Modding the Game's Backdrop Screen
For those who turned off the movie that plays in the background
when you are inside the game setup screens. You have probably
notice the beautiful rendering of an antique world map, that you
may see during the days when mariners roamed the open seas,
exploring the world for the first time. While it is a great piece
of artwork, what about those Modders who want to have a
background image that fits their Mod's theme?
The two main set up screens that you maybe see while a Mod is
activated is the main menu screen and the game rules setup
screen. The backdrop is used in the other set up screens also but
they do not show through as prominently. So we will only mainly
deal with the two screens.
This tutorial describes how to mod this backdrop screen and provides some useful resources to facilitate the process:
- The backdrop screen has to be 1024 x 768 resolution
- It must also be in TGA picture format
Now, you may decide to draw something from scratch, scan it in,
or use some kind of screenshot from your mod to create the
backdrop. However you do it, you should use those templates above
as a guide. But how do you make sure that your Mod's backdrop
screen is ideally integrated with the interface elements?
Once you have a picture that is of the proper dimensions as noted
above. You can use the templates I've provided to adjust your
picture as necessary and to fine tune it. You can download the
full size templates from out download section. You should also avoid using white
as predominent in your Mod's backdrop picture as some of the
texts that will appear when you use the interface are usually
white also. Therefore its a good ideal to make them stand out so
players can see and read the text properly.
Ok, so how do you use the templates? You can use the templates
and simply start drawing on the white areas of the backdrop
screens. But if you lack photoshop skills and a good amount of
artistic skills it maybe quite a task to accomplish. Even if you
have good skills, what the templates are meant to do is to be
used as an overlay to check that your backdrop is well designed,
rather then be used as the actual canvass.
In order to create an overlay from the templates. If you are
using Photoshop. Select the "Magic Wand" tool. (This should be
the second button on the top right on the tools window)
Then go to the menus at the top of the Photoshop program, then
click on "Select"->"Inverse". This will select all the
interface elements. Then also from the menus at the top, click on
"Edit"->"Copy". Now go to your backdrop image, and then click
on "paste" or hit the Control-V key. Do this for both templates
and check how your backdrop image looks with the interface
buttons overlayed on top. You can use the layer window to make
each pasted overlay visible or invisible to see how each of them
would look on top of your backdrop. Hit the "eye" button on the
Layer window to change the view.
Adjust the backdrop by moving some parts of the image around or
whatever you feel you need to do to make the backdrop look good
with the overlays. Make sure to resize or crop your image to 1024
x 768 pixels. When you are happy with the backdrop, you can
either delete the overlay's layers, or make sure they are
invisible (then select "layer"->"Flatten Layers", and say yes
to get rid of hidden layers to delete them). You can then save
out the backdrop. Select the "File"->"Save As" menu choice and
call the file "iface_wrapper1.tga". Now the file is ready to
integrate into your mod. This file should replace the file of the
same name in the game's art directory.
Note, however that this backdrop screen will only work for patch
2 style modding, which replaces the actual game files. So be sure
to backup your original if you are activating the mod manually.
However, if you are using my Mod Utility to activate the Mod, you simply
install the backdrop TGA file into the mod's art directory and it
will automatically shuffle the file back and forth and make a
backup of the original without you worrying about it.
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