A cockpit set is formed by 3 file types:
.LFD files - in these files are stored the graphics of the main cockpit view, side views and some other craft instruments, such as the Threat Display and the Inflight Map. Each graphic has it's own .LFD file and many of them are common for different craft (such as the standard view used by all TIEs) and even between Imperial and Rebel Craft (the Threat Display, for example). Our main goal, so far, is to make at least new main front views but side views are desirable, of course.
Here's the main TIE Interceptor view, as loaded into TIEEDIT:
.PNL files - in these files are stored the Panel Instruments graphics, small bitmaps made from the main cockpit graphic. During flight, they actually overwrite the main cockpit view. We might separate them in 3 categories: the normal parts (so far, an exact match of a certain part of the main view), the damaged parts (the damaged version of a certain part of the main view. It shows up when our craft is hit and overwrite both the main view and corresponding normal part) and the eletronic parts (power indicators, hull condition icon, missile lamps, etc). Most likely, we'll be wanting to modify some of the normal and damaged parts but it's not recommended to play with the eletronics but there are exceptions. Think carefully before starting.Note:what I said is valid to all Imperial craft. Towards Rebels ones, however, is seems that LucasArts only made the damaged and eletronic parts (the only exception seems to be the CMD display). In my humble opinion, it makes editing a Rebel craft a little more difficult: once the normal parts of a Imperial craft overwrite the main view, we can easily create a "base graphic" changing the main view graphic with another filled with one color. Taking a screenshot of it, we may create our new cockpit based on it.
TIE Interceptor normal parts:
TIE Interceptor damaged parts:
TIE Interceptor eletronic parts:
A base graphic using the TIE Interceptor cockpit. Notice the normal parts "floating". Sorry for the low quality of some pictures.
A base graphic using the X-wing cockpit. Notice that there are no normal parts here:
.INT files - the cockpit descriptor files. It holds a lot of information such as the names of the .LFD files which will be used as views, the position of each panel instrument and much more. Unfortunately, the TIE Fighter (for what TIEEDIT was mainly designed), X-Wing and XvT .INT files are not compatible. It means that, and I want to make this very clear, WE CAN NOT CHANGE INSTRUMENTS POSITIONS IN XvT, at least so far. Some information, such as the .LFD files to be used, can be easily edited with an hexeditor (I made some UGE modules to make this). So, be careful. Create your new art around the original one. You may successfully create new instruments layouts, only respect the bitmaps sizes.
What you need
- Mark Samios' TIE Fighter Editor (TIEEDIT) v. 1.28b. Get it atMark Samios Page;
- a graphic editor to make new art (Paint Shop Pro is very good);
- cockpit descriptor files (.INT files) from TIE Fighter. Don't worry about that, modified TIE Fighter .INT files will be available to make your life easier =);
- FLIGHT.OVL (from T/F floppy version) or Z_TIE__.EXE (from T/F CD) somewhere in your disk. A potential big problem if you don't have any version of T/F but, once again, don't worry. There is a way to play around it.
- Draconious Ship Patch installed (if the game is not patched, some craft may be unflyable or not be available, such as the Missile Boat and TIE Defender).Ship Patch by Draconious
Very well, boys and girls, I won't even try to give a very detailed description of Mark Samios' great editor. For this, he made a very good help file. The pictures provided here should help to put you in the subject.
Ship Attributes Editor (not used by XvT)
Cockpit Palette Editor
Modified TIE Fighter .INT files
In order to load XvT cockpit files into TIEEDIT, we need to use original cockpit descriptor files (.INT) from TIE Fighter (floppy or CD). Then, depending on what cockpit you are editing, you must rename the .LFD and .PNL files to match the names stored in the T/F .INT files. For example, to edit the XvT X-wing cockpit files, the best option is to use the T/F Gunboat .INT. Then we should rename the X-W files to match GUN files: Xwing12.lfd to Gunbt12.lfd, Xwingp.pnl to Gunboatp.pnl, etc. To save your time (and patience...), the following files are available for you:
_t-f.int, _t-i.int, _t-b.int, _t-a.int, _gun.int, _x-w.int, _y-w.int, _a-w.int and _z-95.int
These are TIE Fighter .INT files, modified to load XvT cockpit files without renaming. Get all of them downloading this zip file.
Creating a new XvT cockpit based on an existing one
When creating a custom cockpit for TIE Fighter, the logical sequence would be create first the new art (main and side views and panel parts) and then start TIEEDIT. But once we can not edit the panel parts positions in XvT, any new panel part bitmap we create must have the same size of the original. How to know which parts we may want to modify and where they are? For me, the easier way is to have a base graphic or mask, if you prefer, to work with. It's made by replacing the main front view graphic of an existing cockpit with a new graphic filled with a light color. Then we can start XvT, enter a mission using the craft which front view has been modified and take a screenshot of it. Let's do it. The craft used will be the TIE Interceptor, which cockpit will be turned into a custom TIE Defender one (version 1, for XvT only, still available for download). Although I have worked only with the 640x480 resolutions, these instructions should also work for the others.
