Tutorial: How to use the SporeModder Blender Add-ons

Welcome! In this tutorial I will teach you how to export new parts for Spore using SporeModder Blender addons. This method allows us to use the latest version of Blender, create animated parts, building/vehicle parts and other types of models.

In this tutorial I will only show you how to use the Blender addons, not how to use Blender itself (there are lots of better tutorials out there) nor how to make the part appear in Spore; for the later, I recommend you to unpack and explore Spore mods like BetterSpore or Spore Resurrection: Next Steps, to see how it’s done there.

1. How to install the SporeModder addons

The first thing we must do is to prepare the tool with which we will create and export the models. For that, we need two things:

Once you’ve installed Blender, we’ll follow this steps to install SporeModder addons:

  1. Unpack the file you’ve downloaded and copy the folder named “sporemodder”.
  2. Go to the folder where you’ve installed Blender. There will be a folder with your Blender version, for example 2.77a. Once inside that one, go to the folder scripts and inside there, go to addons.
  3. Paste the sporemodder folder there.
  4. Now, open Blender and go to the File -> User Preferences… menu.Image
  5. A new window will appear. Go to the “Add-ons” tab and search “sporemodder”. In the result that appears, ensure the checkbox on the right is checked, like here:
    Image

2. Exporting a basic part

Some basic knowledge of Blender, such as selecting objects and changing the editors, is required in order to complete this part of the tutorial.

To export the model to Spore’s format you just have to go the menu File -> Export -> Spore RenderWare4 (.rw4):

Image

However, there’s a condition you need to export: UV maps.

2.1 UV Maps

An UV Map is a flat representation of the part, which is used for texturizing it. For example, here we can see the UV Map of the “Spuradic Spine” part, from the Spore Resurrection: Next Steps mod:

Image

Our part must have an UV map in order to be exported. To create a simple UV map, follow these steps:

  1. In the bottom left corner, there’s an icon of a clock. Click on it and in the menu that appears, select UV/Image Editor.
    Image
  2. In the main editor, select your model (with the mouse right click button) and go to Edit Mode (using the TAB key or changing it here:
  3. In the main editor, press the key U and in the menu that displays, choose Unwrap. This will create a basic UV map.

Finally, to be able to export you must be back in “Object mode”:

We won’t explain how to create UV maps nor texturize the model in this tutorial; there are lots of tutorials about this on Youtube 😉

2.2 Exporting the model with a texture

If you have already made a texture for your model (the texture must be in the .dds format, DXT5), we can add it to the model so it shows in Spore.

(For creature parts, this texture only displays in the editor “Build Mode”. For building/vehicle parts, textures are not used)

To change the texture the model will be exported with, follow these steps:

  1. Select your model and, in the rightmost panel, go to the Material tab (Image).
  2. If your model doesn’t have a material, create a new one pressing “New”. Models can’t export without a material.
  3. If you scroll down the panel, we’ll reach a smaller panel, “RenderWare4 Material Config”. From there, the only property we’re interested in at the moment is Diffuse texture: . There you find the file you want to use as the texture.

It’s recommended to use as dimensions powers of 2, like 128×256, 1024×1024, etc. For creature parts, Spore uses textures of 64×64. If you don’t specify any texture, a transparent one will be used (so the part will use the creature color).

2.3 Advice and frequent errors

Use only one object (for creature parts):

It’s recommended that, for creature parts, you only use one object. To merge multiple objects into one, select all them and press Ctrl + J.

The part appears moved, very big or wrongly rotated:

This happens because any changes made in “Object Mode” won’t be applied when exporting the model. To apply those changes, in the main editor, go to the Object -> Apply menu and there, select Location (if you want to apply the object’s position), Rotation (if you want to apply the object’s rotation), or Scale (if you want to apply the object’s size).

“Error: No materials are used in object Cube”:

This happens when an object has no “material”. To add a new one, go to the panel on the right side of the screen. There, go to the Material tab (Image) and click New:

Image


3. Animated parts

When we talk about animations, we are talking about two things:

  • The natural movements the part does, like opening the mouth, screaming,…
  • Morphs, those arrows that let us change the shape of the part.

