Howdy folks! Some time back, in the process of trying to help a new modder in the FF community, I wrote a rather lengthy post on Freedom Reborn about the step by step process of creating a mod. It occurred to me that this information, all gathered in one place, might prove helpful to other newcomers and folks who want to try their hands at modding. So, I’m adapting that gargantuan post to a how-to-outline that I’ll share here. So, without further ado, I give you a crash course in modding!
Let’s start at the beginning. Make sure you have all of the necessary tools. To mod successfully and without undue headache, one needs the following:
- FF2 Mod Tools (FFEdit, Character Tool)
- M25’s Mod Tools (EZScript Editor, Language File Generator, and more)
- FFX (an amazing expansion to the core game mechanics that adds tons of new attributes and functionality)
So, install all of the various tools, and if you’re running a version of Windows newer than XP, as I imagine most folks are these days, it is probably a good idea to run all of these things in compatibility mode for XP SP3. I’d also run them as an Administrator, just to be on the safe side.
Now, on to business! Here is a rough, step-by-step outline that can give you a sense about what all goes into modding.
1) First, decide what you want to call your mod. Then, copy the newest version of FFX (3.3 I think), and rename it to whatever you want your mod to be called. The title should be simple, because you’ll have to use it a few different times, and you don’t want to be having to type out a forever-long name dozens of times. Also, and this is something you’ll see me say a few times, make sure you don’t have any unusual characters in the name. Limit it to letters and numbers, as FF has a tendency to freak out over anything else. Next, make sure FFEdit is pointing in the right direction. Do so by opening it up and directing the primary data path towards your newly created mod folder. Make sure you leave the secondary data path alone.
2) Now, decide which characters you want/need in your mission. Create herofiles for them. Give them simple, lower case names without any special characters and punctuation marks. Test and balance in the Rumble Room until satisfied.
3) Quit, rename your FFX3 folder to something different, FFX3a is what I use. Now, rename your mod folder to FFX3. (This step isn’t absolutely necessary, but FFX Edit2 sometimes has something of a hard time with mods other than FFX.)
4) Run FFX Edit2. Save. This “Brands” all of the characters in that mod, giving each a unique “Complex” number, which helps FFX and EZScript tell them apart. This is necessary to get stuff to run smoothly. Once you’re done, don’t forget to change both folder names back.
5) Next, launch your mod, open the Rumble Room, and choose M25’s Add to Dat as your gametype. Put your newly created herofiles into the roster, use the “———–” blank entry if you need to, and then run it. It should only take a moment. Now, quit, open FFEdit, check on the characters and make sure everything was added nicely.
6) Now, open up your EZScript Editor. Go to “Panels,” “Config,” and set the Dat directory to your mods folder. You can set the other directories or not, it won’t be super important for a simple project. Now, I recommend working on top of an existing EZScript mission. One of the example missions or one of mine would serve as a fine base. Either way, compose your mission. I STRONGLY recommend using:
to differentiate your encounters, to make it easier for you to read and for folks who help you with troubleshooting. Avoid capitalization in composing your missions, except when writing encounter names, which are okay to capitalize, just make sure you are being consistent. One of the biggest pieces of advice I can give you is, keep it simple. Keep your naming schemes simple, keep your layouts simple, keep your plans simple. The more complex you get, the more chances you’ll mess something up, and the less chance you’ll be able to find it easily.
7) Next, click “Tools,” “Analyze,” and look at the report it gives you. This should catch MANY of the careless errors and plain ‘ol mistakes that tend to creep in to this type of work.
8) After that (or really before if you want), you can create your map, adding in any encounter markers you need. Make sure all encounter names match what your mission calls for EXACTLY. You can point your EZScript Editor to this newly edited map to double check that. Unless you are designing the FIRST mission of a campaign, do NOT put any heroes on a map you create if you are using EZScript. The first mission needs for the heroes to be placed already, otherwise check out my tutorials on what markers are necessary to get everything to play nicely.
9) Open your mod folder and copy your mission’s .txt file into the mod’s Story directory. If it doesn’t have one, just create a folder named Stories in your mod’s main directory. If you have multiple missions, you can put them all in there, but make sure to rename the copies so you don’t just overwrite them in the Stories folder. Now, run your mod again. Go to the RR again, for game type, select M25 Generate Language Files (or something like that). Just use the ———- character, that will work fine. Run it, then quit. You’ve just added all of your missions dialog to your mod’s caption.txt. However, the game itself can’t read txt files, so we need to get this into your captions.dat. Now, open M25’s Language File Generator that you downloaded before we got started, and run it, pointing it at your mod director. This updates your Lang files. Also, before you start this process, make sure you’ve got CLEAN language files. If you’ve already been poking around in them, I strongly recommend you get your language files from a clean install or clean version of FFX3.
11) Open up FFEdit and click on the “Campaign” tab. Now, you’ll see the default FF missions there, and I recommend you leave them be for the moment. You can delete them all, but in general things work better when you just leave them alone. They won’t affect anything. Add your own missions in, set the required characters and and unavailable characters, and move your missions to the top of the order. Save and exit.
11a) For your first mission ONLY, you’ll need to place your starting heroes on your map through the editor. Don’t forget to do this, as otherwise your mission won’t start. The game spawns no heroes for the first mission.
12) Now your mod should be ready to play! Open up FF and click “New Campaign” and give it a test. Chances are you’ll run into some troubles, but stay patient and try to eliminate factors. Always double check the obvious! I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve spent troubleshooting missions with inexplicable problems, only to realize that I misspelled “encounter” or forgot to do something equally basic. Also, when in doubt, feel free to ask for help! I’m always happy to help new modders, and the FF community is amazing!