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Starfleet Command III: Ship Model Guide

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In additions to the Step-by-step guide (this page), Starfleet Universe is also proud to host two other manuals that explain the intrigues of SFC3 modelling and modding in better detail.


By Chris Jones and expanded by 3dot14

This Guide offers a step by step instruction as to how to import an SFC1/2 model (or an SFC3 model not previously prepared) into SFC3.

    1. Determine, of course, which model you want to add. For this guide, Maggot's Dominion Battleship is used. Copy (or extract from zip/rar file) the model to the assets\models\ folder of SFC3.
      To keep things simple, rename the folder to something easy. In this case I'll use DomBB.
      This model must have a break model. (_brk.mod) If it does not, refer to the Modelling Manual above for the methods of creating one.
    2. Using Notepad or Textpad create a (or file in the directory. It does not have to have any text in it, for now. (This file will later be used by the modding tools to place glow effects (step 6) as well as weapon hardpoints (step 12).)
      Step 4. Adding glow regions to the model
      Figure 1. Adding glow regions to the model
    3. Open up the folder for the new model (located at assets\models\DomBB\), rename the mod and the break mod to the same name as the folder, in this case: DomBB.mod and DomBB_brk.mod
    4. Open up the ModelAttributeEditor (part of SFC3 Modding Tools) and load the mesh DomBB.mod. Follow the procedure in the utility (use F1 to toggle) to add glows to the model. Save changes.
    5. Open up the DomBB_brk.mod and do the same thing. (Figure 1.)
    6. After the glows are done you'll notice two new files in your directory, DomBB.X and DomBB_brk.X. They are supposed to be there. At this point, run the "RECACHER" utility in the SFC3 Modding Tools on the model.
      Step 7. - Creating a description of the ship
      Figure 2. Ship Description.
    7. Create a DomBB.txt file in the folder as well. Put a description of your ship in there. Be creative as this is what is seen while selecting your ship to play. You can change the name of the text file, which will change the class Designation of the ship (see figure 2.)
    8. Make backups of your DefaultCore.txt and Defaultloadout.txt files in assets\specs (always BACKUP!)
    9. Use Microsoft Excel and Open DefaultCore.txt
      1. Insert a new line into the file right below the ship you wish to copy from.
      2. Copy the line above where you inserted the new line (in this case the Borg Cube) and paste it into the new blank line.
      3. In Excel - locate these two headings: Classname, and AlternateUIName, and scroll down to your new entry.
      4. In the Classname put the name anything you like for example: Borg-Battleship2 (use an existing name would create a new "variant" of the existing ship. Use a new unique name would create a new "hull class" in the game.) And for the AlternateUIName put DomBB. This is the folder name created in Step 2.
      5. Save and close the DefaultCore.txt
    10. Use Microsoft Excel and open up DefaultLoadout.txt. (See figure 3.)
      1. Scroll down to Borg-Battleship (the same name you copied in the DefaultCore file in Step 9b.).
      2. Copy that row, and paste as a new row below Borg-Battleship.
      3. Under ClassName, put the classname created in step 9d. In this case: Borg-Battleship2.
      4. Under SubName put DomBB. This entry must match the name of the text file created in Step 7. In this case, since the text file is DomBB.txt, enter DomBB. Had the name been "Dominion Battleship.txt", enter "Dominion Battleship".
      5. Under UIName put DomBB. This entry must match the name of the folder created in Step 2.
        Step. 10c. and 10d. Adding the ship in DefaultLoadout.txt
        Figure 3. DefaultLoadout.txt
    11. The UI of the new model consists of 3 files. There dimensions are fixed. (Figure 4) they must have names that have the same beginning as the .mod files. In this case, all are named DomBB--.BMP. Look at the templates in \assets\models\modinfo for more information. And use existing pictures as further guides.
      There are several ways to obtain these pictures.
        • The easiest (and most expensive) way is to use Discreet's 3DStudioMax or Milkshape3d by chUmbaLum sOft to import the model file then produce the renderings and save them as bmps.
        • Or, the cheaper way: use the Taldren Model Viewer to open the model, and use "PrtScn" key to produce a screencapture, and paste into a Graphics Program.
        • Or, even the screenshots in game. (In SFC3, press F9, F2, and F5. Then use Home/End/PgUp/PgDn to rotate camera until the angle is right, Press F12.) This will produce a bmp file in \screenshots in the SFC3 folder.
      • Once you have the bmp files in a graphics program such as Paintshop Pro, Photoshop, Photopaint, or MS Paint, you can Crop and Resize the pictures in accordance with the templates provided in in \modinfo. It is recommended that the ships are "keyed"(carved out as a separate layer away from the background) out and placed on the clean-black background or the guide-grid as shown in \modinfo.
      Step. 11. UI graphics's sizes in pixels.
      Figure 4. UI graphic's sizes in pixels.
      • ---BS.bmp is the Beauty Shot of the ship in perspective view. It is used at Refit and Vessel Library's upper right hand corner
      • ---TI.bmp is the Tactical Interface view. It's the picture where the ship schematics is displayed in battle.
      • ---VL.bmp is the Vessel Library view.
    12. One last step is the hardpoint configuration and ship specifications. If the model has preexisting hardpoint arrangements, it is recommended you DO NOT ADD new ones (you can remove or change them.) Since the hardpoints are related to the 3D model file.
      1. OPTIONAL: Use SFC2ED or 3DStudioMax or Milkshape3d to import the model and determine where the hardpoints are, and how many are there. This way the hardpoints can be better positioned to correspond to the icons in the Tactical Interface. This is not required, and can be done by trail and error. For more information, consult the Modelling Manual by Taldren.
      2. Use the SFC3 HardpointPlacement Utility to open and place the hardpoints. The big icons are used for Vessel Library, and the smaller ones for Tactical Interface. It is highly recommenced you note the order and positions of each hardpoints as you go. It will make life easier in the Excel step.
      3. Open DefaultCore.txt with MS Excel and scroll to columns labeled Cargospace, Hullspace, PowerPlant, Weaponspace, and Shieldspace. There are the mass setting restricting a ship's load out.
      4. Find the Marine, Mines, and Shuttles columns. They are straight forward enough. The format is "default:maximum:default". For example if the ship is to have default 3 mines and maximum 8 mines, the entry in Mines field is "Mines:3:8:3"
      5. Now, we need to enumerate the hardpoints placed in 12a. and assign the weapon hard points their respective arcs. Find the columns labeled: Primary, Heavy, Hull, Bridge.
        • Start with the easier ones. For Hull, enter: HullHP:1:2:3.
        • For Bridge, recall how many bridge hardpoints were placed. Then put down the numbers. For 1 bridge HP, put "BridgeHP:1", 2 HP's "BridgeHP:1:2" (most common), 3 Hp's"BridgeHP:1:2:3".
        • Primary, Heavy work similarly. First in the column put "PrimaryHP:" or "HeavyHP:" to distinguish the type of weapons. Then follow it by a series of numbers. For example:


