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Modding TES Arena (and Battlespire?)

Discussion in 'Codex Workshop' started by t4ngr4m, Aug 19, 2019.

  1. t4ngr4m Page of Swords Patron

    t4ngr4m
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    Make the Codex Great Again! Pathfinder: Kingmaker
    Ah, I forgot to mention that pure black is used for transparency. It's an end-user fix.

    [​IMG]
     
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  2. Jack █▓▒░ Patron

    Jack
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    That's annoying, wish it was pink or something. I did fix it though.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Is it just as easy to replace the character portrait on the bottom of the screen to match the new character screen?
     
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  3. t4ngr4m Page of Swords Patron

    t4ngr4m
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    Just as easy? No. The face sprites used on the bottom corner are contained within a CIF file. CIFs are basically containers for IMGs. There's one for each race and sex, each containing 10 faces. These use a different palette than the character sheet. It is possible to change them. Open up the IMG files in a hex editor and combine them sequentially, being sure to include exactly 10. Rename this to CIF, and you're ready to go. The file names are similar to the other face sprites, only 0-7 instead of 10-17. That's how I was able to do the Garfield mod. If you really want to fiddle with it, here's the palette you'll need.
     
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  4. t4ngr4m Page of Swords Patron

    t4ngr4m
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    Today we're going to take a short break from Arena to uncover secrets of the Battlespire. In the 23 years this game has been out, the assets I'm about to share with you have never been ripped. Never. Not once. But I will tell you how to do it. We'll start with the dialog audio, and follow with the dialog animations.

    So we'll need a program to get into Bethesda's lovely BSA archives, which despite sharing a file type name, aren't packed the same way for every game. I used a program called Game Extractor written by a guy named watto. This'll get you in, but it won't let you repack an archive, and the files aren't necessarily what they appear to be. I actually had to find a copy of the real deal ISO to extract clean audio. For whatever reason, the GOG version has issues. Anyway, in the batspire folder you'll find waves.bsa. The files inside appear to be wavs, but you won't find a program that will play them. They're pcm files, which are basically wavs without a header. You can import them into Audacity as raw audio. The only issue is that you need to know all the things that would otherwise be in the header. Luckily I can tell you. They're 8-bit unsigned little-endian mono 11025hz files. With that, the import works fine. You can then export to whatever modern format you like.


    Now onto the animation files. Oh boy. In batspire/gamedata you'll find flc.bsa. You may already be familiar with the format, because Bethesda used it for videos in Arena, and daedra animations in Daggerfall. Only problem with these is that again, programs won't open them. Turns out it's another header issue. I used a hex editor to compare the files to ones I knew were working, and noticed that the Battlespire files had two additional characters appended at the very beginning. Simply delete them, and the animations will happily load in Aseprite. I have no idea whether this was a really basic security through obscurity measure to protect their assets, or if they used the characters for organizational purposes. Right, so get this... classic Bethesda, every frame of every animation for every character contains the backdrop you see here, on a 640x480 canvas. How's that for optimization? Jesus Christ.

    [​IMG]
     
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  5. Jack █▓▒░ Patron

    Jack
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    If the CD is full of stuff then that means you got bang for you buck, plenty of pretty graphics and/or content in there!
    :happytrollboy:
     
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  6. Bester ⚰️☠️⚱️ Patron Vatnik

    Bester
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    Some things never change.

    [​IMG]
     
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  7. t4ngr4m Page of Swords Patron

    t4ngr4m
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    Arena and Battlespire are cool and everything, but what if someone hacked the unreleased Oblivion game for PSP? What are the odds someone would do that. They'd have to be really weird, right?

    ...so I modded the game in a few small ways, and I have a present for everyone. Here's a proof of concept, where I've altered the formula so as to double health and magicka.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Maybe you want to go digging too deep like a mad dwarf. I won't stop you. Here's the formula that affects magicka regeneration. You can even set it so high that you never run out.
    As for the present, it's the OST. You don't even want to know how it was encoded. I'm not explaining this one.
     
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  8. Elwro Arcane

    Elwro
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    Wow. Amazing. Please keep those posts coming, t4ngr4m !
     
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  9. t4ngr4m Page of Swords Patron

    t4ngr4m
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    I found a solution for mouselook using a programmable input emulator. I'll have the script ready soon. Yeah, that's right, mouselook in Arena! Suck it, Daggerfall. I'm also working on bundling Arena with a preconfigured fork of DOSBox that supports pixel shaders and soundfonts, for a superior off-the-shelf experience. Unless you have Roland hardware hooked up to a genuine DOS machine, this'll be the next best thing.
     
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  10. Bester ⚰️☠️⚱️ Patron Vatnik

    Bester
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    Where would the samples come from?

    I wonder if anyone ever ripped Roland's samples.
     
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