To animate the parts, Spore uses a method known as “Skeletal animation“. Basically, it consists in creating an “skeleton” for the model and then animating that skeleton.

In this tutorial we won’t explain how to create those animations in Blender, since there are lots of better tutorials for that. However, there’s something you must see before creating animations.

To create the animations, you must go to the Dope Sheet editor.

Image

Once there, you must change the mode to Action Editor.

Image

To create an animation, you just have to click on New. The name of the animation is important and varies depending on what you want to do; the used names will be explained later.

Warning: Next to the animation name, there’s an ‘F’ button. Ensure it’s selected for every animation, because if it isn’t it might not get saved.

Generally, all part animations last 1.25 seconds (that is, 30 frames). Please note that they start on frame 0, and end on frame 30.

3.1 Movement animations

To make an animation be considered a “natural movement” (open the mouth, close the fist, etc) you just have to give it one of the used names. Here’s a list of all the names used in movements:

Part type Name Use
Cell eye 0x89E06A31 Open the eye.
stun
impact
madasd
scared
Cell mouth 0x89E06A31 Open the mouth.
breathe
stun
impact
Flagella/cilia idle
move
stun
impact
Cell spikes idle
stun
impact
attack
Cell weapons (electrical and poison) stun
impact
0xFD29BD8E
0x2D7AE6C2
0x0EFD249C
Ear 0x39E912E1
Eye 0x89E06A31 Open the eye.
madsad
scared
Foot bend
Grasper 0x89E06A31 Open the grasper.
point
Poison weapon turnon
Mouth 0x89E06A31 Open the mouth.
0x5D8D0055
lickair
unique
Weapons turnon
Wings flap
idle
tuck

 

3.2 Morphs

To make an animation be considered a morph, you must mark it as a morph.

To do that, we go to the Scene tab (Image) in the right panel.
Once there, at the bottom, we’ll find a list with all the animations. Select the one you want to use as a morph and check Use this animations as a morph handle.

After checking that, new options will appear:

  • Initial position: Controls the coordinates where the moprh handle on frame 0.
  • Final position: Controls the coordinates where the moprh handle on frame 30.
  • Default frame: Controls the frame the morph is on by default.

Morphs also have specific names for the animations. The most common ones are:

  • DeformAxisForward
  • DeformAxisLeft
  • DeformAxisRight
  • DeformAxisUp
  • DeformAxisDown.

4. Other model types

SporeModder addons not only allow exporting creature parts; you can also export building/vehicle parts and static models (that is, those used in the game and in adventures). To export a model of one of those types, follow these steps:

  1. Select your model and, in the right panel, go to the Material tab (Image).
  2. If we scroll down through the panel, we’ll reach a smaller panel, “RenderWare4 Material Config”. There you can change the Material type: property, which can be one of the following values:
    • Skinpaint part: A creature/cell/plant part.
    • Mineralpaint part: A building/vehicle part.
    • Object model: A static model, like those used in adventures or editor backgrounds.
    • No material: We don’t really know what it is for, it might not work correctly.

Building/vehicle parts and static models have some extra properties, which we’ll explain next:

4.1 Building/vehicle parts

  • Material group: This property makes the part have multiple areas to paint.
  • Use paint’s texture: If it’s not selected, you will only be able to change the area’s color, and not the texture.

As you can see, each area has a different Material group, and the gray zone doesn’t have Use paint’s texture selected.

The other two properties, Tiling and Projection mode, control how the paint texture is applied to the part, but we still don’t quite know how they work.

4.2 Static models

Normal texture: This texture is used to simulate bumps in the model. For more information, check Normal mapping. There’s no need to specify any texture.

The other four properties, Specular exponentSpecular strengthGloss y unkFloat3 control how lighting affects the model; we still don’t quite know how they work.

I think that’s all; for any problem or doubt, just ask in the comments below!

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