory.

Now you know this information, it’s a good time to work on your concept of the building! Don’t start your drawing thinking it has to be perfect first time, it may take 5 or 6 times before you get something you really like and which fits in with the style of the civilisation. Also, remember to do 4 different stages of the troop center, as you have to incorporate all the 4 tech levels. Remember you have to concept within your ability’s, its no good starting out with a grand design which will be impossible for you to do.

Hopefully now you are happy with the design of your building in concept. Its sometimes good to get a second opinion however. Do this by asking a friend over MSN, or emailing a fellow Member. However, do not post a new topic. This can ruin the surprise for the unexpecting community, as well as anger them for spamming. It can also be embarrassing, if you decide to not continue the project and end up having to say it to the forums.

Now that that’s all over, you can get down to the hard work, designing the building on the computer. Hopefully you will have some experience in a 3D tool such as 3ds Max Studio (commercial unless on a 30 day trial), Wings 3D or Gmax. The three most common tools at this point in time. Find links to them at the bottom of the tutorial. If you do not however have any of these, you are going to be stuck with a 2d tool such as paint. I must say, this will considerably lower the quality of your project and take a hell of a lot longer, but if needs must I suppose. If you feel like a challenge or have some free time, why not go and learn the fundamentals of a 3d tool.

Your building will need to be at a 120 degree angle (isometric). Make sure to sort this before starting, otherwise it will take you forever to do and just make you generally mad, that’s if your working in 2d (I.e. paint) of course. If your working in 3d you can rotate as much as you like, just make sure to set it back to 120 degrees at the end. In most 3D tools, you can do this by pressing “U” or selecting User View.

If you are using a 3D tool , you will need to texture your model. This is easily done by dragging a texture from a location onto your model, hence colouring it for you. Simple eh?

A few hours (or days) pass and there we have it! Your 4 troop centers. Now all you have to do is get them in game. Render if your using a 3d tool and set the background colour to your preference, or if your 2d carefully paint around your building. Repeat this method on each building, make sure to make a backup copy somewhere, we don’t want your hard work going to waste now do we.

Part 4: Aircraft, Water Craft and Heavy Mechs
Well these 4 are quite easy to do. You have to get a good mix between a fine level of detail and not over doing it. You also need to make sure your aircraft or whatever stand out from the rest, you can’t have a sith star fighter looking like a X-Wing can you. Follow the same procedures as before, but adjust them for the purpose required.

Part 5 : Posting a Progress Thread
Well, you’ve done plenty of work now, and im sure you want a bit of praise, so it’s a good time to post a showcase in which you can post continual progress. Now, for a progress thread it is often a good idea to have a decent project bitmap at the top. There are many members of the community who will do one of these for you, and depending on how good your work is some of them will be willing to severe a arm or a leg to tag on to your project!

You of course need to show content on the project. It is often good to have a set up to your main topic post. A start which should include a Introduction and bitmap. A middle which should have a part for progress and some shots of work with name tags naturally. And last a footer, which should say farewell I will post more screenshots soon ect. This is always a good way to go about posting a project, and it helps the community see your project clear, instead of like mud.

It is sometimes nice to do some BB code, but best not to go over the top. BB Code makes your work more appealing and pleasant to view.

To insert images into your posts, use the standard [img][/img] tags. For more BB code, there should be a little guide on the main page of Heaven Games, or simply click the link on the left hand side of your post.

Part 6 : Troopers
Well done, you’ve made it this far which means you are one of the few. This part will pick the boys from the men (or girls from the women, depending on who you are naturally). For this if you are using paint, I would suggest reading Brownboot's tutorial on modding with paint, as by hell you are going to need it. If you are using a 3d tool, you are going to need to read some “modelling biological things” tutorials. I prefer to use google.com myself. This is defiantly the most testing part in a conversion. Although, if your lucky, you may find that another member of the community is willing to do them for you. Make sure to check however some of their previous work, you don’t want a complete idiot ruining your work.

