Friday, March 14, 2008

Haks part 1 (or the shortcomings of the CEP)

When it comes to customization, I think the CEP is inavoidable these days. Actually, I couldn't live without it anymore, and worlds that don't make use of it or at least an equally good solution for character customization are of no interest for me anymore.
Of course there's no need for a whole CEP if you just want a nice looking head on your character or NPC, but if there's ever the need for a special placeable, armor, item that doesn't come with the standard Bioware game, there's a good chance the CEP has it, and it's of course much easier just to grab this package than to hunt down each and every little placeable you need at the vault and stuff it into your own hak.
But that said, there are a few things definitely missing in the CEP. Like some of the best heads from the vault. The CEP comes with a huge load of custom heads for your characters and NPCs, but why, oh why did they include the most ugly heads ever made - tattoed faces in open helmets and such, but left out some of the prettiest "normal" heads available (and well known)?

Well, that's where the work on a custom hak starts. Hunt down the best head haks and add them to the mod. Of course, it's not that easy. Hunt down the head haks, export the model and texture files, add them to your new custom hak, place that one at the top of the hak list.
Still not that easy. Of course you only want to replace the ugly CEP heads, not the good ones... renaming model and texture files alone won't do, the models won't find their texture anymore... *sigh* It's a lot of stupid work, and strangely enough there was no mentioning of it anywhere on the vault, I had to find out all this basic stuff myself... open the model file of each head in a text editor, find and replace the names of the texture files inside the file with the name of the renamed texture... the basics of hak editing I guess, every builder will yawn now, but it's really a pain, especially until you find out how it's done. Every corner of my desk was full of sheets with notes about what files to rename, replace, leave out, etc. pp. It took me days to get something that simple finally done.
However, my module has it's first custom hak and a wonderful selection of heads for each race and gender now...

Of course the heads were only the first step, much more had and still has to be done with that stupid top-hak. Just when I thought I knew how things work I had to learn about 2da editing....

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