Making NS2 Crosshair Mods

DCDarkling
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27 October 2020 - 00:30 CET
#1
A small "HowTo" on making crosshairs.
Hopefully it is clear enough. Is sections are unclear, let me know on discord and I will edit it.

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## PROGRAM:
Get any program which can edit DDS files. Examples are GIMP and paint.net.
The above 2 examples are free to download and use.

## PREPARATION:
* Create a folder to store your NS2 mod source files.
* Go to your UI folder. The default is "\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps\common\Natural Selection 2\ns2\ui"
* Copy the following DDS files to your NS2 mods folder:
- crosshairs.dds
- crosshairs-hit.dds
- exo_crosshair.dds
(can be the exo one is no longer used, can not remember. Its still in the game files)
* Open the DDS file in your NS2 mods folder, in your editor of choice.
* Save the file in the format of the program in question. so .pdn for paint.net or .xcf for gimp.
* Do all your editing in these files and formats.

## CROSSHAIR FILES:
crosshairs.dds is a file showing the crosshairs from top to bottom. These are the normal crosshairs. Note 'empty' areas can exist.
crosshairs-hit.dds is a file with the crosshairs from top to bottom. These show how the crosshairs look when you hit a target.
exo_crosshair.dds Exo crosshair, probably outdated.

## EDITING:
# LAYERS
The above editors use layers. Layers lay on top of each other, where one take precedence over the other.
Imagine the following:
One layer is fully black (square canvas).
The top layer is transparent except for a white circle.
The end result would show as a white circle over a black square.

This means you can make new layers to do edits in to not destroy the underlaying layer. You do not have to do this, but it can make things easier.

Remember that layers can be transparent. In most programs this is shown as a checkers background.

# CROSSHAIRS
Use the original crosshair files as a example layer for the positioning of your new crosshairs. (The bottom layer).
You can also copy the dds files outside the folder of a mod and use those as examples.
My mod ("DCDs Crosshairs" for example) can be used as an example.

The position of the crosshairs for each weapon is predetermined. They match the location on the dds file.
The middle dot of a crosshair is 4 pixels. Not one.
Do not shorten the original width or height of the canvas.
Undefined (alien/exo) use the bottom crosshair

# SAVING
Safe the image as a dds file. It will merge all the layers. (One of the reasons why you should edit in the editor programs format.
Quality, filesize & NS2 compatibility depends on the type of DDS file you use.
Some compatible formats are:
* ARGB8888
* DXT5RGBA (with Interpolated Alpha channel)
* DXT3
You need no mipmaps for crosshairs.
But feel free to experiment on the format of DDS file to use.

## MOD, FOLDER STRUCTURE & PUBLISHING:
In your NS2 folder "\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps\common\Natural Selection 2\" is a "LaunchPad.exe". This is used to make mods and publish them.

It is good to keep your source files (the paint.net or gimp files) in their own folder.
You need another folder for your actual mods. These can be mixed if you do it correctly, assuming you do not find that confusing. We do this as follows:

# CREATING THE MOD & FOLDER
* Make a new mod by pressing "New".
* Give up a location where you wish to store your mods under "Mod Location". This is the location of THIS specific mod.
* Give a mod name.
* Select "Create from a basic template" if you are unsure which folders we need. You can delete these later. If you do not use the template, you will have to create the folders yourself. (Deleting them after is easier)
* Press "Create".
* The view will new swap to your mod. This view is the same as if you used "Open" and selected your mods folder.

# FOLDER STRUCTURE
"output" is the end result of your mod. Output can be filled automatic by the builder. You can also make your own folder structure and place files in manually.
"source" is the folder the builder uses to make your mod. You can place your editor source files in here if you wish.
"mod.settings" is a textfile containing basic information about your mod, like the name.
"preview.jpg" shows a preview image on the workshop.

You can safely delete content from the output & source folders which you do not need.
The folder structure in output matches the structure in the NS2 folder.
Crosshairs are in the "ui" folder. So the Output folder needs to contain a "ui" folder ONLY for crosshair mods.
Your dds files go into this folder. This makes it "\CrosshairMod\output\ui".
If you wish to use the builder, you place your sourcefiles in "\CrosshairMod\source\ui"

# FILE CHECK
You should end up with:
* A source folder only containing a ui folder. Editor files inside.
* A output folder only containing a ui folder. dds files inside.
* A mod.settings file.
* A preview.jpg file.

Delete all other source folders & files if they exist. We do not need them for crosshair mods.

# CONFIGURE
Configure your mod. Press "Configure" and check the modname & description. Also have a look at Mod type and compatibility type.
Set the mod type to "Crosshairs" and the Compatibility to "Passes Default Consistency"

# TO BUILD OR NOT TO BUILD
The builder takes whatever source files it can process and converts them to files NS2 can use. If the builder made it, it will run. That is the advantage. So if you can not get a DDS file which works in NS2, builder can do it.
However you have no control over the format of DDS file. So no control on for example compression and colours (due to compression). Please note the names have to be similar for builder.

So your choice is:
* Do not use builder. Place your correctly named dds files in the output\ui folder. For crosshairs this is advised.
* Use builder. Do NOT place dds files in the output\ui folder. If you use rebuild it will overwrite any file existing in the output folder.

Please note builder will keep running in your taskbar if you "close" it. So it minimizes to taskbar.

# CHECK AND PUBLISH
Last minute check. Is everything in \output\ named correctly? Is there only stuff in that folder which you need? Stuff which does not belong there for your mod can have it fail consistency!
So for crosshairs, there should only be the crosshair dds files in the "\output\ui" folder.

* You can launch the game via "Launch Game" and test the mod locally on a listenserver.

* Publish the mod. If its set "Public" everyone can see it.
Nightsy
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27 October 2020 - 10:31 CET
#2
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