The Melancholy of Modding Dark Souls 2

-Shooting Myself In The Foot-


Game Or Bust have for some reason asked me to recollect my modding experience. I guess they are sadist, wanting me to have PTSD flashbacks or something of that nature.


Prior to this endeavor Game or Bust had put me through, I had done very minor texture modding on the original Dark Souls and that was it. This encompassed tinting an armor set to black, and nothing more. I had made the mistake of doing this very thing to the sword they were using in their Dark Souls 1 playthrough. I had simply painted the Black Knights Sword pink and green, and given them the texture. This somehow cemented me as the texture modder for Game Or Bust.


-Wasted Time-


GorB, and all their infinite wisdom, decided they wanted more textures. The problem was, they wanted them for Dark Souls 2 Scholar of the First Sin. Not only did I not know how to obtain and modify the textures for this game, but I would later find out that these textures do not even work the same way as normal textures.


I simply started with praying to the massive god known as Google, and hoping it would give me an answer on how to even start. The had provided the answers I was looking for…. kind of. Much to my eventual dismay, there are two Dark Souls 2 games. I was not a particular fan of the series, and as a result i did not know this little tidbit.


See, Dark Souls 2, and Dark Souls 2 Scholar of the First Sin are very different, in the sense that the modding tools that work on the first will not work on the second. Google had pointed me to a program that works older games like the original DS2, but not newer ones like DS2 SotFS.


I spent hours, easily all night, trying to figure out why my games was crashing when I attempted to obtain the textures. It wasn't until the end of the night, when I realized there is two of Dark Souls 2, that I realized up until that point I had just been wasting time. All the frustration and genuine anger, was all for naught. As you can imagine, I was not pleased.


-Deletion-


Despite all of this, I kept going. I had found the correct modding tool for DS2 SotFS, a nifty little program called iGP11, but I did not have the weapon Brett wanted me to mod in the game. So I asked for Brett’s save file, knowing he would likely have the weapon.


After obtaining Brett’s own personal save file from his game, I placed it in my save game folder, and loaded up the game. This particular game has a little quirky trait that detects save files not from you, and deletes them. Apparently to avoid people passing around save files with every weapon in the game and hacks out the wazoo, the developers added this really fun and nice feature in.


Luckily, this was easy enough to get around, albeit still annoying. I had to replace the save file after getting past the title screen, and then trick the game into saving over it like it is my own file by trying to load characters and then starting a new game. This did not prove to be the only problem though.


-Seppuku-


While dumping the textures from the game I realized fast how much the game hated this. Shortly after attempting to load a character, the game would give up and just die. Crashes after crashes started to make me realize why I should have said no to this long ago, but I am apparently a masochist so I pressed on. I pushed the game as far as I could, but it did not want to load at the same time as iGP11 was attempting to pull so many textures from it at the same time. DS2 SotFS handled this about as well as I handle rejection.


After watching in anger as the game killed itself over and over again from the stress, I sat back and thought of something I could do to alleviate the strain the game was experiencing. I lowered the graphic settings in the game to as low as I could make it, but this was not enough. The game still proceeded to look me straight in the face, and shoot itself.


However, iGP11 was not only for texture dumping and replacing. I then remembered it could also modify the graphical output of the game. I turned everything down as low as I could in hopes it would help and this turned out to be my saving grace. DS2 SotFS finally had the will to live, and I was able to obtain the textures from it with ease.



-Wisdom In Ignorance-


Now That I had the textures Brett wanted me to mod, it was as simple as slapping some fresh paint on them and sending them out, which I managed to do easily enough. While I am no texture artist, I do work in photoshop a lot and do create art on my own, so drawing over an existing texture was not too tall of a task to ask of. The standard texture has two other parts to it though, a specular map and a normal map.


A specular map is typically black and white, and represents how reflective an object is. A normal map is typically many different colors. Blues, greens, yellows, reds, it displays all these colors to represent the ridges and bumps on a surface. DS2 SotFs was not like this however.


The spec maps where multicolored, and the normal maps were only two colors. Brent informed me of this irregularity after I had shown him some pictures of the files. He claimed he would have looked the other way, and refused to modify the textures if he was given them, for how odd and not industry standard they were.


I however did not know anything about the industry standards of spec or normal maps, and pressed on ignorant of how weird they really were. I had somehow managed to make sense of them easily, and realized the DS2 SotFS spec maps also represented the “wetness” of an object, and added a glossy effect to textures if given the colors red or yellow. This was more detailed than the average spec map, which was the opposite of the normal maps.


The normal maps were for some reason dumbed down versions of the average normal map, and I had managed to work with them despite being being able to only use two colors. This makes no sense looking back on it, since it greatly limits how much you can do with these normal maps.  


In the end though, I had succeeded due to my lack of knowledge. If only college worked that way.



-A Temporary End To Suffering-


I had got the tools, modified the textures, and shipped them out. All was completed, I had fulfilled my duty, but was all of it really over? I was not commanded to modify textures for Dark Souls 2 SotFs only, but for the third game as well. Luckily iGP11 also works on Dark Souls 3, and I have already obtained the weapon Brett wanted within the game already. While I imagine it will be easier, since the same process will be used, I know it will somehow prove to be even more trouble if given the chance.