          The black characters are the header and the delimiters (semicolon). The red characters are the hardpoint numbers. (Refer back to the HPPlacement Utility if necessary.) And the Blue characters are the weapon arc itself.
        • More on the arcs: The weapon is the the angles which the weapon is capable to firing. The game use two numbers connected with an underscore to define the arc. The numbers always go clockwise. Think of it as a navigation compass. Zero (0) is due north, (direct ahead or bow), 90 is due east (right hand side, or starboard side), 270 is due west (left, port), 180 is due south (back, astern.) Although the arcs can be entered with impunity, not every definition will be legal in the game. (i.e. game may not have the graphics for it.) Only the following arcs are tested in game: (you can download Lord Vaders Firing Arc Guide to visualize these arcs)
          Try to match the arcs with its position on the model (step 12a.).
        • If the ship doesn't work, look for an invalidship.txt in the SFC3 folder, and see if your ship passes the muster of the game. If not, fix (increase or decrease slightly) the offending entries.
    13. If you wish to change the default configuration of the ship. Open Defaultlodout.txt and enter one item per column. The format is "system:hp#". The hardpoint number can be seen the in HPPlacement Utility (step 12b)
      • Note: a customized officer is considered one item. Consult the default entries in the file for further information.
      • Note: the Special column is used to limit ship involvement. AI means the ship is for computer players (Artificial Intelligence) in campaign (singleplayer and dynaverse 3) modes. NS means "not selectable". This is used on Legendary or Mission-specific ships.
    14. Test your new creation! (figure 5 and 6.)
      Step 14. Battle setup.
      Figure 5. Skirmish settings
      Step 14. Dominion Batttleship in action.
      Figure 6. Dominion Battleship
  • If the Model comes with preexisting installers. Use the installation methods provided before attempting this.
  • The new engine uses Dynamic levels of detail, so there’s just one model (not three)  Due to this, the new engine is more sensitive to modeling techniques and errors. It may crash with some models that SFC2 accepts.

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