- first, using a graphic editor, create a new 640x480x256 color BMP. Fill it wiht a light color;
- to work with ease, create a new directory (cp_temp, for example) to make your work. Copy into it the XvT tieint12.lfd and tieintp.pnl files from the CP640 directory as well the _t-i.int file provided here and the new BMP you just created. Remember to make a backup of your XvT files. Although we are not editing panel parts so far, the presence of the .PNL file is required;
- start TIEEDIT 1.28. Click on "Open File". Select _t-i.int. You will be prompted to choose between the FLIGHT.OVL or Z_TIE__.EXE files. If you have one of them, select it. If you don't, simply go the XwingTie directory and manually select the Z_XVT__.EXE file. We can't modify it with TIEEDIT but it will allow us to load the cockpit files. In a few seconds, the T/I front view must be loaded;
- now, click on "Import Image". Select your BMP. Make sure it's a 256 colors BMP or nothing will happen;
- after the new BMP is loaded (it takes some time), click on "Save", then "Close" and exit TIEEDIT;
- copy the modified tieint12.lfd back to the CP640 directory and start XvT. Choose a mission using the TIE Interceptor. When you fly it, you should see something like the picture:
- Take a screenshot of it and leave XvT. Now, we may start our new cockpit art. Remember: it must be a 256 colors BMP.When I made the TIE Defender cockpit, I cut and past some parts of the T/D cockpit from TIE Fighter. Here is the final picture:
Some new panel instruments bitmaps were made, too. The name at the side of each part is how they are named in the Ship Parts Editor of TIEEDIT.
Notice that some parts of each picture, currently black during editing will be transparent when loaded.
In order to know the correct size of these small bitmaps, the best thing to do is to export them from the .PNL file.
- start TIEEDIT and load the T/I cockpit as described above;
- click on "Ship Parts" to open the Ship Parts Editor;
- on the Ship Parts Editor, click on "Cockpit Parts";
- using the slide bar, choose the cockpit part you want to export and click on "Export Part". Set the name of a new BMP and click on "Ok".
When editing an Imperial cockpit, notice when using the Ship Parts Editor that the bitmaps match correctly the cockpit parts' names. When editing a Rebel cockpit, you will notice that they don't even because the Rebel craft don't use normal parts and don't have some bitmaps available such the ones used for the Beam Weapon. That's way using a Rebel cockpit on an Imperial craft shows it completly messed up.
Loading and saving your new art
Before loading the new bitmaps into TIEEDIT, we must use the Cockpit Palette Editor to set 2 important colors: the Mask (Transparent) Color and the Radar Color. As the name suggest, the Mask color is used to let us see outside our fighter. The default value of it is RGB 0,0,0 and I suggest let it this way. So open your new front view bitmap in your graphic editor and make sure that only the "space" uses the Mask color (I use the Color Replace function of Paint Shop Pro to first eliminate the RGB 0,0,0 color and replace it with the closest one, usually RGB 0,0,8. Then, I fill the "space" with the RGB 0,0,0 color). Also, some, if not all, panel parts bitmaps will have sections which must be transparent, too. Correct them. Now, we must set the Radar color. Open the Cockpit Palette Editor clicking on "Cockpit Palette". Find the Radar Color (third line, fourth color from right to left) and set the RGB values for it (usually 0,0,1 or 0,0,2 works fine). Now go back to the graphic editor and fill the radars on the front view bitmap with this color as well the normal radar parts. Save your work. Now we are ready to load the new art.
- if TIEEDIT is not open, start it, load the cockpit files and set the Mask and Radar colors. Now let's load the new frot view bitmap. Click on "Import Image". Select the new bitmap and click on "Ok". It will take some time to load as TIEEDIT will apply the LFD palette to it which remembers me: it's a little hard to make TIEEDIT convert the GREEN color and variations so try not to use it (most of the original cockpits don't use them, except in the eletronic parts). After the new bitmap is loaded, save your work. If you are editing the Gunboat or a Rebel cockpit, which also have side views, you may want to chanbe them, too. Open the Ship Parts Editor. Click on "Cockpit Views". Use the slide bar to choose a new view to edit and click on "Process Cockpit". The correspondig view will be loaded and can be changed as you changed the main view.
- let's load now the new panel parts. Open the Ship Parts Editor and click on "Cockpit Parts". Use the slide bar and choose what part you want to replace. Click on "Replace Part". Choose the new bitmap for that part and click on "Ok". Follow these steps for all parts to be replaced. Save your work and exit TIEEDIT.
Installing a custom cockpit
Ok, now we have a modified TIE Interceptor cockpit. To use it as the TIE Defender cockpit we must first rename the files: tieint12.lfd to tiedlx12.lfd and tieintp.pnl to tiedlxp.pnl.Always remember to give new names to the new cockpit files you make. Now, we need a custom .INT file for our new cockpit. Once we have edited the T/I cockpit, copy from the CP640 directory the tieint.int file. Place it in a directory where it may be edited with the UGE utility available in the download section. Due to patch settings, this directory most likely must be named C:\UGE_TEMP.
- in the directory where you placed the tieint.int file, extract the contents of the xvt_util.zip file and also UGE, if you don't have it. My utility is a set of modules to edit the XvT cockpit descriptor files (.INT) as well the z_xvt__.exe file, where the name of the cockpit to be used by each craft is set. Start UGE. The following screen should show up (colors have been enhanced):
- from the XwingTie directory copy the z_xvt__.exe file into the C:\UGE_TEMP directory. Start UGE and select the XvT - Cockpit Changer entry:
For those who have the Balance of Power add-on, the same steps above applies when creating new art and .INT files but remember that you must take the BoP versions of these files. So, the .LFD, .PNL and .INT files you are editing must come from the XwingTie\BalaceOfPower\CP640 directory and the Z_XVT__.EXE file from the XwingTie\BalanceOfPower directory. Also, there are specific UGE modules for BoP, available on the Download section. Finally, BoP owners may prefer to use MXvTED, an BoP editor created by Michael Andersen. Besides the only editor so far that easily edit .INT files (BoP versions only), the MXvTED help file also provides a good description on how to make your custom cockpits and .INT files. Get it at "The Corellian Engineering Corporation". That's all. If everything works, you may now fly the TIE Defender using the new cockpit. With this tutorial, TIEEDIT and MXvTED Help Files, you should now be able to make your very own cockpit for your favorite XvT crafts. Good luck and May the Force be with You!