Moon Sims
Tech

How to Make a Zip Archive for Moon Sims
Part 4: Character Definition and Mesh Files

CMX and SKN files

Caddy says, "If your character uses onlystandard body meshes that are distributed with The Sims, you don't need to include the CMX and SKN files in the character archive. But if there are any custom meshes for the head, body, hands, or accessories, they need to be in the same archive as the skins.

"Now, here's Caddy's Rule One: No file names longer than 31 characters, including the three letter extension. Absolutely none! Not never! There's absolutely no need for it, and no excuse for it. I just can't believe the number of morons who insist on making their skins platform-dependent with these idiotic long filenames! If you send me a file that has more than 31 characters in its name, I won't publish it. Period. No exceptions. Never.

"OK, now that I've had my tantrum, I'll tell you where you can learn how to fix those long filenames. It's all explained in the Mac Skin FAQ at the Wage of Sim! Read it! You'll be glad you did!

"Or you can read my explanation of how incredibly easy it is to fix long filenames. And here's a really nice tutorial from Noel Green at MacSimtosh.

"While I'm going on about it, that rule about filenames applies to BMP files as well as CMX and SKN files.

"Now, if you have tried and just can't figure out how to fix the long file names, put them in a zip archive and send them to me at moonsims@asi.org. I'll fix them if I can. If not, we just won't publish them on the Moon Sims web. So far, the only long filenames we've found that can't be fixed are the ones that are hard-coded into the game.

"I need to add the First Corollary to Rule One: When you save the CMX and SKN files, save them with DOS line breaks. That's important. The Sims on some Windows machines can't read these files if you save them with MacOS or Unix line breaks.

"Of courseI have a Rule Two, and here it is: Don't rename an existing mesh unless you've got a darn good reason for it. Fixing a long file name counts as a darn good reason. So does avoiding overwriting a standard mesh, such as when I renamed Spanki's B300FAFit_uber to B300FAFit_351 to avoid wiping out the standard swimsuit and nude fit female bodies in the game.

"Another darn good reason to rename an existing head or body mesh is if you want to distribute a character with special accessories. For instance, a tremendous number of skins use the B300FAFit_01 body. That's the standard swimsuit and nude body for the fit female body. If you create a new character -- say a naked lady carrying a bazooka -- and use the B300FAFit_01 body mesh, then any time a player wants a sim to change clothes, the player will have to scroll through everyB300 outfit with your silly bazooka. It can take three days of game time, and hours of the player's time, just to change clothes!

"That's another reason I use B351, even though the player might want to use my more zaftig figure for the standard female body. If I used B300, the player would have to see my backpack on every tight-fitting outfit in the game!

Caddy seated at her desk moonsims_nffit.zip 16K
Click on image to download replacement
swimsuit and nude body mesh

"Just between you and me, I rather appreciate it when a player does replace the B300 figure. Do you realize how demoralizing it can be to lose three inches off my bustline every time I change into a swimsuit or take a bath?

If you would like to replace the fit female body shape in your game with my shape, click on my picture here to download a new mesh. See the readme file that comes with the archive for instructions. It's really easy; just put the two files from the archive into your Skins folder.

"If you do have to rename an existing mesh for the archive you're submitting, make sure you document that fact in the readme file. I'll get into readme files at the end of this tutorial. Take notes, class; there will be a quiz.

"And Caddy's Rule Three: If an existing mesh will do, don't create a new one. In other words, if the user won't perceive a difference between your new mesh and someone else's existing mesh, just use the existing mesh. If it's a custom mesh created by someone else, and the creator won't give you permission to distribute it with your skins, then there's no choice. I haven't found any mesh-makers who aren't delighted to have other people use and distribute their work; but there's a chance you will run across such a person some day.

"Here comes Caddy's Rule Four: If you use somebody else's work, make sure to tell me about it so we can give credit on the web site, and also credit in the readme file. Of course, you should never submit someone else's work for publication unless you have permission from the original creator.

"Usually you will only need one CMX file for the head, and one for body, even when there are lots of accessories with SKN files. The CMX file defines the character and tells the game what SKN files to use. The SKN files tell the shapes of the body parts and accessories, the default texture map to wrap around them, and how the texture map fits onto the 3D mesh.

"Oh, and here's a technique that's a bit off-topic: If you want a character to keep certain accessories even when the character dresses for work, list the accessory's SKN file in the CMX file for the head, not the body. In The Sims, a character changes bodies frequently but always wears the same head.

"OK, now that we have collected all our BMP, SKN, and CMX files, we can get to work on creating our portaits."

Forward Back to Part 3 | Continue to Part 5 Forward

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