Down and dirty modeling tutorial

Homeworld Mod which adds and makes available Kadeshi craft.

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star blazers fan
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Joined: Fri Apr 02, 2004 12:00 am

Post by star blazers fan » Fri Jul 23, 2004 12:41 am

Im not sure if this is the document you need but it is what got me started. Its' a little bit out of date and confusing but by working at it and making mistakes you will eventually make it work for you. By the way the links are almost all dead. Just search around for the tools, mostly at the b5 homeworld sites and for the most up to date tools. ;) and here it is.


Revised Editing FAQ for Homeworld
by Voidsurfer, with help from Scheherazade.

This FAQ deals with the process of getting ships into Homeworld. I don't know how to model or texture, and I wouldn't be able to compete with the volumes of information available online to help people out with both. You can try using search engines. Also, PlanetQuake has some excellent modelling tutorials. Modding and editing are not restricted to Homeworld, and many of the concepts used here apply to other games, even if the file formats are probably different.

I'm still in the process of learning how to mod, but this is what I have come up with, from a combination of personal experience and help that Scheherazade has given me. I may be missing some important stuff, and I'm sure sections of what I have written below are not completely accurate. Instead of considering it a comprehensive guide to modding in HW, think of it as a general idea of how things need to be done.

Very important note: Go to the newbie forums - community veterans there can help, and they have more experience than I do. There is more detailed info on certain aspects of the process, such as *.lif conversion, and so forth, to be found at the newbie forums and various community sites.


Initial Setup:

This part takes the longest, both modelling and texturing are very time consuming to learn and to do.

1a) Make the model. Save it.

1b) Export the model to *.3ds. Make a blank skin layout.

1c) Paint the texture file in (use a program like Adobe Photoshop), save as *.psd.

LOD setup:

The LOD is the level of detail. The further away or more zoomed out the player view is from the ship, the lower the detail of the textures and model. This is done to save memory. However, it is possible to have one high detail model/texture in all levels of detail, or to use one high detail model up close and a very low detail model for all the other levels.

3a) Edit the model (chop away some polys, save it as modelnameLOD1(and so on).

Something like: 800, 600, 400, 200, 100

or 1200, 900, 650, 250, 120, etc.

3b) Take the skin texture and drop its resolution, save it as LOD1 (and so on).

Image sizes : LOD0: 256 LOD1: 128 LOD2: 64 LOD3: 32 LOD4: 16

3c) The *.lod file is a text file that determines how far the player has to be from the ship before the model switches from one LOD to the next. View an existing *.lod file in Notepad to see how it is setup.

File Conversions:

HW uses some specific file formats. You edit in mainstream file formats, then export/convert to the ones used in HW.

2a) Use 3dex to convert the models to HW format (*.peo). Note: Heard that converting from *.3ds to *.obj, and from *.obj to *.peo prevents texture assignment corruption.

2b) Convert the texture *.psd files to *.lif format using Liflist. Also produces the textures.ii file, which you need to include new textures in if you want to avoid texture corruption in-game. The *.psds that lif list converts MUST have 3 layers. If you convert from other formats to psd, it often only has one layer and causes an error during attempted conversion.

2b2) Some people edit the *.psds to add layers, while other people make original *.psds by pressing the printscreen key, then pasting the screen capture into an editor. Select the section of the screen capture that makes up the skin, cut and paste it to a new file, and save it as a new *.psd.

2b3) 3dex tends to convert *.psds to *.lifs improperly, that is why you use liflist. There is a big faq on using liflist at the newbie forums.


Used to set up coordinates for bounding boxes, lights, gun points, engine trails/glow, docking for hangers, etc.

4a) You should have already taken the model file (in any format) and convert to *.obj for the conversion to *.peo. Convert the *.obj to *.x (directx format, which VME can use).

4b) Throw the *.x file with the same name as the *.mex file into the same directory. In VME go to that directory and load up the *.x file. This automatically loads up the *.mex file along with it (names correspond). You can see where all the stuff is in the MEX file in relation to the 3D file.

4c) Edit the mex file. Save it.

Stat Editing:

*.Shp and *.Script files. 'Nuff said, read on.

5a) Extract the *.shp file of the closest original HW ship to what you are doing from the from the Big file.

