Weird Worlds mod tutorial: Creating an Alien Race
Last updated 2/25/2006
Creating an entirely new, fully fleshed-out alien race is quite an
undertaking. Besides writing a description and creating a portrait
graphic, you'll need to come up with
new ships, a theme song and so on.
Since we've already covered the creation of new ships in another
tutorial, we're going to leave that part out and reuse existing ships
so we can concentrate on all the other stuff.
Now, who would be using ships that are already in the game? Terran
space pirates of course! We'll set up a basic "race" of pirates who
you'll randomly run into during the game. Diplomacy will be kept to
a minimum so there's less stuff to write. You can always look at
other races for more advanced examples.
Follow the instructions in the Basics
section and set up a new mod folder. Let's name the folder
"pirate_race". Drop in a game.ini and the banner graphic so the game
will run. Now we can start working on the actual mod.
Primary .ini file
Create a "races" folder in gamedata, and then make new file named
pirate.ini in that folder: pirate_race/gamedata/races/pirate.ini.
This is the new race's main .ini file that determines how they behave
in the game. You could copy one of the existing ones and work off of
that (like the Tchorak who are rather simple), but we're going to go
through it line by line here.
NAM1 Terran Pirate
NAM2 Terran Pirates
The first two lines determine the name of the race in singular and
plural. These are what's displayed in the game. Other .ini files will
refer to this race by the filename of the race's .ini file, ie. "pirate".
FLAG hostile random simulator
The race flags determine the race's initial attitude towards the player,
as well as how they behave in the game. These are the valid flags:
trader - Fleets of this race start with 10 random items
friendly - This race starts friendly to the player
hostile - This race starts hostile to the player
shroud - A special Primordius flag that's not used
always - This race is always on the map (e.g. the player's race)
random - This race appears as one of the random aliens
never - Never placed on the map except by quests
hometrade - Allows trade at the race's homeworld
unknown - Always displayed as "unknown" in radar
blowup - Doesn't move to starts that cannot be blown up
simulator - This race is included in the combat simulator
As you can see the pirates start hostile, appear randomly on the map
and show up in the simulator.
PNAM Swamp Planet
These describe the homeworld and star system of the race. Since the
pirates don't have a homeworld these are a bit irrelevant but have to
be included in the .ini file. The first one is the name of the planet,
and the second one is its type. The third one is the star name, which
is never displayed unless this is the player's race. Finally the fourth
line is the star type. Planet and star types refer to the filenames in
gamedata/planets and gamedata/stars, respectively (e.g. forest1, msq_orange).
This is the portrait of the race that'll be shown in the "first encounter"
popup among other things. Every race needs one, there's no way around it.
I got this one off a cereal box. The portrait should be 128x128 pixels
in size and in jpeg format. Place it in graphics/races/ and make an .ini
file (pirate.ini) for the jpg in the same folder. All you need to put in
this file is: MASK races/racemask.png (You can just copy any one of the
other races' portrait .ini's). This will load the correct alpha mask for
the race portrait.
These are the race's music settings. I'll use the simulator music for
the "theme" and the regular vidcast music for messages.
COLR 0.8 1.0 0
This is the color the pirates' homeworld would appear on the starmap,
if they had one. It's in RGB, with each component being a number between
zero and one (This color is a greenish yellow).
This is the number of fleets the race will have on the starmap. The
number is actually ignored for random races (the number of fleets is
based on the map size) and only useful for non-randoms.
This is the number of stars the race will own at the start of the game.
If set to 1, they'll have a homeworld (and the homeworld settings above
must be something other than "none"). Multiple stars are also possible
but the non-homeworld stars don't have any real effect.
SCRE 500 exploring
SCRF 500 strategic
SCRD 3 strategic
These lines set the scoring parameters for the race. In Weird Worlds
all score values include the numeric value as well as the score
category it goes in. The first is the reward for encountering this
race, the second is the reward for making friends with them. The last
one is the reward for destroying their ships. This is multiplied by
the hull points of the ship, so a corvette will give you 35*3 = 105
points in the strategic category. (Listed as "diplomacy" in the end
screen and the manual)
Freebooters are terran space pirates; ruthless corsairs who acquire saleable booty through less than scrupulous means. While some will act as escorts for a price, most just want to rob you.
This is the description of the race, shamelessly modified from the "moon
marauder" mercenary. This will be shown in the first encounter message.
This bit of text is currently not used, but is left in for completeness's sake.
This is what's displayed on the race's homeworld if you find any items
there (If it's a trading world, this is where you'd say it).
This is the name of the "store" on their homeworld. If the "hometrade"
flag is not set then you don't need to trade for the items but you can
make up a colorful sounding location where you happen to find all this
stuff. The color tag makes the name show up in light blue.
<color=990>Shiver me timbers, it's cap'n <uvar=captname>! How you doing there?