Part 7: Customizing
This is quite a easy and fun thing to do. Customizing your work. At the moment, your work is just that, work. You need to make some Icons, sounds and customize the names! This is explained in Woks “Advanced Modding” guide, but to be fair SWGB modding cant really get that advanced so don’t be sacred by the title.

To sort yourselves out your icons, simply render of copy your image and resize it. Try not to disfigure the picture but to keep it as relative size as possible. don’t make it fat just so it fit’s the screen.

Sounds are always difficult to sort out, and for quite a bit luckily you don’t need them at all, but it is all the same good to change them if possible. I mean, its not very comforting clicking on a sith tank and a feminine rebel tank driver saying “Destroy the sith” is it to be fair. Now you will have to find the sounds yourself, but if you have a good mic set up and a changeable voice why don’t you record some of them yourself! Im sure it will make a nice change from all that graphical work you’ve been doing.

Now, changing the names is quite a simple task. To do it, download a program named “Resource Hacker” or something similar, and follow Wok's instructions on how to edit names. it’s a nifty thing to do, and it can lighten up your conversion quite nicely.

Part 8 : Some Nice Touches
Well, to make your conversion even more marvellous there are a few cool things you can do. The first is interfaces, which are the panels at the bottom of the screen where you operate your game from. You will need to do this in a 2d software (you paint people will have had a lot of practise by now). Edit a previous interface, do not start on a blank document. The reason for this is that it can mess the alignment up of the icons. You will need to do a big and a small version of the interfaces, but its worth it.

A second nice touch is to do a custom loading screen which will have to be installed manually by the person who is downloading it. However this is easily done, if you go into the directory where you installed your game, you will see your Clone Campaigns folder most likely. Go into that and edit you will find your loading screen bitmap. Edit this in a 2d software and there you have it! A custom load up screen. Make sure to leave instructions on how to install it. (In case you don’t know, you copy it into the directory you found it in)

A third thing is some custom PC desktop backgrounds for the real fans of the conversion. You will need to do it for the various sizes, or maybe your bitmap creator might be interested in doing it (which he most likely will).

Part 9 : Compiling
You hopefully will have decided what civilisation you wished to replace. Now what you have to do is compile your mod into packs. I expect you to have knowledge of the SWGB mod tools, so I will not go into much further detail. If you need help on this, check my Moaner To Master Guide for more information. If you are very nice and friendly, you might be able to get another member to compile it and anchor it for you. See, it pays off to be in a community doesn’t it?

Part 10 : Speak to a Moderator
SWGB:H will most likely host your conversion in a separate page like they did with the mon calamari. Although your work will have to be good, they can’t let just anything have special pages. The best people to contact about website issues and hosting your mod are AoErat who is always contactable over email or MSN, and Mace who is often on MSN and frequently checks his mail. Its worth spending the time to email a moderator, as im sure they will feel privileged to host your work.

Part 11 : Finishing Off
Request for your conversion topic to be locked, and do a final showcase of your work and set release dates for each pack. Make sure to keep in firm contact with the moderator you have emailed.

Part 12 : Links

Wings 3d - http://www.wings3d.com/ Wings 3d is a 3d modelling tool which is free to download and use. A link to download it can be found above.

3d Max Studio - http://www4.discreet.com/products/ 3ds Max Studio costs a lot of money, however you can get it on a 30 day trial so it may be worth having a look at this.

Gmax - http://www.turbosquid.com/gmax/ Gmax is a run down version of 3d Max Studio. Its ok and does a good job, but it doesn’t have a render tool which can sometimes be a problem. But still good nether the less.

Part 13 : Ending
Congratulations! You have now completed the guide and your conversion. After a lot of hard work, probably brain damage and loss of fingers due to numbness, you have finished. Now, doesn’t that feel good! I would suspect, many 10’s of people started this, and about 3 will complete it. But good for you three people who have completed it, you have a future in game development yet!

If you have any questions or queries about this guide, please make sure to email me at Nick-Pellant@hardcoredesigns.co.uk and I will get back to you as soon as possible. Cheerio, and congratulations once more.



Contact the author, Blood Phoenix at bp@c-fusion.co.uk.