10 Powerful Tips When Creating Farming Simulator Mods - dummies

10 Powerful Tips When Creating Farming Simulator Mods

By Jason van Gumster, Christian Ammann

When making your Farming Simulator mods, you more than likely will run into a number of issues repeatedly. Think of this as a checklist you can go over if your mod isn’t performing as well as you think it should.

Use the correct image format for textures

GIANTS Engine supports the very common PNG image format. However, PNG images aren’t optimized for use in real-time game graphics, so your mod will load slower and perform more poorly if you use PNG images. The recommended format to use is the DirectDraw Surface (DDS) format.

Use texture sizes that fit your mod’s physical size

When creating mods, make sure that the texture sizes that you use are appropriate for the size of your mod. Say, for the sake of argument, that you create a simple mod with a pebble on the game map. That pebble is never going to be more than a handful of pixels on-screen.

So using a gigantic 2k texture doesn’t make a lot of sense. Use something much smaller so the game engine doesn’t spend a lot of time loading texture data that the player is never going to be able to appreciate.

On the other hand, if your mod is a large tractor, use a suitably sized texture for it. A 16×16 pixel texture would look horrible on a model that large.

Consolidate your texture data

Optimizing for performance is full of trade-offs. If you have a lot of small textures, then GIANTS Engine spends a lot of time pulling those images from your hard drive and loading them into memory.

However, you can reduce that load time if you group all of your texture data into a few large images that the engine only has to load once. Consolidating texture data complicates UV unwrapping a bit, but the performance benefits are worth the effort.

Set useful clip distance values

The clip distance attributes relate to the virtual cameras in GIANTS Engine. They’re used for making objects invisible in the distance. You should use values as small as possible. The values you choose are mostly dependent on the size of the object, its importance, and the construction. For example, a tractor’s body most likely hides a steering wheel, so the clip distance for the steering wheel can be smaller.

Avoid spaces and special characters in filenames

You may find yourself in a situation where a texture doesn’t appear on a 3D model or a script doesn’t load or your mod doesn’t work altogether. This problem often is a result of giving your files and assets poor names.

Generally speaking, avoid using spaces and other special characters such as the ampersand (&) and the “at” symbol (@) in your filenames. You should also avoid using characters with diacritical marks like accents and umlauts.

Be aware of case-sensitive paths

Stay aware of case-sensitive paths if you want to guarantee that your mod works on every operating system that can run Farming Simulator. In Windows, it doesn’t matter whether a letter in a file path is uppercase or lowercase. However, on most other operating systems, such as Mac OS X and Linux, it does matter. On those machines, a lowercase f is very different from an uppercase F.

Because of that sensitivity to case, you should pay close attention to whether a letter is uppercase or lowercase when referencing a file path from XML or a Lua script. Use camel case when naming (just imagine a camel’s hump). That is, the first word in a filename is all lowercase and the first letter of each subsequent word is uppercase with no spaces between words.

For example, if you want to call your mod “Best Mod Ever,” then your mod’s folder name should look like this: bestModEver.

Convert WAV files from stereo to mono

GIANTS Engine supports 3D sound, meaning that if you have a cow to your left, the game engine is smart enough to send that cow’s sound only to the left speaker. Because the game engine handles determining which speaker gets sound, the sounds in your mod should be in mono. Stereo sound files just give the engine unnecessary work and wastes hard drive space.

So if you have any 3D or stereo sounds in your mod, mix them down to mono.

Check the game log for errors and warnings

Sometimes you’ll release a mod that appears to work well in-game when you test it. However, you may overlook a missing file, a texture may be in PNG instead of DDS, or an audio file in stereo that should be in mono. The log gives useful warning messages.

If you pay attention, you avoid bug reports after you release and you can also get hints as to what parts of your mod could be optimized for better performance.

Test your mod in single and multiplayer modes

Test your mod thoroughly in as many different scenarios as you can imagine. Gamers are good at finding new and interesting ways to break games, including your mod.

A modder can often forget about testing in multiplayer mode. You can get so wrapped up in your single player tests that you overlook multiplayer. The next thing you know, you get an email from another player letting you know that the blinking lights on your vehicle don’t blink at all in multiplayer mode or that you have a particle system that isn’t synchronized across all users.

Put your mod into a single zip package

Nothing is more frustrating for a user than going through a complex series of steps just to get a mod working in a game. Complex installation procedures are annoying, and they’re a quick way to alienate people. You want to make it easy for others to use your mod, so take the complexity out of it for them.

Most players of Farming Simulator are already quite comfortable and familiar with installing mods from Zip files.