Have some tasty grog and enjoy your stay!<color=999>
This is the "greeting" vidcast you'd receive the first time you meet
this race if they were friendly. The color tag turns the text yellow
like all the other vidcasts in the game. The uvar tag inserts the
player's (captain) name into the text. Since we're not planning to
have friendly pirates this is just a placeholder.
<color=990>Arr, stay out of here you scurrilous knaves! Else we're going to keel-haul ye!<color=999>
This is the "greeting" vidcast you'd receive when you meet this race
if they were neutral and gave you a choice to leave or fight. Since
we're not planning to have neutral pirates this is just a placeholder.
<color=990>Avast! Ye scurvy dogs have the black spot upon ye! Prepare to meet old Davey Jones himself, ye bilge- sucking blaggards, arr!<color=999>
This is the "greeting" vidcast you'll receive when you meet the pirates,
as they start hostile (that's why this is the only greeting that was
written by an actual professional pirate rather than myself). Note that
you could have multiple versions of each greeting text within the TEXT
block, separated by a line break.
Now that the race's text content is done it's time to set up some nice
pirate ships for you to destroy. We'll use various Terran hulls to
create a fighter and a few capital ships.
SHIP Pirate Fighter
The ships are usually in order based on size, so the first ship is the
fighter. Give it a name, "Pirate Fighter" and Pick a hull from
gamedata/hulls. In this case we're using Ripcord O'Reilly's fighter.
This flag makes the ship available in the combat simulator. If you add
"intro" it'll make the ship appear in the main menu background, but
since this same hull already appears there (as the Terran fighter) we
These are the systems used by the ship. We just gave this fighter a
Neptunium Railgun (wp_projrail.ini in gamedata/items), Fusion Tube
thrusters and a Hydrogen Fusion stardrive.
This ends the SHIP entry so you can add another. Let's do three different
capital ships since we have all these hulls to work with: a scout,
a corvette and a frigate. We'll give them a slightly different set of
systems than the standard Terran ships, to make them more interesting.
SHIP Pirate Scout
SHIP Pirate Corvette
SHIP Pirate Mothership
The final thing we need to do to finish the race is its fleet settings.
This determines what kind of formation they use, and what combinations
of ships will show up in each pirate fleet.
Begins the Fleet block.
This is the race's combat formation. Valid formation names are:
default - ships are arranged in a line
chevron - V-shaped formation (e.g. Garthans)
protcircle - Fighters are in a circle around the capital ships
ranks - Ships arranged in rectangles based on type
ambush - The fleet attempts to encircle the player flotilla
SHP0 Pirate Fighter
SHP1 Pirate Scout
SHP2 Pirate Corvette
SHP3 Pirate Mothership
This is a list of ships used by the race's fleets. This basically just
gives each one of the ships a number from 0 to 9, excluding any ships
that only appear as allies/mercenaries. These numbers are used below.
These are the race's "normal" fleets, again numbered 0-9. Each FLT*
line represents a fleet, and the numbers refer to the ship list above.
For example, the first (zeroth?) fleet has a #1 Pirate Scout followed
by two #0 "Pirate Fighters", while the last one has two corvettes and
a mothership flanked by eight fighters. These fleets should generally
be in the order from the easiest to the hardest.
These are special fleets you'll only encounter at the race's homeworld.
There's one of these for each "difficulty level". There's five different
levels from 0 (easy) to 4 (very hard), which the game picks based on
the map size and number of enemies you select when you start a new game.
On small map, levels 0-2 are used. On the medium one, 1-3, and on the
The DIF0-4 are the difficulty settings for random fleet placement. It
works much the same way as the FLT0-9, except the numbers refer to the
fleets rather than ships and each DIF must have a ten-number string.
Think of it as rolling a ten-sided die. On each side it has a number
that determines which one of the fleets is placed. So on the lowest
difficulty level, 3 out of 10 pirate fleets will be the fleet defined as
FLT0 (one scout and two fighters), 4/10 will be fleet FLT1 and the last
3/10 will be FLT2. Each difficulty level should have at least three
different fleets to avoid duplicates of the same fleet appearing on
Update: From version 1.1 onward, you can make upto 16 "normal"
fleets by defining FLTA through FLTF (after FLT9),
and then in the DIF0-4 you simply write an uppercase A,B,C and so on
rather than a number to use those fleets. The letters GHIJK are also
allowed, and refer to the five homeworld fleets (for example, you could
make a low-difficulty homeworld fleet appear as a randomly distributed
fleet with a high difficulty setting). This allows a greater variety of
Ends the Fleet block. Now the race's primary .ini file is complete.
Open the game.ini in your mod's gamedata folder and find the RACES
block. Add the filename of your race (pirate) somewhere after Terran
(The Player's race must always be first on the list, and we're
keeping the player as a Terran). Now the new race will be loaded when
you run the mod, and you can go fight them...
Download the example mod (38K, unzip to Weird Worlds folder with subfolders)