5b) Use Notepad with word wrap off to open the *.shp file. Modify the *.shp file so that it works with the mex file (lights, engine glow, gun points).

5c) Modify the stats and/or AI (if available) of the ship as desired.

5d) Also edit the various *.script files if necessary to set hypserpace ability (tweak.script), ship names (english.script), and other effects.

Bringing it all together and wrapping it up (getting it in-game):

Now you have to stick all the files in specific places to get it working in-game.

6a) If you don't already have one in the Homeworld directory, create an R1 folder if the ship is on the kushan side, or an R2 folder if the ship is on the Taiidan side.

6b) Within the R* folder, you will place the *.lod file, and the *.shp file. They should have the same name. Ex: ship.shp and ship.lod

6c) Create a subdirectory with the same name as the *.lod and *.shp files. Cont. Ex: homeworld/r*/ship/

6d) In this subdirectory, create a directory called 'r10'. Cont. Ex: homeworld/r*/ship/r10/

6e) In the r10 subdirectory, create the following directories: lod0, lod1, lod2, lod3, lod4.

6f) In each lod folder, place the ship files that you have made for that level of detail. You need the model *.peo file, the *.mex file, and the *.lif textures. If the file organization is more complex (seperate turret object models, multiple texture files), then you need to include whatever files are necessary.

6g) Place the new textures.ii file in the homeworld directory. If you changed any *.script files, place them there too.

6h) Load up Homeworld, choose the side that the ship was placed on, and play a game. Build the ship, playtest it.

6i) Debug by redoing whatever files necessary, be they textures, mexes, or stats, etc.

6j) Pack everything up in a zip with the other mod files (remember to preserve the directory structure!!!), and release it.

Other Misc. files and notes:

7a) HW gives first priority to files and directories in the HW directory, followed by the data in an update.big file and looks last at the data in the homeworld.big file itself. You could use a BIG utility to compress all of your mod files, then name the files update.big.

7b) It appears that it is possible to have more than just 4 guns on carriers, as shown by carriers in some other mods. However, I don't know how to get this to work right.

7c) It appears that it is possible to use the Defense Field Frigate as a regular frigate with weapons. However, it can only fire within the radius of the shield effect. To get a regular frigate, you would have to account for the weapon range with the field range, and turn the defense rating down to 0. I have heard nothing about getting the defense fighter or drone frigate to act normally.

7d) It appears that team colors depend on the layers of a texture. Read about it at the editing section of Project Red (see links below).


Homeworld Editing Links

Info/Comprehensive - run by Warpath81-DD, this is a promising site that plans to host mod news and editing info in one central location.

The Modder's Homeworld Editing Center -They have a lot of editing tools and tutorials/information. Their updates have been somewhat slow lately, but check them out.

Project Red. A comprehensive HW site, it has many editing resources, including tools and map making tutorials for both HW and HW:C.

There are several detailed tutorials on aspects of HW modding at the Adv. Engineering Module of the Project Red site.

Forums Editing forums

Homeworld Newbie Forum

Gamer's Union forum for Homeworld modding

Gamer's Union forum for Homeworld ship models


Delphy's Mad Scientist Laboratory - source of many HW modding utils.

Delphy's tools at Fleet Command - see above

Xeroto Labs - formerly the Homeworld Editing Suite. Has QuickLif (*.lif editing), Quick Edit (for *.shp editing) and the ever important VME (visual mexer).


FAQ History:

v.01 - Original FAQ, consisting of some basic undetailed steps and shp info

v.02 - FAQ revised over time by Voidsurfer, with assitance from Scheherazade. Still unreleased.

v.03 - HW editing links added, with some small additional details. FAQ history added.

v.04 - Minor additions, first version uploaded to the site.

Conditions: This FAQ was originally developed by Voidsurfer with Scheherazade's input. You can send corrections or suggestions to I don't mind if other people take this FAQ and update it, but I require that you keep the FAQ history and these conditions in the FAQ. Most of the information in this FAQ was gathered from either first-hand experience, or discussion with Scheherazade. I believe that this information is general public knowledge among the HW editing community - but if credit is due to anyone that originally learned about this information, I would like to hear about it."

There you go. [img]tongue.gif[/img]

[ 23. July 2004, 12:43 AM: Message edited by: star blazers fan ]

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