Introduction into AoE3 modding Thank to Argalius and BilboBeutlin at HG for there work with the tutorials which tought me how to mod.
'Modding' is a usual short word for mod'ing, modifying - that means changing existing stuff (espec. for games) to get a new outlook, other behavior, adapt on individual requirements or to add new features.
Modder's first rule: Never touch a non-backup'ed file! That can't be told often enough. A failure in an edited file can ruin the program - if you have no possibility to restore the previous (last running) state, a new installation is required. A backup is nothing else than copying and saving the file(s) to a safe place.
How to backup files
As mentioned above, a backup is a safety-copy of the whole program or particular, certain files. It is not needed, to backup the whole program directory - though it's easy .. and if you have space abounding on harddisk or perhaps a CD/DVD writing drive. But merely the files you're actually going to change need a backup.
manually saving the file(s) For this you use the 'copy and paste' method from Windows. If you're unsure how to use, consider to read the appropriate Windows help. You select a file with left mouseclick (or multiple files with Ctrl-leftclick) within Windows Explorer (not Internet Explorer), rightclick -> Copy, go to a separate directory (which you perhaps created before) and place the stuff with rightclick -> Paste. Hint: hotkey for copy is "Ctrl-c", for paste "Ctrl-v".
The basic modding tools
1) The most important tool is a text editor
2) For deeper modding you need access to the datas in the .bar files. Though there are some other bar readers, a 'must-have' is AoE3Ed. For download and usage read carefully the whole topic. This tool package comes with an ArchiveViewer, which lets you preview and extract certain files. Hint: when unpacking, the user given path + bar file path is used. It's recommanded, to unpack to a work directory, not directly into AoE3's. The AoE3Ed FileConverter transforms xmb <-> xml and ddt <-> tga. The link for it is http://aoe3.heavengames.com/cgi-bin/forums/display.cgi?action=ct&f=1,23622,,all
3)3) For working on the graphics files (like textures or images) you need an image processing software which is capable to handle .tga (Targa) files. Gimp is a good example http://gimp.org/
Where are the important files?
In a standard installation usually C:\Program Files\Microsoft Games\Age Of Empires 3\ After a fresh installation, most files are write protected = read-only. If you want to change something, you have to delete the read-only flag: right-click on the file, select 'properties' and disable the 'read only' flag.
So lets begin start with the proto(x) tutorial
Extract all the files and keep them in the same folder only then will it work. Any problems its because you either havent extracted the folder yet or ALL the files MUST be in the same folder.
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